On a whim and because I had nothing else to do besides spend the whole weekend programming (which kind of makes me feel terrible) I decided to check out this indie game event in Chicago sponsored by Gree (apparently the biggest cell phone gaming company in Japan), Indie City Games and IGDA Chicago. There were some talks by indie developers, which unfortunately I missed because I never wake up before noon on Saturday. Then a Gree lady talked about how free-to-play and microtransactions (she didn't use that word, but that is what it is, right?) are the future of gaming, because I dunno... $$$ and such, which kind of made me sad, especially since the big GREE games she showed off didn't really look like what I want the future of gaming to look like. I'm not sure that many of the indie developers there were totally on board with her vision of the future either... but I can't really speak to that, because I only talked to a small handful of the developers. And besides, they have mouths to feed, while I can sit back and judge safely from the outside.
And then there was free food and snacks, which is always nice.
And THEN, I got to play some games. This was pretty fun. I mean, you're hanging out with indie game developers who are clearly passionate about game design, talking design theory and such while playing games that not many people have played yet. Can't beat that.
I was a bit unclear on the breakdown of how their team worked, but it was a two person team and it seemed that one guy did the developing while the other was more the public relations / marketing side? Of course, one of the first things I said to the developer is "this reminds me of Earthbound" and he said "we get that a lot". I kind of hate to look at an original work and immediately be like HEY, THIS LOOKS LIKE THAT ONE THING THAT ALREADY EXISTS but hey, Earthbound was clearly an influence, and saying something looks like Earthbound is a compliment in my eyes. Speaking of, I still need to play Earthbound. Anyway, one neat hook of this game is that it had drop-in drop-out local multiplayer, so I got to play through a bit of it with the developer. It is kind of this goofy-feeling (in a good way) Western style RPG, after one battle it said something like "you have set that young whippersnapper on the right path", which was pretty hilarious. I didn't play enough to get the best sense of how deep it will be, but there seemed to be a lot of options in battles, and everything flowed very smoothly, etc. I think it will be worth keeping on the radar.
Now, it doesn't necessarily visually scream "Fire Emblem" right away, but after playing a bit, I definitely thought "Fire Emblem". The developer said that in his earlier games Shining Force was a bigger influence I still need to play Shining Force, but that he has worked in more Fire Emblem-esque stuff into this current game. I played through a couple of maps, it seems very solid, he obviously had a good sense of what he was doing. The stages I was playing were early stages so they weren't overly complex (although I did die on the 3rd? stage), but he said by the end a lot more is going on, and there are like over 20 classes, etc. Looks like it could be pretty awesome. And I know how much we all love Fire Emblem here.
I believe that he also said he got the graphics designer of um... Retro City Challenge? working on this game? Or I may be confusing that with another game. Hmm. Memory is poor. It was the graphics designer of something I had heard of, anyway.
I played a few other games, but didn't really crack into them as much. Octodad was there, which is a super huge indie game from Chicago. Didn't get to play that though. Of course, that one is already out.
Unfortunately, none of the games that I played are planned for Nintendo platforms, but that is understandable, as it is kind of tough for an indie to get onto a Nintendo platform (and kind of tough to sell on them as well.) I think they have a very Nintendo-esque feel though, and maybe they can crack that market in the future.
All in all it was good fun, got to play some good games, met some developers who were very passionate about their work, and hey, maybe a few of them knock around here a bit.
Oh no, don't get me wrong, he was pretty clear about his Earthbound love and how that influenced the style. I think I he just meant it as a statement of fact, like... we get that a lot... because it's true? It might have come off as negative in the way I said it in text, but it really wasn't. He's a huge Earthbound fan, as is probably very evident. And he also said that the Earthbound comparisons have been helping the game get a lot of press, and attributed the success of their kickstarter, in some part, to the Earthbound connection. (They aimed for $5,000 and got over $18,000.)
This is text from the kickstarter:
Take one part Final Fantasy, one part Earthbound, and one part Chrono Trigger - then dip the whole thing in spicy Wild West sauce!
Um, IIRC Boot Hill Heroes is PC and XBLI, with potential iPhone / etc. versions in the future, while Telepath Tactics is, I believe, in development for PC and iPhones? Maybe? Gosh, my memory is terrible.