Earlier this month, Microsoft quietly announced the end date for XNA and Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG). Starting from September 9 of this year, no new XNA memberships are being sold or renewed. Developers with current subscriptions now have exactly one year to create and release games on the service. After September 9, 2016, no new games will be allowed to release on XBLIG. At this point, you better start buying whatever games you may have missed out on. One year after that, in September 2017, the marketplace will be closed forever, with developers being given final payouts soon after. It’s important to note that you will be able to re-download any XBLIGs you’ve bought before that date, and continue to play them.
For anyone that follows XBLIG in any form, be it player and / or developer, the news was difficult to hear, albeit wholly expected. The indie service, the first to offer literally anyone the ability to create and publish a game on a major home console, has admittedly been winding down for the past year. Fewer and fewer titles are being released under the XBLIG banner, and the service itself has been plagued by a series of extended, damaging outages, resulting in a number of delays and issues for developers. As a result, most developers have written off XBLIG entirely, moving their projects over to PC and / or other avenues, or canceling them outright.
While there will undoubtedly be plenty of time later to debate what went right and what went wrong with XBLIG, the good folks behind Indie Games Uprising, a once-annual promotion of new XBLIG games, have just unveiled a tribute to the service. This tribute highlights developers that got their start with XNA and XBLIG, showcasing their newest (or forthcoming) games while offering a nostalgic glimpse back at some of their earlier projects on the Xbox indie channel. The full list of games and developers can be found at the link above, but the tribute page itself is a fitting monument to the oft-overlooked successes and good times that XNA / XBLIG helped foster. Whether you are a grizzled veteran or a casual observer, you owe it to yourself to play these great games before they’re gone and remember what XBLIG has meant to you.
As a modern throwback1 to 80s Run ‘N Gun platformers (go ahead and make the Ghosts ‘N Goblins comparison, you’re allowed), the upcoming Cast Of The Seven Godsends appears to look and play the part. I mean, we’re talking 16 whole bits here. Plus a lengthy history. Four years in the making, Italian developer Raven Travel Studios has been hard at work putting the finishing touches on the game, expected to release on XBLIG sometime later this Spring.
The game features seven levels and seven types of epic armor to equip, allowing for dozens of weapon / magic combinations. That flexibility ensures you’ll be able to rain various forms of death upon regular enemies and massive bosses alike. At the least, it all makes for a uniquely-tuned, uniquely-vibrant art style that looks as good in still shots as it does in motion. Good gameplay should follow.
You can follow developer Raven Travel Studios on Twitter and / or like their Facebook page.
Inspired by Hearthstone and the like (yes, Magic, I mean you too), developer Gamefarm‘s1 upcoming Deck of Heroes is an unapologetic homage to all of those ‘strategic / collectible card games’ that seem to be all the rage to a certain core set of gamers. I can’t count myself among them. I’ve never been a fan or a collector, so admittedly, I can’t quite comment on what makes them special2.
Nor can I sound competent in putting forth the game’s description, but I’ll try: Deck of Heroes allows you to string together a deck from 108 unique cards, then let them loose in turned-based battles between two opponents, either human versus human online / local, or in testing your skills against the game’s AI on your own. Whew, that didn’t sound too bad, did it?
Deck of Heroes is simply ‘coming soon’. (EDIT: Er… tomorrow, I mean. Er… today, actually. Ah, it’s available now.)
You can follow developer Gamefarm (Fabian Jakobsson) on Twitter.
It saddens me to say this, but there is less and less to get excited about on XBLIG these days, insofar as upcoming games that are still coming to the service. Loot Or Die, from ubiquitous developer Chris Antoni, is looking to break that dry cycle.
Coined as a sort of twin-stick / RPG shooter— with drop-in co-op— the game sees you battling aliens and other creatures on a number of different planets. Strategy and depth come into play with the gear and weapons you collect in each stage, ranging from common items to more epic armor and weapons that will increase your stats. The novel ‘ring’ system gives you additional perks to choose from, such as double damage, or allowing you to warp ahead of enemies and / or beyond hazards. True to the game’s name, you’ll have to find better equipment if you hope to survive from planet to planet.
Currently on Day 17 (of an unknown total), the game is shaping up well. Rather than subscribing to the speedier development cycle that his previous releases have seen, the developer is taking his time with this one, polishing the gameplay / mechanics. That added attention to detail should pay off when Loot Or Die is eventually released.
You can follow developer Chris Antoni on Twitter, and keep up with the game’s progress on YouTube.
Well, maybe ‘fisticuffs’ isn’t the right word. More like sword-icuffs, or laser-icuffs, or even fireball-icuffs ….you get the idea.
A 2D arena brawler, Grand Class Melee 2 pits up to four players (locally) against each other in a battle to the pixel death. You’ll have a pretty hefty arsenal to choose from, as the game contains over 60 classes and abilities. Fights go on across eight rounds, with players selecting new abilities after each round to eventually transform their character into some kind of Frankenstein-ian Superhero.
If you don’t have any friends nearby… [points finger at self], the game does support AI Bots, with three different difficulty settings. The developer hopes to add online multiplayer down the road, as well as a ‘Survival’ mode that has you taking on mobs of enemies all at once.
Although I didn’t get much time with the original, Gigatross Games‘ Grand Class Melee 2 looks to add more of what made the first game good fun with friends / bots, with some added polish and shine.
Grand Class Melee 2 should see release sometime in October. It will cost you $1.00. You can follow the developer on Twitter here, or ‘like’ their Facebook page.