Posts with ‘BitBlot’ Tag

Humble Introversion Bundle

By: Derek Yu

On: November 23rd, 2011

I think you all know how this works by now! The latest Humble Bundle features the games of Introversion (Darwinia, Multiwinia, Defcon, and Uplink), as well as two beat-the-average games: Petri Purho’s Crayon Physics and Bit Blot’s Aquaria (Bit Blot is me and Alec Holowka). Name your price for six games and help charity at the same time!

TIGdb: Entry for Introversion

Humble Indie Bundle Games Go Open Source

By: Derek Yu

On: June 3rd, 2010

Humble Indie Bundle

The pay-what-you-want Humble Indie Bundle was an amazing success, raising over 1.2 million dollars, with nearly $400,000 going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the wonderful Child’s Play Charity. We were really blown away by the response to the bundle and the buzz it generated across the internets. Definitely a win-win-win situation all around! Thanks to everyone who participated and helped spread the word on this!

To keep the love flowing, four of the bundled games had pledged to go open source toward the end of the bundle: Aquaria, Lugaru HD, Gish, and Penumbra Overture. Well, I’m happy to say that the source code for those games has finally been released! You can find out more (including all the relevant links), at Wolfire’s blog.

Holiday Music

By: Derek Yu

On: December 10th, 2009

Just ‘cause it’s Christman/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus doesn’t mean you have to be listening to Jingle Bells and all that festive stuff (although you’re very welcome to!). Here’s some music from the indie game world to rock your stockings as we approach the new year!

Aquaria OST

The Aquaria OST – Alec put together an amazing production for the Aquaria soundtrack, which he composed. This 2-disc, 50-track beast comes with an 8-page booklet that features artwork by myself and Marian artist Katie De Sousa, as well as an 8-panel mini-poster featuring screenshots from the game and liner notes. It’s a really beautiful package that comes in 3 flavors: unsigned, signed, and digital.


Fez Demo EPs – The mysterious Polytron Corporation has released 3 demo tracks from Fez, their upcoming XBLA game. The tracks, composed by Jason “6955” DeGroot, are available as a free download, or can be ordered as a limited-edition CD (250 copies). Check it out if you like chiptunes.

Zeno Clash OST – The Zeno Clash OST was released yesterday. Composed by Patricio Meneses, the soundtrack features 18 tracks and can be downloaded via iTunes or purchased as a CD.

Machinarium Bonus EP

Machinarium Bonus EP – Amanita Design has released five free bonus tracks for their incredible adventure game Machinarium. These are available as mp3s. The full soundtrack comes with the game if you buy it directly Amanita’s website (what are you waiting for?).

Game music 1

Game music 1 – Finally, the legendary indie chiptune artist Phlogiston released a free compilation of music he wrote for various games, like Bisse’s I Was in the War, cactus’s Air Pirates and PING PONG, and Darthlupi’s Wonder Bounce. He invites indie game designers to contact him about releasing their soundtracks through his label Pause. You would be amongst good company.

Well, that’s a lot of great indie game music right there. Hope you all enjoy these stocking stuffers. Please be sure to post any good soundtracks I may have missed that came out recently.

Happy Holidays!

Aquaria Design Tour

By: Derek Yu

On: January 15th, 2009

Warning: the design tour has quite a few spoilers in it!

David Rosen of Wolfire Games posted his 4th design tour almost two weeks ago, and it’s about a game that I’m pretty familiar with – Aquaria! I’ve already mentioned this to David during our email discussions of the game and his tour, but apologies for not posting it sooner. I wanted to make sure that I gave the tour an adequate mindshare before I posted my response to it. (I’m also slightly hesitant to post news about my own games.)

First things first, I have to be honest and say that I was secretly hoping that David would do a tour of Aquaria, but I wasn’t sure if he had played the game or not. So yeah, I am pretty excited about it, considering the caliber of the other games he’s toured (World of Goo, Knytt Stories, and Gish). Thanks, David!

So anyway, my 2 cents (it’s actually more like a nickel) on his 2 cents:

David has a designer’s view of things, so it’s not surprising that a lot of the concepts he brings up during the tour were on our minds when we were working on the game. Chief among these was the idea of accessibility. Specifically, how much prodding should a developer give to the player to push him or her in the “right” direction, and to prevent them from getting stuck. “Getting stuck” has been anathema to game designers for a long time now, and it’s often cited as a chief reason why the classic point-and-click adventure genre died (in the mainstream industry, at least, but not so much in the indie scene). The holy grail of game design, it often seems, is to craft something that every person in the world can eventually get through and feel good about. And that’s not sarcasm at all – I genuinely believe that that goal underpins a lot of the choices that many designers (including myself) are making when they develop commercial games these days, for better or for worse. The fear, of course, is that if someone gets frustrated with your game or can’t get through it, then they will give the game a low score, they will not recommend it to others, or they will just give up before they get to some of the other goodies you spent a lot of time on.

