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Digital Art Masters Vol 7

I'm just back from Basheer Graphic bookstore, the sponsor for some art books you see reviewed on the site.

They have many stores in Asia and you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

They also post page previews on their Facebook page so you might find something interesting there.

 The Art of Street Fighter
Many of the Udon art books are back in stock, such as SF20: The Art of Street Fighter, the various Street Fighter comics collection, Okami Official Complete Works and others.

Atelier Series Official Chronicles
Atelier Series Official Chronicles, Shigenori Soejima Art Works 2004-2010 and Valkyria Chronicles 2 World Artworks

 The Complete Filmmaking Journey
Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey is an excellent book for all Harry Potter fan.

Digital Art Masters Vol 7
Digital Art Masters Volume 7 is out now. I'll review it in a few days time. Meanwhile, check out books from the Digital Art Masters series.

The Art of Guild Wars 2
The Art of Guild Wars 2 is in limited stock. Worthwhile if you're into video game fantasy art.

How to Draw Manga Vol 2 & 5
How to Draw Manga Volume 5 is new. I'll also review that soon. Also check out the How to Draw Manga series

Andrew Loomis anatomy books reprint
Andrew Loomis' three books reprinted by Titan Books, namely Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, Successful Drawing and Drawing the Head and Hands

CFSL Volume 5
CFSL.NET: Café Salé (CFSL) Artbook 05, Blast and Structura 2

Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia
The very rare Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia. It comes in a strange zip-lock packaging. There's lots of text but the book is in French. I only saw one copy.

Apparently, the first edition sold out. The 2nd edition is scheduled for October 2012. There's English edition also.

 Among Thieves
One of the best video game art books, The Art of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

 The Art of the Film
The Sucker Punch art book with a different cover.

Photoshop for 3D Artists Vol 1
Photoshop for 3D Artists Vol 1. I'll feature this book in the distant future.

Magnitude 9
This is Magnitude 9: Des images pour le Japon published by CFSL. Beside this and the CFSL collection art books, Basheer also has limited copies Dofus 2.0 Frigost Art and Dofus 2.0 Artbook in stock.

 Modern Cartoonist
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist is also just out.

 The Artist's Guide to Form, Function, and Movement
New stock for Classic Human Anatomy: The Artist's Guide to Form, Function, and Movement

Books seen at Basheer
These are the three books I borrowed for review.

All the books listed above and more are available for sale at Basheer. You can contact them via Facebook and Twitter to order or ask questions.


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A select group of people got a private demo of Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 at the Game Developers Conference in March, and Stu Horvath of Ars Technica's sister publication Wired was one of the lucky few. UE4 has many new features that will let it continue to sit on the Throne of Games (Engines), though Wired hints that old console hardware may hinder its crack at progress.

The most recently released version of Epic Games' engine, Unreal Engine 3, powered the game Gears of War released in 2006. Since then, it's been an unstoppable force behind over 150 games, including the Mass Effect trilogy, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mirror's Edge, and Borderlands.

One of the distinct properties of UE4 is its ability to create and display effects based on the inherent properties of an environment, rather than displaying pre-programmed ones based on anticipated scenarios. For example, light that travels through water would refract, and a character that stands in a mirror would see a reflection of themselves, not a pre-programmed image or pre-rendered character standing on the other side. This natural behavior presumably creates much less work for developers—rather than having to explicitly teach everything how to react to every individual stimulus, objects have inherent behaviors and know what to do.
Ash particles drift through a scene rendered with Unreal Engine 4. Wired
Another one of UE4's desirable new features is its particle effects, or the ability to render hordes of tiny objects and all of their erratic motions. In the demo shown at GDC, onlookers saw the engine's ability to render many pieces of ash floating in the air, and dust particles floating in the light of a flashlight in a dark room. Normally, having to render the odd and easily affected paths of particles brings processors to their knees, but with UE4 running on an NVIDIA Kepler GTX 680, they drifted without effort.

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trailers.jpgAsk IndieGames is a new monthly feature that takes a range of topics relating to indie gaming and development and poses them as a question to the editorial staff.

