Indie game developers club together with cut-price bundle

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The Independent Tech

For some time now, digital download companies have been pulling in new customers with bargain basement rates on top games.

Now, three independent software developers have joined forces to offer a similar sort of short-term discount on their cult hit PC games: Solium Infernum, Gratuitous Space Battles, and AI War.

Separately, all three plus the included expansion packs would usually cost just under $90 or around €65, but until March 9 they are bundled together for $59 or €47 and available directly from a website backed by the three creators.

Each game is from a one-man independent software developer, and all three have met with significant interest: Gratuitous Space Battles scored 8/10 at Destructoid, Quintin Smith of Rock Paper Shotgun called Solium Infernum his "second favourite game" of 2009, and AOL's Big Download judged that AI War was a "must own" game.

Solium Infernum is diplomatic military strategy turned inside out: players struggle to assert their authority against each other in a Dantéan underworld and betting already scarce resources on the results of their clashes. All this in a bid to wrestle control of Hell knowing that even the meanest and most surefire of strategies is no more than a few steps from leading them headlong into an abyss of folly.

Solium's use of a "play by e-mail" mechanic, waiting for all players to send in their next move before allowing events to unfold, means that friends (or enemies) don't need to schedule a time to play together. Rather, tension builds before discovering whose boasting was entirely in vain, working enormously well to build tension and suck players in.

Instead of deferring the glorious moment of victory for as long as possible, Cliff Harris's Gratuitous Space Battles is unabashed in its desire to recreate Hollywood's greatest space battles on a computer screen, reasoning that a true space admiral would furnish their fleet with orders before sitting back to watch a galactic firework display unfold.

Initially presented as a single-player game, a player-versus-player mode was polished off to allow a growing fan community to pit their wits against each other, sending off space batallions unto the breach until victory was won.

Those initial challenge matches evolved just as school playground tournaments spring up around a good haul of conkers or top trump cards - except this time it's rock-paper-scissors packed with explosions, forcefields, gigantic space cruisers, and mighty superlasers.

Lastly, AI War: Fleet Command is another space battler, though while GSB focuses on the joy of a single engagement, AI War is on an enormous scale, with a single player or several players working together to take on the game's formidable articifial intelligence faction.

Co-ordinated attacks, resource sharing, and carefully executed strategies can get AI War players only so far. Its creator Chris Park implemented a special AI Progress feature which means the already toughened computer player will significantly improve its attacking forces.

The three games are most certainly not for everyone - regarding Solium Infernum, Vic even said that "my goal is to make games that drive away 90 percent of the player base out there." But for that remaining 10 percent, this bargain bundle should provide weeks if not months of fun. Each game also has a demo available so the curious can try before they buy.

The bundle will be on offer until March 9, available directly from the three game makers at IndieStrategyGames.com.

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