Friday, November 20, 2015

Utah Indie Games Night - November 2015

We had a good Utah Indie Games Night this past Tuesday night. The EAE department of the U of U hosted it this time. We were down quite a bit in numbers, just over 20 people instead of our usual 40 - 50. I'm guessing this was due to people being busy due to the holiday season ramping up and some other similar events being so close to this one (namely Final Burn and Utah Unity Users Group).
 
Becky Pennock gave a great presentation on some logical approaches to visual design. She talked a lot about being able to concretely define your "Style" so that both artists and programmers will truly "be on the same page" and understand each other. All too often we'll hear the style described in terms of source material, such as it's like "Power Puff Girls" combined with "Teletubies". However such descriptions don't paint enough a picture to truly understand what the style really is. She mentioned that you need to be ultra-descriptive in terms of art fundamentals (Line, Shape, Form, Value, Space, Color, and Texture). So with Line, how thick are the lines on the characters? on the background? Are they thick then thin? Are they smooth or jagged? And with Shape, what shapes are used? Lots of sharp angles or more rounded organic shapes? And for what types of objects in the game? How about Value and Color? Does it use more vivid and saturated colors in the foreground to denote things you can interact with? And then perhaps colors with less saturation for background elements? Or some other form of visual hierarchy? Basically she mentioned it needs to be descriptive enough to really tell the artist what to do to create art with that style. She said this isn't easy but it helps a ton in eliminating confusion and time wasted on that miscommunication.

We had three demos that were shown. They were:

CATastrophe
Kyle showed his homebrew game for the TurboGrafx-16 platform (Yes one of those early consoles.) I played his game on the TurboExpress handheld, which is one of the first portable gaming devices ever. At first I thought it was one of those Pip-Boy things, as it was just as big. Anyway his game was about a cat dodging water droplets that come from a giant shower head at the top of the screen. It looked really cool, and I'm sure that writing something for that platform isn't easy. You had to do lots of strange contortions back then to get the hardware to do what you wanted and still fit your program in a small amount of space.

Josh showed his monthly experimental game that he also entered into the Indie Speed Run competition. It's a game that sarcastically asks how can interactive blocks evoke any emotion? Obviously we know that even games with simple shapes can evoke emotions within us. In the game you have to guide a little corgi dog through a blocky maze with simple circles for coins and simple X's that can hurt you. Once you've collected all the coins, you win the game. However some coins are not so easy to get.

Nate was showing the trailer to his visual novel game, based on H.P. Lovecraft's novel by the same name. It definitely left you with some creepy vibes. He hopes to have it done sometime next year.
 
Thanks to everyone for making it an enjoyable evening.

Viva la Indie!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Utah Indie Games Night - May 2015

Well we had a couple of minor setbacks (issues with sound system and main speaker unable to come), but overall it was a successful Indie Game Night this past Wednesday. We had a good turnout of around 40 people, and UVU hosted it again in room 404, but amazingly everyone seemed to find it okay. ;) There were lots of great demos and discussions happening, but unfortunately I wasn't able to catch them all (never was good at Pokemon).

Our speaker Adam Ames hurt his back and was unable to attend, so we watched the now legendary talk "Juice it or Lose it" by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it here. The talk is all about doing little things that can enhance and bring more life into your game.

After that we opened the time to do game demos. Here's the ones I'm aware of (but I missed a lot of them)

Spirits of Elduurn
Curtis showed me his PS Vita version of Spirits of Elduurn. It's a bit different from the PC version, which is more of a puzzle game. In this one, the main objective is to smash all the demons on the touch screen (using you fingers) before they get away. There is also one bomb to kill them all if you get overwhelmed. It was a very fun and simple game.

Dub Wars
Joe showed me some of the new art from a new artist that will be going into Dub Wars. It looks great. He also mentioned that they'll be taking an elemental approach to weapons, so that sounds like it might be a great update to the game.

Dungeon Goer
Eric showed me his latest game, in the vein of his last Space Goer game. This one is a bit more Crossy Road like. The gameplay and blocky art are similar to Crossy Road, but this is in a dungeon setting, with spears and saw blades coming at you. Looks good thus far.

