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Mustafah Abdulaziz is surrounded by the same landscape, lit by the same saturating afternoon light as the rest of us, but sees things differently, capturing “the scene that strives to appear one way but looks to me another.” Memory Loss is about how people appear in an environment that is so familiar to them that they stop seeing and consequently, forget how they appear in it.

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As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage.

Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores – like the games for which they’re composed – are quirky and eccentric. They reject the usual expectations of what game music might be, sometimes tending to the cinematic, sometimes to the retro, sometimes unapologetically embracing magical, sentimental, childlike worlds.

And now, defying music’s typical business models as well as its genre expectations, you can get a whole big bundle of games for almost no money. Pay what you want, and get hours of music. Pay more than $10, and get loads more. You just have to do it before the deal ends (five days from this posting), at which point the bundle is gone forever. In a sign of just how much love listeners of these records feel, there’s a competition to get into the top 20, top 10, and top-paying spots, which with days left in the contest is already pushing well into the hundreds of dollars. But for that rate or just the few-dollar rate, these are the true fans. You’ve heard about them in theory in trendy music business blogs and conferences, in theory. But here, someone’s doing something about it, and it’s not a fluke or a one-time novelty: it’s a real formula.

http://www.gamemusicbundle.com/

Game music itself is, of course, a funny thing. Game play itself tends to repetition, meaning you hear this music a lot. So it says something really extraordinary about the affection for these scores that gamers want to hear the music again and again. This gets the musical content well beyond the level of annoying wallpaper into something that, even more than a film score you hear just once or a few times, you want to make part of your life. That endless play gets us back to what inspired ownership in the first place, to buying stacks of records rather than just waiting for them on the radio. And in that sense, perhaps what motivates owning music versus treating it like a utility or water faucet hasn’t changed in the digital age at all. Maybe it’s gotten even stronger.

We’ve already sung the praises of Sword and Sworcery on this site; it’s notably in the bundle. But I want to highlight in particular one other score, the inventive and dream-like Machinarium. Impeccably recorded, boldly original, the work of Prague-based Tomáš Dvořák, Machinarium mirrors the whimsical constructed machines of the games. There’s a careful attention to timbre, and music that moves from film-like moments to song to beautiful washes of ambience, glitch set against warm rushes of landscape. For his part, Dvořák is a clarinetist, and his musical senstitivity never ceases to translate into the score. It’s just good music, even if you never play the game, and easily worth the price of admission for the bundle if you never listened to anything else (though you would truly be missing out). It’s simply one of the best game music scores in recent years.

And another look at Jim Guthrie’s score to Sword & Sworcery:

Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery[Create Digital Music]

Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery [Create Digital Motion]

Also in this collection: Aquaria, To the Moon, Jamestown, and a mash-up, plus a whole bunch of bonus games when you spend a bit more that feel heavily influenced by Japanese game music and chip music.

And some of the best gems are in the repeat of the last bundle, which you can (and should) add on for US$5 more:
Minecraft: Volume Alpha, Super Meat Boy: Digital Soundtrack, PPPPPP (soundtrack to VVVVVV), Impostor Nostalgia, Cobalt, Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda, Return All Robots!, Mighty Milky, Way / Mighty Flip Champs, Tree of Knowledge

I’ve sat at game conferences as composers working for so-called AAA titles lamented the limitations of the game music production pipeline. Quietly, indie game developers have shown that anything is possible, that the quality of a game score is limited only by a composer’s imagination.

More music to hear (and some behind-the-scenes footage), including a really promising Kickstarter-funded iPad music project from regular CDM reader Wiley Wiggins:

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Base-jumping was originally invented in 1781 as a way of allowing climbers to travel without hair-dryers, the hair-dryer having been invented the previous year. They’d just take a wet-headed leap off whatever they were on by the time they hit the bottom they’d be dry but sadly dead. Two years later the parachute was invented. Capitalising on this soon to be hip new craze is AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, semi sequel to AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity.
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If I'd hated it, I was going to call this post Gundemoanyum.

