Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – Spring 2010

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 23, 2010

Holy cow — at this rate, we’re going to have to start renting a convention hall!

I think this quarter’s Utah Indie Night was the best-attended ever. Greg Squire is probably going to have a better report on the actual numbers and the full list of games shown, but for the first time ever we had BOTH floors of NinjaBee’s offices filled with games.

I used the meet-up for work with Kevin, as we were discussing a revamp of the minotaur level.  So I missed the presentation on the Global Game Jam. There was lots of cheering and applause. And Swag. Fortunately, I’d brought a couple of friends (John & Frank, both former mainstream game devs) to the event, and John snagged me t-shirt. On top of that, we had some lively discussions in the car on the way down to and back from the event.

As we spent part of indie night going over Frayed Knights, I ended up showing it to a few people. We weren’t officially showing it or anything, but some folks made some comments and offered suggestions. Once again, the spell “Power Word: Defenestrate” was a hit. I need to make more spells like that one, obviously.

The games ranged from simple student projects (now Utah Valley University is offering courses in game development, too, I’ve found…), to the very slick professional commercial stuff.  And everything in-between. I started rushing through the games to try and see them all, but I still failed. People were starting to pack it up by the time I got to the second floor. It’s like a micro indie E3 now!

UVU students Kurt Spears  and Abe Raigne (did I get your names right? My handwriting is so bad I can’t read it) were showing off a student project called “Elements.” I really liked this one. It is a two-player game that uses the game Reversi (more commonly known under the brand name Othello) as a core mechanic to fuel a larger “meta-game” that’s kind of RPG-like. You have spell points and hit points, and three spells of your element (fire and water). For each piece you reverse on your turn, you get a spell point that you can use to damage your opponent (and heal yourself as well? I don’t remember). Anyway, it seemed a clever idea.

I was also amused when I spoke to them about possibilities, and they showed a true paranoia over scope creep. Good for them!

Another “meta-game” built over classic game rules was Flexitris. It is all about variants on Tetris. You can change the rules of the game during play. I saw some rules which had “glue” between various pieces that formed bonds after the pieces landed, changes in the board size, changes in the line-building rules, and more.

Don Jordan had finally completed his first Android game, a Tic-Tac-Toe game with stones. While Tic-Tac-Toe isn’t exactly world-burning gameplay, it taught him how to develop and deploy games for the Android phones. And he is putting together all of the pieces together for a business, website (coming soon), and sales channel. He has another game in design right now. Congrats Don!

LinkRealms was there. I’ve got a lot to show and tell about this one. So much that I am going to put it in its own blog post. In a nutshell – I thought this game looked ready to ship two years ago. They aren’t done with it yet. They are adding more and more stuff to make the game *fun*. And more focused. They are also removing content that doesn’t fit their focus. But mainly, they are trying to pack in some fun activities. And their latest … well, here’s a hint. Spellcasting Attack Chickens. The most advanced Spellcasting Attack Chickens ever witnessed in any game, ever. Period. More later.

Nick Murano was showing off an aerial combat game made under Unity called “Broken Skies.”  With a bizarre junkyard-sculpture fish skeleton thingy as the player’s ship, fighting around islands. Cool and bizarre. He’s an artist and 3D modeler, and didn’t have access to a programmer, so he built the game purely out of built-in Unity behaviors.  Pretty impressive stuff!

I think my favorite game of the evening was one called Ostrich 911. Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe it. Co-creator Kevin Roberts described it as a “First-Person Walker.” It’s a game about riding an Ostrich – in 3D, first-person perspective. Except half the game is getting to your Ostrich. Then it’s racing your Ostrich (who can jump, double-jump, glide, and crane its neck around to look at you strangely if you aren’t moving) through a bizarre landscape with things like falling logs, collapsing bridges, platform puzzles, and magic mushrooms that are highly addictive and bad for your ostrich’s health. The game is scored and timed. Kevin told me that if you take too long to finish the race, when you get to the end you find that your truck’s tires have been jacked.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exhibit A for the glory of indie gaming.  Now if these guys can get their Ostrichs together with the flying fish and floating islands in the sky for Broken Skies, we might have a seriously bizarre, humorous game of 3D Joust on our hands.

Bryan Livingstone showed off Massive Freecell, a Facebook Freecell game loaded with extras. It is a massively multiplayer social solitaire game, he bragged, savoring the depth of the oxymoron.

SONR is a game in-development by Jon Turner, originally an entry into a TIGSource competition. It’s a side-scrolling action / strategy game using spinning, swarming attack and defense particles. And followers. And abstract graphics. I’ll be interested in seeing how this one comes out.

