Friday, July 27, 2012

Utah Indie Games Night - July 2012

We had an another awesome games last night. We had just under 40 people in attendance, so it was an average turnout.  Neumont hosted the event this time and it was awesome!  Their site worked really well for the event.  We had pizza and the formal presentation in their lecture room next door to their game lab. After that we had four games up on big screen TVs for the demo portion, and a couple of others on laptops.  It worked awesome! Thanks again to them for hosting it!

We started the evening off with Josh Jones giving a presentation on Experimental Gameplay. Josh is a programmer at SmartBomb Interactive and the head of the local chapter of the IGDA. He's also been very involved in the indie scene and has created a bunch of experimental games of his own. He made some good points on how most industries have had an indie scene that helps drive the industry forward. Video games is no exception. It's usually the smaller indie games that are willing to experiment and try something new.  He contends that without experimentation and innovation, the industry would stagnate and die. I agree with him on that. He also mentioned the difference between indie games, art games, and experimental games.  Experimental games are those games that try something new.  It could be new gameplay, new control methods, new art styles, etc.  The definition of what an indie game is has been debated a lot, but typically these are games are made independent of a publisher and are usually made my small teams doing doing their own thing.  Indie games are more likely to be experimental (because they are usually smaller and lower budget), but mainstream games can be experimental too.  Art games are games where the focus is more on conveying a message or feeling (the art part) than on the gameplay part.  Often art games can be experimental as well.  Josh also went on to name a bunch of prominent experimental games like, "I Wish I Were the Moon", "Passage", "Every Day the Same Dream", "We the Giants", etc.  He also mentioned how some experimental games go on to become full blown games, such as "World of Goo" (which started out as an experimental prototype called "Tower of Goo").  Further, he mentioned the awesome website ExperimentalGameplay, which was started by some MIT students and was later opened up to the general public.  Josh posted a bunch of links from his presentation here.


After Josh's presentation we broke out into game demos.  There were eight demos that I'm aware of, but I could have easily missed some.


Siphon Spirit - Curtis Mirci 
I made it a point to talk to Curtis this time as he's usually gone by the time I make the rounds on demos.  Anyway he's been hard at work working on Siphon Spirit now that he got March to the Moon released.  I'm sure he felt that it was literally a "march to the moon" to get there, but congrats to him on making that acheivement. Siphon Spirit has been coming along.  There has been a bunch of cut scenes and additional art added to the game since I saw it last. It's looking really polished now. The story really seems to add to the game and helps tie the gameplay and levels together. 

Japanese Coaching Game - Curtis Mirci
While I was talking to Curtis, he briefly showed me his Japanese Coaching game that was designed to help you learn to write Japanese characters.  It was originally made for the DS, but he's a bit fed up with his current engine and has been porting the game to his own engine.

The Escape - Josh Jones
This was a quick experimental game that Josh and another guy put together in about 12 hours.  The game uses a platformer mechanic, but they played with the idea of dynamic binding of the controls.  The game guess what you are trying to do with the controls and if the user confirms the question asked to them, it will bind that action to the control the user used.  It was definitely a different approach to controls.

Unnamed 2D Engine - David Setser
I talked to David and he's working on his own 2D engine (written in C++) that he started on his own.  He had a graphics class that got him excited about creating his own engine.  It's in it's early stages so it isn't much to look at, however he hope to be able to use his own engine for some of his future projects.  He also wants to open it up to others to use as well.

Hippie Shooter - Rhett Akers
Rhett was showing off his game Hippie Shooter that he had started back when he was a student a ITT-Tech. It's a completely politically incorrect game on many levels, but extremely fun.  You are essentially a Redneck guy defending your cabin from tree hugging hippie invaders.  You have few different guns, explosives, and other power-ups you can use to defend your cabin.  There are exploding bunnies that set the hippies on fire.  It's hilarious and I was laughing for most of the time I was able to play it.  I loved it.

LinkRealms - Herb Flower
Herb showed some gameplay videos of LinkRealms up on the large projection screen.  It was cool to see some of the new content that they added to it since I saw it last.  There were Man-eating Venus Flytraps, Minotaurs, Rock Monsters, Skeleton Demons, and more.  It's looking way awesome!

Bullet Train Hell - Chris Tart
I didn't get to talk to Chris much, but he was showing Bullet Train Hell again.  He mentioned that he's mostly been working at marketing the game at this point.

Markorian Library
I didn't get to talk to the creators of this game, and I only saw a few glances of this one on a big screen.  It was set in some sort of library and was running in the Blender Game engine. 


Of course there was lots of networking and lively discussions going on. So much so that the conversations continued in the parking lot, even after we left the building.  Good Times! It was a super evening as always and I came away renewed and pumped up to work on my own projects.  I hope to be ready to show my game Antibody at the next Indie Night in September.  So you all can hold me to that.

Viva la Indie!
P.S.  Jay's write up of the night can be found here.