Published on October 8th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
IndieCade 2012: Creative Festival and Gaming Exploratorium
California has long been known as a hub for gaming culture. Much like Ontario, Canada, the state has been popping up indie titles like backyard weeds.
Culver City, Calif., shares the same success by showcasing the International IndieCade.
Since 2009, the festival has brought local creativity fiends to observe self-made games on all platforms. From iOS to Xbox LIVE Arcade potentials, and right down to PlayStation exclusives, the festival holds something for just about everyone.
Much different than showcases like E3, IndieCade is open to the public. Not all areas of the show invite the general public to take part, but the majority of it provides many experiences for aspiring game makers. The games don’t just apply to the digital form. Board games seem to hold that same aspect of creativity, giving every player a different, if old school, challenge. There are also plenty of opportunities for kids to explore the differing aspects of gaming creativity.
Aside from the workshops, there are plenty of video game developers on hand to speak to their games. Many of them have cashed in their social lives to take a stab at game creation, but there was plenty of polished product to be shown. Some of which were still far from its final stages of production, but are looking good nonetheless.
Jump in your mech and take to the streets for some machine gun destruction in Hawken. Mech Warrior-type games often seem like they are trying to balance certain mechanics and elements. Besides the game looking like it was produced by a AAA team of developers, it is actually fun to play.
I sat down with three others to get down and dirty with some multiplayer. The mode we experienced was a simple team deathmatch that was set in an urban setting. The city seemed crowded with wires, roads and short rooftops, like something you might see in Tokyo, or a similar urban environment.
There are various loadouts and weapons, both offensive and defensive. Each match was 15 minutes, which seemed to take forever while waiting—but not long enough while playing. I guess you could say that the game was the “talk of the tent” and everyone seemed to agree that it was nothing short of purdy to look at.
Guacamelee’s Juan and Tostada were hands down my favorite parts of the show. And no, this wasn’t my server and lunchtime meal choice.
The game is developed by the small DrinkBox Studios and offers a few mechanics that make it a joy to play. The beat’em up brawler style game has traditional moves such as the attack, jump, and evade buttons. While these have been seen before, the game does have the option to turn into…a chicken. There were a few benefits in doing so, but most other actions were pretty prominent other than being able to clucking change.
We heard about Guacamelee some time ago through a short trailer. The game has a similar art style to that of Shank, but with obvious differences. The action of the game is a lot faster paced. The game is less focused on violence and more so focused on its bright color and splendid art style.
It is kicking off as a PlayStation exclusive coming to both PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita. I must say, I’m glad that a PlayStation 3 has a spot on my stand so that I can enjoy this game come launch.
So, how do you play a game you can’t see? Well, that’s exactly the concept of the iOS title, Blindside. The game starts you out in the middle of a blackout. You must navigate around your apartment and find others around you. The tricky part is using only using touch and auditory senses.
The game isn’t as odd as you would think starting to play. For example, the brief tutorial literally walks you through what exactly you will be using. The top of the screen directs you to move forward and the bottom to move back. Turning requires you to physically move directions. As stated in the tutorial, an office chair or standing up works best.
The game offered something new to the touch based platform and insisted that you pay close attention to sound details. Simple things like sliding against a coffee table or TV white noise play important roles. In the time spent in the demo I was able to navigate a pitch black apartment, slide on my slippers, find a trapped neighbor, and then evade a monster down a fire escape.
This iOS title was interesting to see. Amongst the busy happenings of the Culver City Fire Station, the touch puzzler intrigued me.
The game starts off as a simplistic puzzler in which you must use your visualization skills to guess your next move, but it is more than that. The game offers various power-up type moves to further complicate its seemingly simple premise. There are also increasing puzzle sizes, which challenge you to complete in minimal turns.
Drag and drop the small pieces into their outline. The puzzles aren’t always what they seem and did provide quite a challenging and satisfying experience with its electron microscope imagery.
The game works by interchanging various “node” combinations. While certain physics rules apply to the area, and only certain pieces being allowed to be dropped by shape, there were plenty of other opportunities for the game to showcase its replay value.
Most of the games sat on small table tops in a cocktail hour like atmosphere. While it had definitely attracted many folks during the indie event, our own Indie Games Editor, Derek Strickland, had already been on a space ride with this strategy title.
While the games are amongst the most important aspects of the festival, the supportive culture is at its backbone. There were plenty of parents bringing their kids out to share in the fonder side of games. Not once did I see or hear parents not completely involved in the imagination process.
Whether it was the Dad and his little girl bouncing a small rubber ball as he abides by her set rules, or the six year old kid crawling to the underside of his cardboard reimagining of a skeeball machine, there is no doubt that the show will continue to drive creativity. As long as it follows this same equation, the event will continue to be a success and invite imagination to follow suite.
Interested in attending? Check out the International IndieCade site here. Hey, you might even run into indie develpers like Fez’s Phil Fish, who apparently doesn’t do interviews–with anyone.