google ad

Thursday, May 9, 2013

UCLA Game Arts Festival 2013 Review Part 1

Packed with mini-games and set in an art gallery you could try out multiple creative titles as a LA Hipster, college student or someone who reads this site and decided to visit. The idea of UCLA Game Arts Festival 2013 is simple: college students and indie devs make games and you try them out with added stories about the different people who made them. There were some extras like some machinima to watch or a rock concert to listen too, something to get you in the mood to enjoy the art of play. This is the third game in the series with a totally new team behind the mini-games , but a lot of the old staff working from the previous years behind the scenes to keep the same format.

This new venture akin to Warioware comes from UCLA Game Lab with help from the Hammer Student Association, sort of like Square and Enix before they merged. Think of UCLA Game Lab as the developer and Hammer more of the distributor or arcade venue.

This play through it wasn't the creators, but Hammer staff trained to play the game near them while you played, so you don't get lost playing. Who doesn't like an interactive guide to help out if you get stuck? The setting was for one night, at the Hammer Museum. It was an interesting choice for location as well as the layout being all over the place in it's courtyard with kiosks to play at and two stages to see games played on.

Let's go through the mini-games before and overall review of this title.

Below is a break-down of the mini-games I played during the evening with my session of the UCLA Game Art Festival 2013 Edition. It's hard to get to each one in the few hours you have to beat the overall game. Luckily, many of them are available on-line with links below.

Timed games make everything a little bit harder, but just more fun in attempt to play everything. Then there's in game distractions like talking to fellow gamers or machinma to watch.

 Drop a Beat Giuseppe!


You're a man playing at a concert. The crowd does not like you. Defend yourself! Pound your keys left or right to dodge, send back food at the crowd that wants you to stop playing with space bar. Get hit too often and your grand piano will fall apart and you'll be playing your ultimate finale.

The controls didn't seem to work for this great concept, but after playing the online version it seems the keyboard I was using was defective. Can't deny the fun cartoon graphics and the silly concept, perfect mini-game to try and beat fast. Who doesn't like hearing random piano keys while smashing one's keyboard?

Developers Voice-
Eddo Stern, Game Director, In-Game Lead Curator, UCLA Design Media Arts professor
"I think there's a certain vibe to having a live stage, live events, I think a kind of energy, I think that can surround games and give a different feel than rows and rows of laptops and people playing."
Are all games from UCLA students?
" No, no, one third is UCLA students. One third are very eccentrically selected. One third are in the zeitgeist right now as far as the indie game scene, so unmanned like Papers, Please."
"There's four games from Switzerland, because my lab collaborated with a Swiss school in Geneva that produced 4 of the games"

A game within a game, that's what Atum is. Setting you as a keyboard jockey playing a platformer, you can both move around a Blade Runner like hero on your in game computer screen and your hands around your desk. So your playing someone at a computer playing a game and playing that game in real time. You can pick up items around your screen, in the game, like a battery or cigarette and use them to help your platforming detective hero. Say there's a sensor that can see your player and gets him caught. Why not use the smoke of your cigarette to block the sensors view. A certain platform needs energy, why not put the battery to the screen and power it up?

The only problem while playing were the controls of the gamer your playing, it wasn't easy to pick up any object off the side of the screen. However, balancing the controls on two separate planes worked well and made it a new spin on the platformer.



Time for a touch screen puzzle game! This game makes swirling puzzle pieces of satellite images of the world that you have to decode by touching the screen. Stop each swirling piece of the puzzle image with your finger and bring friends as it gets more and more complicated as you play. This was one of my favorites of the night. It attracted so many others  to work together and finish. It can easily be addictive and no wonder it's in the apple app store now, for free no less. Word is, Red Bull is interested in taking it.

I played with a friend and we worked or way addicted through to each new stage, slightly harder than the last. Trying to stop a moving puzzle is a new genre that should be explored further, though this game already achieves an easy to play right away standard.



Launch the cheese head into the air! Your goal, move around a trampoline like unit with two others that launches a cheese-headed man never stopping into the sky. Why? Silly fun.You'll have to look up as this game points a projector upward so you can only play with a ceiling, it's the only way to keep launching the cheese-headed man and avoid the wine bottles. I thought it was designed by the French, but no.
 It makes you control a unit on wheels with three others by pulling chains in the directions the cheese-headed man will fall. It requires you to work together in which direction to go. The unit did work, but my cheese-headed friend would only go so far. Other players got further distances which required them to roll fast to keep up.
by Jason Torchinsky 
The man behind this mini-game is quite prolific. You've seen his work at IndieCade and Iam8bit in the forms of giant Space Invaders made of wood and a huge working Atari controller. Now he brings out a restored cabinet from 1983 housing the game Ulak-Tartysh. This is a priceless gift in awkwardness. The game is a digital version of Ulak-Tartysh,, a real world sport in Kyrgyzstan where the game is imported from. Two opposing teams pull a headless goat carcass to opposing goals. Jason's explained the arcade unit is something he restored. It isn't as though he created and gave a false back story. It was given to him when a deal broke where getting a Fiat delivered from Poland fell through.
It plays like any early old school game from the 80's. You can play against a friend and drag what appears to be a goat carcass on field to an opposing goal. The quaint graphics make me long for a on-live version to share with you.
Developers Voice Jason Torchinsky

 "...this was very localized for the interests of the Kyrgyzstanies, there were a couple other countries that played this in the Soviet block countries... it's made from all western knock-off copies of electronics..." 

On who made it
 "it was a state run, military electronic factory based on what I googled on the seal there, it just means electronic factory if translated. So, it was the only place in Malyu-sulu in Kyrgyzstan that would have been able to build this"

Part 2 with more games and final review