For every mega million dollar production in gaming there are hundreds of small independent games passionately crafted by coders, artists, and story tellers who’ve traded the safety of corporation for the wings of creative freedom. The memorable experiences in gaming aren’t always coming out of Microsoft or Sony, in fact if you wan’t to see the best parts of gaming you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger gathering than Indiecade.
Founded by a coalition of producers in 2005, Indiecade brings a slice of its Fall festival to the E3 show floor every year. Gamers could spend the entire day playing tons of great games you’ve probably never heard of and not even realize they missed any triple A games. In the short time we had at their booth, several games stood out but here are some of the ones that became embedded on our mind grapes.
by Turbo Button
If there was ever a commercial for what not to do behind the wheel in real life, the developers at Turbo Button just came up with it. SMS Racing is part endurance mode and part racing game. The gauntlet you traverse only begins at city streets you’ll attempt to navigate while trying to beat competitors to the finish line. Your real objective in the game is to keep your friends who refuse to leave you alone on the road. When you begin driving random text messages appear and you must respond before the 10 second timer runs down. On an Xbox controller, you control the car with the left thumb stick while texting using corresponding letters to the X,A,Y,B buttons. When you fail, and you absolutely will, your friends will feel ignored. Once you lose three, it’s game over.
Sounds simple enough right? The challenge ramps up due to using the game in VR. Your field of view mimics that of you behind the wheel not what you’d see on a TV. If you were playing the game on a huge television, it wouldn’t be that complicated; but when you’re immersed in the VR screen your eyes are as distracted directionally as they would be in real life.
Anyone whose ever said I can drive and text at the same time needs to play this game. Best part is, here they won’t kill anyone. In the words of a famous small town pizza lawyer “it’s all perfectly legal.” SMS Racing is as fun as the messages you’ll receive are cheesy and OMG they are, LOL. The game is still in development and will release for VR Platforms in late 2015.
Find out more at the SMS Racing’s website here.
by Alexander Krasij
Tripad isn’t so much a new game as it is a new device to play games on. Constructed out of three Novation LaunchPad Mini devices arranged in a special configuration, controlled via MIDI commands. The game we played is a version of a soccer drill, called Gladiatorial, where the object is to keep the ball in your area till all the lights in your section glow. If you’re playing with three people boasting sharp reflexes the game could go on for hours. I don’t have them, so the volunteer I played against won like it was nothing. The device responds flawlessly while having to process three different sets of commands at once. In the future, Tripad could be the next thing we use at parties or to pass the time waiting in line at conventions.
There’s a potential for other creators to design different kinds of party games on a device like this, but the tech would need to be something that could be manufactured for less money in order to have a shot at landing in homes. Until then we’ll dream about the Simon, Pong, and Battleship style games that could be on this.
The Lost Valley VR
by Paper Crane Games
Did you hate Jurassic World? You might like this. Did you love Jurassic World? You still might like this. Founded by ex-Neversoft developers, Paper Crane Games are creating quality VR experiences. One of their latest, The Lost Valley VR shows off how detailed VR can be while also letting gamer’s eyes play photographer. When you strap on the Oculus Rift and take this journey, you’re put inside a boat going down a river where different creatures from the paleozoic era reside.
You’ll be equipped with a camera controlled by a button. As a photographer for scientists, it’s up to you to get the best composed and angled photos for research as you pass all the different forms of life. At the end of your trip your photos will be scored on usability, composition, etc. Even though everything is on a predictable rail going down stream, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the beauty and detail of this world thereby missing the perfect shot.
Currently, The Lost Valley VR is available on the developers website as an experience for others with Oculus dev kits. A finished version will be available once VR starts to launch next year.
Find out more about The Lost Valley VR and Paper Crane Games on their website.
Butt Sniffin Pugs
Our favorite experience at the Indiecade booth had us step into the adorable world of puglife. Game developer SpaceBeagles made a game simply called Butt Sniffin Pugs. As a pug you’ll pee, poop, and bark at objects and animals in the small patch of land called “Central Bark”. What makes the game irresistible is the controller.
Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s a giant tennis ball and stuffed dog butt. The two buttons on top correspond to two abilities you’ll be able to use at a time such as peeing and pooping. If you want to bite something or bark at a duck in the pond you’ll need to get close to the other dog and tap the stuff dogged keister to sniff the other pugs butt. Just like in real life… I think, I don’t know I don’t have Animal Planet anymore.
As a pug in this park we got to pee on an old lady’s picnic, bite a bird, and catch a frisbee. Every action has a reaction and they’re all as captivating as watching puppies or cats on the Internet. There’s so much to unlock, you can even take a selfie or your pug in the game and upload it! I’m officially giving Butt Sniffin Pugs the Comics Beat “Certified Mint” E3 award. Even though it’s a thing I just made up, it’s no less prestigious. Congrats to every one at SpaceBeagles!
The team is targeting PS4 and PC platforms for a late 2015 release but there’s no word on how this unique hardware will be produced. But look at it in action!
Keep up with Butt Sniffin Pugs on SpaceBeagles website.
If you consider yourself a gamer, you owe it to the art you so love to check out the annual Indiecade festival in Culver City, CA this Fall. Even more independent games will be on display in a gathering of the community that is gaming.