Spent last Thursday in Nottingham to catch some of the Gamecity festival. Here's a quick summary of what I managed to see:
Adam Atomic (Cannabalt), Jonathan Blow (Braid), Chris Hecker (Spy Party/Spore), Keita Takahashi (Katamari, Noby Noby Boy) and some chap from Mode 7 (Frozen Synapse).
£10 to get in (no mention of this anywhere!!) but you did get a fairly good 2 course meal whilst the panel talked about their reasons for becoming indie developers. I'm a big fan of Braid, Cannabalt, Katamari and now Spy Party (more on that below) so was interesting to hear them all pretty much agree that indie is the only way to go if you have a strong idea you don't want to compromise on, whilst bemoaning triple A development as soul destroying.
Adam Atomic had some sort of semi-religious moment in the Grand Canyon and is now making a game about the experience. He sounded very excited about it, but looks like we won't see it for a few years yet.
Various Indie Games
Gamecity Lounge/Market Square
Comfy sofas, giant projector games (25 player Frogger anyone?), a few interesting indie games coming to XBLA/PSN, Crysis 2 and Spy Party. Despite queuing for nearly 2 hours to play this (network difficulties while they were setting up), the 7 or so minutes of gameplay me and my mate had were completely awesome.
In summary, one of you is a spy at a party, tasked with completing a set number of missions in 3 and a half minutes. These include bugging an ambassador, making contact with a double agent and switching a statue. Whilst you are trying to blend in with the crowd and complete these missions (you can take a drink from the waiter, stare out of the window, examine things in the room or talk to other guests) the other player, a sniper, has to figure out which guest is the spy and put a bullet in you before a) time runs out, or b) you complete all your missions.
It's totally gripping and has so many permutations even at this very early stage. As a sniper, I was trying to memorise the order of the statues so that I'd know when they had changed. However, I turned away to look at something else suspicious for just a second and noticed that my mate had made the switch! AI characters can perform (nearly) all the same actions as the spy, so you need to be sure before you pull the trigger. It was only in the last 30 seconds that I noticed him taking some microfilm from a book (completely by chance), so I sniped his ass.
Playing as the spy you are even more on edge. You can see the snipers red laser sight (though the sniper can effectively hide it and still be looking in your direction) which ramps up the tension when you are trying to complete a mission. Do you finish bugging the Ambassador or walk away? Which will make you look more suspicious?
Can't wait to see what other scenarios & elements Chris Hecker adds, but so far it's shaping up to be a great game. Shame Spy Party is probably 18-24 months away still.
Limbo Sound Design
Fantastic presentation from the Limbo sound designer. I have an interest in field recordings/general messing about in Logic, so this was right up my street. He walked us through a few different playable sections of the game after showing us how he created the sounds (lots of old analogue equipment to transform simple bird song and frog croaks into something more ambient and sinister).
Really have a new found appreciation for this game after seeing the amount of care and attention that went into creating the right atmosphere through clever sound design. Although he admitted he wasn't a massive gamer, he really seemed to instinctively understand how sound can lead the player on the right path.
Really looking forward to Playdead's next project now. Their Sound Designer will hopefully be involved from the start (he joined Limbo about a year before shipping).
EA Hub full of kids playing Harry Potter. NHS Tent full of fat kids doing aerobics and playing some EA Wii Health game. Yeah, I didn't spend much time here!