Friday October 7, 2011 – Culver City, California — An amazing day of panels, games, art and outdoor antics ended with the Game Jam at IndieCade village. Housed under tents and lit by the glow of projected laptops, some twenty young developers stood before the assembled, chilled by the cooling autumn weather, and presented their games in 110 seconds or less.
Earlier in the day, we had a chance listen and film indie game legend Jon Blow (Braid) and luminary Marc ten Bosch (Miegakure) talk to a hot, packed room in a fascinating presentation entitled “Designing to reveal the nature of the universe” wherein we got to see Blow’s design schemes for his upcoming exploration-puzzle game The Witness, and some very cool gameplay video from Miegakure – “a puzzle platformer in four dimensions”. The discussion included a step by step rundown of a list of “game design virtues” and tips on how to build successful puzzles, wherein two caveats were that the puzzle need not be hard or necessarily “good”, but rather that it adhere to certain truths, and remove random chances for being solved in random ways. We will do our best to bring you some video highlights of the discussion.
Later we moved on to the Fire Station where a variety of this year’s finalists were on display and available to play. We managed to grab a shot of Rob Jagnow (Cogs) trying his hand at “Black Bottom Parade” (by developer SCAD), played on an interactive table. We also got a chance to interview the developers from Haunted Temple Studios of Skulls of the Shogun, a trio of EA Los Angeles ex-pats who have put together an irresistible title set for release on Microsoft platforms *cough* XBLA in summer 2012.
As we moved around the Frank Capraesque Culver City neighborhood, we caught some pics of 8-bit ghosties lurking around corners – a street art installation by Jason Torchinsky who was awarded a grant from the Culver City Cultural Affairs Commission. From the guidebook: “Invaded, places iconic images from the golden age of video games in new, aggrandized contexts, opening symbols of another area to new cultural interaction.”
Nightfall took us over to IndieCade village – a small outdoor tent city as we described above. Some delicious catered Mexican food was provided, offering needed warmth against the cool night, and a tent with free beer didn’t hurt either. here we met up with the quirky mind behind Untold Entertainment’s “Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure” that gained notoriety and even some national network television attention due to the fact that it was created in collaboration with a 5-year-old girl who also narrates! We will bring you details about their upcoming title shortly. You can play the game free at the above link.
If there was a gripe, it was only that attempting to get the game devs to pitch their wares with only a couple of minutes, while still trying to jack their various laptops into the existing PA, often led to delays since no two systems are alike, and Murphys Law dictates that if something (especially something technical) can go wrong, it will. The organizers might consider aggregating all the game demos and media presentations onto one drive/system beforehand so that next year’s jam goes along a little more smoothly and less stressfully for the poor devs who are likely already nervous about getting up in front of a live audience.
All told, we are very excited about the event, with an amazing selection of carefully chosen, innovative games on display, a very strong presence by the gamemakers themselves, and lots of shenanigans to keep the party going all day long.
Stay tuned for more coverage of IndieCade 2011 including exclusive interviews, game previews and more right here at IGR.