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Chris Buckley

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Getjar has launched a new payments system for Android devices, Getjar Gold. The virtual currency is supported by advertising, rather than customers buying it with real world dollars.

"The virtual nature of the currency and its linking to the global advertising spend solve two major problems that the traditional billing platforms have struggled with - low conversions due to the complicated user experience and the lack of access to global markets," said GetJar CEO Ilja Laurs.

"Our early results are showing significant increases in both revenue and conversion, and we expect developers will experience an increase of up to 10X for participating."


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Sony's track record for supporting indie development is mixed, boasting some notable successes on the PlayStation Network Store, and some that stumbled from the start, like the downloadable Minis for PSP and PlayStation 3. Which approach will it take with the new PlayStation Vita, a machine that some would argue already faces a battle for survival in an iOS dominated market?

The answer will be found amongst the booming independent development scene, which has snaked its way into every viable platform on the market looking for outlets that will accept a new breed of experimental, left-field, single-minded and funky game play.

Ricky Haggett and Dick Hogg from Honeyslug admit to being "bewildered" by the machine at first, even after they were specifically approached by their account manager at Sony (Honeyslug had previously created the charming Kahoots Mini for PS3) and attended a special Sony developer's presentation in London. They eventually settled on a game, Frobisher Says, that used all the available inputs, from smile detection to the back touch pads and cameras.


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Sony's track record for supporting indie development is mixed, boasting some notable successes on the PlayStation Network Store, and some that stumbled from the start, like the downloadable Minis for PSP and PlayStation 3. Which approach will it take with the new PlayStation Vita, a machine that some would argue already faces a battle for survival in an iOS dominated market?

The answer will be found amongst the booming independent development scene, which has snaked its way into every viable platform on the market looking for outlets that will accept a new breed of experimental, left-field, single-minded and funky game play.

Ricky Haggett and Dick Hogg from Honeyslug admit to being "bewildered" by the machine at first, even after they were specifically approached by their account manager at Sony (Honeyslug had previously created the charming Kahoots Mini for PS3) and attended a special Sony developer's presentation in London. They eventually settled on a game, Frobisher Says, that used all the available inputs, from smile detection to the back touch pads and cameras.


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Last week saw indie developers descend on London for Bit of Alright - a day of talks and play held in Battersea Arts Centre. It was a chaotic and good natured event, but far more interested in the nebulous properties of creativity and enthusiasm than it was in the harsher practicalities of getting a game to launch.

Acting as a foil to this exuberance was Cliff Harris, the man behind Positech Games and big-selling indie title Gratuitous Space Battles. His talk made pains to point out that it is graft and self-discipline that make indie development into a sustainable career. We caught up with him as he stepped off stage to ask why he thinks the UK indie scene needs to swallow such a bitter pill.


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In the Grand Hall of the Battersea Arts Centre, David Hayward points to a grey triangle, projected onto a screen. "This was part of the most boring PowerPoint presentation I've ever seen," he explains. So starts Hayward's introduction to Bit of Alright, an indie game development conference that pointedly avoids the stolid analysis and rigid formalities of the games industry lecture circuit. Under Hayward's curatorship, this feels more like a get-together than a conference, intended to inspire playfulness and spontaneity in its attendees, rather than subduing them with a deluge of instructional slides, as they sit passively before a droning speaker.

At least, this is how you sense many here would characterise the other industry events that dot the calendar. Other opinions are available, albeit not in abundant attendance. Some might find those supposedly grey and unlovely conferences, with their focus on practical advice and technical detail, pretty useful when it comes to the task of actually producing saleable games, and ensuring the survival of an independent developer in such tricky economic times.

Bit of Alright hints at something of a crisis of identity when it comes to the UK indie scene, which sometimes seems to like everything about self-employment but the employment part itself. The talks reflect that hippy-ish suspicion of structure: there's an informal pass-the-mic style, which causes Dan Marshall's session on the mechanics of death to disassemble into semi-audible group chatter.


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The recent announcement of GFACE - a social media network with Cloud support, backed by Crytek - demonstrates that the concept of "gaming over IP" is likely to gain further traction as viable competition to both current and next-gen consoles. OnLive is out now with a full service, Gaikai is set to follow suit this year, and while there's a strong argument that these emerging technologies are not really a match for the local console experience, it's only fair to remember that these are first-gen technological products. They will improve, and even in the here-and-now they do work, even if the experience is quantifiably sub-optimal compared to local gaming.

The question is, to what extent can Cloud gaming services improve? Much has been made of the fact that even with ultra-fast fibre-optic networks, latency will always be an issue. Similarly, lossless video quality requires so much bandwidth (720p60 is well over 100 megabytes per second) that it's not going to be viable on gaming services. Given that video will always be compressed, to what extent can picture quality - which varies dramatically from one instant to the next - get better?

In this article we'll be tackling both of these issues, presenting the argument that improvements to internet infrastructure combined with optimising the current latency pipeline could well be enough to bridge the gap between Cloud services and what you might call a standard console experience.


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Though games designer Jesse Schell was well known to industry veterans before 2010, it was that year's prescient DICE / TED talk about gamification that brought him to wider attention. He started his career at Bell Labs, but since has been the lead designer of the first MMO aimed at children, Toontown, designed rollercoasters, been a juggler, comedian and mime, and written one of the best game theory books around, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.

Currently, he runs his own studio, Schell Games, and teaches Building Virtual Worlds and Game Design at Carnegie-Mellon University. We caught up with him at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London, England, where we talked about cross-platform gaming, gamifying pupil's results, and how technology is bypassing the classroom.


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Bossa head and co-founder Henrique Olifiers has shared his frustrations at the iterative nature of social game design, and warned of the consequences.

"Social games for me were always on the cutting-edge until they became copycat, and after they became copycat I said, 'Well, this is not going anywhere,'" he told GamesIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview.

"This will be like the Atari Eighties crash. Everybody and their grandmother had a version of Space Invaders, and these guys are going to do the same thing."


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Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has lashed out at the developers who've accused the company of copying their games, arguing there are only a small number of truly new games.

"We think there is a massive body of work in the video game industry that is going to be reimagined for decades to come in a way that is free, accessible and social," Pincus told GamesBeat.

"That's what we're doing. I don't think anyone should be surprised when they see us come out with games that they've seen before, a decade or more ago. I don't think there are a lot of totally new games that are invented. We always try. But to us, they are like the crew mechanic in our games. They give you a new way to interact with your friends."


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Kixeye's Will Harbin has struck out at companies which he sees as relying too much on metric data and A/B testing, saying that creativity must be the primary motivator for innovative game development.

Speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz today, Harbin said that, whilst data can prove to be a valuable tool for fine tuning, true creativity relies on instinct and passion.

"Data does not inform our road map," Harbin revealed. "I mean, it's only us as gamers that informs our road-map. What we do with data is we try to enhance the gaming experience. So for example when you have a lot of people who, let's say, complain in user forums about a new feature that you've launched, well the data might be saying that these guys are spending hours on this feature and it's causing them to come back to the game at an increased rate.


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