• youtube

Button Mash

PAX East 2012: Indie Round-up Part 1

PAX East 2012 was my first PAX. First real gaming convention at all, in fact. There was plenty to see and do. All the big releases this year were on show: Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite, Assassin’s Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and plenty more. More importantly from my perspective though, there was a fantastic indie presence. 16 independent developers all got booths in an area together and, in a wonderful spirit of cooperation, banded together as a megabooth. parked right next door to them was the Boston Indie Showcase, a celebration of some of the best upcoming mobile games. So without further ado, let’s plunge into a world of games you might not have heard of.

I’ll start off focusing on the big boys. Well big-ish, I suppose. Dejobaan Games was pretty much my first stop at PAX East. BM readers might have spotted my playing with the Titan Builder a little while back, and I’m pleased to say Drunken Robot Pornography is shaping up beautifully. The playable version of the game on offer featured the same fast shooting, jetpacking, titan-smashing gameplay as the builder but instead offered a sequence of 12 predesigned titans, scaling in size and difficulty with a high score board at the end for me to top. It’s looking very bright and vibrant and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play. This is after a mere 3 months of development so it should be something pretty special when it’s done. Ugly Baby, sadly was dropped from the show at last minute and didn’t make an appearance, but for everyone who’s been patiently waiting since Valve’s Potato Pack (and even earlier for some), updates are very close.

Uber Entertainment, responsible for the Monday Night Combat series had a large area showcasing the latest updates to Super Monday Night Combat. 20 PCs networked allowed for two LAN matches running at any given time, tournaments ran throughout the day, prominent community members were on hand to talk people through the game and dole out tips to newcomers, and plenty of swag was freely available. Oh, and a man in a sickly yellow suit and bad toupee was on hand all three days to run commentary. He was no Mickey Cantor, but still very entertaining. I’ve logged 40 hours in the invitational beta, I’m biased; I’ll tell anyone it’s a good game. More objectively though, I heard a lot of positive feedback from newbies and even from people who had no idea what DOTA games were, so I’m sure they’ll have picked up plenty of fans from the experience.

Robot Games also grabbed a decent sized spot to showcase Orcs Must Die 2. Looking very similar to its predecessor, the most notable change is that of the protagonist’s new female companion. She’ll feature more magical attacks than her traditionally brute force partner allowing for debuffing and tactical gameplay. Basically though, it’s more of the same, but you can play it with a friend. When all is said and done, I’d always much rather have something new to play with than more of the same, but Orcs Must Die is an excellent game so I won’t complain too loudly about another chance to gratuitously butcher bad guys again this summer.

Supergiant, of Bastion fame made an appearance, sadly with nothing new to see. The very first playable prototype of the game was made available to play, from a mere 1 month into the game’s development. A world of place-holder graphics and poor mechanics, Bastion has come a very long way from its starting point, something we can all be thankful for. Although there’s nothing solid to mention at this point, Greg Kasavin, design lead, assured me that the team is keen to begin work on something new, and that whatever they create will live up to the high standards set by Bastion. That’s something well worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Zeboyd Games had a prominent booth, being the guys behind the resurrected Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness series. Fans may remember some years back Hothead games dropped the series claiming it was unprofitable, choosing instead to work on the Deathspank games. While I can’t deny the Deathspank games have been successful, probably far more so than OtRSPoD  Episode Two, I for one still mourned the loss of a great series. Mercifully, Zeboyd, notable for such offbeat RPGs as Cthulhu Saves The World, have picked up where Hothead left off and have chosen to take it down an entirely different path. Episode Three resumes the story one month after the events of Two, but this time in a retro 16-bit RPG format, similar to Zeboyd’s other titles. Speaking to the developers, they say they hope the new style will attract a new audience and that they aim to make it easily accessible to newcomers who have never played the first two chapters. After sampling the demo on offer, the dialogue had me in stitches right from the very start and the game should shape up to be a must-play on that point alone.

That about wraps it up for PAX East’s more prominent indie titles. I’ll cover some of the littler guys tomorrow, so stay tuned.



Like This Post? Share It

Leave a Reply