Indicade 2014: The Highlights

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Over three days, Culver City, CA was quietly bombarded by Gamers. Indiecade is an international festival of games. Game developers and players converged under white tents.  There were video games, role playing games, board games, 3D games, and games that required so much exertion that I was exhausted just watching them. Simultaneous talks and lectures were also given at nearby locations that catered to topics involving game design and gender roles in games.

No matter where in the spectrum of gaming a person falls in, there was no denying the solid atmosphere of creativity and ingenuity. There was a genuine welcome vibe at every booth I visited. The enthusiasm from the creators I spoke to briefly were infectious and gave me courage to try out games that I may have overlooked otherwise.

Three days of intense sampling of games can leave the brain addled and twitching eyes. Nonetheless, here are the highlights of the festival.

shield break             Set in the Viking afterlife, two teams are pitted against one another in an arena. The demo contained two characters: Raider and Drunkard; of course I chose Drunkard.

Right from the start, the graphics were beautiful. The opposing team took advantage of my distraction and brought  me down quick. The game uses keyboard keys but there is an option to use the controller. It took me several fights to figure out which key did what. The game was so exciting and fun that I kept stumbling over which key to use.

The melee attacks for the Drunkard were hilarious! The weapon was a club with a keg at the end. A special attack involving getting drunk was too much fun. The game is still in development so there were only a few variations of the attack to use. Yet that was still freaking amazing.

This quickly became my personal favorite. I played this game two times over the weekend, just laughing it up with total strangers.

 

 

Grow_Still_2      This is more than a game about creating a plant. This is a game where art, strategy, and the use of 3D comes into play.  Players are working together but still have their own personal agendas to complete.

This table was packed every single time so I did not get a chance to play test this. The final structures were truly visual beauties. Judging by the frowns and  bickering, this game can become intense.

Suitable for those who enjoy puzzles, strategy, undermining your friends with a smile, or if you want a board-less game.

 

  • Duck Game on the Ouya console (video game)

duck game        It’s 1984 and for some reasons ducks have taken over the planet. Whatever  the absurd backstory is, this game was super, duper addictive.

The Ouya tent was packed and it was for good reason. I was embarrassingly clueless about the Ouya console. Thankfully, the people at the Ouya were wonderful and explained to me this new world. A ridiculously tiny console that retails for $99 is a gateway to a (mostly) free world of independent games. The system boasts about 963 games that are available to play. Looks like there are some streaming options available too.

Once a controller became available, I was hooked. Imagine a fast paced version of Nintendo Smash Brothers with a retro style flair, lots of rockets, and ducks.

 

Circular Reasoning - 1A glimpse of a game in early, early development. This beautifully etched board caught my eye. The point of the game is simple: get to the middle circle. The journey to the circle is the difficult part since the other player could easily block you.  I did not get a chance to play test this either but judging by the players expression, enthusiasm for it was solid.

 

coffee-still-04This was one of the most bizarre interactive games there. I volunteered to be one of participants. Two  volunteers are the main actors, reading the script prompt from the mobile device. Two other volunteers are the drivers where we select an action from the choices ( I was one of the drivers). Right behind us were some musical accompaniment.

The enjoyment I gleaned from this were from the volunteers. They acted their roles out in a humorous way. The annoyance came from the prompts themselves. The mobile device would have the prompts but it was not clear if it was selected. I spent alot of the time just repeatedly tapping the screen. There was no introduction,it just went. The story was pointless (a person approached the other at a coffee place).  I think the point was about gender neutrality or social awkwardness. The choose your own adventure portion was marred by the technical issues. It was different, I have to give it that. As for a game? Not making the mark for me. Maybe if the story was a bit more lively.

 

Of all the consoles, I detest the Wii console with a passion. Maybe my devotion to Playstation is strong but I shunned the Wii. Even so, I stepped under the tent and sampled a couple. It was pretty crowded and loud but two games caught my attention.I was able to chat with the producer and creator of Runbow for a small bit. Although keeping an ear to what they were saying and not being distracted by the game was pretty difficult.

Runbow is superbly fast paced game where NINE players race to grab the trophy. Each of the players are certain colors.Every few seconds, the background color changes. If the color matches up with an obstacle or platform, then it will disappear. This made for lots of shocked squeals and various frustrated noises.

Amidst the noise, I was able to ask a few questions to Dave Proctor and Alex Rushdy. When it came to back story, Dave gave this quote which influenced the color scheme idea;”We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are“(For some odd reason, this stroke me as a such a depressing saying but then I realized I must have just been starving). Unfortunately the audio for the rest of the interview was indiscernible with the noise.

The mod-style artwork and graphics are bright and uplifting even as your character plunges down the cliff in the next background color change. The enthusiasm and energy for this game was phenomenal. The more people that joined, the more competition, the louder the squeals, and the more fun. If, if, I was to get the Wii console, Runbow would definitely be the first. It would also make a great party game.

  • Shantae and the Pirates Curse from Wayforward (Wii console)

The second Wii game of interest falls right into my comfort zone of platform gaming. The main character is Shantae, a genie whose main attack is whipping her hair. There are lots of  fun wacky characters and jokes. I played this for about a few minutes and it was an enjoyable platform game. This game is a sequel and I would love to grab the first one first. It is also available on 3DS.

 

 

Another gamzame that is still in very early development (one of the icon place holder was a cat, I was amused),this game is all about exploration. The player navigates around star maps and planets. Engaging the planets brings up possible items for trade or use. Now and then, there may be attacking forces.

The gameplay was very simple and honestly kind of boring. It was just click, watch the ship move, a window pops up, and then click to move the ship again. Even during the fighting mode, it was just clicking a prompt. The game was not exciting but the beauty of it was the highlight. The star maps and planets are amazing and versatile. The screen could be tilted and analyzed in almost any directional quadrant. The details with the planets and aliens is extensive. The game is still in early development and I am curious if they will add more active participation in it. As of now. it reminds me of computer class in the nineties when we were studying astronomy.

 

If it looks like Galaga, I’m going to play it. Jamestown is a top down shooter game. It is 17th century colonial town on Mars. The graphics are retro with colonial soldiers and alien spaceships. This was ridiculously fun. Although the shape of the one of the power up blasters raised an eyebrow, I wasted quite some time here. I even waited to play again when the game froze. Sometimes, you just want to enjoy a game where you just blast the bejussus out of things.

 

The final highlight was finally experiencing the Oculus Rift experience. Oculus Rift is one of the biggest virtual reality 3-D headsets out there. After months of seeing the team at conventions and even on Conan O’Brien, I waited in line to experience it. I can definitely understand the excitement. Two things bothered me about this: 1. You have to twist and nod your head alot to interact with the game. By the end, my neck was pretty sore. Which leads to 2. This will enhance motion sickness. Terribly enhance it for the rest of the day.

Indicade was an amazing event to experience. I probably should have stepped out of my comfort zone a little bit when zooming in for a certain games but I did experience those that I otherwise would have overlooked. This event extends the world of gaming even more. Being able to interact with the creators of the games brings a whole new appreciation to the medium.

This is only a small fraction of the games that were there. Check out Indicade website for other games to experience.

GAME ON.

 

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