Utah Indie Games Night - April 2010

After last Thursday night all I can say is WHOA! It was an amazing evening. We had around 60 people there, which is definitely a record for attendance at the Ninjabee site (and possibly overall). It’s incredible how this little event has grown. We also set a record on the number of games being shown at the event; 18 games in all. I wasn’t able to see some of them though; too many games, so little time. Also for the first time ever, we had demos being shown on both floors of Ninjabee. There just wouldn’t have been room otherwise.

We did a postmortem on the Global Games Jam (GGJ). My objective was a bit different then most of the teams. I had the objective to learn the Adventure Game Studio (AGS) engine, and I think I accomplished that goal by finishing a small two room adventure. A number of others from each of the teams got up and shared some of their thoughts on the event as well. Some of the points that I picked up on are:
-Sound can drive the creative process, and can really add a lot to a game.
- Happy accidents (things that weren’t planned but improved the game) can happen along the way.
-A lot of people talked how scoping helped them finish the goal.
-Everyone had a blast and everyone’s creativity was at a peak due to the environment.

Also, EA sponsored that event and handed out t-shirts after the postmortem to those that participated in the GGJ. Thanks again EA! If you want to play the games that were made at the GGJ, you can find them here.

Part of the reason for the record numbers was thanks to Brad Moss, who teaches the game design class at UVU (and is the lead developer at React Games), as he brought his crew of students to the event to show off their projects. They brought seven projects in all, though I was only able to see five of them. They were all built with the Unity engine and I was amazed at how much could be done in so little time. I will make an attempt to share some of what I saw. Please forgive me if I’ve gotten some details wrong, there was just so much happening. Feel free to comment or email me if you’d like to correct the record. Anyhow here it goes.

Ostrich 911 – Kevin Roberts & Jason
This was the first student Unity project that I looked at. It’s an interesting game where purpose is to find your fellow ostrich, by sneaking through a barn and evade getting caught. You have a miner’s flashlight and pogo stick to help you along the way.

Element – Abe Raigne & Kurt Spears
This was an interesting two player board game that is similar to Othello, though you have magic spells that you can cast at the other player. One player plays as Fire and the other as Ice. The art was superb and the game play looked fairly intuitive.

Broken Sky – Nick Murano
I was really impressed by art in this student project. You played as this metallic fish skeleton (sort of like a junk sculpture) that flies through the air and engages in a dogfight with another fish enemy. There were lots of little floating islands that added to the whole ambiance.

Jack – Preston Powell & Sam Richmond
In this student project you play as Jack pumpkin head that needs to find a number of pumpkins to regain his soul. There are several puzzles you have to figure out to eventually win the game.

Beefy Greeks – Aaron King & Brittney Peterson
This was the last student project that I saw. This one was similar to bulldogs. The object was to attack your opponent’s castle. You would set up your units and traps (all while the other player was not watching) and then once you both set them up you’d launch your greek soldiers at each other in the hopes that some would make it to opposite side and do damage to your opponent. After a number of rounds one of the two players will emerge victorious.

Flextris – McKay Salisbury
This is a variation of Tetris written in XNA. In fact you can define your own rules, so that you can play a number of variants on the Tetris theme. It was fun. I saw a number of people playing it that couldn’t seem to stop.

Siphon Spirit – Peter Anderson (also Curtis Mirci & Dave Matney)
Peter showed me some additions to Siphon Spirit that they have been working on. They added free energy that don’t hurt you like the other orbs do. Also they have shields and time bombs now that add some variety to the different levels. He showed a boss level where a demon heart (orb) is attached to larger boss and moves around in circles. It’s coming along nicely.

Udder Chaos – Victor Chelaru
Vic has been porting this iPhone game to the Xbox and has been using his Flat Red Ball engine to do so. It’s a simple game where you, or a group of players, can help protect your cows from some cute cartoony aliens. You have to shoot the aliens multiple times, before they take your cows away in their tractor beams. It’s very fast paced and fun game.

Linkrealms – Herb & Dan Flower (also Paul Witte)
Herb and Dan showed me some changes they’ve made to Linkrealms. They are very close to launch BTW. They’ve added pets to the game; most notably chickens. You can raise and breed your own chickens to be used in fights (basically a mini-game). They showed me the intricate system that creates the AI for the chickens. It’s data driven and looks very similar to neural nets. Also these pets can learn from you as a player. They watch what you do and then will start to take on some of those behaviours. They’ll also be adding wolves as another pet that can accompany you and protect you as well.

Two Experimental Games – Josh Jones
10 Second Path was an experiment in creating an animation based on the users input.
Mouse Hug was really fun. It was basically like wrestling with the mouse. Two players will use one or two mice and then “wrestle over” the mouse cursor to keep it on your side and then click as much as you can. First one to get 20 clicks wins. Also, if the mouse is moved out of the circle, then you both loose. It was quite addictive as well.

SONR – John Turner
I didn’t get a chance to see this one, but Jay mentioned this one in his blog.

Ayrik’s A Feeble Saga 2 - Eric Wiggins & Jason Faller
I didn’t get a chance to see this Unity game, but Jay covered this one. I’m assuming this was also the MMO RPG that Jason said they were going to demo. If not, then I missed yet another game.

Massive Freecell – Bryan Livingston
I only saw this one from afar, so I don’t know much about this other than it looked good. I believe Jay also mentioned this one in his blog.

Zen Tac Toe – Don Jordon
Don mentioned that he finished his Tic Tac Toe game for Android, and it is now in the Android market. Congrats Don for finishing it and bringing it to market. Now I just need to finish my game.

Frayed Knights - Jay Barnson
Apparently Jay showed his Frayed Knights a little bit to a few people as well. I don’t think he was planning on demoing it, but when asked to show his game, how could he refuse.

There were also lots of good discussions happening as well. I talked to Joe Larson of Cymon’s Games, and he’s helping to bring the old type-ins back, as a help to budding programmers. Some of you may remember these. These were the programs listings that appeared in magazines back in the late 70’s and early 80’s that you’d “type in” and then run. They were a great resource for learning and that is how I learned a lot back in the day. I learned more from books and these type-ins than I ever did in any high school programming class. My first official computer class was a joke. It was a beginning BASIC class that was taught by one of the athletic coaches (I guess they couldn’t find anyone else), and I ended up teaching the teacher more than he ever taught me. Anyway, thanks for doing this Joe. The more that the youth can learn by example and not be afraid of “code” the better future developers we’ll have.

Thanks again for everyone that came and made it an awesome evening. See you all at the next one in July.

Viva la Indie!

P.S. Jay's write up can be found here.

EDIT: Added Curtis Mirci and Dave Matney to the list of credits for Siphon Spirit, though Peter was the only one demoing it this time around. Also added Paul to credits on Linkrealms. Also fixed verbiage about mouse hug and added link.


Califer said…
Peter wasn't kidding me about taking all the credit for my work! Haha, Siphon Spirit is actually a team of three, Peter Anderson, Curtis Mirci and Dave Matney.
Greg Squire said…
Curtis, Sorry for not listing you and Dave in the writeup. I only listed those that were actually presenting. I've now listed you and Dave, so that others will know it was a team effort. Looks awesome by the way!
Dave Matney said…
That's what I get for wandering around. :p

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