I spoke with Jason Faller of Silverlode Interactive – makers of the “massively multiplayer RTS” Saga – for a little bit, butting into a conversation with him and NinjaBee president and generally all-around cool indie guy Steve Taylor. They’ve got a philosophy of a “game a year” now, leveraging off of existing assets and properties. They have one coming up that I’m not sure how free I am to discuss, as they are in discussion with publishers about it now. But… it sounds awesome. How’s that for cryptic?

Udder Chaos was being demonstrated by Flat Red Ball’s Victor Chelaru. While demonstrated on a PC with XBox 360 controllers, it’s planned as an XBox 360 release (maybe both?). It’s a shooter involving aliens abducting cows. They had me at the cows. It’s designed for multiplayer on the same screen, particularly for four players blasting away to save their barnyard.  It’s still got a little work left on, but the graphics were already nicely polished.

Eric Wiggins was showing off his work-in-progress Unity adventure game, “Ayrik’s A Feeble Saga 2.” It’s still early in development, but you can try it out yourself here using the Unity player. It’s being built upon the foundation of the first game, “Ayrik’s A Feeble Saga.” That one, he explained, was more of a tech demo used for his resume. But it’s playable right now if you wanna check it out.

I briefly spotted another student game called, “Beefy Greeks.” But I have little further information. And that, ladies and gentlemen, represented only about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the games showing at this season’s indie game night. Utah indie game development is on FIRE! It was a thrilling evening, marred only by my feelings of guilt by having yet another indie game night where I’ve not released a new commercial game…

Filed Under: Utah Indie Game Night - Comments: 10 Comments to Read

  • getter77 said,

    I swear, one of these years, somebody needs to bring a webcam or so and get a ustream feed going/archived for this thing—sounds so bustling.

  • Jon said,

    In case anyone’s interested in seeing more about SONR (including some early screenshots and videos, some development notes and some now, woefully out of date demos), you can check out the tigsource entry at


    I haven’t posted about it on my blog yet, but I plan to soon with some updated videos and maybe a new demo.

  • Frank said,

    Right on, yeah. Fun night. Honestly, I hope Nick keeps the fish model in. It looked really cool. Unless he has something even better in mind, of course.

    Did you get a chance to check out ASCIIpOrtal? It blew me away. Here’s a link:


    I didn’t bring a notebook, so I’m glad you took notes and posted this. One thing that might be helpful is if people who are showing off demos would print out some contact info on slips of paper and hand them out. Or, I could just bring a notebook next time. =) Everyone was already so generous showing off their wares, I would hate to ask them for more.

    I really enjoyed all the talks, especially from Mark, Josh, Mike, Ben, Steve, etc. I guess “all of them” actually.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Since I missed the talks, do you want to comment further on ’em, Frank?

  • Califer said,

    Man! I wish I could have made it this time. At least Peter was there to show off Siphon Spirit.

  • Morinar said,

    How often do these come up? And is there a schedule somewhere?

    The top thing on my goals list right now is to create an indie game (or 3!) as a personal project and it would be great to hook up with artists/designers/etc.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It’s every three months – January, April, July, and October. Normally near the end of the month.

    When we first started, we had them a month earlier, and then realized that almost NOBODY would show up at the December 26th indie night…

    Greg’s got a mailing list you can get on. I don’t want to post his email address here or anything, but contact me with your email address and I’ll pass it along to him. You can contact me at jayb, at the address found in the “about” link above, or through PM in the forums.

  • John O said,

    Since you didn’t get to see Beefy Greeks up close, here’s a summary of this UVU student game. Two players place offense and defense pieces on the board styled after ancient greek units, then you hit go and watch them smash each other to bits as they run across the screen into each other.

    Different unit types have different costs and do different things, like destroying walls or being tougher than other mobile units. For all pieces which make it across, you get money to buy more for the next round.

    It is a quick play, and we talked a bit about balance and progression issues. It’s got a steep tipping point right now to where whoever gets the first advantage wins pretty quickly.

  • Tesh said,

    That was the first one that I’ve been able to stay for. (I work at NinjaBee, but often have to leave before things get started.) I still didn’t see everything, but it definitely had a nice “Indie E3” sort of vibe to it.

    Frayed Knights looked good, by the way. The screenshots you post are cool, but seeing it in action is way more fun.

  • Adam A said,

    Another UVU game that was there was Shattered World, a simple platforming game where the player has to collect three pieces of a “sacred talisman” in order to restore a destroyed planet to its former glory and gain the affection of a hot elf princess. It had three maze-like levels, each with a different theme: one was set inside a lava-filled cavern, another in a forest, and the third on a collection of floating platforms in outer space.

    The build that was displayed at NinjaBee had a few unfortunate bugs that made the game un-winnable, but those have since been corrected. There might be a website soon where the game can be played, in case anyone’s interested.