Saturday, August 01, 2009

Utah Indie Games Night - July 2009


We had an another awesome Indie Night, with possibly a record turnout. We had somewhere between 50 to 60 people there. It was really packed with people and packed with games and information. There was so much going on I was unable to talk to even half the people there, and I'm sure I missed a lot of what was happening. Even my conversations seemed a bit rushed as there was just so much happening. It was a really busy, but very enjoyable night.

We started the evening off with a presentation by Chris Evans on iPhone Development. He (along with his brother Marcus) shared some good information on just how quickly the iPhone has grown as a gaming platform. Just some pronominal growth. He shared some examples of some iPhone apps that have made millions, but then quickly showed what the more normal numbers were (which are very low). My biggest take away was the $250 dollar rule that Apple has. Apparently a developer won't get paid anything from Apple until it had made at least $250 dollars gross (per country). And with a lot of apps priced at $1 that means you'd have to have at least 250 sales in the US before Apple cuts you a check. At that point Apple takes 30% and the developer gets the remaining 70%. This is why most apps make exactly $0 (since they never get over that hurdle). Seems like Apple has quite a raquet going on. Chris mentioned that their iPhone game is still wating approval from Apple to get in the app store. Apparently long delays for approval are not uncommon. Their game is called "Max Diamond: Treasure Hunter Extraordinaire" from Morphosis Games. Look for it soon on the iPhone app store.

We had a record number of games that were shown. So many that for the first time I wasn't able to see them all. Here's what I was able to see.

Kiten - Josh Jones
This was an experimental Flash game that has an AI that adapts to the player. It's a fast paced frantic shooter where you shoot at the enemies as fast as you can. The enemies adapt to either "hold back" or "really bring it". The AI can even be a blend of other AIs. You try the game yourself here.

Pain Town & Rafkill - Jon Rafkind
Pain Town is a fighting game along the likes of Street Fighter or Mortal Combat. I was very impressed.
The controls and everything seemed very fluid. He's been working on the engine and the game for about 3 years now. You check out the game here. He also showed my an older game of his called Rafkill, which is simple top down vertical shooter. He mentioned that he sold it to another company that then they changed the graphics and marketed it as "Tusk".

Zombie Defense - Darius Ouderkirk
Darius showed me the progress he's made on his game. Mostly they were changes in game balance and AI. For example instead of the Zombies coming from everywhere, they all start from one location (or a few locations in upper levels). This allowed for better placement strategies for the different units. Also the money you earn is directly related to the buildings you've saved, rather than the number of Zombies you killed. This put the emphasis back on defending the whole city.

Qubix - Paul Milham
This is a fun flash game where mere survival is the object. You have a cube that you move with the mouse and it grows if you touch other cubes of the same color and shrink if you touch cubes of a different color. As time goes on the other cubes move faster and faster. There are also timed events that happen periodically where the cubes start criss-crossing , speeding up, or if you're lucky they'll all turn your color and you can gobble them up. The game is over if you shrink to nothing. The game is nicely balanced and is very compelling.

Tank General - Shylar
This is a real time tank warfare game made in Director; something like "Scorched", but in real time. You control your tank with standard WASD keys and the mouse. You have to kill the enemy tanks and large bosses around various terrain. The terrain can block the artillery of the enemy tanks so you can use that to your advantage. Occasionally you'll have to dodge homing missiles as well. There are power ups that increase your moving speed or aiming speed or give you rapid fire. It looks like this is coming along nicely.

Wii Dancing Game - Les Pardew
Les of Alpine Studios came and showed the Wii dacing game that his team is working on. I can't say too much about this game, but the motion was really fluid and it was awesome. I think this one will be a hit, especially in families with young girls.

Heroes For Hire - Mike Whitaker & Ed Nielsen
They told me the name will be changing as there is a AAA tile with the same name; probably something like Trio For Hire. Anyhow, this is a flash based game that is similar to Rampage (and XCom), except you are trying to save the city and not destroy it (though you just might do a bit of destruction while getting rid of your enemies). I saw Mike playing as a robot defending the city from a giant kid in a Godzilla suit, a one eyed spider, and a giant garden gnome. The art was fantastic and added a lot of humor to the game. It had sort of an "Alien Hominid" sort of feel to it. They are planning to enter the game in the Newgrounds contest. Good Luck to them. I hope they do well.

Radioactive Joe - Carson Barlow
I didn't get a chance to look at this one other than a DVD cover that he made for the game. This was made for his capstone project at ITT-Tech. It looked pretty good based just the cover screenshots. It looked to be an action adventure, sort of Zelda like.

Darkened Dreams 2 - Curtis Mirci & Peter Anderson
I didn't get a chance to see the progress that they've made on this game. Just a really busy night. Though based on Jay's report, most of their progress has been "under the hood" and nothing that could really be shown visually.

I also spoke with Gabrielle Long, a talented freelance artist that is looking for some contract work or a full time position. You can check out her portfolio here. If you'd like to hire her or know someone that might, you might want to drop her a line.

I'm amazed at how this event has grown. We started out almost 4 years ago with just 11 people getting together in Nijabee's small basement office, and now its grown to a much bigger event. I'm glad to see the Indie spirit alive and well. I always come away from these events very inspired and with renewed energy. It was a blast.

Viva la Indie!

Jay's write up can be found here, and Josh's write up can be found here.