The Humblebee Flies Again

The de facto pay-what-you-want package deal is back! Colour us surprised, as last May’s Humble Indie Bundle seemed so much like a one-off. But here it is, a fresh assortment of indie titles: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans, each of them cross-platform and sans DRM.

Exactly like last year, buyers can choose how to best split their payment between the five games and two charities, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play; in addition, there now exists a new option for tipping off “Humble Bundle, Inc.” itself, as reward for the actual running of the promotion. So far, bundle #2 has already proved to be a massive success like its predecessor, netting over 500 000 dollars in just over a day,1 and at the time of writing, more than 100 000 bundles have been sold. An all-new development is the transformation of the “top contributors” list into an advertisement board, with clever individuals - like Minecraft developer @notch - using their contributions to advertise businesses and Twitter accounts.

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So, what does [insert price tag here] net you this time around, exactly? There’s Braid (‘Nuff Said), the ambient reverse propulsion clickathon Osmos, the delightfully pixelated Worms-influenced multiplayer blastfest Cortex Command, the cutiepie point and click Flash adventure Machinarium, and finally the highly fashionable and stylized RTS/TD romp in Revenge of the Titans  – overall, quite the diverse cast, as you can see in the image above!

This time around, however, many players already happen to own a copy of Braid here, an Osmos there, with an extra Machinarium to go; Jack Monahan goes so far as to say that you “need to question your indie-ness if you don’t already own practically all”2 of the aforementioned! Tough but true, I’m sure!

With so many avenues for digital distribution these days, it has actually become standard practice in the indie gaming scene for gamers to buy the same game over and over in support of their favourite devs. Therefore, you could very well think of HIB2 as a Cortex Command/Revenge of the Titans license, for instance - either game is more than worth it granted both are still actively developed, and Humble Bundle owners will be entitled to all future updates. If you don’t yet have Osmos, you might want to know that its soundtrack is loaded, absolutely loaded with well-known ambient artists such as Loscil and Biosphere. And so on.

A curious common thread that unites this particular batch of games is the Independent Games Festival – like the 2006 “Innovation in Game Design” winner Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium and Osmos all three took part in the IGF 2009 Main Competition. That leaves Revenge of the Titans the dark horse of this bundle, right?

As a further aside, like you might already know, I’m not altogether convinced by Braid’s inclusion in the bundle: Due to its massive budget and popularity, I do think its status as a game suited for such a bundle is highly questionable. However, I do admit to understanding the game’s presence in the bundle as a lure; it doesn’t so much belong in the package as it does bring in some additional prestige and legitimacy to the bundle.

In fact, the question of prestige very much relates to getting the aforementioned games activate on Steam. As you know, a message was just sent out only weeks before that the original bundle can now be activated in its entirety on Steam. Obviously, neither Cortex Command nor Revenge of the Titans are yet on the service at this juncture, but when inquired, Wolfire’s head honcho and Humbe Bundle co-ordinator Jeffrey Rosen stated that he feels “optimistic” about future Steam activation.3 Furthermore, the Humble Bundle does absolutely have a great dialectic effect on the Steam application process: If the aforementioned two games weren’t notable enough for inclusion before the bundle, now they surely are!

Finally, don’t get so excited as to forget all about the ongoing WikiLeaks situation – please do stay away from Paypal and Amazon Payments and go with Google Checkout if at all possible. Let’s keep it cool and collected - you still have five days left to ponder how much exactly is going to a good cause!

December 19th Update:

For having broken the one million dollar barrier earlier today, the developers have enabled Humble Bundle 2 to register on Steam much like the earlier pack. As neither Cortex Command nor Revenge of the Titans are yet available on Steam, they will be added to the Steam library on a subscription basis as they are released.

  1.!/humble/status/15083747409924097 []
  2.!/gausswerks/statuses/14743870269038592 []
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