Friday, October 24, 2008

Utah Indie Games Night - October 2008

We held another Utah Indie Games Night last night, and it was another great evening indeed. We had a few new faces show up as we usually do, and attendance was a little above normal. I counted around 32 people there last night. Also, for the first time ever (that I can recall) the pizza ran out, which is another indicator that there were a lot of people there.


Unity3D Engine
We started off the evening with a presentation on the Unity3D engine. Brent Arnold did a wonderful job showing off some of the capabilities of the engine. He showed off the indie game Off-Road Velociraptor Safari that was built with the engine. He also brought up the editor and showed some sample projects and a basic overview of creating a game. He even showed one of those projects (a game where you fly a ship through hoops in a courtyard) deployed to an iPhone. You can run your Unity3D game in a browser (with a plug-in), or on Windows, Mac, iPhone, and the Wii. It looks to be a very capable and promising engine. The authoring environment is still Mac only at this point, but it sounds like a Windows version is coming. There is an Indie license of the engine for only $199, which makes this a very great deal for us indies. It almost makes me want to start a 3D project. (Almost that is, I still do need to finish the 2D project I’m currently doing).

After that we broke out into smaller groups and a looked at some demos that some of the group brought.

Forgotten Lore - Ryan Day, Brent Haworth, Mike Keller
Ryan and his crew showed off their RPG game that they’ve been making using RPG Maker. It has started as a school project for ITT-Tech, but it sounds like they’d like to continue with it after they graduate. The game currently uses the default tile set that comes with RPG maker, but they have plans to change the art. If they hadn’t told me this I wouldn’t have known, as the art looked great to me. One thing that sets this game apart is that you are not out on a quest to save the world. Your four characters are not necessarily “good guys”. You are just trying to survive and stay alive. When you enter villages you can pickpocket villagers, but you could also be caught by the law for doing such too. How good or bad you want to be is up to you. The project looks great so far.

PongOut – Derek Lansing
Derek brought a school project that he has been working on called PongOut. It’s a two player game that is a combination of Pong and Breakout. Basically the gameplay is like Pong where you knock balls back and forth, but you also have to protect the bricks behind you. There are special bricks that if hit will cause you to Freeze for a while, or turn you invisible (not a good thing in this game), or cause your up and down controls to be swapped (very confusing while it lasts). It’s currently played with Xbox controllers (or other gamepad), and it seems to work well. The game is based on the TorqueX engine so it uses XNA and can be run on an Xbox (with the XNA creators club subscription).

Mini Monthly Games – Josh Jones
Josh showed off some more of his new flash based mini monthly games. I had played Cat Ties earlier but I was rarely successful at getting a good decision tree. After talking, to Josh it sounds like there is not an ideal tree that works in all cases, so that made me feel better. I guess it wouldn’t be as much fun if there was. He also showed off Spooky View and Pagoda, which I honestly didn’t get a good look at them though. I’d like to try Pagoda sometime as Adventure games (including text adventures) are one of my favorite genres of games. You can try them yourself by clicking on the links above, or by going to Josh’s blog at http://vazor222.livejournal.com/.

Boingz – Ninjabee
I also got to play a little with Ninjabee’s new WiiWare title BoingZ. Brent Fox had it loaded up on a Wii DevKit and let a bunch of us try it out. It was really fun. The object of the game is to get all of your little guys back home by “flicking” them from point to point and also “stretching” them across ravines to turn them into bridges. It should be coming out on the Wii really soon, so look for it, it’s a fun game.

I also spoke to Adam Helps and Clarissa who are putting together the second annual SparkArts Festival on November 21st & 22nd. It sounds like the event is growing and should be even better than last year. I be sending out some more info on this to the group later.

I also spoke to Steve Morrey for a bit an he’s in the process of starting a new MMORPG kit project (not be confused with MyDreamRPG – He’s no longer involved with that project). I believe it was going to be called DreamRPGOnline. He’s been working with clustered servers in the corporate world for a while, and it sounds like he using some of those lessons learned from clustering and applying them into this new project. He hopes to launch this soon, so watch for it.

All in all it was a great evening. I also come away "pumped" and excited, and tonight was no exception. It always gives me some extra motivation to work on my own indie projects. Now I just need to finish my game...

Jay also has a writeup of the evening here.