Monday, November 2, 2015

IndieCade 2015 Overview: From Night Games To Nintendo in Culver City

The streets were filled with the sounds of , "click on that, " and ,"That looks like fun, " in Culver City the weekend before Halloween. Oh, if only download codes for indie games were dropped into trick-or-treat bags along with candy on future Halloweens, that's a good scenario future to me. A Marty changed the future for good course. Let us hope that any games given out are as good as some found at this years IndieCade.

IndieCade is the over five years event of indie games of all formats: video games, board games, social games and more taking over downtown Culver City for a weekend. On a professional level that we won't get into there are panels and discussions on a variety of topics about indie game development. Many of the games at the event go off to be loved on Steam, rated by jerks on their sofas during Twitch streams or even end up on major consoles to be also rated by other jerks to busy to be bothered with PC games. Other games are so strange that they might not be let loose in the very open market, they do help their graduating game designers sort out their ideas or at least let them lead to new ones. Maybe call that girl they meet at IndieCade.

As a long time writer about IndieCade it's great to see it grow and change over the years into what it's become now. I remember when the Firehouse where the "select games" of the festival go, had enough room in it to chill on a sponsored beanbag of Pop Chips. Before Nintendo and Sony came a callin'. And when more storefronts around the area were used...and that one year I made a puppet for a social game and gave him a mustache....ahem.

IndieCade has changed for the better with Night Games now held only in the adjacent park. Where the air is cooler and you don't have to worry about setup over the carcass of the day games that get to bask in the sun.

Night Games

The park eerily glowed in neon blue and green. Folks were flinging brightly colored balls on the ground. Over there, a couple was slashing to death a dark Queen? The game suitable for those who like Guitar Hero and RPG's was


From Mahou Shoujammers comes a game where you physically spin around to power up and transform into a magical girl to slice up and slash Dark Queen Asmodea. Do it with a specter or my choice, a magical chainsaw! The toy weapons do sense your motions and let me tell ya, slicing up a dark queen is a magical princess' work. I could see myself picking up my Wii controller adding a peripheral magical chainsaw and getting deeper into this game if it adds more story and enemies to cut up. Hats off to it's developers who dressed up in punk princess outfits.

Not far was Rose MacBeth by Wise Guy Events, long time makers of merriment at IndieCade and professionally those who have come up with games for the TV show, Survivor. As I watched it utter hilarity, blindfolded men and women came at each other with knives in a graveyard. A mock graveyard with rubber knives mind you. As one player somehow stabbed a women right in the boob as another was mere inches away missing their opponent the crowd surrounding laughed. Imagine watching as a blinded friend bashing into hard to move head stones. Some only had a rose to defend themselves with, which also counted as a kill.

Later, I would be blindfolded and put it out to sea. No, this wasn't an ironic tale from The Crypt Keeper, it was a ship game with lighthouses calling out and trying to get more ships. Lighthouses, the pimps of the sea, trying to get as many fine ships to enter their ports. Somehow, I managed to avoid another player, playing as a rock -it's not just a bad part in a school play anymore- who was trying to get me shipwrecked. I would do that later at the bars nearby.

Soon I traveled to a tale worthy of the Crypt Keeper with J. Walton's Restless. A scenario driven horror game. I would have bought the damn thing then and there... Mr. Walton didn't even have his Kickstarter ready. Which I want to say, forget Kickstarter, find another way to get the game out. Back to my fandom of Family Matters, at least in the game scenario we created. I teamed up with a stranger, who became a friend of Family Matters fandom in game, he was the Urkel to my Carl. I shot one of our team mates in the leg to attract the vampire horde, where my pal might get to pull off shooting a vamp away and saying, "Did I do that?" For not, my friends as I was eaten up and became the undead before and lines from the 90's sitcom could be said. This game missed it's mark for Halloween! I'm restless for Restless.

