Category Archives: Site News

Thanks For Everything, XBLIG!

Today marks the end of an era. Today is the day we say goodbye to Xbox Live Indie Games. In a certain sense of the word (see below for an update!).

Today is the last day to purchase any XBLIGs on the marketplace. After that, you can still download and / or play any game that you own. For now. What happens beyond that, and when the Xbox 360 itself is retired, is still up in the air, though there is plenty of promising stuff happening on the preservation front.

Of course, all of this has been known for some time. Two years, in fact. And for about a year before that, general interest in the service and its games had fallen off considerably. Many developers have long since moved on to other endeavors, and many of us that used to play the games and new releases quasi-religiously have also done the same. Still, it’s important to note this date in your own personal history calendar and remember an indie game service that was instrumental in paving the way for all the indie games we currently enjoy. It will not be forgotten.

This site (not a blog!) here played a small role by reviewing a portion of those indie games, covering some the greatest successes on the marketplace, and, unfortunately, some of the worst of the worst on the service (read: the other 70% of the reviews posted here; I’m only partially kidding when I say that). More importantly, though, it became something other than just a review site; it became a gathering place for gamers excited about indie games, a small corner of the internet some came to talk about them, to share their own thoughts, and to hang out and chat with others. Real friends were made here. And that, even more than the games themselves, is what I’ll remember.

So, personal review opinions (and a few tears) aside, I want this to be my final ‘Thank You’ to XBLIG in general, and to all the developers, gamers, and readers (that’d be you reading this) who made all of this possible. I won’t forget that, I can’t ever forget that, and I hope you enjoyed this place as much as I did.

With Love,

Tim


UPDATE (9/29): Well, so much for an emotional article and fond farewell! Today is not the end, it seems, as the official shutdown date has been pushed back to October 7th. So… yeah, it’s still sad, just not for another week. Save all your emotions and tears for that date, and go ahead and check out some more games! 😉

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Year Four of theXBLIG

Today marks four years(!) that theXBLIG has been online. Things have been slow, with gaps in-between posts (mostly my fault, partly due to a lack of releases), but the site is still going. That has to count for something, and I am damn proud to be able to say that much. Unfortunately, these ‘birthday’ celebrations have taken on an air of solemnity the past two years, as the Xbox Live Indie Games service has wound down and been given its official ‘sunsetting’ countdown (fast approaching its September 9th sell-by deadline, by the way).

It’s a sad event to have on your calendar, but as I’m often told by people with smiles too big to be natural, ‘all good things must come to an end’. Just as XBLIG will soon reach its conclusion, so too must ‘theXBLIG’. Time marches on. It’s a natural progression. It’s not all going to end in tears, of course. Indie developers have multiple avenues for publishing their games now, and the pastures beyond XBLIG are undeniably greener. If nothing else, XBLIG can stand proud knowing that it was the ‘starting off point’ for dozens of indie game careers, and maybe even the first time any of us had heard of or played ‘indie games’. Its place in history is secure.

As for theXBLIG, I will finish out reviewing new games as they come. I promised you that much, and I promised myself the same. After that, I have plans to do a limited run of must-play XBLIG games, probably starting at the end of the year and running through the first part of 2017. I’m not sure of the format, but with no new games to write about, that will probably be my personal ‘send off’ to the service, and the site. This should give anyone looking for a few good games to play before the final shutdown a short list to go by.

Regardless of the inexorable future, I want to once again thank each and every one of you for visiting this site. Whether you’ve been coming here for years, or just once in a great while to check for free codes, whether you’ve left a comment or just lurked in the shadows, it’s been an absolute pleasure for me to play these videogames and write about them for you. So, Thank You.

With much love and much(er) appreciation,

Tim

Year Three of theXBLIG

Whoa… Three years online for theXBLIG… I mean, that’s…

Oh, right. It’s been awhile since I’ve written something down here. Excuse me for a moment while I dust off the articles and clear out the cobwebs from the corners of this site.

(clears throat) Ahem. Okay, that’s better.

Wow, three years of reviewing XBLIGs on this very page. Er… pages. I never thought I’d get this far. I know it’s not an eternity by any means, but it’s still a good chunk of time, particularly in internet-time, where sites rise and fall on a daily basis. Over that span, the site has amassed over 315,000+ views and published almost 400 reviews and articles, spawning 5,100+ comments and countless discussions that were only slightly-related to videogames.

To me, that’s an incredible thing. Not because I sometimes have a short attention span and a tendency to move onto different things before I finish the first, or because I feel like congratulating myself1, but rather because in those three years, the service known as ‘Xbox Live Indie Games’ (or as ‘XBLIG’ to its close friends) has provided us with so many great games2 and proved to be such an amazing experience for myself and plenty of others.

That experience hasn’t come without its share of downsides, of course. There’s been no shortage of duds to suffer through, and it’s no secret and no mystery that XBLIG isn’t what it once was. At this point, new releases of any quality are a luxury, and the future of the service (and this site) is anything but guaranteed. I can’t make any promises either, but I know I’ll be around until the very end.

That said, there’s always the very real chance I won’t get another online ‘birthday’ to celebrate, so I might as well offer up a huge ‘thank you’ to all my fellow indie journalistic types, to the great indie developers I’ve been privileged to meet and chat with, and, last and certainly not least, all of YOU guys for stopping by and willingly subjecting yourselves to my brand of rambling. Keep playing games, everyone, and thanks again for three fantastic years!

With much love and appreciation,

Tim

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  1. Well, maybe a little. Yay! 
  2. There’s occasionally-updated leaderboards for that. 

And ‘theXBLIG of 2014’ is…

Yes sir, it is that time of year again. That time when we unanimously say, ‘Out with the old and in with the new’, make a whole bunch of resolutions we’ll have forgotten about by February, and hope the new year brings us some sort of sign / luck / love / money / whatever. And if not, we’ll complain about it on Twitter.

