Monday, 30 April 2012

NEO Scavenger Developer Q&A - Part 2

Welcome back to our chat with NEO Scavenger developer Daniel Fedor.  This is Part 2 (you can see Part 1 here) and we discuss the game itself, and the plans for its future.

Your first project is NEO Scavenger - which is a turn-based, quite traditional, RPG with an emphasis on crafting and survival.  Tell us about that.

Turn-based play was actually a big consideration for me when I set out to make the game. I enjoy having the time to really consider my next action, to enjoy the problem solving, and not be pressured by time constraints nor other players. I enjoy twitch games too, but sometimes, I just want to sit down and leisurely enjoy a rich, challenging game.

The crafting and survival aspects of the game are largely borne of my love for post apocalyptic settings. In a post apocalyptic world, one has to look at items with new eyes, and imagine creative ways of using limited resources. It reminds me of my childhood days of scavenging junk to make forts, and rummaging through piles of Lego, trying to find a serviceable part for my creation. Post apocalyptic settings also offer the ability to tell two stories simultaneously: that of the world gone by, as well as those who live among its ruins.

RPGs also played a big role in my childhood. My friends and I would spend hours in elaborate campaigns, and even more time researching and designing settings, adventures, and characters between sessions. I wanted to capture the creative problem solving aspects I enjoyed so much from those games. Players will quickly notice that encounters in NEO Scavenger have multiple solutions, and I try to encourage these creative approaches.

The game is quite "hardcore" - with (perma) death coming easily and often. Is this something that will be true of the final version, and what made you decide to take this approach?

As much as possible, yes, it will be a part of the final version. Knowing that everything is on the line makes decisions more interesting, and the game more compelling. There's this one quest, after the player has spent quite a while struggling to just stay alive, where they're presented with a foreboding building they must enter. I've had three separate people tell me that when they saw that house, they thought about all the times they nearly died trying to just stay fed and sheltered, and decided "nope, I'm not going in there."

That's exactly the kind of role-playing I was hoping for. If the player could just save their game before entering the house, and reload at any time later, they'd do just that. The mystery of the house wouldn't be a reward for the brave anymore, just more content to consume.

There are still some bugs to work out, though. Many things in the game can kill a player regardless of the player's preparedness, and that's not cool. Like in traditional RPGs, I want death to be something of a joint failure between the player and I. Either the player took an unnecessary risk, was lazy, or I didn't provide the necessary in-game tools. That'll take some work to sort out, but that's the goal.

There's also the question of how to handle death once the game's plot gets longer. I plan to extend the plot beyond what's currently in the demo and beta, and the longer that plot becomes, the more annoying death becomes. For now, death is a minor setback, and a chance to try a different approach. But if the plot gets long enough, death may be more frustrating than fun. There are ways to address that, and I'll have to see what works best. But I definitely want to maintain the "hardcore" feel that's there now. It's part of what sets NEO Scavenger apart from the "can't fail" games that exist.

There are lots of items in the game which give the player pieces of the back story.  Is the plot and background of the game already all worked out? Or is that still being developed?

A good deal of work has been done creating the setting and overall plot structure, but details still need working out. Ultimately, NEO Scavenger takes place in a world in which I'd like to tell many stories. NEO Scavenger is meant to be a sort of introductory episode in a series of games in the same universe. So it'll reveal a pretty wide-but-shallow collection of setting and plot info, and leave further detail to future games in the setting.

You seem keen to involve your players in helping you develop the game, through the forum and by voting on features.  Is this something which you think is important?  

I definitely want players to feel like they have a voice. Part of the reason I started this whole enterprise was because I wanted more creative input into games, and this is a way to share that experience with customers.

The feature voting was an experiment with letting paying customers help drive the development priorities. Most studios will engage their customers in forums, and this can be a great way to get feedback. However, forums can often be misleading, as the volume of discussion may not accurately reflect the number of customers who care about it. Offering paying customers the ability to vote means that I'm seeing an accurate representation of what paying customers want, in proportion to the amount of money they think it's worth.

How many of the proposed features do you hope to be able to implement?

Everything! Seriously, though, the features up for voting are all ones that I'd like to see added, finances permitting. I have a vision for what I think the game should be, and the voting is meant to help with prioritizing that vision, rather than changing it.