Passing by the big bug game Gregor and the make you wanna yawn Scattershot was ESC's Pixel Prison Blues. This 30-player game was some of the most fun I had in IndieCade in a long time. Played with provided cell phones you were either a cop or a prisoner trying to escape or catch prisoners. This all took place on a massive screen set outside. 20 players were criminals, only 10 players were cops, though more powerful than prisoners. You controlled your cop or prisoner with swipes in four directions, you'll keep going until you hit a wall. If a cop touches a prisoner you go back to your cell, if all the prisoners are caught in a round, go to jail, do not pass go. Though many might worry about lag the game worked well and through the rounds my team of prisoners was almost  incarcerated forever. Luckily, in the last moments I won the game! I won with a big head of cheese! Wait, what?

Did I mention each character in the game has a noggin depictin' a cute character worthy enough of being carried in Hot Topic and developed by Kid Robot? The visual of the game gets better when your head is replaced by cheese, your friend's a hippo and the police man after you is a robot.

Sadly, the closes you can play this is all the way in Riverside at a Buffalo Wild Wings, let us hope it gets picked up by more places. I want to hear shouts for, "Cheese Head! Cheese Head!, " again.

In Tune still creeped me out from E3, think of it as the new Twister though more creepy as you and a partner are commanded into compromising positions. If you and whoever your partner is can stay in positions and relax you'll go through more and more positions. I wonder if they'll work on a Kama Sutra version for one of the XXX expos

Let's rewind to earlier in the day and get critical of the few problems of IndieCade and then VR games.

What's gone? What happened?

The volunteers at the welcome booth couldn't account for the missing stamp guides this year. Guides for past IndieCades are collected and cherished. Usually you would hunt down stamps from all the booths to win prizes or for the fun of it. Now this year, a simple pamphlet? Outrage! Mild slow angry farts! I have a guide that looks like a travel book and one that look like it would summon demons. This year it was a bust.

Oh, look merch booths....why are they here? Some booth inside of IndieCade were out of place, poor quality, less-than-Esty quality goods. There were very few of these booths, there should be none of them next year. Whatever the booths paid most have not made their money back and it made the festival look cheaper than it had to be.

No musical interludes. Last year, a small band was playing classic game music out front. They were either busy or not booked again. Nothing classier than hearing chip tunes played on the violin.

VR Games the Future is still very away

The VR Games at IndieCade were loved, many mocking your ideas of what a game is. Am I right Job Simulator? I sat down first for the wonderfully titled, "I Expect You To Die." Which I did, repeatedly in a bad guy's car. The game in VR has you stuck trying to get out of a Bond villain like car with lasers, poison gas and of course explosions. The game is far from done, down the line you could be playing a cheeky game called I Expect You To Die, Quite A Lot.

There''ll be a more thorough interview later on the game on the site.

Not Far was Pixel Ripped making fun of 80's and early 90's culture you sit at a desk in school and slowly try and unlock all the wonders of the world while trying to play a video game. I've played the game before in early concept and it only added to the strange things that can happen and don't usually happen in a classroom.

Inches away, as virtual reality doesn't require that much space, it does though, please expand the VR booth next year IndieCade team, was Classroom Aquatic. You're a transfer student to a school of dolphins, you need to pass the test and you need to cheat. Don't let Professor Porpoise catch you. You had me when Professor Porpoise had a bow-tie. This real concept of a game, yes it is real, was very much loved by players as they came back to reality from being underwater and taking tests.

Awkward Ellie I would have played you, if you ever worked while I was there.

There weren't that many VR games to  though and while all the games are creative ideas, I would say none of them are what we imagined we would be playing with VR. As per my usual writing of the subject, it's still so new that there is nothing on it and it will be years until these games are fully realized if they are ever finished.I suggested many of the developers come together and sell a game pack of all their titles together to justify people buying them.

