Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – July 2012 Report

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 27, 2012

The Utah Indies met this month at Neumont University in South Jordan, Utah.  I really like this venue – they’ve got big-screen monitors hanging on the wall to show off your games, and a nice lecture room next door for the primary presentation. And it’s not far from either my house or my office, which is a very nice bonus.

The formal presentation was by Josh Jones, head of the Utah chapter of the IGDA, another veteran of the Sensory Sweep collapse, and currently a developer for Smart Bomb Interactive and an indie on the side. He’s a busy guy. His lecture was on experimental gaming. In his view, experimental games are the lifeblood of the industry – they are the games that will help us find new genres and experiences when the “big money” is focused on low-risk repetition of past successes.

Most of the lecture was explaining the different experimental gameplay events / venues, and sharing some examples of experimental games and “art games” (though I don’t remember if he provided a clear definition of the difference between the two). He noted how the World of Goo guys created dozens of experimental games before creating World of Goo – implying that their previous experiences with experimental gameplay may have been a factor in their eventual success. But more than anything else, experimental gameplay is about trying new things, new ideas, and innovating. Some games cited included Cursor*10, Cannabalt, We the Giants, This is the Only Level, Every Day the Same Dream, I Wish I Were the Moon, Passage, and several others.

After Josh’s lecture (and much pizza-consuming), we went to the informal game presentations. Josh had an experimental game of his own to show, The Escape, which was kind of an experiment in user control. It was developed using XNA as part of a “game in a day” project at his company. The “Markorian Library” – running in Blender’s game engine – was an early demo on display. LinkRealms – still doing its thing in the MMO Space, and still improving, had some videos of gameplay running on one monitor. Chris Tart was again showing his game Bullet Train Hell, which remains a very cool platformer which will hopefully be available for sale soon.

My buddy Curtis of Califer Games, now that he’s shipped March to the Moon for XBLIG (and soon, PC), was showing off the current beta of Syphon Spirit – which was developing something of a fan base amongst the gamers. It’s looking like a lot of fun now, and it’s got RPG elements and a story to boot. It’s still got a little ways to go, but it looks like a winner.

Then there was Hippie Shooter, by Rhett Akers. The game is rude and offensive on just about every level – and enormously fun. You play a redneck protecting his cabin from hippies who are coming en masse to make it community property for a big party or something. So you use an array of lethal weapons – including shotguns, assault rifles, and dynamite – to stop them. There are also pork rinds you can eat so you can release a devastating fart to gas out squatters who have already taken residence. The sound effects were the loudest in the room, and they were hilarious.

As usual, the best part of the meeting for me is meeting other indies, and hearing them talk about their games.

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

  • vazor said,

    Great writeup! As a clarification, I showed some examples of art games: Passage, Every Day the Same Dream, and Shadow of the Colossus. But you’re right I didn’t state a clear definition.
    Defining what an art game is means trying to define what “art” is, which varies from person to person. I think an art game, like any other work of art, is a work made in some medium meant to impact the viewer or communicate a message to the viewer.
    By my definition, almost all games are art. However, not all art games are experimental.

    Experimental games have elements that are new and innovative.
    Art games try to convey a message or impact the viewer.

    Hopefully that helps clarify things a little bit!

  • Charles said,

    If UWG does well enough one thing I’m looking forward to is attending a few events like this. Developing is great and all but a bit of interaction wouldn’t hurt :p