The word “portal,” at least to me, conjures up images of casual game havens like Big Fish or Reflexive, or sites full of the same flash games that are on every other site, like Kongregate or Armor Games. The idea of a game portal site really didn’t appeal to me until I spent some time on Game Jolt.

Game Jolt accepts nearly any kind of free game, be it downloadable or web-based. At first glance, it may appear to be just another site, with not much to offer, and I have seen several people complaining about how the layout looks too much like Kongregate’s, and I will admit that both the layout and business model bear some resemblance. However, after poking around the site a bit, it becomes obvious that Game Jolt is more than just another portal and may just be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Game Jolt has a couple of tricks up its sleeve that give it a large amount of potential. My favorite is the revenue sharing system. Although it is in closed beta right now, the program promises to offer developers a relatively easy way to monetize freeware games. The current split is 50/50, but will probably change as the program matures. The good news is that any developers that sign up now can reserve this rate for life, even if they are not chosen for the closed beta.

Another feature I think adds to the site’s potential is the Quick Play system. One of the main hassles of downloadable games is the fact that they usually need to be installed or unzipped. Very rarely do we download a straight .exe file and run it. Game Jolt solves this with a system that does the work for you. The developer simply uploads a .zip file, and the Quick Play system takes care of the rest. I think the removal of this extra step is a very important part in improving the accessibility of downloadable games.

I could go on about Game Jolt’s other qualities, like the active and friendly community, or the contests, but then people might start to get suspicious. The point is that Game Jolt is creating a site that could open up the freeware games sector to an audience that it hasn’t really had before, and they are doing so in a developer-centric sort of way. I’ve registered and uploaded some of my games to the site, and I sincerely wish the site success in the future as both a developer and user.

Resist! Released

March 14, 2009

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Resist! has been released. It can be downloaded here.

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Download Empires

Empires has consumed my life. I would probably compare it to a land-based version of Allegiance if I had to compare it to an existing game. Empires is a hybrid RTS and FPS, complete with classes, vehicles, a commander, and experience points. Two teams fight to capture flags as each teams commander builds bases and collects resources. I won’t bore you by detailing the many aspects of the game, but an excellent description of the game can be found over at Playthisthing.

Empires totally aces the RTS/FPS hybrid, but my favorite game aspect is how the game’s pace ranges from orderly to complete chaos in mere seconds. Forget about America’s Army, Empires provides the most realistic feeling of being in an actual warzone I have ever played. Most other FPSes do a fine job of providing you with chaos during firefights, but only Empires presents a very rigid command structure, where not following orders is a sure way to get killed repeatedly.

For instance, at the start of a game, I followed my squad leader over to an old set of ruins, as we were ordered by the commander to fortify the area. Most of my squad played as engineers, with the exception of one heavy machine gunner. We immediately began building structures that our commander had placed as soon as we came in range, while our lone machine gunner set up to face any enemies that might try to interrupt our fortifying.

Within a few minutes, my squad of four had constructed a full base, complete with defensive turrets and a spawnpoint. This may not seem that great, but the amazing thing about it was that we did not speak a word to each other while doing this. Knowing what needed to be done, we simply went about building a base as fast as possible. On the other side of the map, where our commander had sent another less organized squad, our forces were being slaughtered, and our base was destroyed. This squad did not follow the order given by the commander, and died as a result. In Empires a small, organized group can do a lot if everyone follows orders and does what they should. Empires takes teamwork to levels almost no other game has gone to before.