MiniCiv (working title)
Steve was showing his mini Civilization like game. It's based on Civilization, but looks like pulls in elements from Settlers of Catan. I didn't get a chance to play it myself, but it looks like he's put a lot of work into the fundamentals and the AI. He had a mode where the AI's would just battle each other, and it was mesmerizing to watch.

Mana Mania
This game was done for the gospel app and game contest at the LDSTech conference last year. The portion I saw had you flying on a giant bee in space and you had to fly through a series of green rings (similar to a lot 3D flight games out there). It definitely had some interesting visuals.

Lair of the Morlocks
The Deli Interactive guys made a short game for the Public Domain Jam. Their game was a physics platformer based on The Time Machine by HG Wells. You are in the Morlock caverns trying to get your time machine back. You don't have any weapons, so you have to use rocks other things from your environment to kill the Morlocks. Then you have to find the keys to get to your time machine and win. I got a kick out of the ragdoll physics with the Morlocks. It was strangely entertaining to push the dead ones around.

Simulacrum (working title)
This one is a futuristic platformer with pixel art graphics. There's vines to climb, platforms to leap on, pigeons to annoy, bombs to avoid, and little robot helper that helps you to float down slowly to safety. What more could you ask for? It's definitely unique and I had fun playing it.

Death Touch
I didn't actually get to see this one, but Ben was there showing his Ludum Dare #32 entry. From his YouTube video it looks like it would be a lot of fun to play. BTW, Ben (http://www.heartbeaststudios.com/) has created a lot of GameMaker tutorials and even has a book out on GML, so you might want to check those out if you're a GameMaker dev.

I also noticed Momentum and Legacy of the Elder Star being shown again, and there were several others that I didn't get to see also, including one by some UVU students.

It was definitely a great evening. Thanks again for everyone making it wonderful!

Viva la Indie!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Utah Indie Games Night - March 2015

We had a great Indie Games Night this past Tuesday evening. It was hosted by Neumont University and we had close to 40 people there so it was a good turnout. It was a good evening.

Our planned speaker fell ill, and Jay Barnson offered to fill in at the last minute, which was extremely nice of him. However we had some technical issues with the projector so we didn’t get to hear his presentation either. So we went straight to demos after that.

I think I missed some demos, but here’s the ones I’m aware of.

Crisis Kingdom
Steve brought in his HTML5 base game jam game that he has polished up in to a full out product now. It’s a multi-player co-op single tablet game where you all are helping to defeat wave after wave of dragons that are threatening your village. You use some crafting mechanics to build up your stockpile of weapons that you can then launch at the dragon one it appears.

Space Goer

Eric brought in his mobile space survival game. It’s sort of like "Crossy Road" in space. You have a ship that fires at a constant rate and you have to move between lanes to avoid enemy ships, though you can stay in a lane and hope your ship’s weapons will take out an enemy before you reach it. The longer you survive, the faster your ship goes and the harder it gets.

Loose Canons
Adam brought in his fun four player, single screen platform brawler. This was a very action packed game with both shooting, punching, and jumping mechanics. The pixel art is great and there were no shortage of people playing this game.

The Chosen Ones
Tyran showed off his roguelike jumper puzzle game. The character in the game will run and jump automatically, and you don’t affect the character directly. You only can place items to help your “chosen one” get from platform to platform, such as blocks to jump off of, fans to help blow the character higher, or ice to help slow him/her down. It’s in it’s early stages but seem like a solid concept.

Mechcommander Remake
Matt showed his Mechcommander remake using the Unreal engine. In this RTS there is no resource building, just immediate battles of equivalent armies. Not being an avid RTS player, Matt had to help me with learning the controls, and I died pretty quickly (as expected), but it looks like his game is coming along nicely.

Flame Warrior
I didn’t get a chance to play the newest build of Darius’ space combat game, but Jay indicated it’s been vastly improved and that it will probably have a name change soon.

As the final part of the evening a number of us had a special meeting to discuss organizing an event that will hopefully help improve our larger game development community here in Utah. Nice to see the gears in motion for it. Can’t really say much more about it as most of it is still very much up in the air at the moment.

It was definitely an awesome evening. Thanks everyone for making it so!

Viva la Indie!

P.S. Jay's writeup of the event is here.