If I had to choose only a few from that list, it actually wouldn't be too different than the current voting ranks. The game needs at least a little more plot work before I'd be satisfied. And combat is still really rough. I'd like to work out a richer system for that, allowing the same sort of creative latitude as the rest of the encounters in the game. I see the value in a larger resolution, though I could technically live without it. And the rest are mostly for variety more than anything.

How important is it for you that people support the game now, while it is still in development?  Would you be able to finish the game if people didn't do this?

If nobody had supported the game, I probably would've worked on a bit more plot, wrapped it up, and moved on to a new game. Having people support the game early has allowed me to do a huge amount of refinement to NEO Scavenger, including adding some new features. In particular, the new day/night, visibility, AI, and camp additions were mechanics which probably would've been skipped without outside support and feedback. So having people participate in both the funding and design of the game was a big deal.

I'm not sure how much more I can afford to work on before I need to move on, but extending the plot is still an obligation I'm imposing on myself. Even if I had to go get a job at the supermarket to pay the bills tomorrow, customers at least deserve some more plot.

So, with all this in mind, when do you think you’ll be able to release the game?

A final version? It's hard to say. Probably no sooner than June 2012, if I were to start wrapping up plot work tomorrow. I estimate it'd take at least that long to create and test the content. However, if pre-sales pick up again, it might be enough to fund a new feature or two, so that would protract the schedule.

Ideally, I'd have enough funds to flesh out the plot some more, fix up combat and wounding, and add some extra variety to the game's collection of items and creatures. I could then start selling a downloadable copy from my own site, as well as shop it around other channels, such as Steam and Desura. And hopefully it would be enough to start work on future installments, probably with a continuation of the plot. I could see this option taking more like 3-4 months to complete.

So sometime in the summer, perhaps? Of course, my original estimation was 4 months all-told, for a September 2011 release. We can see how accurate that was!

So, there you have it.  We’re very excited about this game.  Hopefully some of you are too and will want to
support it, and enable Daniel to put in all the features that he has planned.  Don’t forget that you can do that, and much more, on the website.

We would like to say thanks to Daniel for answering all of our questions.  Don’t forget to check back here once the game is finished for a full review!

NEO Scavenger Developer Q&A - Part 1

If you’re a reader of the Indie Review (and if not, why not?) then you may remember that we recently flagged up NEO Scavenger as “One to Watch”.  For those of you who don’t know, NEO Scavenger is a post-apocalyptic, turn-based, survival RPG currently in development by Blue Bottle Games.  There is a playable demo available on their site, and you can support them with actual money in return for access to the current beta build (and the full game when available.)

We recently got the chance to talk to Blue Bottle head honcho Daniel Fedor about, well everything really - from career choices to the game itself.  This, here, is Part 1 of that chat and we cover Daniel’s background and his inspirations.  Tomorrow we’ll give you Part 2 - in which we talk more specifically about NEO Scavenger, how it’s got to where it is now and what the plans are for the future.

So, what made you want to leave a big company, like Bioware, and take the leap into the relative insecurity of being an indie games developer?

I think it was creative freedom, more than anything else. At a company like BioWare, you've got 800 employees spread across maybe half a dozen projects, and most of them want creative input. Even in the most democratic situations, that doesn't amount to a lot of creative input per person.

What's more, the roles I was hired into aren't ideal for someone who wants to design games and make them reality. As a tech artist, I was mostly in charge of tools and art pipelines. And as an associate producer, it was more facilitation and administrivia. Rarely did I get a chance to design a game system, write code for it, draw art for it, or tinker in writing, audio, or business analysis. I longed for an opportunity to really let loose and try some ideas out.

I did have the pleasure of working on two small research projects there, however. In each, I was part of a small team, and we got to experiment with gameplay and systems. Given the team size, we all had a lot of input, and had to wear many hats. They were some of the greatest moments in my career. They were brief, though, and years apart. I wanted more of that.

How is that decision going?  Any regrets?

I love it! So far, it's been a steady trip to the poor house, but every dollar spent has been worth it. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of my job each day, and I feel it has really catapulted my skill development. One could say it was an investment in myself. It still may pay off, if I can manage to make something salesworthy and get enough exposure. However, even if it doesn't, I've got a game that I love, a company I'm proud of, and a few hundred fans who like my work. And if I ever want to go back to working for someone else, perhaps I can get into a role with more creative input now. That's a pretty good worst-case!

