Canberra played host to GAMMA Con over the weekend, a primarily anime-focused event with a healthy dose of gaming attached. I was able to attend, and was pleased to see an indie gaming section of the larger games room. It quickly became my favourite part of the con, and for the first time, I got to see what Canberra indies were up to.
I got the chance to play three games at GAMMA Con, in amongst all the usual anime con craziness. All three were worth anyone's time, and I hope they go on to show off their stuff at future shows, though PAX Aus might be a little too close for polished public previews.
I had heard about this game prior to arriving, and seeing its banner triggered an "Oh, that game" reaction. Warden sucks you in with a Wind Waker aesthetic, yet combat is based around an evasion roll, similar to Dark Souls. It's a little simpler - there's no stamina bar, so combat is all timing - but that combo of Zelda and Souls is exactly what the team is going for.
My demo included a few temple rooms with very basic puzzles, and a few enemies with different attack timings, which proved troublesome when attacking in combinations. Level and puzzle design will be crucial as the game is fleshed out, so there are some brain benders beyond just hitting switches, but the combat is already not far from where it needs to be.
If those above points are hit, then Warden has a very bright future ahead of it. The look and playability of it at such an early stage is encouraging.
I had never heard of this one, and small wonder, given the fact that it spawned out of a local 48-hour game jam. Originally called Pandamonium, Bearzerkers is the reworked and polished version, which was a lot of fun to play at GAMMA Con.
In Bearzerker' arena, you and other players control an armadillo, all running away from the rampaging panda, which chases whoever is closest. Players can "dig" in a line for a short period until their energy runs out, and other armadillos can't pass that line until it fades. Think Tron. This means however many other players in your game are trying to block off your escape routes while that panda is charging at you, and if it catches up, you're its lunch.
For added depth, you and the panda go at the same speed, but digging in a line actually increases your speed. It can be used to escape tight spots -- but digging also uses your energy, and you might need it. We found four-players games to be quite addictive and fun, in the way that some games get you to lightheartedly stuff up your mates over and over. Brutal and cutthroat, yet its very basic controls mean anyone could pick it up and understand it straight away.
The best part is, you can download the original Pandamonium game right now, here.
Game makers should get used to the fact that if they're showing off an Oculus Rift, they should prepare for a long line. Darkfield had a queue of people snaking all the way outside the room at one point.
Hanging out in a space hangar was my first experience with the Rift. It was cooler than I expected, having before been a bit sceptical. The head tracking was interesting just to move with, and thankfully, didn't make me sick.
Then I jumped into the meat of the game: Dogfighting in space. This part made less use of the Rift's head tracking, and was more about the total immersion aspect. I could certainly turn my head, but there was little reason to in zero G with dual stick controls. Darkfield still has a ways to go in terms of finding the fun, but even at this early stage it was a functional and immersive dogfighting demo.