Nintendo and Sony, what happened to Facebook Games (snicker)

Nintendo's booth was a bit smaller this year, still jam packed with games to play. Many repeats from the year prior with Shovel Knight, though with it's DLC and Shantee. Out of the kindness of Nintendo marketing you could  earn a Nintendo hat instead of a shirt at IndieCade. Many returning players were sporting Nintendo tees from IndieCade pasts.

Hive Jump, a sci-fi action platformer for 1-4 players was my main squeeze in the booth. The great platforming of Electronic Super Joy with it's hard-as-Hell platforming can be serenaded by another site. We shooting alien bugs with friends over here at TTDILA. Slap an award on this game for it's Super NES looking style made for the modern gamer, though local co-op only. You and three friends gotta blow-up bugs with different deadly weapons. Each with i's own special animation. Oh, plasma guns, never change unless getting more powerful.

It's like a dream game made for the SNES that always should have existed. I want the game now and I want to go through levels inspired by the likes of Aliens and other great 80's movies to kill as many of the onslaught of bugs out there.

Though the name is ... just not a good name, though make sense when you play as you jump in alien hives, this should have had Metroid tacked onto the title, not laserball or whatever it's called. Oh, G-d! I'm remembering sitting at the Nintendo Championships and being so bored when Metroid Sports Soccer came on screen. It came out to complete silence!

Hive Jump, I've only just played you, but come out faster for the Wii U and computer. I need bugs to kill over the holiday season.


In sheer numbers Sony beat Nintendo with indie titles, though with the development cycle on those games I'm not sure who is winning. Not giving out anything free but some posters Sony still got many saving graces for the huge collection that took hours to swift though.

GNOG, oh GNOG, after missing you two times in a row because of bearded gamers in glasses it's so good to play you and with a new friend . GNOG is a head puzzle game, use your own noggin to unlock them all. This is a title soon to be beloved on PSN. From it's colorful design to head scratching puzzles this game is fun for one or more players. As I sat down for my try, Dee DeRosa from Atlanta watched and helped out as I in turn would help with her head. "It was really fun, it was really playful and just enjoyable and really curious, " she told me.

Don't think it's just bodily functions, as I stated before I would like monitors hanging in my office with these puzzles switching around revealing inner worlds. One might reveal a forest, the inside of a home or something underwater themed. One twist of a knob that was an eye on a head might heat up the room behind it. A pull of a tooth makes a fun sound.

GNOG will be a title with long guides and long times for fans to figure out inside our is outside of their heads?

Two games I needed more time with were Moon Hunters and Alone With You. Both pixel made beauties  looking good in 16bit. Moon Hunters is a real time 4 player RPG. The story presented, you are trying to find the real moon, it's missing, is impressive for an indie title with different powers from shape-shiftting to powerful magic attacks.

In total different style  is the beautiful sight of Alone With You, a concept of trying to escape a world by getting to know dead people via holograms.It's a game I could watch unfold instead of playing it, but I'll probably play it if there's no annoying mini-games. It's not made by the Japanese. Ooo, burn to beautiful looking Japanese games that are unplayable by actual gameplay.

ABZU, made in appearance, the game from some of the people from Journey. So only two or more years until it comes out.

The Games

In the Firehouse or in the tents the games of IndieCade captured many ideas and my attention. Donut County widens a hole in my heart for the game to come out. From Ben Esposito the game has you make holes get bigger and bigger in an almost Katamari way. It takes a seconds to realize how to generate more of something to widen the hole and make it big enough to suck in the whole environment. Be it two rabbits making a new family, corn being popped or launching rockets and overhanging rock to grab more Earth. Simple PS2 game design will make you want to play the whole game, if a whole game ever gets finished. With one person behind it...yessh. Love the raccoon and dinosaur making donuts guy.

Consentacle looks so fine and plays so bad. Now a game with alien tentacle sex being the goal sounds novel and the look on the cards downright needs it's own indie hentai release. When it gets to game play it's an utter bore. My opinion is not of the main body, the game was even awarded at IndieCade and all other players loved making out with an alien. Not me.

