Geek made the long 10 minute trek to Culver City this weekend to witness the Indiecade International Festival of Independent Games. Creators from all over the world came to show off their unique and homegrown creations and let gamers get their hands on them, some for the first time ever.
Playstation was also on hand to provide a Creator’s Lounge, where many of the indie games could be played on their various devices, such as the PS3, PS Vita, and the Experia phone. The games available were currently available for download or would be soon through the PS Network. Next to that tent, Over in the Culver City Firestation, the digital selections area featured some of the best games available that had not made it to the finalist round. The finalists could be found a block away at the Culver City fire station, where everything from retro 8-bit throwbacks to experimental games built around music, emotion, and other abstract concepts were available for players young and old to experience firsthand.The hottest trend for 8-bit gamers seemed to be 8-bit styled games. From utterly simple to mindbogglingly complex, many of the games were built in this scaled-back style not just for the sake of aesthetic simplicity and fast loading action, they’re also a throwback to a bygone era when small armies of coders would crank out similar games with one millionth of the processing power and tools at hand. Many are obvious homages, like Retro City Rampage, a top down, garishly-colored, low-res take on Grand Theft Auto with a healthy dose of humor. For example, when you, the “hero”, fails to rob a bank, you are forced to try to the next best thing – a convenience store. As you arrive, you’re greeted by a time traveling phone booth that you end up hijacking. Not surprisingly, later run afoul of a wild-eyed doctor driving a time traveling silver car. And that was all in the 5 minutes I got to play of the demo. The story twists come fast and furious with nods to 80s era arcade games and classic and current movies all mixed together.
There are other traditional mobile app games like Sun Flowers that has you carefully timing how you provide sunlight to grow the flowers below. Or Super Crate Box, which is a rapid paced single screen platform game, done yet again in a rough 8-bit style that recalls the original Mario Bros game, that has you zipping around the screen grabbing crates filled with different types of weapons as all manner of beasties pour from the top of the screen. The goal is to collect as many crates as possible in your single life before the creatures touch you. One touch and you’re done, but restarting is one tap away. The only problem is that each time you pick up a crate, how you approach them has to change because your randomly selected weapon might adversely affect you as well as your enemies. I must have played a hundred games in a 5 minute period, because as simple as it sounds, it’s really easy to get killed. It quickly becomes addicting with that “I almost had it – One more try!” mentality that takes you over, making it hard to put down.Over at the Finalist Gallery in the Firehouse, it wasn’t just about video games played on a computer, a console, or a mobile device. Some games were about storytelling and only required a special deck of cards to play. Reality Ends Here is a game that isn’t easily completed in a moment or even a day. Created by the USC Game Innovation Lab, the cards give you a high level concept, character archetypes, and the means to connect your cards with other players in order to make deals that will create potentially more complex and satisfying projects. Designed to liven up the freshman experience and drive creativity and collaboration at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Reality Ends Here is less a game than a means to create a storytelling spark.
The game Open Source set 2 players on a lined-off tennis court with a net between them. The only difference is that their movements were tracked by Xbox Kinect cameras to put them into a live action version of Pong that spectators could watch on a video screen.
To simply consider Indiecade a festival just about gaming is really selling it short. It’s more about creative innovation in technology and human interaction between that technology and other humans. Games just make it a fun way to facilitate these breakthroughs.
Take a look at a few of the images we collected this weekend in Culver City and then browse the variety of games that were on display at the show via the official Indiecade game page.