Here we are on part 3. We still haven’t talked about the best game in the show. That will come last. Don’t worry. It’s worth it. But first let’s talk about some of the other games we saw, or walked by, or thought about, or saw on a billboard as the crowd pushed us along to our doom.
Indie devs The Men Who Wear Many Hats took the mechanics of the classic Oregon Trail and re-imagined it as a zombie apocalypse adventure. They have painstakingly re-created the style and interface of the original, which came out on the Apple in 1971. When I was born.
It was fun meeting these guys. This was the very last game we saw as we staggered off the show floor on Sunday, but they were still grinning, still happy to show off their game. They were selling the game on a “pay-what-you-like” basis.
It’s actually funny that they were so careful to preserve the original interface. I’m sure it would have been a lot less work to simply modernize it. Things like buttons, text boxes, and sliders are all pretty much turnkey in a lot of development environments. But this game uses those awkward input lines with a non-flashing cursor. I’m sure that required custom code.
The team is aiming for a late May release on mobiles, followed “shortly after” by a PC / Mac release. You can play the game now on Facebook.
I mentioned back in Part 1 that I don’t like to play games on the show floor. This is where that policy comes back to bite me. TinkerTech:Derby was on the show floor in playable form. There were even free seats. But I didn’t want to play right then, so I grabbed a business card and made a note to play it later. Sadly, it looks like the game doesn’t even exist outside of PAX East. No demo. No video. No screenshots. Google can’t even find a webpage for the thing.
The basic idea is this: You build a vehicle and drive it around this Tron-esque environment in a demolition derby. You build using modular parts. Some are heavy, some have weapons, some are durable, and so on. It’s free to play (if it existed, mind you) and it all runs on HTML5. Just visiting the page drops you right into the game without messing around with account creation and menus and TOS agreements. You visit the page, and you’re in the game.
You can send a link to your friends (via social networking, I’m sure) that contains the code for your vehicle. If they click the link, they’ll be dropped directly into the game, driving the vehicle you sent. It’s all about experimenting with different builds and seeing how changes impact the handling of the vehicle. The focus seems to be on immediate fun with a low entry barrier. The whole thing made me think of Randy (one of my co-hosts in Spoiler Warning Season 1) because he’s a connoisseur of innovative PVP games.
Great idea. I wish I could try it. I wish I could show it to you. I assume it’ll appear at some point. I’ll be watching the Gradient Studios site in the meantime.
Girls Like Robots
The gameplay of Girls Like Robots tickles my brain. It’s a game about seating arrangements, and your goal is to make everyone as happy as possible. Girls like sitting next to robots. Robots are okay with girls, as long as there aren’t too many. Nerds love robots and girls, but girls dislike nerds. And so on.
It’s one of those ideas where you look and say, “I can’t believe nobody thought of this before now.” It’s got all the key elements of a solid puzzle game: Easy to grasp concepts, clear goals, some depth, and an appealing presentation.
Aside from all these games, Chevrolet was also at the show. For some reason. Their booth was actually just a carpeted open area with some cars on display and a kiosk with some sort of driving game. One of the cars was the Camaro from the Michael Bay Transformers films. (Bumblebee.) I don’t know if Chevy understands the depth to which many people hate those films, and I didn’t have the heart to explain it to them.
I had Josh pose in the Camaro ironically: