Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Utah Indie Games Night - October 2007

We had another awesome Indie Games Night yesterday. We held it at ITT-Tech this time as they offered to host it this time around. As far as I know, ITT-Tech is the only school in Utah that offers a Degree in Digital Entertainment and Game Design, so holding the event there seemed like a good fit. The event was held in one of the Labs used for teaching the game design classes, and it was standing room only. We had somewhere around 45-50 people attend the event, which would make this a new record for attendance. Unfortunately, some of our other regulars didn't make it this time around; perhaps it was a little too close to Halloween this time around. Hopefully we'll see them next time.

There was tons of pizza and drinks, so I don't think anyone went away hungry. Also, for the first time, our group was able to present their games with an overhead projector. This made it easier for everyone to see the game, but it also added a little more formality to the process. Also there was a nice flyer made by a student, to let students know about the event. I'm showing it off in my blog here (hope that's okay).

There were four games shown (three formally, and one informally), and there were lots of good questions and feedback. We were a little light on the mingle time this time around (we'll probably need to change that up some for next time), but there were still some great conversations going on. Towards the end there were some good conversations about where the casual game industry is headed, and what that means for indies.

The games shown were:

Mythic Blades
Eric Petersen of Cartel Games demoed a updated version of Mythic Blades. It's a 3D one-on-one fighter game using a Greek theme. I believe he's using his own 3D engine underneath. Once the demo was on the screen, the gameplay and graphics just made everyone drool. Well done.

Frayed Knights
Jay Barnson showed his Frayed Knights RPG for the first time (to our group). It looks like he's made tons of progress in the short five months that he's been working on it. He has a nice dialog and combat system in place. I really like the cartoony graphics and the humor. He's using a combination of both the Torque Game Builder and the Torque Engine for this game.

Vespers 3D
Mike Rubin showed his progress on Vespers 3D. This is the first time I've seen it with Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) that talked and you could interact with. It certainly added a whole new dimension into the game. The art in the game is fantastic. He's using the Torque Engine for this game.

After the crowd died down some. I did a quick showing of my 2D shooter (code named Antibody). Not as formal or as nice looking as the other presentations, but I did get some good feedback and suggestions. I'm using the BlitzMax engine for this. I've been very impressed with what it can do.

The more I get to know the Indie's in our area, the more I'm impressed with what is happening in the indie scene. There are many that are working on Indie projects; they are just sitting idle. I talked to some of the ITT-Tech students and there are some that are doing projects outside of thier own course work as well. There is a ITT-Tech Mod club, that is making a horror game using the Unreal engine. I also heard of a student making an RPG using RPG Maker. It's cool that ITT-Tech's program is more focused on "creating games", than creating game engines (that's been done to death).

See everyone at our next one in January!

Viva La Indie!

P.S. Also check out Jay's blog for his writeup of the event.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Utah Indie Games Night - July 2007

We had a really fun night Indie Games Night last night. I counted around 25 people, which is down a bit from last time (July's a hard month with so much going on), but still a good turnout. As usual, there was lots of food, fun, and good discussions about game development and marketing.

Russell Carroll was in town and came to our meeting. It was good to see him at these events again. We got into some good discussions with him about portals and how a developer can leverage their traffic from them, and some other good marketing ideas. He also mentioned that he's working on a game project of his own, so I'll be interested to see what he comes up with.

There were six games shown last night. Here's a quick rundown:

DROD/RPG prototype
Mike Rimmer and Adam Peterson showed off a prototype of a DROD series game that has strategy and RPG elements. It looks real promising. You not only have to solve the immediate puzzle of the room, but you also have to make choices that affect your character and other challenges later. So you have to think more holistically and strategicaly.

Link Realms
Herb Flower and Paul Witte of Mythyn Interactive showed off some changes to Link Realms. In addition to new characters and monsters, there are now fences and gates that can help one protect their turf. I believe they said that the dungeons have been greatly expanded too.

Soccer Like Game
Victor Chelaru showed off a new game demo made with his Flat Red Ball engine. I believe he said the demo only took him an hour or two to put together, which shows the power of his engine. Graphically the demo was very retro; just vector graphic circles and lines. There were four circles (one for each player), one smaller circle for the ball, a box with goal at each side and a score for each team at the top. It was played with four XBox controllers

Band of Bugs
Steve Taylor setup their newly released (on XBox Live Arcade) tactical game "Band of Bugs", for us to play. The game is excellent in every way. The graphics are beautiful, and the game is fairly easy to pickup. Kudos to Ninjabee for releasing another fine game on XBLA.

Fish School
John Olsen showed off his updated version his Fish School puzzle game (using XNA). Unfortunately I was unable to view this one in detail, but from afar it looks like he was making some progress with it.

AntiBody (code name)
Lastly, I showed off my shooter that is set inside the body. (Thanks Vic for letting me use your laptop for a while!) It's still very much in it's early stages. I have switched engines from TGB to BlitzMax. After encountering "brickwall" after "brickwall" (for me at least), the switch to BlitzMax was a good change. The game is just an infinite loop right now with random enemies spawned, but it was apparently interesting enough to keep one of the kids in attendance (I think he was around 8 years old), for quite a while. At some point he said, "Hey, this just goes on forever!", and then lost interest. Yep it has a long way to go yet.

Again I applaud all of you that are working on an Indie project, you are making it happen! As usual, this event has inspired me to continue in my own Indie efforts. Good Luck to all of you, and thanks for helping make our Indie Night AWESOME!