A few people have nudged and winked us in the direction of Rockin’ Android’s (and there’s a name they must sort of regret, given they specialise in PC and PSN titles) Westernified J-indie bullet hell series Gundemonium Collection, which recently released on Steam. I quietly sneered my way through the big -eyed, Renaissance-frock loading screens and menus, and was rewarded by something delightfully ridiculous on the other side of it. Its base look might clearly declare which nation it orginates from, but it wastes no time in becoming absolutely batshit crazy, both in terms of the enemies it throws at you and in the powers it’s granting your floating gunwoman.
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See, this is just ridiculously pretty.

Action RPG Bastion was released on Steam yesterday. I’ve been weaving my way through its enchantingly morose worlds, and although still a good way from the end, I am absolutely ready to tell you Wot I Think.

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Today's collection of independent game links includes more indie game previews, a couple of development updates, and the usual round-up of interviews with developers from around the 'net. (image source).

TruePCGaming: Jamestown Interview
"TruePCGaming caught up with the fine gentlemen from Final Form Games to discuss their smash hit, Jamestown. They also talk about the origins of Jamestown, how they got their start in the PC gaming business, Valve and more."

The A.V. Club: Sawbuck Gamer, August 8th
"Game developers are testing their freshest ideas in the medium's Off-Off-Broadway productions: experimental indies, iPhone curiosities, Facebook add-ons, etc. In each edition of Sawbuck Gamer, we'll round up a bunch of cheap thrills for your idle gaming pleasure, and we hope you'll pipe up in the comments with your own finds."

Stratagonline: A Conversation With Jason Rohrer
"I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jason Rohrer and pick his brain about his development methods, his thoughts on being an independent developer, his experiences working with large publishers, the gaming industry's nasty case of 'sequelitis', and garnish some details about his upcoming strategy game for the Nintendo DS, Diamond Trust of London."

indiePub Games: Jeff Vogel gets us caught up with Spiderweb
"Many people seems to get into game development for love: Love of video games, love of programming and code or maybe even to express love. Jeff Vogel's switch to a career making games may have included an element of passion but it was a little more conflicted than that."

Kotaku: Two Hours with Jonathan Blow's The Witness
"The Witness is the new game from Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid. It comes with high expectations, given the critical and commercial success of that previous indie. It's planned for PC and at least one console and is at least a year away from completion."

GameTrailers: Journey Post-Beta Interview (video)
"Go behind the scenes of the development process of Journey including reactions on the closed beta in this Interview with Executive Producer Robin Hunicke."

Joystiq: The Witness preview
"'Hey man, come in,' a weary looking Jonathan Blow said. He was welcoming me into his temporary New York City abode, a swanky hotel in midtown where he'd been put up for a few days to show off a preview build of his next game, The Witness. His bare feet indicated to me that I'd either just woken him up, or that he was very comfortable with strangers."

Digital Spy: Okabu Preview
"Okabu is a new co-op puzzle game from the makers of the excellent iOS title Rolando. Heading to the PSN this September, the title is part of Sony's Pub Fund initiative, which sees the platform holder invest in and support a batch of promising indie games from the brightest and best up-and-coming studios."

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jamestown.jpg

How have I not talked about Jamestown yet? That's just poor form. Released last month, it's a surprisingly exciting shmup with some serious "neo-classical" personality, gloriously deep gameplay, lots of differents modes to play through and local co-op play.

This is a game with oozings of style, no doubt about it - just watch the recently reported trailer to get an idea of why you need to own this game. As if a personal reminder aimed at me, the game is now available for half price via Steam as a daily deal. Make sure you pick it up if you haven't already.

Oh, and while you're at it - have you seen the price of Atom Zombie Smasher? That's on the daily deal too. You really should pick it up - here's why.

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