On May 19, 2016 I attended an event at the Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, NY. This was an evening dedicated to the showcasing the work of the BFA and MFA students of New York University’s Game Developer Program. The evening was an opportunity to play interactive experiments, works in progress and completed games that are currently or will soon be on sale. The event was 5 hours long but it was not nearly enough time to try and play all of the games available. I will highlight as many of the games as I can that I was lucky enough to try and enjoy. I have made a short video report with some highlights as well.
Stage Fright – Brian Kang, Elizabeth Dantzler, Larry Shen and Mauricio Juliano
What seems to be a piano based rhythm game hides elements of horror gaming. Stage Fright’s concept is that the player tries their best to play the piano while experiencing sound crashes, inversions and even the presence of a ghostly spirit that all try to distract and frighten you from completing the song. The game becomes scarier the better you do instead of rewarding you. It was a lot of fun to try and stay focused on the game while all of the noises, lights and visuals worked against you.
CLYPH – Seth S. Scott
CLYPH is a visually interesting throwback adventure/explorer game full of unique puzzles. Your character is exploring a temple but in order to progress it requires specific button presses while exiting rooms based on puzzles that are hidden in plain site.
CMYK – Seth S. Scott
The other game in the space for this developer is a mobile game called CMYK. This simple addictive game is hopefully soon to be released. Players press color coded buttons that fire orbs at colored lines as they descend from the top of the screen. If you fire the wrong color the bar begins to crash down but you can keep the game from ending if you press the right color before it reaches the bottom of the screen. The game also has a great soundtrack and everyone who tried it said they wanted to buy it. Its a ton of fun and could easily be the kind of time sink that makes offices and schools less productive.
Iridescence (Working Title) – Oliver Garcia-Borg
One of the more engrossing “games” of the evening was Iridescence. A digital toy with a number of different scenes in which it can be manipulated in various ways that change the shape, color, size, etc. Its akin to games like Rez or Child of Eden but without the music. The idea according to Oliver is that he’d like people to play with it and add their own music, scenes and designs. Let them take it and play with it and then see what they create with the game. Then they can add their own music.
If you’d like to play with an earlier version of the toy you can find it here.
Cyclops Look Away – NOCA
Designed as an experiment in the juxtaposition of cuteness with the ideas of body horror. Cyclops Look Away was a simple game in its very early stages that felt like it could become something you keep going back to on your tablet. It was weird and gross but also kind of cute and adorable. You play a cyclops attempting to eat honeycomb while bees attempt to sting your eye. If you stare down the bees they move away but you have to concentrate on several different things at the same time or they’ll gang up on you.
Every Creeping Thing – Alex Duncan
The thesis project is a very different experience from everything else at the event that evening. The idea is to make a game from the point of view of things like maggots and flies. Essentially the player is navigating through a space from the point of view of these creatures. It was an intriguing piece of art and definitely not something I would have expected before seeing it.
Dire – Tony Kao, Terry Li Yixuan, Randy Sebella, Eliran Vegh, and Graham Southern
This was a cell shaded on rails survival driving game. Players attempt to survive the forward facing obstacles and use the mirrors to try and dodge the attacks coming from behind. Dire was placed into the school’s Incubator program. This allows the students the funding necessary to continue working on the game in the hopes of making it viable for launch by next year. The color scheme and the headset made me feel nostalgic for the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
Download the playable game trailer here.
Infiniball – Denver Coulson
Take Soccer add Tron and multiverse theory and you get the idea behind Infiniball. Its a game where you play as a ball and try to bounce another ball into your opponent’s goal. The thing is the goals are domes and the game plays out in an infinite loop all around you. So if the ball in the reflection is easier for you to get than the one your opponent has just move towards that one and it becomes a live ball for you to play with. I played this game at the end of the night after my camera was out of memory but look it up when it launches it’s a great little fun game.
3 Nights in Chicago – CS Wallace, Ben Poland, Carl Farra, and Angela Lee
A multiplayer noir themed heist game. Players control gangs attempting to rob the same banks at the same time. Each level has multiple safes, players can attack one another and if you don’t escape in your vehicle you can be arrested by the police and lose all of the loot. Its extremely fun and had the feel of a professional game. It would be great for parties.
Epitaph – Jinjin, Wyatt Yeong, Kailin Zhu, and Jonathan Moormann
A unique 2D fighting game where you portray 3 different Reapers who fight to collect souls. The first team to collect 5 souls wins. That said the strategy behind the game is that you are attempting to kill your opponents but they get stronger every time they die and are reborn. So there is some strategy to allowing someone to kill you in certain situations in order to make yourself stronger.
There were a ton more games to play and I didn’t even get to experience any of the tabletop gaming. This event was a lot of fun and felt like the first time I went to PAX East and got to play the indie games in the showcase. Obviously, there were shorter lines and a lot more of the games shown were in development or experimental. My only disappointment, and this is not really a disappointment, is that if there was anything on the level of 2014’s Lie To The Devil concept at the event I did not get to see or play it. There were some 18+ only games that I did not get to see as they were on a schedule and we just didn’t know the sheer volume of games available at the show and were slightly overwhelmed at first. I did see a lot of fun and innovative gaming displays. Many of which are commercially viable. That said there were some very different and unique ideas in the show and this is an event that I hope to attend again in the future.
- Mr. Khon