IndieCade 2012 Reflections

Sitting in LAX. I arrived a few hours too early for my flight. I was not expecting to get here so easily.

My feet hurt from standing up all Saturday and Sunday showcasing Splice. My voice is broken from introducing people to Splice and from networking and laughing. My body is hovering at the edge of a fever thanks to con flu and alcohol (although I believe I showed remarkable restraint this time around.) So all in all, great festival! (Why am I so fucking terrible about taking pictures though? I'm going to write an app that will ring my phone at random times of the day and remind me to take pictures of whatever I'm doing. Err, mostly whatever I'm doing.)

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I didn't attend any of the actual conference events since we were showcasing Splice, but unlike PAX I did manage to play a good number of our fellow nominees' games!

Guacamelee!

Utterly fantastic, they got my vote for the developer's choice award. My thoughts:

  • It has a very Samurai Jack visual vibe, which was the first thing that endeared me to it. The character animations are gorgeously detailed, brightly colored, and impossible to describe in any non-hyperbolic, non-cliched way. And oh god the particle effects.
  • The story was funny and the meta-video game references in the demo were wonderful.
  • The movement controls were so fine-tuned I never felt clumsy; however, the combat still felt a little too much like button mashing for me, I never felt as if I was in complete control, even by the end.
  • The level design of the demo was extremely well put-together. It proceeded at the right pace, taught the right things, and is really a poster-child for how pseudo-tutorial tutorial levels should be done.
  • But perhaps most importantly, this game took a genre that I've never really been into and made it so goddamned fun for me. I'd really like to play more, too bad I don't have any consoles! We'll have to get it at work.
Open Source

Very cool, I enjoyed the experience of learning how the invisible environment worked. It engendered this dual sensation of unsurety (when you're trying to hear out the ball's location/trajectory) and crazed satisfaction (when you position yourself correctly and feel like you've got a real handle on the hidden game of pong playing out around you.

The Stanley Parable

I'd heard about this before, but this was the first time I've played it. I only played for about fifteen minutes, but got hooked on the branching consequences of the game. I got two of the endings, and I'm genuinely curious about the other four endings. I don't have to say anything about the quality of the narration and the writing. I will say that any game that makes me laugh is a winner in my book.

Tengami

Played through the first part. Loved the pop-up book feel and the audio was great. It's definitely a game I'd want to play through, just to see what else they do with the mechanic and the art. There were a couple glitchy visual details, but nothing experience breaking.

Super Space _____

I love the fact that it generates such team coordination and communication as soon as you pick up the game. I actually think that its competitive aspect (i.e. getting a higher individual score than the others) was completely overshadowed by the cooperative part of the game, which involved coordinating movement to complete tasks and avoid obstacles. This is a game that absolutely shines as a local multiplayer experience.

Hidden in Plain Sight

And the local multiplayer experience awesomeness continued with this game. Spy party writ large. Deceitful games are always fun, and this one has a lot of strategic depth. Only on console though.

Qasir al-Wasat

I'm definitely planning a play-through of this one. It's a Zelda-like top-down perspective game in the stealth adventure genre. The setting is medieval Syria, and according to the developers it is super-well researched and packed with historical references. I enjoy the visuals, they've got that same odd perspective of various types of middle-eastern and Asian character art. The shaders they're using also gave the game a really nice sheen, so I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.

Renga

Okay, I didn't actually play this, but I was in the crowd of, who knows, over a hundred players and spectators. I was actually feeling pretty shitty and was leaving Night Games early, but I was utterly compelled to see how the game resolved itself. It was pretty cool how everyone got into the experience. Needs moar cats though.

Find Me A Good One

This was, err, interesting. I can't say I was completely enamored with it: the puzzles were pretty straightforward and the controls weren't really polished. I didn't mind the quirky graphics. I did like the essence of the game, that actions in the world endangered a character that you're supposed to be responsible for. A neat mechanic and gaming experience, even if I didn't like the package all that much.

Chroma Shuffle

A neat little time-killer game that uses an interesting technology. I could definitely imagine playing this in a waiting room for a while, but doubt I'd take the game home. Possibilities for the actual hardware (Sifteo cubes) seem pretty fantastic though.

Bloop

FUN!!! That's all that needs to be said. Get this and play it. With friends, hopefully.

Beat Sneak Bandit

I enjoyed this rhythm game immensely, and the polish was impressive. Only went through the first few levels, but I'd definitely pick it up for a playthrough.

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That's all, game-wise. I also had a brief rekindling of the desire to play Magic (They were handing out more Magic cards than water. Actually, they were also handing out more Monster energy drinks than water. In fact, they were handing out very little water.) but that quickly guttered out after a teammate wiped the floor with me. Culver City had some great restaurants and bars, and the award ceremony was really well put together. Drunken Dungeon is probably the coolest drinking game ever. Also did a secret play test for a cool secret company.

All in all, the best part of the festival was meeting fellow developers and just being super impressed with their talent and the quality of their work. It's such an intensely creative industry that makes you feel pretty good pretty much all the time, whether in the creative process or in enjoying the fruits of your and others' labor. Ditching everything else for it is sort of a no brainer.

So, had some good times with the team and new friends, and I'm looking forward to IndieCade 2013.

And here's the only picture I took. Thanks Aaron.

Aaron before IndieCade 2012

Andrei Marks

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