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Friday, October 10, 2008

IndieCade is Live

posted by on October 10 at 18:15 PM

The IndieCade International Festival of Independent Games is afoot in Bellevue right now. For today and tomorrow, the show caters only to game makers (seminars, round-table chats, and so on). If you make games, you need to attend this—over a dozen international nerd geniuses are talking shop and waiting for budding developers (or major publishers searching for the next Portal) to pick their brains.

Not a dev? Starting Sunday, the fest transforms into a public, all-you-can-play show for $10 entry. And for the first day of this switch, if you’re a teenager, you can attend and play for free.

I love that they’re encouraging teens to come to an exhibit with the Dark Room Sex Game, which proved far more fun than I’d expected during my playtest today. Turns out the thing is a four-player game, in which your “partner” is a surprise every round, and you work to out-hump your competition by waving Wii remotes at each other at the perfect tempo (and hearing aural moans to confirm you’re doing it right). The developers are still wrapping their heads around what they can do with the Wii remote—I asked if they might add some ass-slapping motions to the game, and they didn’t rule the idea out.

It proved to be a developer favorite—and a loud audio distraction in the small gallery—but it couldn’t outdo the wow factor of levelHead. This demo footage I shot explains things better than I ever could, though skip ahead 20 seconds to get past some glitches:

Rotate the cube in real-life, and the computer camera at the base of the table turns it into a gaming snowglobe. Then tilt to help the little man walk around in there; when he reaches a door, rotate the cube some more to find him again, and repeat. It’s still a little wonky, but this experience alone was worth the drive to Bellevue.

Some of the dozen-plus games on display are just as phenomenal to witness, like a stop-motion Myst-alike that would get Tim Burton wet. And Yet It Moves is another treat, a hand-drawn side-scroller game where you rotate the world 90 degrees at a time to get from place to place. Unfortunately, other games on display are too complex for a crowded, public showing, like Democracy 2, a civil engineering sim—complete with a real-time terror-watch matrix—that only freaks like Jon Golob could appreciate.

Don’t attend this expecting something akin to GameWorks. Many of these are more interesting in concept than in complete gameplay. The Unfinished Swan is decidedly unfinished, though its mindblowing “paint to see” mechanic is fun to toy with. Or there’s the one where you make an old lady walk slowly in a straight line, have her sit down, and then walk her back the other way. Just call that one “interactive art” and move along.

But the good at IndieCade totally outweighs the bad (though I can only hope they switch out their awful, one-foot-tall table setups). The fact that so many of the titles are done by one-man teams—and often in as few as seven days—is something to behold.

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Computer gaming in Bellevue, on a Sunday afternoon, during football season, on what will probably one of the few partly sunny days before winter.

I'm there!

Posted by John Bailo | October 10, 2008 8:07 PM

@1: Go on Monday, then. It runs for roughly one week.

Posted by Sam M. | October 10, 2008 8:23 PM

Are there any games with them new fangled rumble features? I want something I can put in my lap. Those games are exciting.

Posted by Joh | October 11, 2008 8:40 AM

LevelHead looks like it's based on some stuff they've been cooking up at the UW HIT Lab the last few years. Is that the case?

Posted by Greg | October 11, 2008 3:51 PM

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