The “Indie Van Game Jam” was supposed to drive around the US, making games and interviewing developers. Their kickstarter project didn’t make enough money, but they decided to do it anyway.
Zeb, Chad and Diego met each other while working on Star Wars: The Old Republic at BioWare Austin. After the game’s release, there were a number of layoffs, as well as people quitting for their own reasons. Either way, the group was looking for a change of pace and decided to form Binary Solo. Their first project would be the Indie Van Game Jam: part travelling game jam, part documentary, part interview series.
Chad Stewart, the team’s programmer, originally had an idea for a mobile game studio that would be open to the public. Eventually the idea changed: “Through discussion Zeb and I evolved the idea into the exploration of the indie scene throughout the country, presenting our half-baked games to seasoned veterans. We would get to open the discussion about the design of games while inspecting each person or company’s motivations.”
While visiting Austin, I met up with Binary Solo where they drove me around in the eponymous van, and shared some of their favourite games. One is a design-focused game inspired by the creators of Don’t Starve, about being an old man in a boat, wandering the ocean. The others are more silly — PvP competitive beekeeping and playing as a ramp trying to help the van do a sweet jump. Take a look at our conversation in the video below:
So far they have visited seven studios and on each trip created a game based on the style of the studio they’re visiting. In the first episode, they visit experimental game creator Rob Lach, and create a second-person-shooter, where you have to navigate by the reflection in your character’s glasses:
The format of the show is simple. Each episode starts with the team looking at some of the work from the developer’s studio and coming up with a theme. Then they make a game on the way there, get feedback, and polish the game on the return trip. Each episode is posted with the game they made, so you can download it for free and try it yourself.