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:
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!