Whereas our sister site Gamasutra explored last month (in)effective press releases, we narrow our focus on what makes an effective game trailer.

We understand indies generally do not have big budgets for internal press teams, outsourced public relations or marketing outlets. That's why, as we curate the finest indie news for our readers, we view practically every trailer (at least in part) and appreciate when it's not embedded in a lot of marketing-speak.

What would compel us to watch a trailer in its entirety? When can a dubstep actually help a game? We attempt to address all this and more in this month's topic: what makes an effective indie game trailer?

mike rose.jpgMike Rose: I have a very specific formula that I've devised over the last several years for what makes an effective game trailer. While I'd say it's my own personal preference, whenever I've discussed it with other journalists they always seem to agree, so I must be on to something of a winner. So here it is: how to make the perfect indie game trailer:

Length: Preferably nothing longer than 90 seconds, and definitely not longer than two minutes, or else you risk losing the attention of the viewer and, in turn, their interest in your game. If you can't convey how great your game is in 90 seconds, you're doing it wrong! Which leads me to...

Show the gameplay: Game trailers are not movie trailers. We don't want to see the words "IN A WORLD..." appear against a black background, nor do we want to spend the first 20 seconds of your trailer viewing the various logos of your game and development team. Fill the trailer with what you're trying to sell - your gameplay! Find lots of interesting parts of your game, set a video recording program like Fraps running, and then bang them all together.

Music: If you're about to add heavy metal, techno or dubstep music to your game trailer, stop and think: does this even match my content? The answer is most likely going to be no. The music in your trailer is far more important than you believe, and in some cases, is one of the main draws - I mean, check this trailer for Fez to see what I mean. Give it huge consideration, and maybe explore free samples and tracks that you can use from the old interwebs.

KD.pngKonstantinos Dimopoulos (Gnome): I'll have to be brutally honest here and admit that even the very best trailer for an indie FPS or another tower defense variant would have to be more than exceptional to actually intrigue me. Other than that, I will also have to admit that screenshots and a game's description are usually more than important, but, well, let's focus on the subject at hand here: trailers.

On a rather more technical yet very important level developers should first of all make sure their trailers are readily available both on an easily embedded form (YouTube should do fine) and as downloadable files. More than a few journalists and bloggers do after all seem to prefer uploading videos themselves, most sites demand specific widths for their media and, admittedly, more options never hurt anyone.

Another important point, one that does actually determine whether I at least actually go on to watch a trailer or not, is its running time. Anything over four or five minutes, unless it's something I've been waiting for since the early 90s or has been designed by Tim Shafer, will most probably remain unwatched.

Assuming the above criteria have been met, I'd say that an effective and thus memorable trailer is a rare and difficult to analyze beast.

Yes, aesthetics are definitely important, as is a great soundtrack and enough information to actually describe the game on offer, but I'm pretty much convinced a good trailer needs to tell some sort of story. You know, have a beginning, middle and an ending; feel coherent and informative. Check out the latest Star Command trailer: one of the few recent ones I actually fondly remember and a trailer that provides enough gameplay footage to intrigue (but not answer everything), looks stunning and is akin to a very short movie.

Oh, and do keep in mind that any trailer mentioning the words ground-breaking, unique and innovative more than once doesn't make itself any favors. And, no, pre-rendered videos showing off cutscenes aren't a great idea either. Not unless you're preparing the next Starcraft of Dishonored.

Danny Cowan.pngDanny Cowan: Here's how I typically view a trailer:

1. Before it even starts, I skip to the middle, bypassing the company logos and that storyline you've put so much work into (sorry).
2. If it starts to drag, I skip toward the end (sorry again).
3. If I haven't seen any gameplay footage after about 30 seconds of
skipping around, I close the tab (super sorry about this).

Basically, I'm a jerk, and I'm sorry. Trailers are key to attracting interest in your game, though, and you should focus on making them concise and impactful, regardless of how dumb I am.

In skimming a trailer, I'm looking for a brief explanation of the game's mechanics and an idea of why your game is fun, interesting, or unique. Everything else is secondary. A length of one minute is ideal; thirty seconds is even better. Sound doesn't matter at all -- I reflexively mute most videos before they start playing.

