NO to the cacophony of the Def Jam Rapstar stage, NO to the disco lights razing the floor, NO to the console-saturated air. I came to Expo for one thing and one thing only. Pixel-Lab’s Mudlark‘s Indie Games Arcade. I’ve been immersed in a lot more indie stuff in recent months plus it was the only part of the expo likely to have some PC focus.
I reached the Indie Games Arcade about 5-10 minutes after the expo opened and… that’s it? Tucked away in the corner, far from all the neon excitement and noise was something that looked like the laptop section of PC World. Hmm… and even better there was hardly anyone around. Was I too early? Would the developers turn up later? When would The JBurger show?
EXPO ROOKIE LOSER ALERT: I had assumed developers would be present. Well, some were, yes. As for the rest, you had to pretend they were there, peering over your shoulder like a spirit guide. I’d hoped to have a conversation or three with some indie developers and thus give me something interesting to write about my time at the expo. As it is, I’ve just got to make shit up.
Gemini Rue (previously Boryokudan Rue) is a sci-fi point-n-click adventure that was one of the IGF Student Showcase winners this year. It’s an indie game a lot of people are excited about. I’m still not sure exactly what kicked off all the excitement (someone can tell me) because I haven’t seen much of the game online. This hasn’t stopped me from following Joshua Nuernberger on Twitter.
I came away impressed. I didn’t play too long, but it had a certain atmosphere and didn’t make any obvious missteps. Yes, it erred on the side of exposition with characters saying things they wouldn’t in real life. Yes, I had to wait for a fair bit of cutscene before I could actually do anything. But it was solid and I longed to play it properly. At home. With pipe and slippers.
Another game I played early in the day was Scoregasm from Charlie’s Games. I bought Irukandji and Bullet Candy Perfect recently and really like them (one of these days I’ll put my thoughts down here) so was interested to see the new game in action.
As soon as I started shooting things, it was obvious that Scoregasm was the natural progression of Bullet Candy Perfect. This is no bad thing and I had a blast. I may have smiled out loud a few times. I already have Scoregasm on pre-order, so was reassured the game I’d already bought would be an assbundle of fun. Someone else Kieron Gillen-shaped started playing Scoregasm next to me. I think the Kieron Gillen-shaped person made more progress than I did, but it’s not a competition, right?
But I also noticed a stranger, younger looking and more handsome than I, hovering behind us like a spirit guide.
LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Everyone else is younger looking and more handsome than I.
It was Charlie of Charlie’s Games. Now I’d worked out a bunch of questions I wanted to ask each developer – remember, readers, I expected all the developers to be there – but these questions were buried beneath sediment in my right pocket and I thought I would look like a fricking loser pulling reams of questions out from underneath my keys, my phone, oh and some sweets. And in the middle of my bumbling ad-hoc conversation, the Kieron Gillen-shaped person stood up, revealing that he was actually The Kieron Gillen and said sorry as he interrupted our conversation. My train of thought derailed, plunged off a cliff and exploded into flame killing all 47 passengers. But it’s okay, it’s Kieron Gillen, yeah?
I forgot most of the stuff Charlie said. I’m sorry Charlie. He’s part-time indie, devoting as much time as he can to his games. His main job is something to do with keeping fit, which explains the youthful good looks he flaunted about. Scoregasm is what Bullet Candy would have been if he’d had the skills and ideas at the time of Bullet Candy’s creation.
Sorry Charlie. I’ll get my questions out next time.
Nidhogg is the work of one Mark Essen a.k.a. Messhof, the kind of developer who gets mentioned in the same sentence as Cactus and Increpare, just like this one. The NYC Game Center commissioned Nidhogg as part as the No Quarter games exhibition, where it was originally known as Raging Hadron. Nidhogg is a giant serpent from Norse myth, which explains why a snake appeared in the game for no apparent reason.
It’s a lo-fi duel for two players that crams in an incredible amount of fightcraft. Here’s a video of what it looks like:
It is probably a lot of fun, but you need to get familiar with the keys first. Each player uses half the keyboard and I worked out that although the WASD keys were incredibly useful to move my yellow avatar about, they weren’t enough. I saw people throwing swords and no combo I tried seemed to help. I was playing with some younger looking and more handsome stranger, and he was similarly thwarted with the number keypad. Our misery ended when our Nidhogg-playing neighbours shared with us the magic keys of F, G, N and M which transformed us into jumping sword-throwing lunatics. Cool.
Except that I needed more time to wangle the keys. I lost in a depressing jamming-the-keys-fast-but-still-I-flounder defeat. But my opponent’s reward was to get eaten by a giant serpent. Yay, enjoy your victory.
RPS announced Nidhogg the winner of their indie award. Alec Meerkat stood on the indie arcade desk with a megaphone to make the announcement but was soon stopped by some man in black. And then there was no more standing on desk. And there was no more megaphone. The megaphoneless Meerkat said many things I could not hear. I found out much later that Nidhogg had been announced the winner.
Messhof was not available, so a Kieron Gillen-shaped person accepted the award instead.
Tune in tomorrow where I continue to confess how hopeless I am at the expo scene!
Next: Arcade Town Ghost