Gamemoir 04/20/2016 – ECGC: Day One Indie Game Highlights and Reflections

Day One of the East Coast Game Conference has lived up to its wholesome, entertainment-focused Community Day designation, a half-day of light-hearted non-technical presentations and exhibits from indies.

Here are a few highlights:

As a fan of Saturday Morning RPG and Breach & Clear, I enjoyed geeking out with the guys at the Mighty Rabbit Studios booth. That alone would have been worth the price of admission. If you have never played a Mighty Rabbit game, stop reading and correct this matter at once.

I played a PS4-exclusive Free-To-Play MOBA from Kiz Studios called Trans-Galactic Tournament. The work of a small dev team with an interest in making MOBAs faster and more action-oriented, Trans-Galactic Tournament sports slick visuals, that good old-fashioned isometric perspective, and lots of character abilities. I do not have the MOBA experience to say how Trans-Galactic Tournament compares to something like DOTA 2, so I will compare it to something I know very well: Dark Souls. Like Dark Souls, Trans-Galactic Tournament makes it near impossible to spam attacks. The shoulder-button focused control scheme, locked animations, and strict cool down times ensure that the strategic battle never deteriorates into mindless button-mashing. Unlike Dark Souls, Trans-Galactic Tournament was light, accessible, and a little on the easy side, but I expect that the minimal challenge is quickly remedied with the addition of human teammates and opponents.

The guys at Invisible Collective showed me their sleeper hit Battlesloths, a four-player single-screen local multiplayer combat game. Billed as “a lightning -fast competitive multiplayer shooter,” Battlesloths is the first game from Invisible Collective. Sloths move slowly. Battlesloths move with a quickness and fight over pizza! Animated in a quirky pixel art style, Battlesloths is the first game every new indie studio hopes to make: simple, distinctive, fun, and memorable. Who doesn’t love a heartwarming Humble success story? Gamemoir’s readers should expect more info on this promising indie dev team in a future article.

I attended the “What is Quality?” talk presented by Chelsea Curran Adams of Epic Games. Singing the praises of collaboration and communication, Adams elicited examples of quality from attendees (see photo). I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the design process, such as the need for a dev team to have “road map,” the causal link from priority to quality, and the importance of message boards in the process of writing software documentation and finding bugs. Adams’ talk used techniques introduced by the constructivists, the original promoters of crowd-sourcing and its virtues.

Midway through Adams’ talk, I could not help but ponder how even the presentation itself had been gamified. How fitting for a games convention, that the game space expands beyond the screens to encompass the entire convention center! Can’t you see the HUD with its map of the floor plan, booths identified by coordinates, highlighted interactive objects, a count of business cards collected and meaningful exchanges experienced, networking side-quests completed and Easter Eggs discovered? I can. That’s why I turned my tablet into a DIY billboard advertising my blog, Gamemoir, and my Kickstarter campaign.

That’s right, my dear readers. I am crowdfunding a book about video games based on the ideas McKenzie Wark explained in his excellent book Gamer Theory (2007). Think of my book as a critical driver update, a much needed OS upgrade, a new video card. I will leave most of the hardware and firmware of the theory as they are and expand the theory’s scope to include contemporary games, trends, and ideas. After all, a lot has changed since 2007. Gamer Theory needs an update. Will you help me make it happen?

All in all, Day One did what it was supposed to do: It provided a venue for gamers, indies, and industry mainstays to meet, mingle, and geek out about video games. That said, I can’t help but feel like a sort of geek Prometheus. I get the sense that the most potent digital fire remains a well-kept secret — for now.