And that’s something we did agonize over while we were working on Aquaria, and designing its puzzles, controls, and so forth, because it is a game we want people to play and experience fully, and yes, also purchase and feel good about purchasing. In actuality, a lot of the features that David mentions as being “hidden” in the tour (the hotkeys, the map, the hints, etc.) were added later on in the development (many of them as a patch Alec worked hard on after the release) to address those worries. As to why they are hiding in the game, rather than being displayed prominently, well… I think one reason is that we would prefer people to spin by spinning their mouse, sing spells note by note, and place each ingredient by hand, rather than using a hotkey to do it, and we would prefer that people get lost, even, rather than use a map hint. I won’t speak for Alec (even though I think he feels similarly), but I kind of wanted people to live in the game, and maybe even feel bad or bored about it occasionally. This is supposed to be Naija’s life, after all, and even though we didn’t want to make you watch her spend 5 minutes pooping after she eats, we did want you to feel (flashes, at least) of what her life is like, even the more mundane parts.

I’ll be the first to admit that it seems questionable to insert features into the game that you’d prefer the player not use, but in our case, I believe it was the right choice. Partly for the simple fact that it DID alleviate our fears with the game at a time when we were definitely worried that players would find the game too hard or too frustrating (i.e. it gave us more confidence in the game), and partly because people do find them and use them, but generally only if they are having trouble. It’s a bit of a fidgety situation, but I think it works pretty okay for the type of game that Aquaria is meant to be (your mileage may vary). I definitely should have added the hotkeys to the documentation, though – that was an oversight on my part that is easily rectified.

The puzzles – not so easy! The “Song Door” puzzle near the beginning of the game confounded us for a long time. If you had trouble with it now, you should have played its earlier incarnations (but I’m glad you didn’t!). I still feel like it’s a pretty simple puzzle, but I realize that that’s a meaningless opinion to anyone who got stuck on it for a long time. And David’s definitely right that, ideally, if a player comes up with a clever solution that should work within the context of the game, then it should work. I agree completely.

I am really glad David mentioned Alec’s level editor and animation editor, which are an amazing set of tools that we included with the game itself. I don’t think they get enough mention in reviews of the game. That the sprites have a slight “paper doll” quality to them is not ideal (we did try to think of ways around it), but it’s a small price to pay for the ease of the game’s creation (without which the game would not have been completed).

I do wish that there had been more mention of the game’s narrative and what was good or bad about how we executed it, because it’s a major part of the game and there were some interesting design decisions involved (like the use of voice over). But David told me that the original video was around 30 minutes long and he had to cut it down, which I understand. Overall, I, like the designers toured by David before me (that sounds slightly wrong!), am impressed with the things he pointed out and how close to home his observations were. In the end, I think we made the right choices with Aquaria, though it is not a perfect game by any means. But that doesn’t invalidate at all any of the things David pointed out.

Whew, okay, I said a lot more than I was originally intending to. That’s all (for now), and hope that it was somewhat elucidating! Thanks again, David. Looking forward to the next one!

Happy Aquaria Day!

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: December 10th, 2008

HD trailer here.

Well, Aquaria has been out for over an Earth Year now (as of December 7th). Pretty hard to believe. I remember back in the day when it was all, “Why don’t these damn turtles move?!” And now look at it. All grown up and shipped and critically acclaimed and everything.

Here is the newest trailer ever, in honor of the game’s anniversary and, more excitingly, Big Update. This weekend, Bit Blot will release Aquaria version 1.1.1 (for Windows). This patch includes “widescreen, graphics and audio enhancements, improved puzzles, a new/awesome map system and more.” And a reduced price.

Alec and Derek have been working hard on this update since the game launched, addressing all the feedback the game’s received. (And that’s a lot!) If there was ever a time to get Aquaria, it’s now. (Yeah, I’m talking to you — no more excuses!)

Congrats, guys! A series of increasingly complex high-fives is in order.

NOTE: Dunno why this ain’t been posted yet, but a Mac version is also now available.