Do you have any advice for other people thinking of doing the same thing?

Yes, a ton of it! Part of my goal in going indie was to document the process and share it with others. That documentation is in the form of my blog:
“game dev gone rogue”

In it, I share learned wisdom from my successes and failures, including finances, motivation, public relations, creativity, and more. Blogs like mine were what helped me prepare for my journey, so I hope to do the same for others.

If I had to choose a few of the more important lessons, one would definitely be to give yourself enough financial breathing room to make a serious go of it. You'll need at least a year to find your footing and release a game. Maybe more. I just crossed the 1-year anniversary of my resignation from BioWare this month, and I'm still not profitable.

Which segues nicely into another important lesson: start small. I failed to limit the scope of my first game, and instead of having a few games done by now, I have one game partially done. That's bad for business, as it puts all my eggs in one basket. If NEO Scavenger fails to be profitable, I'm broke and looking for a job. If I had done a few smaller games, I'd have more chances at one of them being profitable enough to sustain me.

Finally, I'll borrow some wisdom from John Romero: stop waiting for permission. I think I was one of the people he described, who thought that if I just go through the motions long enough, someone will walk up to me and say, "now it's your turn. What game do you want to make?" Well, there's only one person in the universe who's ever going to say that to you: you.

You describe yourself as a "huge RPG nerd". Which games have inspired you?

As kids, we played a ton of AD&D. Pretty much all of the campaign settings. We also played quite a bit of Rifts and Shadowrun. Outside of those, we dipped our toes in Car Wars, Traveller, Twilight 2000, Mage: The Ascension, and GURPS, and I bought at least half a dozen RPGs just to enjoy reading the rules and settings.

In the realm of video games, I was big into CRPGs like Fallout, Shadowrun (Sega Genesis), Baldur's Gate, Arcanum,, this could be a long list. Looking over the stuff on my shelf, I think there are definitely some front-runners in the list of direct inspiration.

Rifts is a big one, for sure. I really enjoyed the mix of sci-fi and supernatural horror in a post apocalyptic setting. It went a bit bonkers, true, but the core concept was really cool to me. Arcanum had a similar tech/magic mixture, and offered a cozy paradise for the scavenging type.

GURPS's mechanics were always fascinating to me (and therefore Fallout's). The idea that one chooses a balance of advantages and disadvantages really grew on me later in life, as it forced more interesting role-playing and problem solving. You'll find that direct influence in NEO Scavenger right from the start, when choosing skills and traits.

The GDW games like Traveller and T:2000 were awesome because of their attention to detail and realism. I like my science fiction moderately hard, and most of the tech in NEO Scavenger is meant to be plausibly grounded.

Finally, the way magic is handled in Mage: The Ascension is really attractive to me. That it works in various and mysterious ways, and cannot be fully understood nor explained, is really cool to me. I'm annoyed by games where magic is formulaic to the point where a spell is just a +/- stat and one of the four Greek elements. Old D&D had some cool magic: the kind that was so idiosyncratic and full of contradictions that it felt like a forbidden art. If I can capture the mystery and power of magic like they did, I'll be happy.

There are a ton of other games that inspired NEO Scavenger, which itself is really just a collection of things I like from gaming. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, Deus Ex, Civilization, Silent Storm, Nethack...there are just so many games I've been influenced by, it'd be hard to list them all.

Why do you think classic CRPGs like this stopped getting made?  

It's just capitalism at work. Market pressures and development costs drive much of what we see in the games market. Most studios try to find the intersection of games they want to make with games they can afford to make. If more people throw down cash for games like Call of Duty, more games like Call of Duty get made.

Once in a while, a studio decides to take a risk and make something different. Most of the time, it's a failure, and that behaviour is punished by bankruptcy. Very occasionally, it's a hit, and then there's a new gold rush to that genre.

Do you think they're coming back into fashion?

The hand-painted, turn-based, isometric CRPGs many of us fell in love with faded away because other genres were a better bet, financially. They just evolved out of the market. The reason we're starting to see them crop up again is because the cost of making and publishing them has gone down. I can write a game using off the shelf tools for a fraction of the cost and effort it took a decade ago, and then sell it through an increasing number of channels, including my own website.