A card game where you're trying to do it like they do it on the discovery channel may have been to wordy; lacking a better way to play. I wasn't disgusted by anything sexual or consensual. It just bored my game playing friend and I. Which is a shame, I was so looking forward to alien sex cards being more fun.

Stack those beasts, they ain't gonna stack themselves in Fabulous Beasts. I'll have a deeper interview later with the creator on the site. The main concept is you stack animal totems on top of each other and try have them not fall over. This is a physical game connected to a tablet nearby. On the tablet you'll see the environment and how the animals are functioning, having a fabulous time...or dying. Now you can change animals by environment like a Sea Bear or Air Boar or combine them like a BearBoar? Watching the screen and playing in real time with a sensor to see if you can stack has a lot of potential. I worry about how fun it can be with limited pieces, 25 at first. More on the way if the game is well received. It plans for a Kickstarter later this year.

I'll add that the pieces only somewhat look like their animal counterparts, each of them could be a desk toy or modern art paperweight if you wanted it to be.

Butt Sniffin Pugs, with dog butt accessories was the same game I saw at E3. You can still go around as a pug, pee and poo on everything with a friend and see the world burn or whatever else can happen. Controls were still giant tennis balls and dog butt to push; only and IndieCade.

"Weird," was what I got from John, one of the creators of Read Only Memories a point 'n' click futuristic noir adventure about an advanced robot. I've only just started playing, but can see getting lost in the colorful game with many facets of cyberpunk sci-fi reminiscent of William Gibson. I've only just met the main robot, Turing, named after famed codebreaker and computer scientist Alan Turing. Deep levels on the idea of what it is to be human with a great sense of humor about ripping of arms has me wanting to play more tonight.

I wish I loved Temple of Yog as much as its creator. I like the design for its posters and merch than real gameplay. I just can't get past  that it's just a joystick shooter. This rogue-like game with procedurally generated dungeons has you flipping between two screens supposedly coming to Wii U soon. To me, it just doesn't stand out when you play. The better you do in the game the better your village gets as you are doing it all as a sacrifice to the "temple." You die, someone else goes. Your tombstone rates how well you do at death, so hope to kill the ever so uninteresting enemies.

Dad Beat Dads, a fighter where fathers battle to death for their children. Seeing a screaming father lose his kid is intense. I love the look and love the concept. Cartoon dad beating up other cartoon dads. Babies of rainbow colors being collected, so cute they need plushies. Just...agh.. I'm infuriated by the fighting. Either I suck or I need to fight against a human being, because I got beat up so much it hurt my real Dad. Up to four dad from an accountant to a fish with a human body(?) can smack other papa around. Cartoony dad beating the ever-loving fear of Mom into each others is fine, but I have to enjoy the gameplay more. I'll have to revisit and try playing with friends or a friends father...when I'm done with their mother, ohhh!

IndieCade keeps changing and growing to show off more games. I look forward to it every year to see the newest titles or the completion of games I've wanted done. With Night Games set in the park this year I could really enjoy the room and sociability with others. F that stupid concert from last year, that wasn't participation that was a concert to see the worst human beings on Earth at dancing dance. IndieCade's faces changed too. So many of the games I played came from people outside of USC, from all over this great land and beyond.

There was some section on LGBT in gaming that I went through hosted by Intel that I didn't get the message of because gaming is already open to everyone whose going to IndieCade. I swear if any other site tries to make IndieCade a progressive thing or about LBGT rights no one cares. Free t-shirt though, so come back next year whatever organization you were.

It's not all about making jokes about booths and the people trying to sell their ideas having deeper meaning behind them. It's about you enjoying yourself at the event surrounded by titles you'll one day get to play and to volunteers who don't seem to have the normal social responses of others. I can't tell if you're being sarcastic are just being helpful. IndieCade continue to blow my mind on gaming and giving others the boosts to make more crazy games.