Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Utah Indie Games Night - September 2012

We had an incredible Indie Games Night last night!  We held it at Utah Valley University (UVU) which is a new venue for us. We had close to 50 people in attendance so it was a great turnout. It became "standing room only" fairly quickly.

Greyson Richey gave us an awesome presentation on the business side of HTML5 Development.  He mentioned a number of tips to optimizing your HTML5 games, such as not pre-loading everything up front. He talked about different approaches to monetizing your HTML5 games (which are mostly the same options for monetizing Flash games or other online games). He also got into talking a little about browser support for HTML5 and market penetration. The Q & A part almost erupted into a Flash vs HTML5 argument, but that's to be expected as that's still a hot topic. All in all he presented some very useful information.

After the HTML5 presentation we began the game demos.  I believe we hit a new record on the number of demos being shown.  I counted at least 12 demos being shown, but there were more that I wasn't able to see. Part of that was because I was showing a game demo myself, so I had less time to see what else was going on.  Here's the demos.


Antibody - Greg Squire
Yes I'm finally unstuck! After several years of just spinning my wheels, I'm back in the game (pun intended).  I showed off my game Antibody, which is now using the Game Maker Studio engine.  This is now the third engine for this game.  I started this game years ago with the Torque Game Builder engine, but I soon ran into a lot of trouble with that engine, so I switched to using BlitzMax.  Soon after that I found myself facing some family issues that took more and more of my time, which zapped both my time and my motivation, so I began working less and less on my game.  Eventually I was at a virtual standstill.  I now have gotten myself unstuck from all that (that's a whole other story in and of itself), and I've begun porting what I had to Game Maker.  I switched to Game Maker as it's becoming very cross platform (it now supports Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, & HTML5).  Anyway the game is still in the early stages but it's nice to start feeling "movement" again.

The Incredible Baron - Victor Chelaru
Victor was showing game that his team put together for the Salt Valley Talley.  It's a side-scrolling RTS game where you have an army of creatures battling slugs and other enemies.

When Sneezles Attack - Rachel Helps
Rachel showed off her game that she created for the Adventure Time Game jam earlier this month.  It was text adventure created in Twine which featured characters from the popular Adventure Time cartoon series. I played it for a bit and found myself immersed in that world for a moment.  I've often felt that text adventures (interactive fiction as it's called now) could be more powerful than graphical point-n-click adventures purely because they evoke the power of the mind to create the visuals.  Perhaps this is the same reason why it's easier to sell a dream on Kickstarter, than an actual finished game. People will always "imagine" the game to be better than the finished product.

Mini-game from Tot Voltus - Darius Ouderkirk
Darius showed an interesting puzzle game made of hexgon pieces (faces) in a hexagon configuration. It was meant a mini-game used to gain favor with guards as part of his larger stealth RPG, Tot Voltus. You had to slide the pieces around in three different directions to basically rackup "happy points".  You'd try to get rid of red angry faces while getting as many happy and really happy (blissful?) faces as you can on the board. Basically it's like the puzzle equivalent of talking your way past a guard by gaining his favor.

Egg Game - Mike Whitaker
Mike briefly showed me an mobile game they've been working on about tending and hatching baby eggs. It was a Time Management type game where you have to look after more and more eggs and collecting more and more different eggs and hatch-lings.  It was very cartoony and cute, and the collection aspect of the game could hook a lot of players in (it worked for Pokemon anyway).

Nimbus - UVU Student Project
Nimbus is UVU student Project that is in it's early stages.  It a game about tending to different planets by helping things to grow. It has a very different play mechanic where you play as the water and have to guide the droplets to the ground to help trees and plants to grow. And in so doing, you repopulate the desolate planet, bringing it back to life.

Siphon Spirit - Peter Anderson
Peter was showing off some of the latest changes he's made to Siphon Spirit. He's added a few tutorials levels that help teach people how to play it. I'm not a big fan of tutorials, but for a game with very different game play (such as this one) it's certainly warranted and maybe even needed.  He's also added more cut-scenes and added more motion (and thus more life) into them.  

Caverns of Khron - Mike Santiago
I watched someone play this game for a while and it looked really fun.  Mike did pixel art for the game.  It was a retro platformer with lots of traps and enemies at every turn.

Frayed Knights2 (tech demo) - Jay Barnson
Jay was demoing the tech he's using to created Frayed Knights 2.  He's using the Unity engine and has a tool he built to quickly create dungeons. He tried to make it as easy to create as drawing the dungeon on graph paper. I only got a glimpse of this, but it looks like he's succeeding at this so far.


These other demos I only got a glimpse off, but they were ones that have been shown at our gatherings before

Flexitris - McKay Salisbury

Hippie Shooter - Rhett Akers

Tank Raige Arena - Nick Terry


Here's some other demos that I'm told were there, but I didn't get to see them personally.

Arena Tactics - Daniel Harrington

Mayflower: The Seeker - Mike Daly

Mosaic - Trent Baird

iPhone Prototype - Chris Evans


As always there were some great discussions going on.  Also someone spread out on a table some art from the game Cape Chronicles.  I think even that added a lot to the evening.  I've often thought it would be a great idea to have a sort of mini game art show in conjunction with this event. It would be another way to show case their work and not just "in game" as it currently has been.

All in all it was a wonderful evening and it got me "jazzed up" to work on my own projects more.


Viva la Indie!


P.S.  Jay's writeup about the event can be found here.