When the barriers drop like that, we see more games with more variety. It enables people like me to afford taking the risk.

Your website says that you want to "try to leverage piracy as a tool".  What does that mean?

Ultimately, I want people to play my game, and I want to keep making games. As long as those two things are true, I'm happy. Piracy means more people are playing my game, so the only real question is whether piracy diminishes my chances of continuing to make games.

I think that sites like
Good Old Games have realized that people who are going to buy the game will do so even if it's available to pirate. I tend to agree. Customers will be customers, and pirates be pirates. If you believe that, then piracy doesn't negatively impact sales. It just means more people play the game, talk about it, and maybe that reaches the ears of additional customers. Piracy can actually be a valuable advertising tool for a cash-strapped indie with no marketing budget.

Besides, DRM takes time to make, which could otherwise be spent adding value to the game. And since adding DRM risks annoying customers and, at best, only delays piracy, it seems like a really bad investment.

And that ends the first part of our interview... be sure to check back tomorrow  - when we’ll be talking about the game itself.  (You can see Part 2 here)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Indie Review - MolyJam

Recently I have been doing a bit of writing for "The Digital Fix".  Part of that is a (roughly) fortnightly column rounding up some of the indie stuff out there that people may have missed.  The reviews of Yeti Hunter and Realm of the Mad God (which I underestimated and am still playing) are from there.  However, I have decided that I might as well just re-produce the whole thing here - as it is increasingly moving away from having a "main" review and more into lots of equal parts....
Indie Review - MolyJam


Usually when somebody starts a parody account on Twitter they confine themselves to, well, parodying their subject.  However, sometimes what starts as an affectionate send up can end up becoming something quite different.  

@PeterMolydeux is a parody account.  It gently mocks the famous game designer Peter Molyneux - who made such classics as Populous, Theme Park, Black and White and the Fable series.  Molydeux (as Molyneux) tweets different game ideas – “You are a bin, by day people are throwing litter in you but by night you use that litter to highlight issues in the city through modern art” or “You are a pigeon who must go around the city trying to persuade business men not to jump off buildings by retrieving items from their home” -  that urge game developers to “think outside the box”. They stress emotion over action and innovation over repetition.  His assertion is that games have become too standardised, too cold and too safe.  He says that creativity is being stifled and that gamers are suffering because of it.  The thing is that, after a while, people stopped looking at this as just somebody imitating Molyneux and started to think “some of these ideas are interesting, what if we actually made some games using them?”  and eventually MolyJam happened - announced by the man himself in this video

MolyJam was a massive gaming meet up.  Game designers, developers and people from all walks of life came together in many different places around the world, for 2 days, and built games based on Molydeux’s tweets.  The result was (at last count) 302 very different offerings; all for free, and all available here.  

As you can imagine, things can vary wildly from game to game, even when the inspirational tweet is the same.  Some are unfinished and most will occupy you for less than ten minutes - but all are interesting.  My personal favourites are Amour Parkour (two lovers run across an urban landscape until something special happens), Huggy Bear! (which details the emotional effect on a bear of being too strong to hug people) and The Shadowland Prophesy (an amazing cel-shaded RPG, with lasers!).  Taken together the collection provides a cornucopia of innovation and creativity.  Be prepared for things not working quite as you expect, but  if you approach it with an open mind then it will reward you with something that is truly different.

I would like to think that MolyJam will live up to Molydeux’s claims and change at least some of the ideas in the industry.  But even if it doesn’t, it has shown that some genuinely beautiful games can come out of thinking a bit differently, trying new things and generally taking the mick out of a gaming legend.  Go and have a look!

The Republia Times

Have you ever wanted to work for an Orwellian propaganda agency?  Have you ever fancied having your family held hostage by a dictatorship, with their safety dependent on your work performance?  Probably not, but if you do fancy it then The Republia Times gives you such an opportunity.  It puts you in the position of Editor of the aforementioned publication, just after a change of regime.  Your job is to quell unrest, increase the readership and ensure that your kidnapped family remain healthy.  You pick which stories to cover and how to place them on the page in order to produce the desired effects on the brainwashed populace - with targets and (literal) deadlines regularly set.  Tension quickly builds and before long you’ll be manipulating public opinion with the best of them.  The game is played in your browser, costs nothing and is well worth a look.

