Monday, January 31, 2011

Utah Indie Games Night - January 2011

We held another Utah Indie Games Night this past Thursday Night. I was involved with the Global Games Jam this past weekend, so I'm a bit late getting my report out about the evening. Sorry for my tardiness.

We had around 25 people there at the event, which is a bit low on the attendance side, but still a decent turn out. We started the evening off with a presentation from Mark Schmelzenbach on "The Fine Art of Conversation (Systems): Talk on Talk". It was a discussion of various conversations that have been employed in video games. Such types include Linear Conversation (no choice), Branching Conversation (probably the most common one used), Topic Conversation (starting a dialog based on a set of topics), Simulation conversation (the hardest to implement), and Blended Conversation (a bend of these techniques).

He also discussed various input and output of these systems. Typical input would be keyboard or controller, but we may be close to using a microphone with actual human speech. Output is usually text and sometimes with voice acting. Sometimes "mumble voices" are used along with text. And lastly text-to-speech is another, but isn't used much as your actors sound like robots.

He also talked about the innovative "pie menu" input system found in Mass Effect 2. It incorporated two axises of control; one to select standard or special topics and the other to select between charming (soft) and intimidating (harsh) responses. Also he mentioned Alpha Protocol which had a timer to force you to choose dialog responses, and a secondary conversation system (implemented as an email system within the game). It was a very interesting presentation.

Then we opened things up for our game demos. Unfortunately I didn't get to all the games. In fact, I only got to see one and that was "Adventure" (working title) by Chris Tart. It was an interesting platformer with puzzle elements. On some levels you could preform actions to add to the level in order to be able to get to the exit. One of the actions created a moving platform which you could then use to either place other static platforms or run on the platfom to get to another part of the level. The combination of these two created a bunch of levels that were very challenging, and were hard to find solutions for. The game was built on XNA and used the platform starter kit. He has a good start on this game and it looks like it could turn into something really fun.

Other games that were there, but I didn't get to see were Siphon Spirit, Cannon Ball Ruins, and a game about catching flies.

There was lots of good conversations happening too. Don and I talked a lot about the iPhone and Android markets. As usual, there was lots happening and I missed some of it (as usual). It was a great evening!

Viva la Indie!

PS Jay's writeup can be found here