world’s end dance hall

Boston part 2 was the Indie Games Festival and there were some really awesome cool games. Here are my top faves:

Track by WPI

AWESOME game mechanics – played on XBOX, really great game to play. Players are all on the same energy track, each with a different colour. As they pass around the track, they gain more energy/dominate the field to shoot each other. Shooting missiles doesn’t take up energy, but lasers, bombs etc does and high level weapons (giant lasers!) causes the track to break. Pretty fucking fantastic game, especially on multiplayer mode and nice twist cos you have to debate between breaking the track (possibly killing your own resource supply) or shooting giant laser (kill all those bastards) The graphics is nothing special, but because of the game mechanics the simple sci-fic energy look actually adds to the clean feel of the game; one of the few innovative mechanics that really really worked

Lost Marbles by Binary Takeover

3D puzzle platformer where you have to move different marbles across a space (kinda like hardc0re frogger meets 3d tetris) the twist is each ‘marble’ has a different material property i.e. rubber marbles float on water, metal marbles are immune to fire etc etc which creates a lovely material-feel to the game. The graphics are pretty sweet too and the creators’ have a real enthusiasm for their game which is really great cos I’m sick of all of ‘oh Imma gonna make a game cos it’s cool to be a game designer now nyah nyah’ (and there were plenty of those types too)

Jack Lumber by Owlchemy Labs

Not really groundbreaking, but really fun and extremely addictive. Combines elements of Fruit Ninja and Ouenden with a really great absurdist plot (a lumberjack that has a hatred for wood because his grandma was killed by a felled tree) The graphics are pretty damn sweet too!

And probably my favourite game of the day… Robot Rising by Stomp Games!

Seriously this game is fucking EPIC. When I play or look at it, it reminds me of all the elements of the games I used to play as a teenager – which imho, shows that the game designers = labour of love, their baby, they know their shit etc etc — it’s like a cross between Warcraft and DOTA and Tribes and Halo; all very spectacular games and get this – IT’S PLAYED ON FACEBOOK(!) Seriously I couldn’t believe it. And instead of just ‘oh make an awesome game and stick it on fb’ they actually incorporated elements like real-time appointment PvP  ‘get the flag’ battles and leveraged on the social mmorpg gaming aspect. Is it good? nah, it’s FUCKING AWESOME. Get this, I actually stood infront of their screen for 40mins just gawping and playing it. The controls are smooth and neat; I’ll like WASD controls as well with the scroll mouse and clicky would be familar to any DOTA addict, and all in all I’m really excited and I think it would be an awesome release.

Some of the other notable games: Candlelight by Idle Action Studios, amazing graphics and kinda reminds me of Andy/Haitam’s thesis with the ambiguous character/morality and quest-like exploratory puzzle. Conclave by 10×10 room, a web-based D&D quest game really appealing to oldschool RPGers. Negative Nimbus by Cloudkid which is a really cute and delightful kind of casual game, with puffy rainclouds clouds and flowers (probably most polished marketing tbh) and sleeperhit Don’t Blow It by DinoMage which is an interesting game mechanic – uses collaborative/competitive elements and a kind of playing I haven’t really seen often. Anyway, PICS!

Besides that, they were also showing film screenings about videogames – I managed to catch the 2nd half of Ecstasy of Order (about tetris champions) and the 1st half of Boardgames: Going Cardboard about different playing styles and history of boardgames. One of the things that really caught my attention was the gameshop owner in Going Cardboard; to paraphrase:
“Why do game shops still exist when you have online retailers? There’s no real need for them, because online retailers can get them so much cheaper without overheads. The reason is because of communities – maybe you’re just starting out in a game, or you want to buy a present for someone and you don’t know what to buy. Or maybe you’re already a gamer, and want to meet more likeminded people. It’s true that there are many online communities, but you still need a physical place to bring these disparate online communities together who may not know that each other exists less than a mile away”

What he is really bringing at, is the act of browsing. (which is like superduper important in my thesis, now that anon-is-secondary)

Afterwards I met up with N.K who is a student at MIT (compsci) and also one of the people in the online community I participate in. I think is some people suffer from being uncurious, I have the opposite problem of undying curiousity even if it’s dangerous…. and so I randomly meet up with people all the time. Anyway, I asked for a picture of her:

Decided to cover her face for privacy, since she’s still a student and she told me some really disturbing things about it (which further justifies my anti-position imho…)  Anyway we had dinner and talked a lot – like 3++hrs before my train left!!! I think what I like best about being part of something online, is that you can go anywhere in the world and find someone you are comfortable with. I guess it’s a bit like ~secret society~ (once, I heard someone joke that online communities are the new freemasons of the world) but it’s just nice to meet a total stranger-that-is-not, then start talking with comm matters and then get deeper and deeper (soon we weren’t even talking about internet stuff anymore, just asian parents and boyfriends and general friend-friend stuff) and I was like if you’re coming down for maker faire, just send me a msg and you can camp out at my place 😀

Some of the disturbing things she said reminded me of SG, especially the intense pressure + competition part – like she once scored 98 for a weekly test, and when she went back to her dorm her roommate was like: “if only you got a bit more, then you’ll get a perfect score!” and she started to cry D: and other things like being ruthlessly chased for results and perfection, and guilt-tripping the students to stay in MIT (she wanted to transfer out, but she was like: “if I transferred out, I would seem like a loser because [the perception] who would want to leave [a big brand name school] like MIT?” and her closing statement was : “everyone hates themselves here.” and I was pretty horrified.

I mean, the whole reason why I chose to study overseas was to leave that kind of the world behind – where you were constantly scrutinised for results, and any kind of failure (experimental or not) was unacceptable. You had to be perfect – perfect grades, perfect co-curricular activities, excellant track record and happy with peers and all that shit. Mistakes were unacceptable. Thinking outside the box was only okay if it was “innovative” anything else was less than desirable. (unsurprisingly I did badly in school and caused trouble whenever possible)

Anyway the good part of all this is that I’m really really glad I chose to go Parsons. I’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if I went to the other offered places, and I remember when I was still choosing EVERYONE was asking me why why why didn’t I accept MIT instead? why why why not go for the superstylish campus on river, the full works with excellent branding and networking and all that? It was so prestigious and you know – asian parents (my dad, being an engineer was super disappointed. Even now he’s like: “after you graduate you want to re-apply to MIT?” ) And at that time, I really didn’t have a good answer. I couldn’t say ‘school fees’ because it’s free to study on graduate level; and I’m really bad at articulating what I want/why I want it that way under pressure and I was like “well um *shrug*” but I’m really glad instinct paid off because if not I’ll be up there on one of the buildings thinking of ways to jump right into the icy water

Change topic, more Boston (general) pictures!

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One thought on “world’s end dance hall

  1. Hello Rachel!

    Thanks for writing about our game, Robot Rising! We are very glad you enjoy it 🙂
    The game is actually in Open Beta, so you can play it right now!

    On Facebook, just search “Robot Rising” and hit play now.
    Or you can go straight to apps.Facebook.com/RobotRising

    If you’d like to learn more, feel free to go through our website at http://www.RobotRising.com and check out our forums at: http://www.robot-rising.com/forums/forum.php

    Thanks!
    Becky Taylor, Marketing Associate at Stomp Games
    BTaylor@StompGames.com

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