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The EB Expo - Indie Roundup

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By Fr33Lanc3r.00721-10-2013

Welcome back to Indie Roundup.

Welcome back to Indie Roundup.

In part one of this EB Expo Roundup, I spoke about the AAA games that I managed to either see or get my hands on. This time it’s all about the Indies. There was a whole section of the show floor dedicated to giving Aussie independents a chance to show off their goods, and what I managed to see didn’t fail to impress! So come with me, my friends, as we walk the path of those who have innovative ideas and are striving to complete them in their own time, this is the Indie Roundup!

Lightmare Studios - Infinity Wars

Infinity Wars is the second game from the student programmers associated with Lightmare Studios. Touted to be a Digital Trading Card game for the 21st Century, Infinity Wars is easy to learn and fun to play so I snatched one of their Beta codes and downloaded it for my own use. There are a number of different races and deck styles, each with a campaign to aid you in learning how to use the various special abilities available to each. For example, the grasslands beasts have a mother card that allows them to spawn additional units in exchange for losing one unit on the field that turn. The selling point for me was that you can earn all of the cards through playing the game, and the only items that you would need to pay real money for are purely cosmetic - although you can buy booster packs if you want to jump the gun and get straight into the more competitive multiplayer. The Beta is currently ongoing and I’m pretty sure it’s open to everyone - at least, I didn’t need to enter any special codes to download and start playing at home - so if you’re interested, feel free to give it a go.

Wildgrass Games - Pandamonium

Pandamonium started life as a Game Jam project, which they’re rebuilding from the ground up in response to the reception it got at PAX Prime. It’s a fun little multiplayer romp that sees you and up to three friends each take on the role of four armadillos attempting to outwit each other whilst avoiding the rabid panda that is looking for a meal. It’s a one button game, with the same button causing you to move slightly faster and leave an uncrossable line of rocks behind you for a short distance. Unfortunately you’ll need controllers for each player for the current version, which will probably turn quite a few people off the game, but I’m excited to see what Wildgrass manage to do with the next iteration.

Outpost Software - Outpost

Outpost is the breakout game of Outpost Software - and yes, they recognise that the company’s name could have been better. Having started life as a hobby project back in 2011, Outpost has since grown into a tactical side scrolling multiplayer shooter reminiscent of Counter Strike. It's still very much a work in progress - the textures need work, the controls are a little sticky, the field of view could be wider, and there are a few balancing issues - but looking beyond those, Outpost seemed to be the basis for a solid, competitive, multiplayer shooter. It's currently in an open Beta, so feel free to not take my word for it and give it a go yourself.

Scream Systems - Spaceberg

Spaceberg is an interesting game. It’s a top down, capture the control points style game that sees two teams flying a range of spaceships in an effort to capture enough sequential control points to be able to strike directly at the enemy base. The best way to describe it would be a mix between the Onslaught multiplayer mode from UT2004, with the growth and tactical elements of a MOBA. Players are able to purchase upgrades for their ships and weapon systems with the gold they earn for kills. It’s still very much a pre-release title, with even the official website telling users to treat what is available like a playable tech demo. However, what is there is fairly solid even if there are some issues with the balancing between ships. It could also stand to give more of an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of each ship. For instance, the first round I played I picked an incredibly fast fighter that couldn’t take more than about 3 hits and the second time I had the opposite problem. A clearer indication of how the exclusive upgrade paths of your weapon differ would also be a welcome addition. In any case, it’s still a good bit of fun to pull out for a couple of rounds, and it’s being developed by a bunch of great guys that need all the support they can get to bump Spaceberg from a hobby project to a serious endeavour. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on any updates coming out of this project.

Liz Threlfo - So much stuff!!

Liz is one of those solo indies that are trying to break into the industry by making as many games as possible, having taken up the One Game A Month Challenge and having stuck with it for every month this year. The game that I actually personally got my hands on during the expo was Devolution, a puzzle based ‘arty’ game that centered on themes of lost love and the struggle to cope with that. It’s not a game that appeals to everyone - the puzzles weren’t incredibly hard, and the story was deliberately vague and left to individual interpretation - but I found it fun, and it made for a good conversation with Liz.

She’s got at least 9 other games at this point - which I didn’t get to give a go at the Expo, so I won’t go into too much detail about them here - and you can download any of them by following the links on Liz’s 1GAM page. I recommend doing so for the novelty, freshness, and (for Devolution at least) outright maturity in dealing with topics, if nothing else.

Big Paw Games - Rumble Academy

Rumble Academy is probably best described as a 3D Super Smash Bros using anime characters. You and up to four other players are placed in an arena surrounded by a sheer drop on all sides and your task is to keep hitting everyone else until they fall off enough times to declare you the winner. The version available looked solid, even if it lacked a decent amount of information about the differences between characters and the variety of special abilities they all possessed. Unfortunately there is currently no version available for you to play, but it's one that fans of Multiplayer Brawlers should be keeping an eye on.

 

So that wraps up the coverage of the EB Expo! It was an absolute blast to attend and I walked away feeling really good about the future of the Australian games industry. I mean, just look at some of the titles featured above, and those were only the games I managed to play - especially after some of the discussions I had with the developers on the indie projects. Despite all the crap the industry here has had to put up with, there are still local developers that are excited about their projects and willing to put themselves out there in order to gain recognition for their work.

 


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