Good stuff to include for people who want to talk about your game: a link to your site, a release date, and a list of supported platforms.

If your trailer is for a mobile or tablet game, I consider whether the genre is underrepresented on the platform and whether its controls are a good fit for touch screens. If I so much as catch a whiff of Angry Birds, I'm out.

steve cook.jpgSteve Cook: An effective trailer for me isn't too long; around 1 - 2 minutes length is perfect. If it is longer, I tend to lose interest after the 2nd minute, unless the game is complex enough to really justify it.

I prefer to watch snippets of gameplay footage cut together with a soundtrack that matches the mood from the game rather than explanatory voice-overs or bits of writing. I don't want so much footage as to show me every single mechanic in the game (I enjoy discovering some things on my own) but enough so that I understand how the basics will work.

A title or 'introductory' screen is a good way to begin so that I know the name of the project I am looking at. A fade out to an 'ending' screen is also acceptable - possibly announcing when the game will be released and for what platforms.

Humor can be a good thing to, if injected into the trailer properly. Making me genuinely laugh out loud definitely makes it that little bit more likely that I'll stick with a trailer to the end.

cass_colour.pngCassandra Khaw: I'm embarrassingly easy when it comes to game trailers. If it shows gameplay for something that I'm interested, I'll sit down and watch it, regardless of how crappy the music/sub-titles/introduction/video quality is.

That said, I'm probably not going to watch it till the end. Once I've assessed the game, I'm going to shut it down and move on to my next piece of work. OF course, that's only applicable if you're operating without a sense of humor. If you want an example of what works wonderfully, you should check out Magicka. Seriously. Check out the trailers for Magicka. They're one of the few that I would rewatch just for the pleasure of it.

As for what doesn't work, well, that's also pretty simple. Trailers that don't show anything. Those don't work for me. I'm talking about the ones that don't do anything but show two pieces of concept art for two minutes. I'm talking about the ones that linger lovingly on the logo. I understand there is a need to do teasers from time to time but there's a reason they're called 'teasers'. They're supposed to titillate, to entice, to make me desperately curious as to what is going to happen next.

johnpolson2.jpgJohn Polson: A trailer is effective for me if it educates and entertains.

I want to learn about the gameplay. Edited, short bursts of the game can be effective, but sometimes clips need a few extra frames to complete a certain mechanic. Words and transitions aren't cop outs if needed to explain what makes certain clips so special. At the very least, an educational trailer teaches me a game's pitch or message. A more educational, and effective, trailer demonstrates this game pitch to the point that I can explain paraphrase it to my readers.

I wouldn't mind learning about the game more, too. Aside from gameplay mechanics, inject the game's narrative, music, sound effects and even its personality. Learning if a game will be fun, sad, serious, fictional, dense, intense, or methodical helps me frame the game in a context as both an editor and a gamer. Release and platform information should either be in the trailer or in an accompanied website; otherwise, we can't help couple the game with its target audience.

I also wouldn't mind learning about developers in the trailer. Developers are vulnerable in exposing their work to judgment in under two minutes (a sensible length for trailers), so this is no time to feel shy. That said, not every person performs well in front of a camera or microphone, so I consider this an added bonus. If a trailer becomes slightly viral, though, the developer also becomes more widely known and has effectively already broken the ice at events like conventions and conferences.

Entertainment is entwined with a lot of what I feel should educate the viewer. While not revealing everything that makes a game special, clever snippets of dialogue, menus, cut scenes, in-game action, world maps, boss fights, or even customize or option screens can add flavor to a trailer. Stringing these elements together carefully in two minutes conveys that there's not just a bunch ideas, but a game, behind the trailer.

Audio and visual stimulation add to effectively entertaining. Unlike screen shots, I am looking at something in motion, hopefully with sound. I won't stop watching a trailer if the sound is poorly orchestrated, but rich audio (be it chiptune, 16- or 32-bit synth, or other instruments) adds heavily to my entertainment. Since the game is in motion, the importance of a cohesive art direction-- foreground, background, and everything between-- can't be understated, either.