On Braid and Pricing

By: Derek Yu

On: August 8th, 2008


The latest Penny Arcade strip is about Braid! As far as I know, this is the first indie game they’ve mentioned directly in a comic, which is pretty cool. I personally enjoy PA so I’m glad to see them promote indie games through Greenhouse, PAX, and now the strip itself.

In the post accompanying the strip, Tycho/Jerry sums up the whole pricing thing for me pretty nicely:

I wrung four and a half hours out of the finished product, coming into contact with genuinely huge concepts that hum with stradavarian fullness. You’re mad about five dollars? What? Shove your five dollars up your stupid ass.

Well, okay, maybe not that last part. At least not until rear ends start vending Cactus Coolers or bus tickets. What a waste, otherwise!

But in all seriousness, the pricing issue is another compelling problem for developers, especially an indie who can set his or her own price. It’s especially compelling because it’s become obvious that for some people (perhaps most people?), the price somehow enters into the equation that determines a game’s inherent worth. A game that costs more than it should cost becomes a worse game. Should that be the case? Should that idea be reflected in game reviews? I suppose it depends on whether the goal of the review is to help you make a purchasing decision or whether the goal is to evaluate the merits of a video game.

In Aquaria’s case, Alec and I priced the game at $30, $10 above what I guess is the “norm” is for downloadable PC indie games is, because that’s what we felt it was worth. We considered a lot of factors, from the quality of the game, to the effort we put into it, to plain ol’ numbers like how many hours of gameplay and how many assets we created. A lot of people felt it was worth what we charged, and a lot of people didn’t, which is fine. But some people took the pricing personally before they even played the game, which I’ll never truly understand.

I think the problem is that no one knows how much a game should cost, or how we should value games. Is a good, short game better than a mediocre, long game? What are pretty graphics worth to good gameplay? What about indie versus mainstream? Like with almost EVERYTHING about games, it’s just not as clear-cut as with other types of media. The industry is too young, and it’s just plain different, too.

But to quote Tycho once more:

You read a lot (in incandescent threads devoted to the topic) about how ten dollars is the “sweet spot” for Live Arcade titles, and that may be the case, but we should entertain the idea that its creator wasn’t trying to make an “Xbox Live Arcade Game.” Perhaps he was trying to make a good game, the best game he could, and Microsoft’s Broadening Initiative For Digital Content was the last thing on his mind.

In the end, I don’t think it makes sense to compare games to anything other than what you think is a good game. $15 is more than most XBLA games. It’s also about how much a 2-hour movie or an ironic t-shirt costs. I guess the question is… so what? What do you guys and gals think?

TIGdb: Entries for Aquaria, Braid

See Jonathan Blow’s explanation of Braid’s pricing after the jump:

(Video posted at

Derek Interviewed on the 1UP Show

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: December 28th, 2007

Might as well post this, yeah?


By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: December 8th, 2007

The Final Teaser.

Aquaria has finally been released! I’ll have (much) more to say about the game later, but as the Bit Blot site is down, I’ll just provide you with some hot, hot links for now.

The links that really matter:
Buy the game here. (Do it.)
Download the demo here. (63 MB)


Aquaria Release Date: December 7th

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: December 2nd, 2007

Coming out Friday, December 7th, 2007!

You heard it right. After years of development, Aquaria, Bit Blot’s IGF Grand Prize winning undersea adventure game, is done and slated for release on PCs everywhere Friday, December 7th, 2007! The game will cost a mere $30 USD, which, believe me, is an absolute steal.

Heralding the launch will be a new Aquaria-related post on the Bit Blog (which you should be reading already) every day this week, featuring concept art, music, development stories, and Kenta Cho knows what else.

I was lucky enough to have worked on this little gem, and let me say, I am so proud to have been involved at any capacity. The game is all content, professional and polished on every level, and chock full of soul. Alec and Derek have slaved over it for a long, long time — and it truly shows. (Internet whiners take note!)

Anyway, before I get too sentimental, I just want to express how proud I am of The Bad Boys of Bit Blot. Through consistent determination and sheer passion they have created something wonderful and deserve every ounce of success they get. These guys are in it for the love of the game, one hundred percent. I know this first hand.

Follow Aquaria here, on Bit Blot’s official site. And be there next Friday for the launch.

Documentary on Aquaria, “I’d hit it. Sextuple times”

By: Lorne Whiting

On: June 20th, 2007

Aquaria, that unholy and sexy beast child of Derek Yu and Alec (… Yoo, maybe? What’s his last name?) released THIS:

And it is hot like magma.

(On a side not, I hate having to go through the categories here. I’m just gonna put anything remotely related.) [Too many categories! -Derek]