Indie Game Uprising unites Xbox developers, offers 11 games for $11

Indie Games Uprising 3

The third annual Indie Games Uprising launches this week, as developers band together to cross-promote titles on the Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) channel. Have you, perhaps, never heard of the XBLIG?  Well, that’s why they’re having an uprising!

When Microsoft launched the XBLIG in 2008 (then called the Community Games Initiative), there was reason to be excited. While adventurous PC gamers had long enjoyed a constant stream of  bedroom-coded wackiness, indie development on consoles was only for companies big enough to afford expensive development kits. The XBLIG changed all that, merging the open creativity of the PC world with the accessibility of consoles. It was a great way to show off the Xbox’s chief advantage: A straightforward Visual Basic programming framework that made shifting from development to release much easier than on other platforms. It also acted as a farm team for the game design stars of the future.

Unfortunately, the service suffered from all the problems that beset any open platform: tossed-off junk outnumbered quality titles, consumers found it too hard to find the good stuff, and with no big marketing budgets on the line Microsoft quickly lost interest in letting players know the service existed. When the new Xbox dashboard buried the XBLIG behind several layers of clicking, it looked like the service would be allowed to die alone, unmourned, and unloved.

And that would be tragic. Sure, there’s lots of Minecraft clones and lame strip-poker simulators on XBLIG, but there’s also quite a few masterpieces. In The Pit, a game with no graphics, Audiball, a puzzle game played with a Guitar Hero controller, and Weapon Of Choice, a heavy-metal inspired Contra-on-PCP freakout are all demonstrations of how much fun gamers could have if they just looked.

So for the last three years, indie developers have banded together to give a curated suite of games a single promotional push, in the hopes that a bigger mass would be more visible in the distance. The first year’s Uprising was a well-intentioned bust, with several of the games not even getting released on time. But the second time was the charm. Microsoft promoted the Uprising on the front page of the Dashboard, blogs took notice, and a few titles sold well into five figures.

In keeping with the XBLIG tradition, this year’s games are sometimes graphically crude, sometimes unpolished, and occasionally derivative, but they’re also cheap, clever, and sometimes intriguing. The lineup includes the  beautifully mournful City Tuesday, which applies the time-travel principles of Majorca’s Mask to a terrorist attack, the freaky 3-D puzzle game Entropy, and the minimalist first-person whatsit Pixel, along with management sims, 2-D platformers, dungeon crawlers, and, yes, a Minecraft clone (though with some interesting outer-space twists). Best of all, you can get all 11 games for $11, a great deal even if you only play the games for a few minutes each.

Microsoft seems to be continuing its policy of semi-benevolent apathy towards the service. Co-organizer Michael Hicks told  a reporter from Wired that Microsoft can’t promote them on the Dashboard because of vague “legal reasons.”

But the developers behind the Uprising are undeterred, pushing ahead with community growth even on Microsoft’s cold soil. Hicks told Wired, “We’re really trying to raise awareness for everyone. It would feel great to see other non-Uprising games benefit as well from what we’re doing.”  Mobile developerment studio Eleventy-Aught is lending a hand with the XBLIG Companion, a donation-supported app for Android and Windows phones that lets users browse and rate games on the service, as well as view trailers and queue up downloads directly from their phones.

It’s unlikely that anyone in the Uprising will make more than ramen money, and the rough edges of the games mean they’re aimed at the people willing to look past the occasional bug in search of creativity. But the do-it-yourself spirit of the Uprising should inspire anyone with a thumbstick and a dream, and if just one person makes this the first time they play a game made by a team smaller than a military platoon, it’ll all be worth it.

Gaming

‘Fortnite’ removes the Infinity Blade weapon after player backlash

Following player backlash over the Infinity Blade weapon's inclusion in Fortnite's battle royale mode, Epic Games decided to remove the weapon from the game completely. It was not limited to a special mode.
Gaming

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Gaming

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Want every suit in 'Marvel's Spider-Man' for PS4? Here's how to get them all

Marvel's Spider-Man features a whopping 33 different suits for Peter Parker to wear as he swings across New York City knocking out baddies. Here are all the suits and how to unlock them.
Gaming

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Gaming

Find the perfect weapon in 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4' multiplayer with our guide

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has several different guns to choose from in its multiplayer mode, and they're split across multiple classes. Here's a guide to all of them and when you should use them.
Gaming

New ‘Stardew Valley’ content on the way, as game’s maker freezes next project

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said that he will continue working on new content for the indie farming simulator. The developer previously said that he will devote all his time to his next game, but that has been placed on hold for now.
Gaming

Underwater survival game ‘Subnautica’ free on Epic Games’ online store

The award-winning underwater survival game Subnautica is currently available as a free download on the Epic Games store. The Steam challenger looks to attract players with a new free game every two weeks.