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As an article in this week’s issue of TIME explains, the burgeoning sport of acro—the short form of “acrobatics and tumbling”—is striving to distance itself from its cheerleading roots. Likewise, when photographer Holly Andres visited the University of Oregon acro team to shoot the young athletes at practice, she wanted to avoid the tropes of cheerleading photography. There would be no green backgrounds or vivid colors. Instead, the shoot had been planned entirely in black-and-white, the participants envisaged as frozen shapes on a stark field—an idea planned by TIME in order to match a story about a sport striving to be taken seriously.

“The night before, I was really struggling with how I was going to pull this off,” says Andres, for whom the assignment was a departure from her usual style. But, she says, the answer came to her in her sleep, when she thought of Leni Riefenstahl’s photographs of divers from the 1937 Olympics. “I was thinking about the way that she shot really low angles and exposed for the sky in such a way that the athletes looked like these graphic objects. I thought if I could just get them outside and shoot from a low angle I could probably get a more compelling shot than shooting in the gym.”

On the day of the shoot, Andres, whose work is normally highly orchestrated, couldn’t interrupt the practice to adjust composition. Nor did she have much experience with sports—as a photographer, as an athlete or even as a spectator. But her instincts proved correct. Outside on the football field, with a low angle, she was able to capture the dizzying acrobatics in striking graphic fashion. And, as a bonus, nobody fell on her. “It was pretty terrifying,” she says. “I appreciated having my camera as a buffer to look through because I think it detached me a bit from the reality. I just had to have faith that this is what they do and no one’s going to misstep.”

The bold look of the shoot continued when the team returned to the gym for the rest of their practice. Using seven strobes, Andres was able to freeze their movements against a white seamless wall and the light gray of their gym mats.

And despite her lack of sports experience, the photographer found that the acro team’s ethic fit in with her own work as a photographer of the feminine experience. “The fact that there were no male team members and that they were the ones who were throwing and hoisting their fellow team members in the air was really interesting,” she says. “Certainly it challenged some of my preexisting ideas or stereotypes about cheerleaders.”

Read the story from our current issue: Cheer Factor

Holly Andres is an American photographer. See more of her work here.

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Galcon series developer Phil Hassey has released a trailer for his upcoming game Dynamite Jack, offering a tantalizing glimpse of its unique brand of alien-exploding action.

Dynamite Jack (formerly Anathema Mines) is a 2D, overhead-view action game in which a lone space marine must sabotage and escape from an alien mining colony. Players are equipped with time bombs, giving the gameplay footage a feel similar to Hudson's Bomberman series and the PSone obscurity Silent Bomber, with bonus stealth mechanics.

Dynamite Jack will be released for Windows and Mac in May.

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The teaser trailer for Warballoon Games’ Star Command has landed, giving us a glimpse into the fantastic pixel art of their upcoming spaceship-management game.

Star Command allows players to take control of a starship in humanities distant future. Players build their ship, staff and manage their crew, explore the galaxy, battle other species, discover far off worlds and attempt to control the universe.

The game is scheduled to launch this summer on iOS and Android devices, but the developers have plans for a future, “Ultimate” PC version as well, which would include “all the campaigns, all the expansions, [and] possible multiplayer.” I can not wait!

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Great things, it would seem, arise from an amalgamation of those two genres. Created by a pair of brothers, both of whom are entirely new to the industry, Ring Runner is a pretty 'stellar' looking action-RPG that apparently has more in common with Mythic's Silent Death than your average SHMUP. I'm not complaining.

According to the press release we received sometime back, Ring Runner will feature 300 abilities, 65 playable ships, each equipped with what has been described as a 'unique template for customization', a single-player story-driven campaign, two player local co-op, mini games, a variety of game modes and - you know what? Check out their Youtube channel. They've got a pretty impressive collection of video devlogs that you will probably enjoy.

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A third-person multiplayer action game, Omegalodon feels mildly like a tribute to the monster movies of yore. In this game, players can elect to play as representatives of the human species or as a 100-foot shark monster and his entourage of healers. Choose whatever you will. The objective of the game is pretty straightforward. To win as a member of the monstrous Green team (who comprise of the Omegalodon and his Enviros), you're going to help ensure that a certain nuclear containment facility explodes before the timer ends. As the humans, well, it's your job to stop the invasion. Simple, eh?

