Monday, July 20, 2015

SGC Indie Game Wrap-Up

This weekend I had the pleasure of being invite to experience SGC, the Gaming Convention. It's three days of video games, video games, and more video games, but with a small con feel. ScrewAttack is a gaming website with a formula that sounds familiar: news, reviews, and miscellaneous YouTube videos. They use to hold a convention years ago, but after low attendance rates, they cancelled it and opted to focus on other projects. It returned in 2013 and has been steadily growing since then.

The convention itself was okay. I'm a panel person, so I found that there was a lot of downtime between events. They hosted only 2 panel rooms, one on the main stage and a secondary Q&A room. At most then were 5 panels a day. Needless to say, the convention expected you to game, and game a lot. And you can get burned out on too much gaming. Seriously. You can. There's only so much a person can play on the arcade cabinets before it becomes too much.

But! What I wanted to talk about with this post were the independent games that I found in the Dealer's Room. I was a bit surprised to see that SGC opened it's doors to developers and allow them to show off their wares. It wasn't on the level of most big-name gaming conventions, but it was humbling to see that care is given to the indies. I was able to try out pretty much every game on the floor. Here's what I liked:

Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. Created by Tipping Goat, it's 2D mayhem with a 3D engine. I could easily see this being a great party game, and cause a lot of relationship issues if you play with your spouse or significant other. It's a 3 vs 3 sports match. Your goal is to get the ball into the opponents net and score points. However your players are a mis-mesh of different sports figures, with unique abilities. One team can be comprised of a Baseball player, a Basketball player, and a Roller-derby player. The Roller-derby player has a speed boost because they are on skates. While the Baseball player is able to hit the ball further across the field with their bat. With this weird team combo, you have to make it work and score points.

You can also beat up people in the middle of the field. That helps too. The matches are short and a lot of zany things happen on the field. It's quick. Fun. And I can easily see this being picked up by people of all ages.

We Slay Monsters. This title is currently on Steam for beta access. It's a turn-based RPG that utilizes standard playing cards for attacks and abilities. You play the cards like Poker. Pairs do more damage then a single card. A Flush ranks higher then the pair, and so on. The story is you are the headmaster of a school for Dungeoneers (aka Monster Slayers). Your goal is to make your school one of the best, and that means sending out your students to crawl around in a few dungeons, level up, and bring their rewards back to the school.

As you progress in the game, your school is ranked on a leader board, and you are given marks for how well your students perform at their monster stabbing tasks.

I found this game to be quite addictive really quickly. It was very easy to jump into for inexperienced gamers, and still provided a level of difficultly in completing the objectives of the dungeons. You do a lot of clicking. A lot of it. Each dungeon is randomly generated with tasks that can vary from 'find this item' to 'save this person.' And your students have a one time use. They are only good for the dungeon and that's it. All of their levels, their equipment can not be transferred back to the school. You get to send out new kids in their wake. Which definitely adds to the challenge as the dungeons become more arduous.

It also has ducks. That explode. And cows. That fart. It was a lot of fun. I'm considering it a purchase while in beta, and give them time to work out the kinks. It was a good twist on a classic RPG model.

Grumblebugs Jugglin'. While I'm not a fan of the title, I think this has big hit mobile gaming potential. In fact, it's out right now on Android phones for free. The premise is very simple. When you start the game, a blue Grumblebug appears on the screen. And your goal is to keep it in the air by juggling it. There is a "juggle" area at the bottom of the screen that the bug must reach. Tap the button at that time and the bug will bounce back up. As the game progresses, more bugs are added in. There are bonuses, power-ups, bombs, and birds that you have to flick away in order to keep your bugs safe.

Timing is crucial. In the beginning I noticed that there is a bit of a learners curve to get you accustomed to the set up, before the taps require you to be more precise. My one complaint is that the music in the game can be distracting. Initially I thought that the taps were timed to the music after my first few clicks, but after letting nearly all of the bugs died, I found out that I was completely wrong.

Other then, this is a really fun game. Easy to pick up during work breaks. And the visual style is easy on the eyes. Playful and colorful!


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