The first day of IndieCade found developers setting up their booths and getting their games ready for attendees to play this weekend. While several were still getting settled in, I was still able to get some play time in with a number of the festival’s games. I tried out demos of Honeyslug’s Hohokum , Michael Mollinari’s BasketBelle, GAMBIT Singapore’s Improviso , and SCAD USA/Hong Kong’s tabletop game Black Bottom Parade.
The first day of IndieCade was also a day for seminars. The most eye-opening of these that I caught was titled “Experimental is Hard,” delivered by Shadow Physics co-creator Steve Swink. While Shadow Physics is not being presented at this year’s IndieCade, Swink showed off the game in its current state. While the game displayed some rough patches, the shadow platforming made a good impression. One particularly strong example involved an active candle. Once the room’s light switch was turned off, the candle was extinguished and the main shadow character was able to use the candle’s smoke trail as a platform to proceed to the next area.
In addition to the demonstration, Swink also imparted a series of philosophical questions to game designers. If the idea of obsession is corrosive to our human existence, can that same idea apply to games and social media? Are our human lives diminished through obsessions with Facebook, Twitter, and even casual games (with Zynga titles being used as a particular example)? Should game designers feel compelled to create a game that’s more artistically meaningful, in order to enhance our lives and the lives of others? Swink posed some profound questions throughout the seminar, something he’s happily agreed to expound upon in an upcoming interview.
As far as hands-on experiences, I was pleased with the progress of Hohokum. I previously had the pleasure of interviewing Honeyslug designer Ricky Haggett back in August and I was a little concerned that the developer’s focus had gone into its planned PS Vita launch title, Frobisher Says. My concerns were quickly put to rest, as Hohokum appears polished and is an enjoyable experience. Haggett was purposefully mum on the game’s goals, as the fun is in playing around with the playable snake and enjoying the graphics. The artwork of Richard Hogg shines brightly, with colors vibrantly bursting out anytime the snake flies over any object. The fun is in exploration and I found plenty to explore in Hohokum’s demo, from large, gaseous fruits to a large water slide.
The IndieCade experience is just beginning, with several more games to come tomorrow. Honeyslug’s Hohokum is set to release in 2012 on PC. Michael Mollinari’s BasketBelle has yet to announce a release date, but is coming soon to PC. GAMBIT Singapore’s Improviso is available for free on PC and Mac through the game’s website.