Viva La Indie!

P.S. Jay Barson also has a write up of the event here in his blog.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Utah Indie Games Night - April 2007

We had another fantastic Utah Indie Game Night yesterday! I counted 31 people in attendance, which is slightly more than last time and a still a good turnout.

There was food, fun, and lots of good discussions about game development and marketing, and as always I get pumped from these events. I'm always inspired from seeing what others have done. I see a lot of dedication and talent, and I just stand in awe each time this event is held. This time I've found a renewed interest in XNA and Flat Red Ball, after seeing what's been done with it. I find it interesting that out of the five projects shown, three of them are XNA based. I'm going to have to look into that some more. It might be good to do some XNA, right after another "Torque is melting my brain" session.

Also we got some pictures this time; thanks to Eric Hamilton who brought his nice camera and took some great pics. You can find them here and here.

There were five demos that were shown to the whole group. Here's a quick run down.

Apocolypse Cow
Jay Barnson showed us his progress on Apocolypse Cow and it seems to be coming along nicely. There was a lot more finished models and art in the game, and an improved HUD display. It's looking simply, Bovine! ;)

Turn Based RPG Engine
Adam Helps was showing off his turn based multiplayer RPG engine. (Sorry, I forgot the engine's name) Though the game side is in it's early stages, you could tell he's done a lot of work on the engine itself.

NES Emulator for xBox
Bryan Livingston showed off his NES emulator running on an xBox 360. I was rather cool to be playing Mario Bros, Xenophobe, Spy vs Spy, and many other classics on an xBox. He ported a open source C++ emulator to C# and XNA, in about 3 hours. Pretty impressive, I thought.

Metal Bar
Vic Chelaru and Mike Smith showed us a game prototype (code named "Metal Bar") they made with Vic's Flat Red Ball (FRB) engine. It was basically a platformer where you play as a ninja and you run, jump and punch things. They told me they spent a few weeks on it, but the vast majority of it was engine code (porting FRB to XNA, I believe). I sounded like only a few of those hours were actual game code, thus showing the power of the FRB engine.

Fish School
John Olsen showed off his new XNA version of Fish School, and it looked really good. It is a matching game that has possibilities for both easy and really challenging levels. It's not a simple match-3 game; it definitely makes you think more than that. I was again impressed with what can be done with XNA

I applaud all of you that are working on an Indie project, as you are not just dreaming, you are making it happen! Like the others, this event has again inspired me to continue in my own Indie efforts.

Viva La Indie!

P.S. Jay Barson has a write up of the event here in his blog

Friday, January 19, 2007

Utah Indie Games Night - January 2007

We had another wonderful Utah Indie Game Night yesterday! It was our seventh one so far, and the first time our numbers were down a bit, but it was still a great evening nevertheless (and still a great turnout). This time I was able to talk to most everyone for a while, and it didn't seem so frantic. We had 29 total people there, (but that's also counting some spouses and kids that tagged along). I think some of decrease was due to three things: The EA buyout of Headgate, which probably scared some of those guys off; The usuall ITT students didn't come, probably due to schedule conflicts; and lastly some really cold weather may have held back some.

There were discussions about the current state of Indie gaming, the Slamdance fiasco, the upcoming SparkArts Festival, and more. PS3, Wii, & Xbox 360 development also came up. There was some talk about Microsoft's XNA framework and how it could be a good thing for Indies and new game developers. I was also encouraged to hear about the Mono Project and how it could potentially make XNA cross platform, which would mean that your game could run on Windows, Mac, Linux, and an Xbox 360, all with the same code.

The were several demos that were shown to the whole group. Here's a quick run down.

Apocolypse Cow
Jay Barnson showed us his game now that it has reached an alpha state. This game has come a long way since it was last shown. Basically all the gameplay and all the levels are complete. It has a lot of great finished art, in there. There is still some stand in art and models, but the project is MOOving along nicely. ;) (Okay, I couldn't resist)

Link Realms
This game is getting really close to being released. We got to see the addition of dungeons and even a few new monsters that even the beta users haven't seen yet. I applaud Herb and Dan for the great and enormous amount of work they have done to make this a reality.

The guys from CaveBug (Brad Edwards and Josh Jensen), showed off their nearly released game. Basically it's a puzzle game where you have to clear the board by placing bumpers around the board so a ball will pass over every space as it goes in an out of exits on the side.

DROD: The City Beneath
Mike Rimer showed us the third game in the D.R.O.D. series. There are lots of new graphics and puzzles and it looks like you'll get to interact with more characters in this new one. Mike's son was even there showing everyone how to play the game and putting all us adults to shame.

Mike Smith showed us some of the new things he's added to the game, like the sprint move (which had a neat blur effect) and the freeze attack. Unfortunately, this game is at a stand still for the moment, due to his situation wih EA. Best wishes on finding a resolution to that Mike!

Thanks again to them an all their hard work, and also to Wahoo/Ninjabee for hosting the event yet again!

I applaud all of you with an Indie project, as you are not just dreaming, you are making it happen! I am amazed at the depth and breadth of the "Indie Scene" here in Utah. I see a lot of dedication and talent when I come to these meetings, and I feel inspired to continue in my own Indie efforts. I feel both humbled and honored to be associated with all of you guys.

Viva La Indie!

P.S. Jay also did a write up about the event in his popular blog here.