For ‘theXBLIG’, the end of the year means an all-new ‘Best-of’ list, narrowing down all of the games released in 2014 into one handy leaderboard, voted on by the community. That’d be you guys and gals, the loveable readership of this fine site1. Just like last year, I’ve rounded up my personal choices for ‘Game of the Year’, listed them in no certain order, then asked you guys to vote on them to see which game would come out on top.

Interestingly enough, though plenty have been spelling doom for XBLIG for some time now, I actually labeled more games ‘leaderboard quality’ this year than last. Whether that trend will continue in 2015 is anyone’s guess, but it’s not a bad ending to an otherwise up-and-down year. Seems you’ve felt the same way, as some games saw massive interest in voting, while others struggled to net a handful of votes. Strange times, but, without further ado, here are the Top Ten…, excuse me, Top Nine (and one write-in), XBLIGs of 2014.


(Sort of but not quite) 10. Fright Light (5 Votes)

Fright Light is the ‘write-in’ vote winner, and I can’t be entirely sure that developer Chris Antoni didn’t just vote five times for his own game, but… so be it. Horror on the cheap, with visuals and production to match, Fright Light did its best Five Nights at Freddy’s impersonation, and didn’t do too bad at it.

9. Shipwreck (3 Votes)

Imagine a classic The Legend of Zelda game. Got that? Okay, now picture that series being handed off to an indie developer. Scared? You shouldn’t be, as Brushfire Games did an excellent job porting over the look, the feel, and the puzzle / dungeon design those games are known for. It’s an overlooked gem.

8. STRACO: Purge & Conquest (4 Votes)

The STRACO series (this game is parts two and three of a trilogy) may not impress you from the start, but its charm and playability wears on you the more you play it. A top-down shooter with heart, humor, and… Optimus Phillip, it’s well worth the look.

7. Dead.Kings (5 Votes)

Dead.Kings

Dead.Kings is a lot like the original BloodyCheckers, which may hurt its originality, but it’s more fun and player trolling per square inch of checkerboard than the now-boring real-life version of the game.

6. Amazing Princess Sarah (10 Votes)

If large breasts and throwing corpses around a stage sounds like an excellent retro-ish platformer to you, then Amazing Princess Sarah is the game for you. This kind of stuff sells itself.

5. Survival Games Season 1 (21 Votes)

Survival Games Season 1

Take the look of Minecraft, add in the survival mechanics and the merciless backstabbing of DayZ, and you’ve got the general idea behind this game. Each match can be a tense affair, a mad dash for limited supplies. Or you can play silly dress up and hide in your private corner of the world. Your choice, no judgement from me.

4. ApocZ (23 Votes)

An impressively-large, post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, the harsh reality of survival, …oh, and the real threat; other asshole humans shooting you in the back and taking all your carefully-scavenged equipment and weapons. Thanks a lot!

3. Shutshimi (37 Votes)

A fish with human arms (and giant muscles). A fish with a cigar-smoking problem. A fish with a ten-second attention span. What does that equal? Neon Deity Games’ ridiculously-fun shooter, which tosses new powerups and modifiers your way every ten seconds.

2. Dead War (49 Votes)

Part overhead shooter, part storyteller, part roguelike, Dead War mixes the good ole’ ‘zombie game’ with those aforementioned pieces to good effect. A nice change of pace from the usual zombified suspects that appear on XBLIG with alarming regularity.

1. Survivalist (139 Votes)

Survivalist

It’s tempting to dismiss XBLIG as a juvenile playground of avatar games, zombie shooters, and Minecraft wannabes, but Survivalist is one of those rare types, the type that sneaks up on you without anyone realizing it. Sure, there’s zombies, but they’re hardly the focus. The game presents you with a huge open world, the onus to survive, and dozens of characters that will remember your actions. One of the best XBLIGs I’ve ever played, Survivalist is a special game.


  1. Not a blog. 

Year Two of theXBLIG

Man, has it been another year already!? Time flies when you’re writing indie game reviews, I guess. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this one short. Don’t want to pat myself on the back too much, just enough to keep my ego properly inflated.

Two years online… Wow. I do remember last time I did this, I was worried the site might not even make it two years, between the rumblings of XBLIG’s demise (only somewhat exaggerated) and the looming releases of the next-gen consoles. Well, that worry was for naught; the site still stands! That said, we sure limped into this second birthday celebration, as the new releases have pretty much dried up. XBLIG seems destined for a slow, depressing death.

There’s no point in glossing over the reality of a situation. While Xbox One is picking up steam, and indie gaming has started taking hold there (with the ID@Xbox program), the Xbox 360 has not been as fortunate. New releases have slackened off on Xbox Live Indie Games in the past few months. It’s sad to see. I can’t write that the service still has its best days ahead of it, as that would be a lie even I can’t force myself to believe.

What I can say is that the community itself— people like You, reading this— is still going remarkably strong. Proof is in the numbers, really, as this site has had a fantastic run since last June. As of today, we’ve surpassed 214,000 views, posted 318 articles / reviews, and seen 3,500 comments on those posts. Granted, that’s not the most impressive showing for a website, but for one dedicated to a fading indie service, with games that are often criticized (yes, by me too) for being childish and loaded with boobs, it’s not too shabby.

I owe a great debt to this community, my fellow gaming journalists / writers, all the great XBLIG developers, and, of course, you guys. It may sound cheap, and more than a little cheesy, but it’s the honest truth. While I’d still be playing indie games otherwise, there’d be no point in running this website if it wasn’t for all of you. So thank you, all, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being involved in this wonderful madness known as theXBLIG.

Year Three begins today!