Once developers cut a trailer, they should show it to someone who's never played or heard of the game before. If this new person can't describe the key mechanics or quirks, then the trailer needs to do a better job at educating the viewer. If this person is part of some targeted audience and doesn't want to play the game after watching, the trailer (or the game) may need to be made more entertaining.

I've spent too many words already, but I'd suggest checking out Kert Gartner's epic trailers or Tim Rogers's fourth-wall-breaking ZiGGURAT trailer. Gartner's also posted a lot of helpful, technical tips on making trailers, which were taken from his Indie Game Summit talk during GDC 2012.

Do you have a question that you'd like the IndieGames editors to tackle? Email EIC John Polson at johnpolsonfl at gmail dot com. Feel free to also check out our sister site's Ask Gamasutra, which inspired this new feature. [image source]

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It's a commonly held myth that to attain high rankings in your category on Google's Play Store (formerly Android Market) you need at least tens of thousands of dollars to have the slightest hope in hitting the top 10. For an indie developer self-publishing, it can seem a formidable challenge to reach those top spots. Let me assure you though -- it's possible to scale those charts without actually spending a penny on your first ...

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dlc quest.jpg[Written by Mike Rose on Gamasutra.]

A couple of Xbox Live Indie Games developers have seen notable increases in sales of their games, due to two separate forms of cross-platform and cross-game advertising.

Going Loud Studios founder Ben Kane revealed that, since being a part of Gamasutra sister website Indie Royale over the weekend, with a PC version of his games DLC Quest and Lair of the Evildoer available via the latest bundle, sales of the Xbox version of DLC Quest have quadrupled.

DLC Quest had sold 134 copies on XBLIG the weekend before the Indie Royale bundle -- however, during the bundle this past weekend, the XBLIG version saw 506 sales in total. The game has been available via XBLIG for around four months.

"To move over 500 copies this past weekend on Xbox is nuts," he said. "It also has a pretty big implication -- you can do cross-platform advertising or word of mouth and have an effect on 360 sales."

He continued, "There's sort of been this age old wisdom that you can't really successfully advertise for XBLIG on PC or mobile, because there's just too much of a gap between looking at something on your PC, and then going and playing it on your Xbox."

However, he says that this past weekend has shown him that "at least to a certain extent, it can be done."

Elsewhere, the developer behind Minecraft-inspired XBLIG hit FortressCraft revealed via Twitter that another of its XBLIG games, Steam Heroes, has sold more than 10 times as many copies as it had previously, simply by offering an unlockable item for FortressCraft when you buy it.

Back in October, the company added a special in-game item for FortressCraft, that is unlocked by purchasing Steam Heroes. Sales of the game immediately rocketed following the inclusion, with 10 times as many people buying the game over the next couple of months than had purchased it over the 12 months prior to that.

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When a series gets moved to a smaller platform we expect cuts in the game design. With Valkyria Chronicles 2 we have a situation where the limitations work to make the game more involved then before.

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The folks at Holmade Games have demade the Greek roid-rager Kratos from Sony's God of War series, resulting in the free Windows action platformer Bit of War.

8-bit Kratos begins his journey to once again rid the world of the gods he despises, armed with blades and Medusa's petrifying power. He gains another power for each of the first three stages before reaching the final, fourth stage. Platforming and avoiding projectiles felt like the real challenge in Bit of War. And unlike God of War, there is no reward to killing enemies, so I often jumped over them. Like God of War, Bit has checkpoints at which I could save and resume the game, though the whole game didn't take more than 1-2 hours to finish.

Holmade has crafted a captivating narrative (relative to God of War canon) told mostly through pre-battle dialogue and cut scenes, the latter of which is accompanied by the most adrenaline-inducing chiptunes of the game. After three oddly fitting bosses, it was pretty hard to guess what the final battle would be. And though some may construe that battle as a partial-programming cop-out, I think the team chose what may be Kratos' greatest adversary ever.

Will you like it if you are not a God of War or Greek mythology fan? How about a (slight spoiler) Norse fan? There's one way to know: give Bit of War a try now.

[Armless Octopus]

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