Get it here
Cost:  Free!

One to Watch - Xenonauts

X-Com (or UFO: Enemy Unknown as it is known in Britain) was released in 1994.  Created by legendary games designer Julian Gollop it is regularly voted as one of the greatest games ever made.  It mixes real time and turn based combat, strategic and tactical gameplay, character progression, research, manufacturing and a whole lot more to create something quite unique.  There have been many attempts to duplicate the game’s success over the past 20 years, but none have really managed it.  The good news, however, is that that may be about to change as there are a couple of very promising projects on the way.  Firaxis have their well-publicised, big budget “re-imagining” in the pipeline but Goldhawk Interactive have also been beavering away on Xenonauts for the past couple of years.  Xenonauts promises to be the most faithful of the two to the spirit of the original, it still uses time units for example, and is clearly being made by people who are massive X-Com fans.  Using such a revered game as the basis for your project is always going to be risky, but Goldhawk are making all the right noises and, from what we’ve seen of the game so far, they appear to be doing a great job.  As is usual with these things you can support the game’s development by pre-ordering on their website.  This gives you access to the current development build, and the finished game at a reduced price.  More importantly it helps Goldhawk realise their vision for what is looking to be a very promising modern take on an all-time classic.  Could this finally be the game to do the original justice?  Let’s hope so.

Pre-order here
Cost:  £14.99 / £19.99

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Top 10 Game Bosses

Bosses have been around ever since video games were first made.  They come in many shapes and sizes; some re-appear across series and others have fallen by the wayside but the very best ones linger long in the memory.  Here is our list of the Ten Greatest Video Game Bosses of all Time....

10. M Bison - Street Fighter II

M Bison may be fantastically hard.  He may have the moves.  He may, indeed, fulfil all the prerequisites of being a great boss, but I can’t take him seriously because his name shouldn’t be “M Bison”.  He’s called “Vega” in the Japanese version.  “M Bison” in the Japanese version is the boxer who looks remarkably like Mike Tyson.  Capcom changed the name in the West because they were worried that Iron Mike might take them to court.  I don’t really understand why they decided that calling the boxer “M Bison” would be a good idea in the first place (surely Mr Tyson is aware of Japan) and I’m certainly not sure why that means they had to call this large Russian looking fella “M Bison” instead.  Whatever, maybe they’d had a heavy weekend or maybe it was a bet - I just wish they’d called him something else and then we could focus on him instead of his name.

9. Dr Robotnik - Sonic the Hedgehog

When Sega developed Sonic the Hedgehog in the early 90’s they needed an arch-enemy for him to battle.  They had a blank slate, plenty of money and some of the company’s greatest creative minds at their disposal.  So what did they come up with?  Well, after lots of thought, collective head-scratching and false starts they came up with a rotund, Theodore Roosevelt lookalike, mad scientist with a massive red moustache and a predilection for toddler tantrums when things don’t go his way.  Is it any coincidence this was released in the same year as Street Fighter II?

8. Thargoids - Elite

Thargoids appear in the classic 1984 game Elite.  Elite doesn’t have stages, or an end, so bosses in the traditional sense are pretty redundant. What Elite does have, however, is the frankly terrifying witchspace.  Witchspace is hyperspace’s evil twin, and sometimes the player ends up there by mistake if a planned jump goes wrong.  Witchspace is also home to the Thargoids, a race of warlike insects who will attack anybody who stumbles into their territory.  They are infinite and will keep coming until the player dies.  The only way to escape is to have enough fuel left to jump back out - otherwise it’s game over.  Thargoids are a boss that can never be beaten, and they made everybody think twice before pressing that jump button.

7. Bowser

Bowser is Mario’s greatest nemesis.  First appearing in Super Mario Bros, he has appeared in pretty much every Mario game since.  His aims are simple - rule the world, marry the Princess (I’m not even going to think about how that would work) and defeat Mario.  His methods also follow a similarly tried and trusted pattern - kidnap Princess Peach, construct some kind of trap for the ubiquitous plumber and then invest heavily in missiles with angry faces and turtle henchmen.  However, as much as this demonstrates his lack of innovation and his apparent inability to learn from past experience there is always a place in the world for the dependable and the reliable.  You know where you are with Bowser and for that he should be applauded.