There are a fair number of vehicles to utilize, environments to obliterate and voice acting to relish. If you want to play the game, you're going to have to fork over about 10 USD. Not sure if you want to? Check out the demo over here first.

Official website here.

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Grim Dawn is an upcoming action RPG from Crate Entertainment, a small studio founded by ex-members of Iron Lore Entertainment. The game is being built on Iron Lore’s Titan Quest engine.

In this August 2011 interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Crate’s Arthur Bruno spoke quite candidly about the demise of Iron Lore and how the Grim Dawn team is planning to please “the hardcore gaming audience” on a smaller budget.

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Here’s a new trailer for Depth, a stealth-based multiplayer game that pits a team of divers against a team of man-eating sharks. Sharks are much more powerful but have limited vision – to catch their prey they have to rely on disturbances in the water and heartbeats. The goal of the divers is to sneak treasure out from the sea floor without being killed.

No release date has been announced.

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Realm of the Mad God, the free-to-play, bullet-hell MMORPG will soon arrive on Steam.

Realm of the Mad God

Originally an entry in the TIGSource Assemblee Competition, Realm of the Mad God has continued to gain popularity for the past two years, and was announced as a Main Competition finalist for the 2012 Independent Games Festival. The game’s move to Steam, early next week, shows just how popular it has become and will introduce achievements to the game as well as a stand-alone client (though players will still be able to play in their browsers, if they so wish). The game will continue to be free to play, and it’s almost certain that the team intends to add new content throughout the foreseeable future as the player base continues to grow.

Congratulations, Wild Shadow Studios!

 

TIGdb: Entry for Realm of the Mad God

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Pineapple Smash Crew, by Rich Make Game!

Playing through Pineapple Smash Crew a second time, I’m convinced the game needs some kind of time pressure. Running through missions at top speed is exciting and works well with the best idea in the game – the grenade system – as well as the randomized level generation. Not only does navigating the map involve more planning, but you’re forced to put yourself into the middle of the fray and constantly swap grenades, something which PSC obviously wants you to do but doesn’t provide enough incentive for.

Without the speed, the game can drag. The missions rarely pose a challenge, for one thing – it’s easy to clear out rooms without taking too much damage if you’re careful about engaging enemies in small groups. It’s also quite natural to hoard grenades (especially health grenades) until you really need them and max out your squad strength by collecting every chit in every crate in every mission. At that pace you begin to notice the same-iness of the levels, which have little to distinguish one room from the other aside from the bosses. In short, it feels a little like a grindy dungeon crawl when it should feel like a frantic action shooter.

The grenade system really is cool – each member of your squad can hold one, and the effects range from explosives to area-of-effect weapons to turrets to zanier stuff, like vortexes, teleporters, and decoys. They’re powerful and dangerous, and when you’re forced to constantly pick up and use them in the heat of battle, they are a lot of fun. It’s a shame, then, that the game suggests a slower and more careful pace of play.

TIGdb: Entry for Pineapple Smash Crew

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Hey, you! Yes, you. Do you want to play as a malevolent shadow god thing capable of extinguishing light and life? Do you want to sneak from torch to torch before devouring the unsuspecting? You do? Great! Because I have something here that you are bound to love.

Described as a stealth-action game inspired by the likes of Diablo, Torchlight and Batman: Arkham Asylum, Deity is a rather entertaining offering from Digipen. In this student project, players will be able to take on the role of the titular entity so as to be able to wreck careful, calculated havoc from the shadows. Unlike normal gods, you're not particularly good at full frontal combat. At least, not in the traditional way. You're capable of one-shotting a lot of enemies under the right circumstances but you're also terribly weak to the light. As a result, a lot of time in the game will be spent crouching in the darkness or inside converted torches (yellow lamp bad, purple lamp good). This makes for a lot of tense moments but that, as we all know, isn't a bad thing at all.

You can download the game here.

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