Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – May 2013

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 31, 2013

We had Utah Indie Night at Utah Valley University this time around. The sponsor and ever-so-awesome provider of pizza and soda was Adobe, as their “Games Evangelist” Renaun Erickson spoke to the indies in attendance who were using Adobe’s products about how the indies put them to use. He was flying his indie colors by wearing his “Indie Game: The Movie” T-Shirt, which amused me (but I heartily approve).

We had two short presentations this time. The first was by Adam Helps, former game developer who is now working for Autodesk. His presentation was an easy introduction to Bezier Curves for programmers. His contention is that there’s no excuse for games to have objects making sharp, unrealistic turns. I confess, I’ve done ’em sometimes because I couldn’t trust the curves, but he also demonstrated techniques to guarantee the bounding boxes, and determine the exact direction (and speed) of the object at every point along the curve. Gotta agree, while I’d actually used ’em before, this was a good talk to help solidify my knowledge. A friend of mine and fellow indie, Herb Flower of Mythyn Interactive (Link Realms), was sitting next to me and found the information useful as well. He finally understood why those points in his 3D modeling software worked the way they did.

Next – Helium Interactive (at least 4 members of the company, which started as 2 partners a year ago) got up and talked about their upcoming Ouya game, which is showing the potential makings of being one of the first hits for the platform. The game is called Dub Wars, and while it’s still got a little bit of polishing to go, it’s definitely looking pretty cool:

This might be an earlier level, but what we were seeing / playing last night was a bit busier / flashier / more frantic than this video. But the game is still a WIP, so that’s expected.

Basically, the dubstep music controls your weaponry. Which adds a new layer to becoming familiar with the level. They are still undergoing refinement, but what they have is pretty cool. Besides talking design, their programmer showed us some of the profiling and optimization tricks for getting Unity games to run well on the Ouya (or mobile devices).

One indie brought his Oculus Rift goggles, and so we all took turns playing around in the Unity demo. Maybe if I had adjusted the goggles more tightly so they didn’t jiggle so much, and maybe with the refinements of the consumer version, I could last more than four or five minutes before feeling the need to hurl my pizza. There’s also simply an element of developing a tolerance for ’em. But overall, it’s an impressive device. Because of my long dev cycles, I’ll probably wait for the consumer version before picking up a set.  But I was immediately considering the really cool first-person RPG / Adventure Game possibilities. I think these might be less nausea-inducing with their slower pace than, say, a first-person shooter. But… who knows? Regardless, it’s a sign of how far the technology has advanced.

I missed many of the games being demonstrated, but one that I was pretty impressed with was called “Momentum.” It’s a take on those old maze games where you had to shift a maze around to maneuver a marble through it.  In this case, however, the maze was a narrow 3D path that twists and bends in all 3 dimensions, with lots of areas where the rim curves around and allows the marble to fall if your movement isn’t precise. Anyway, it shows a lot of promise.

And as usual, just chatting with various indies – many of whom are old friends at this point – was a big part of the evening for me.

One thing I was noting during the evening, and something I’ve seen in the past, was how more and more games are being shown on mobile devices. Maybe it’s my old arcade bias, but I really prefer to see games up on a big screen, loud and flashy. Barring that, just having computer screens up so you can see who is demoing what can be helpful too. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if people are just huddled together swapping email addresses or playing a game on someone’s phone. I don’t think there’s a solution to this, as mobile devices are very important indie platforms today.  But if you are an indie and you have the option to show your game at a meet-up like this on either a larger computer screen or on a mobile, I’d recommend the bigger screen. It lets more people see what you are up to.

One other change over the years – and a very welcome one – is that indie night is no longer quite so much “aspiring indies” with only a handful of developers who have actually released / shipped. While I’d say they are still in the minority most nights (we always welcome new blood and people still trying to ship their first game), the veterans seem much more plentiful now. The indies are a busy and talented bunch!

Filed Under: Utah Indie Game Night - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • Xenovore said,

    Too much going on this week to make it. =(