The Indie MEGABOOTH seems to get bigger and bigger every year at PAX East. This year the Indie Mini Booth alone had almost 30 games. I spent most of my floor time there since the lines aren’t as insane as for the AAA studios and you can actually get your hands on some games.
I also tend to like indies a lot more since they’re still making point and click adventures or experimenting with other cool story driven games. I started out my early access press hour there and was able to get some hands on quiet time with several games.
Fire Hose Games
My first stop was Boston based Fire Hose Games who were showing off their in-beta Facebook game, Let’s Quip, as well as the first indie game from their accelerator program Catlateral Damage. I’m already in the beta for Let’s Quip. It's the first Facebook game I’ve played more than once. There’s a press quote for their launch! The game pits you against friends or random players in word battles where you have to explain why your word is better than your opponent’s. Friends and other players then vote on which answer they like the best and if you win your match you get coins and bragging rights. You can sign up for the beta here.
Catlateral Damage is a “First Person Cat Simulator” with the goal of knocking as many of your owner’s possessions around as possible. Sounds pretty realistic to me!
Surprise Attack Games
Vertiginous Golf, developed by Surprise Attack Games, was inside the Indie MEGABOOTH at the Indie Mini Booth. Aptly titled this was definitely a vertigo inducing golf experience, especially with Oculus Rift support. The booth was staffed by developers in steampunk garb and kilts (the male version of booth babes?) and they also had some nice steam-punked out Xbox controllers for hands on play.
I tried with both the traditional Xbox controlled version and again with the Oculus Rift head set. Oculus literally added another dimension to the game play and made it a whole lot more interesting. I have been somewhat anti 3D gaming but I have to admit it was fun. I was terrible at the game but it was still awesome to wander around the environment and watch your shots in an immersive 3D experience.
Rocket 5 Studios
The husband and wife team at Rocket Five had my personal game of show with The Phantom PI Mission Apparition demoing in their booth. Its a puzzle adventure game where you play as a private investigator wandering through a haunted mansion. The way the levels were set up reminded me a bit of Double Fine’s The Cave as far as perspective and having to double back once you found objects.
The art was great and while there was no actual dialog there were notes and goal cards you come across as you play. I actually picked up a really neat pack of physical versions of the collectible cards with clever info and awesome art from “Rocket 5’s artists friends from across North America.” Can’t wait to get my hands on the game!
I didn’t actually see Vlambeer on the floor but I attended a panel their Chief Executive of Business and Development Rami Ismail was part of and he was a freakin’ riot so I checked them out when I made it home. Their most popular title to date Ridiculus Fishing gained extra attention when it was cloned before they could port it for iOS. They seem to create lots of addicting old skool games and they’ve done in a title in the Serious Sam franchise.
Dejobaan was at PAX showing off their released titles as well as an intriguing upcoming one Elegy for a Dead World. Being a sucker for story-based games, I am super psyched for this one. The twist here is instead of playing a story, you are actually writing one. You explore dead planets and write to keep them alive. From the game’s site:
They sent a poet.
The scientists, historians, and statesmen never arrived.
Three worlds, each home to a long-dead civilization.
You must be the speaker for these ancient peoples.
Write whatever you are moved to by their landscapes.
Write to share the joys and sorrows buried in their rubble.
Write what you can imagine of their origins, existence, and fates.
Your word is all that keeps these worlds from being forgotten.
Combining my love of video games, dystopian literature, and writing its like they stole this from my brain! I’m not sure if this is a shut up and take my money moment or if I should ask them for royalties...
Another Massachusetts studio, Proletariat Games may finally make this the year I throw some mobile gaming into the mix. Their first title World Zombination is due out for iOS, Android, Mac and PC in 2014. They had a playable build that looked pretty good when I got to check them out on the floor. In this free to play game you have the choice of choosing your faction and fighting with the humans or zombies.
There’s a world map where you can chose cities to fight your battles in tower defense (or destruction) style game play. The map uses real time data from other players also in the game to determine which faction has control of a particular city. I chose to play for the zombies and ended up in a city attacking to take control of hospitals from the humans. You can unlock cards to add different character abilities to your zombie or human hordes.
One of my favorite PAX moments this year was seeing a cosplayer dressed as Michonne from The Walking Dead playing the game. I hope she got one of the zombie selfies they were creating for people who used #WZSelfie on twitter during PAX.
Brace Yourself Games
I feel like if you weren’t from Boston in the Mega Booth this year you were probably from Canada eh. America’s hat seems to have both east and west coast indie presences. Vancouver based Brace Yourself Games was showing off Crypt of the Necrodancer. This is a “hard core dugeon crawling (roguelike) rhythm game.” Had I not seen it hands on my first reaction that would have been wait what?! It looks pretty cool and bonus points for getting to dust off your old DDR pad! The game will even let you add your own MP3s while playing. Its due out on Steam in 2014.
-- Erin "ErinAS" Seiden