Utah Indie Games Night - April 2009

We had another fantastic Indie Games Night last night. We had close to 40 people there in attendance. Not quite a record but still a great turnout. Some of that was due to a field trip of sorts from some ITT-Tech students (thanks Ray). It certainly looked like everyone was enjoying the evening. As usual there was a lot going on, so I feel like I've missed out a little bit on some great conversations.

We started the evening off with a presentation by Darius Ouderkirk on "Choosing a Project Wisely". Darius gave us some good advice on picking the right project so that it would increase your chances on finishing it. It kind of boiled down to "knowing yourself" (your strengths & weaknesses), "knowing your audience" (their likes & dislikes), and "knowing your purpose" (what's my goal in doing this? to learn? for fun? for profit? etc.). He had a lot of good items to consider before starting a project to make sure the project is a good fit for you. A couple of points that he mentioned that I've learned the hard way are:
1) Keep it small (if you don't keep it REALLY small you may never finish it)
2) Do what you do best and outsource the rest (My first serious indie project was in 3D, and I learned that that's not where my skills were, so I had to put that project on hold.)

Darius was kind enough to share his slides with the group. You can find them here. He also plans to write more about the subject, so keep and eye on his blog here.

Here's my summary of the projects that were shown

Zombie Defense (working title) - Darius Ouderkirk
Darius' zombie tower of defense game is coming along nicely since he showed it to the group at our last meeting. He now has different placeholder art and the gameplay has improved some. There are now three types of zombies (or monsters) that attack; Lurchers (the basic ones), Crushers (slow but powerful), and Runners (quick but weak). To defend against on onslaught you have Machine Gunners, Cannoners, Snippers, and Rifleman with various strengths and weaknesses. Sandbags, fences, and bridges can also be place around the buildings. He mentioned that he'll be adding country style maps (in addition to the city maps already there) with differing terrain, which could add even more strategy to the game. He also showed me some of the concept art that for the game, that his artist came up with. It's kind of a cartoony anime style and it looked really cool. I think this will be a great game once it comes together.

Kingdom of Keflings - Steve Taylor
Steve also showed Ninjabee's kingdom building game for a bit. It's something akin to Civilization but made more accessible to the average player. I believe it might be the first game that will let you use your NXE avatar in the game, basically putting YOU in the game. As always Ninjabee does an excellent job on their games.

Demons of Corrath - Justin Mayhew
This one is still more in the concept stages. Justin described the gameplay as a side scrolling hack'n'slash type of game where you are defeating waves of monsters thrown at you. The original thing about the game was that once you were dead, you didn't just respawn, but rather you enter the dead underworld and had to fight the dead spirits there. Every spirit you defeat there adds to energy and if you absorb enough, you can reincarnate and come back to the land of the living. So lives in this game aren't just a stat, but a game mechanic as well. Justin mentioned that he's currently looking for a programmer to help him finish the project.

Vespers 3D - Mike Rubin
Mike showed some of the new additions to Vespers. I noticed that it a very nice intro sequence now. There seemed to be a lot more walkable areas now, and characters that you can talk to, since I last saw the game. There were a lot more enviromental or atmospheric items to fill in the rooms, so that they don't look so bare. Mike mentioned that most of the coding for the game is done, and that most of the work lately has been just adding content. I noticed that object that you could interact with would highlight as you moved the mouse over them, which was a good visual clue to let user know that something could be done with that object. That way they wouldn't waste their time typing in commands for objects that didn't exist in game internals. I also had a hard time hearing any of the voice overs in the game as the room was really loud
with lots of people talking. It certainly was quite the event.

Frayed Knights - Jay Barnson
Jay showed off his latest build of Frayed Knights. It has new dialog, spells, monsters and part of a new chapter. I got see the spell casting better than I have in the past. He showed a part of the new chapter where we were suddenly fighting three different skeletons with swords and shields. Then he threw different spells at them like "angry flowers" (I guess flowers are really scarry to dead people) and a spell that throws them throw a window (the window just appears out of nowhere for a comedic effect). It's shaping up to be a nice game.

Darkened Dreams 2 - Curtis Mirci & Peter Anderson
Curtis and Peter showed their progress on Darkened Dreams 2. The biggest thing that I noticed right off the bat was that there was a lot of final art added to the game. It's looking very nice now. He showed some combat with killer rats and rabbits. Remind me not to go strolling around that countryside. ;) They mentioned that their focus has been turning this into an RPG Maker of sorts. The editor will be the big selling point to the game, as it will be fully moddable. The user can add and modify maps, items, abilities, characters, enemies (NPC), dialogs, quests, and more. There was even some rudimentary scripting in the engine as well. It looks very customizable and would probably be a good fit for those wanting to build their own RPG. The character builder had tons of options and looked like it could create a wide variety of characters (male, female, and children).

Again I want to send a big thanks to Ninjabee for hosting the event and helping it to be a great success. They just keep on getting better. Also thanks to everyone that came. It was a super evening!

EDIT: Jay has posted his writeup now here. Also Darius is putting his presentation into a series of articles on his blog. The first one is on his blog now called "Choosing a Project: Know Yourself".


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