The IGR Crew-Toronto Chapter had the opportunity to check out the selections from this year’s Toronto Global Game Jam hosted by Troy Morrissey of D.A.R.C. Productions Inc. and Randy Orenstein of the Toronto Skillswap. The jam, which took place at George Brown College in January 2014 spawned just over 20 entries that were on display after being selected by the judges.
On May 3rd the IGR Toronto team headed to Bento Miso to meet some of the city’s brightest new developers and check out some of the selects being showcased in search of future classics and novel ideas.
“This year’s TGGJ Video Game Expo showcased some amazing projects from Toronto’s local dev scene, and it was really exciting to see how much progress some teams had made towards polishing and releasing games first made over a caffeine-fueled weekend back in January,” Orenstein told us.
Here is a sampling of the games we tried out:
Like Niddhogg with physics-based obstacles – an instant crowd favorite and buzzword the whole night. Multiple players race to reach a goalpost, throwing punches at one another. Every few seconds, a wave of one color ripples from left to right, hiding any platforms of that color from sight, thus rendering them physically moot. As an example, should you be standing on a dark blue platform when a blue wave flies out, you’ll lose your footing, and will likely be out of the round.
It’s another fine example of the growing surge of local mutliplayer games that are storming the indie gaming scene. Runbow is on Steam Greenlight and deserves your support!
13amGames development team member Unai Cabezon also showcased his H.P. Lovecraft and Ms. Pac Man inspired iPad action title Ms. Cthulhu which we got a kick out of. You stand prone in the middle of a city as dozens of military men, tanks, armed helicopters, cultists and civilians rush you. By tapping the screen around you, you extend a destructive tentacle to wipe them out. Choppers will blast a warning signal just before they shoot missiles at you which will make quick work of depleting your health. Slamming cultists with your suction-cup covered extension will heal you. Occasionally there are cosmic powerups. It’s simple to pick up and surprisingly fun. There isn’t much more to it than that, but hey, the game is free on the iTunes App store. Ms. Cthulhu (iTunes App Store)
Garden Knight Games
This local multiplayer winner-take-all robot battle feels like a mashup of Monaco and Bomberman. Up to 4 players can duke it out, scavenging a room for weapons with which to blast each other into oblivion. Each match generates a level at random, so taking some time to consciously map out a level is crucial. Before this, each player can only determine where the walls of the maze are via their own field of vision. The build we played had only 4 weapon types active as (according to dev Michael Cameron) the others are still being tweaked for balance. The inclusion of AI was welcome, though we’re hoping the bots that ship with the retail build will be able to put up more of a fight.
Developer Adam Clare (reprenting a team that also includes Ali Kokulu and Dan Maendel) was on hand to guide us through this shallow-orbit title in early stages of development. Nomad, named after a ship in The Stars My Destination (a vintage sci-fi novel by Alfred Bester) felt like a cross between a Shattered Horizon prototype with the engineer mechanic of Guns of Icarus. The devs had apparently not referenced either. Game had a nice ship model and cool HUD design, but besides some basic damage repairs and firing at provisional looking incoming comets, there wasn’t much else there. So what can we expect from Nomad? According to Adam:
We have the early stages of a story in the works and some new mechanics mapped out. We hope to have a short game that uses our mechanics in an even more fun way while uncovering a narrative about why the ship got attacked in the first place. To players it’s unclear who (or what!) they are when playing and that is something I want to explore as well.
Basically, we’re hoping to expand on our game into something larger than it currently is both in mechanics and story.
Boats vs. Aliens
Two different games from the same developer. Boats vs. Aliens is in prototype for local multiplayer co-op or PvP that felt kind of like realtime Battleship. Kinda. Pick a side, and lead your ships by plotting a course for each one. This is done by tapping a ship and dragging the new trajectory with your finger. Once your ships are in range of the enemy craft, they begin to fire automatically, and the winner is obviously the side that still has boats NOT being helmed by Davey Jones. It may not sound overly complex, but when you apply the mechanic to a fleet of five ships, it becomes clear that micromanaging an entire navy is not for the faint of attention span. You can even team up with your foes to eradicate enormous boss creatures. Boats vs. Aliens has obviously been designed for touchscreens and will likely be released for iOS devices first.
This title should be available for iOS by the time you read this. Pixel Garden is a very cool looking match game built in Unity that it would be fun to just Zen out and trip with when you need some downtime. Some very interesting physics-based visual effects frame a rather simple match shape or color mechanic. The game uses Video Ad viewing as its monetization scheme, so it is free to download.
UPDATE: Read IGR’s review of Pixel Garden.
Sync, along with Runbow, was the other big buzz game of the night. The game is built around the idea that everyone moves and stops at the same time, sort of akin to “SUPERHOT“, where you can see where the bullets are, and can think about where they may land, but once things hit realtime, you had better act at twitch speed. Though the game isn’t a rhythm based puzzler per se, Remedios confided that the musical component is very important to the experience. He also was there to promote the new bundle that Sync will become a part of, a sort of compilation of four games he has created, including Sync. The bundle will be called the “Shoot Shoot Mega Pack” or SSMP Game.
All Together Now
To top off the exciting new releases on display at the showcase, the IGR team had a happenstance meetup – always good to unite the Toronto crew for some late night noodles. Previewing games is hungry work!
Check out the Global Game Jam 2014 site to see a big fast list of games submitted to the 2014 TGGJ.