6. Ornstein and Smough - Dark Souls

It is hard to pick the best boss from a game like Dark Souls.  It is a game absolutely, creakingly filled to the brim with great bosses.  From the Freudian nightmare that is Gaping Dragon, to the jaw-clenching difficulty of Four Kings - the game provides endless challenges and high points.  However, there are two bosses that stand out even in this exalted company.  Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough are a great team.  One is all quick lunges, the other pure power - and together they are almost unbeatable.  They attack in tandem, hounding you around a massive ornate hall, smashing stone pillars as they go.  The chances are that they will kill you in pretty short order but if you get particularly lucky then you might kill one of them.  At which point the other one will absorb his fallen friend’s power and turn into a massive, even more lethal version of himself.  Don’t you just hate it when that happens?  In a game as
wonderful as Dark Souls it takes something special to stand out from the crowd, but Ornstein and Smough manage it brilliantly.

5. Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is the daddy of all game bosses.  He was a boss when Mario was still just an unnamed Italian plumber.  Since then he has gone through some big changes (primarily from villain to hero) and has come a long way from sitting on top of a frankly rickety-looking girder and ladder based structure chucking down barrels.  He now has his own side kick, a blossoming kart franchise and he’s appeared in 468 different Donkey Kong games across every conceivable Nintendo platform.  Well done DK.

4. Psycho Mantis - Metal Gear Solid

Psycho Mantis is memorable.  From the outfit (gas mask and bondage gear, a brave look) to the actual fight itself (he can read your memory card and make the controller vibrate) he makes quite an impression.  However, my overriding emotion is one of pity.  His mother died during childbirth, which made his father hate him.  When he found this out with his psychic powers he destroyed his entire village, killing everyone, and burning himself extensively in the process. By the time the gung-ho ubermensch Solid Snake encounters him things have gone from bad to worse.  He has taken on the personality of a serial killer and, let’s face it, he’s a bit messed up.  Unfortunately he doesn’t receive the positive intervention that he is so clearly crying out for and is, instead, unceremoniously killed.  Yeah!  Go Snake!  You’re such a hero.

3. Sephiroth - Final Fantasy VII

Ah, Sephiroth.  Where would any self-respecting list of villains be without him?  There are some things that the Japanese do very well and floppy-haired, katana-wielding, planet-destroying, lifeforce-merging, meteor-summoning, angst-ridden, dysfunctional, seething manga anti-heroes are definitely one of them.  However, even with this in mind, Sephiroth takes it to a whole other level.  A normal villain might want to rule the world, not Sephiroth.  He wants to destroy the world, merge with its lifestream and become a god.  You can’t fault him for ambition.  Not even that but he also finds time to pick on girls in his spare time.  Killing Aeris ranks up there as one of the greatest crimes ever committed in a video game, which makes it all the more satisfying to finally get to face off with him.  The only problem is that it’s not really Sephiroth you’re fighting, it’s his extra-terrestrial symbiote/mum.  Did I say that the Japanese do a few things very well?  Well, incomprehensible plots are another one.

2. Robo Hitler - Wolfenstein

OK.  Let’s make something clear.  I KNOW that this isn’t a Hitler robot.  I KNOW that this is, in fact, just Hitler in an armoured power suit - with 4 miniguns on his arms.  And I am sure that there is a discussion to be had about how a man responsible for the deaths of millions of people being turned into a comedy video game villain says something about our society.  You are more than welcome to have that discussion somewhere else.  For the moment I would like you to really, really look at that picture for a minute.  That is Hitler in an armoured power suit with 4 gatling guns on his arms.  I’m not sure what else needs to be said.  

1. GLaDOS - Portal & Portal 2

Who doesn’t love a homicidal, testing-obsessed robot?  Nobody, that’s who.  GLaDOS isn’t just one of the greatest bosses of all time, she is one of the greatest comedy characters ever created.  Portal is truly brilliant but it just wouldn’t be the same without GLaDOS’ dulcet tones guiding you, encouraging you and then messing with your head and talking about cake.  Imagine for a minute that she didn’t provide the commentary for Portal, imagine that she didn’t appear in Portal 2 as a potato with a bird phobia, imagine the whole cake thing had never happened - she would still get in this list just for her song
"Still Alive".  THAT is how good she is.