Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – January 2012

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 1, 2012

The January Utah Indie Night was held on the very last night of January, 2012. The venue was new: the game development lab at Neumont University in South Jordan.

The first part of the meeting was taken up by long-time local game developer Les Pardew and others talking up the proposed Digital Media and Entertainment Act. It’s an interesting idea – basically a low-interest venture fund backed by state funds at very low risk (so no taxpayer burden) that can be accessed by companies and projects in the digital entertainment field (this is primarily film projects, but also applies to post-production, and games) that will be doing most of the work here in the state. The goal is to build the infrastructure and talent pool to grow these industries in this state. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it, but I’m supportive of at least getting this bill out to the floor so it can be debated & reviewed. When a lobbyist is telling us how awesome it will be and how it will have a negligible impact on the state, as much as I’d like to believe him because it would be helpful to the industry, I still try to take what he says with a grain of salt. Or a small Siberian salt mine.

Les mentioned the “old timers” in the Utah Game Dev scene which, sadly, refers to me. I remember how it was in the mid 90’s, and Utah was looking like THE “up and coming” center for game development. Particularly with the closing of my former employer, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. It doesn’t seem to be dying, really, and there are still a lot of active game studios (indie, independent, and satellites of larger publishers)  around here. But it isn’t growing either. I’d love to see things pick up more here, one way or another. One thing is for sure, though, and that is that the industry has changed a LOT since I started my career here.

The Utah showing for last weekend’s Global Game Jam was briefly discussed – we had something like 10-12 entries.  I haven’t hunted down a link to the local entrants, but we apparently had 10-12 projects submitted. Awesomeness!

After the (sadly, too long) presentation on the Digital Media and Entertainment Act, we got to the games. I was in a real gaming mood, I think. The Neumont University gaming lab has several very large wall-mounted TVs where we could plug in our demo systems. This was a lot of fun.  There’s nothing quite like playing games on a really huge screen.

I ended up spending way too much time hogging up Curtis Mirci‘s March to the Moon game, which I’ve played and enjoyed before.  It’s a goofy little action game with RPG elements, and I mean goofy. Programmer art, and completely over-the-top, and exactly the kind of fun I was looking for.  Good ol-fashioned shoot-em-upiness with absolutely no taking of itself seriously.

Link Realms  was also on display, as is often the case, and they keep making great improvements to the game. It’s definitely one of the better-looking indie games here or anywhere. They have a new video for this incredible “sandbox MMORPG” showing some of the newest (or upcoming) additions to the game – principally some PVP features:

I also played a turn-based tactics game temporarily called “Tank Commanders” (I think), and saw a few more promising titles. I didn’t take notes, so I don’t remember their names.  One student project was a platformer about a guy in search of pizza. I think it used the Unity 2D game tutorial dude as the main character, but the rest of the artwork really impressed me. Another was a platformer-puzzle based game for PC and iOS that looked like it took place aboard a moving train.  As usual, I spent about as much time talking with people there as I did playing.

Anyway, while the game dev lab at Neumont was a little crowded with the really nice turnout, I wouldn’t mind having it there again.

Filed Under: Utah Indie Game Night - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Spencer L. (UgLee Games) said,

    Yeah, that place was really neat. Loved the big screens there, and I spotted a NES control deck…aw the nostalgia.

    But, yeah…the time after the presentation was too short, and there wasn’t enough demos to use up all the screens. Though, that platformer-puzzle game is diabolically designed very well. Heh, and you certainly slaughtered a slew of enemies on March to The Moon.

    I had a VERY short demo running on one of the screen, to see if my netbook could handle it…it couldn’t. But certainly I am already eager for March’s meet. Thank goodness I’ll have a better laptop by then.

    Oh, and don’t forget a big thanks to Tim @ Neumont for Moutain Mike’s Pizza. Yum!

  • JeffSullins said,

    This has me thinking… my access to Utah is sadly quite limited. Is there, say, a Colorado Indie Game Night of which you might be aware? Hmmm….. off to google….