Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Utah Indie Games Night - May 2012

We had an awesome games night. It was very inspiring.  We had just under 40 people in attendance at my last count.  There were moments when it felt like there was standing room only.  Quadruple Kudos go to Ninjabee this week, as they hosted Indie Game night, provided pizza for the event, did the presentation for the evening, and they are sponsoring the movie showing tomorrow night!  Bravo Ninjabee!

We started the evening off with Steve Taylor giving a presentation doing a Game-In-A-Day (GIAD).  Steve has been a long time advocate for doing GIADs, and for good reason, as they've had a lot of good outcomes come out of the process.  In fact, their first GIAD game called "Rome" (yes they did build Rome in a day) went on to become their most successful set of games for them to date; A Kingdom of Kefllings and A World of Kefllings.  Another benefit that he mentioned was that by taking a break from your current project, it will give you the extra motivation you need to progress further on it.  I've participated in three game jams and I can attest that that is true.  I've always came away from those events with extra drive to work on my game again.  He also mentioned the concept of "throwing your hat over the fence" or putting some "skin" into the game.  Meaning you need to be more personally vested in your project by having other people hold you accountable for your progress.  The more you have to loose, the more you'll make an effort to "not loose".

Steve also talked about their recent GIAD event a few weeks ago.  They ended up doing two games "Curse Of The Space Mummy" and "Drawrmy".  It was a bit of a departure from the other GAIDs that they've done, as they used HTML5 instead of their internal engine.  But isn't that the point of a GIAD after all; "to learn something".  Sounds like it was a success for them.  Here's a couple of blog posts on their GIAD event.


Some of the engines that mentioned during the presentation were:

You can do one yourself or with friends or as part of a more formalized game jam.  The advantage of doing it with a group is you can feed off the energy of those around you.  Here's three organized events that were mentioned.
GEEX 


I would encourage everyone to participate in a GIAD event or the like. It can be a great learning process.  They certainly have been for me.  Also Spencer Lee from our group made me aware of National Game Development Month next month, so there's another opportunity to participate in that sort of process.



After Steve's presentation we broke out into game demos.  There were six demos that I was aware of, but I could have missed some.

Skylantis - UVU Students  
Some students from UVU were showing off their Unity game that they've been working on for over a year now.  It's a game about a robot trying to save his friends in a steampunk world.  You have to get around the floating islands, via a series of switches, fans, and use of a magnetic grappling hook.  There's robot crabs you have to destroy, and later a boss in a room with spikes that you need to get past.  I was impressed with the main robot character which has a lot of character; it even waves at you when you stand still for too long.  They've done a great job with it so far.  They mentioned that there will be a Kickstarter happening for the game soon as well.  I hope it does well for them.

HEXLocked - Tyler Wright
I played Tyler's flash game HEXLocked.  It's a Tetris like game, but it's based on hexagons instead of squares.  The pieces that you have to rotate and move are a bit different, but the same mechanics of rotating, moving, and dropping them into place still apply.  Also instead of a line that you are clearing at the bottom, it ends up being a 'V' shape.  It was a bit challenging the first time I played it, but by the second or third time, I was starting to get it down more. 

Siphon Spirit - Peter Anderson  
It's been a while since I last played Siphon Spirit, and it's definitely come a long way since then. There's a ton more visual polish in the game. The story is interleaved between the levels and serves to teach you how to play as you go.  In playing this game I was reminded how bad I am at some action games (I'm more of an adventure / puzzle game sort of person).  I had trouble getting past the first boss as I could never seem to absorb enough energy to get past the first boss. I had so much trouble that Peter helped me out by modifying the level slightly to add more available energy to the level.

Unity Prototype - Nate Stoker  
Nate was showing a small prototype that he put together in Unity.  He mentioned it was learning project for him, so he could learn some other aspects of Unity.  He had a pig character as the player character, but it will be replaced by a cow character later.

March to the Moon - Curtis Mirci
Curtis had to take off before I could see his changes to "March to the Moon", however we did talk for a bit and he mentioned that is has been submitted to XBox Indie Games now.  So this means that it will soon be ready to be purchased and enjoyed.  Congrats Curtis for making that huge milestone!

Flexitris - McKay Salisbury  
I didn't get a chance to see the progress that McKay has made on his Flexitris game, but he was there showing it to everyone.


Of course there was lots of networking and lively discussions going on.  It was a super evening and I came away renewed and energized as usual.  In fact, so much so, that I'm officially "throwing my hat over the fence" to have another demo to show to the group in 4 months time.  So you all can hold me to that.

Viva la Indie!

3 comments:

stay said...

Nice writeup! Thanks for all the links to related sites...

Peter said...

Siphon Spirit's link seems to be broken, find it at
www.califergames.com. It is very outdated, however, we will be launching a new website pretty soon.

Michael Chugg said...

Hi, the Skylantis game is now doing the kickstarter campaign to raise funding so we can
buy the professional licences we need to release the game. The campaign
is live at www.skylantis.com and a video of gameplay is
at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjEh-DgH0-4

We have had the opportunity to have professional companies look at our
game and review us, "Impressive! Doesn't look like student work."
- Steve Taylor from Wahoo Games

One of the fun things we are doing with our campaign is what we
call our "Red vs Blue" challenge. We present a red and a blue option
for something that will affect the game and we are going to let you
decide which way it will go.

- The Skylantis Team