The Indie Game Room (IGR) is a yearly event, held as a part of Adelaide's AVCon. The room is open for all indie developers around the country: While most teams are from Adelaide, this year saw five developers making the trip over from Melbourne.
The 2011 IGR was about three times larger than the year before, and this year saw the room larger again. Every year has always shown a variety of different games, all living up to what we expect from indie games, and this year was no disappointment. We saw the return of a few games from last year and many more new titles to check out.
Here are some of my highlights from the weekend:
Gem Thief by Evil Genius
Gem Thief is a 2D retro style puzzle game which puts you in the oversized boots of a super-cute, greedy miner named Quentin. Your goal? To help this little guy steal all of the gems by any means necessary!
This was Gem Thief's second year in the IGR - Player Attack actually caught up with Evil Genius in 2011. Since being in the Room last year, Gem Thief has been released on the iPhone App Store, and this year it was back in the lead-up to its release on Android. The Android version has a few more features than the original iPhone version, but I was told they will be updating the iPhone version shortly after the Android release.
I chose to feature this game for two reasons. Firstly: It has made it! The game has been released and enjoyed some success, allowing the team to continue working on the game adding additional content and porting it to other devices. My second reason: On the second day of the event, I was speaking with one of the devs about how in response to the previous day's feedback, the team made several changes to the game overnight (including adding an improved control scheme!), which went down quite well with the players.
ScreamTime was started back in January by a team of eight. Most of its members are graduated Game Art students, but the team also includes a current student, a few programmers, a sound guy, and the 3D lecturer from the Game Art course. With this highly talented art team they were able to create a very visually appealing hand painted art style, that compliments their 1950s settings.
What really made me look at this game is how well it plays on an iPad. A lot of tablet/phone games (especially shooters) just seem cumbersome on to play on portable devices. The decision to have just two virtual analogue controls, one to move the player around the world and another which both aims and shoots makes it easy to play while still being a shooter.
Its music was very entertaining and looped well especially with the occasional comments from the character to break it up, it really made it feel hectic as the zombie horde came for me.
XenoRaptor by Robot Overlord
XenoRaptor is a fast paced, highly customizable top down shooter with varied enemies and levels. Unleash anything from giant lasers and radioactive Gatling guns to the berserker teleporter in a single player campaign or co-op and death-match multiplayer.
Playing this game was just outright fun. Quite hard but fun, partly because the promise was made that whoever could finish the special AVCon level would get a free copy of the game. XenoRaptor has been in development for two years by just one person! This is quite impressive for the level of polish it has.
I had a good sift through all of the customizable options for my ship before jumping in for my first attempt at the level. I spent the most time deciding on which dodge mechanic to take, and ended up going with the teleporter after watching a few other players getting mugged by some of the melee enemies.
Besides the fun gameplay, the game looked good and felt "right". What made it feel right was the multiple levels of parallax in the back ground that made it feel like I was acutely in space. Keep an eye out for a demo version of the game to be available soon, right here on Player Attack!
Machinations by Graham Games
Machinations is a top-down real-time strategy and resource management game carefully designed to work on touch-screen mobile devices. The player takes on up to three devious computer opponents in brutal battle to conquer the entire map. A careful balance of upgrades, attacks and defence is necessary to crush your opposition.
The Graham Games team was one of the brave groups who made the trip over from Melbourne. I know I was excited to see so many teams over and I am very happy this team was one of them. The three-man team are all employed full-time as software engineers, so all of their work on Machinations occurs during evenings and weekends.
Having played several of the more primitive versions of this game, I found it very intriguing to see a more advanced version. Through my normal policy of a good defence is a good offence I made the majority of my upgrades additional ship yards, and then found it very amusing when the AI managed to capture one of my posts and proceeded to change all of them out for defence lasers.
Collateral by Dancing Dinosaur Games
Collateral is a fast paced 1st/3rd person taxi combat driving game, set in the future where a deadly game show trivializes murder and mayhem. The game is set in a cyberpunk 5th Element style city with fast paced driving combat.
Dancing Dinosaur Games are also Melbourne based, formed early 2012, currently in the Academy of Interactive Entertainment Incubator Program which is designed to allow graduates to start their own indie games company. They are currently a five-man team plus one contractor.
What I really enjoyed about Collateral was the world itself, I never found myself flying between the same locations or past the same landmarks. What made this especially surprising was how the level had only two different areas but its clever level design and use of various short cuts kept it fresh.
I originally set out to pick five games based on different categories, but instead picked five games that show off what the Indie development is about, in their own way. Special mentions to Ortus by Elvidian Entertainment for coming over a for a second year, Flatland by See Through Studios for interesting game play, Ken Wong's Hackycat - another great of example of what mobile gaming can be - and Provingrounds by Iron Studios, a team made up by current Game Art students from Tea Tree Gully TAFE.
Can't wait to see what next year's room has to offer!
I am currently studying, focusing on game design. I enjoy all video games, in particularly strategy games. Whenever I am not in front of a screen I am wargaming or playing Ultimate Frisbee.
Jimmy the Geek