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OGDE 2015 Highlights: Sentinels of The Multiverse (Handelabra Games)

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Ohio Game Developer’s Conference in Columbus, Ohio, and although I was “working”, don’t feel too bad for me.  My “work” , consisted of playing game demos coming out of the indie game dev scene in Ohio.  The variety of games being developed ranged from RPG/Card hybrids to puzzle based games, and for the rest of  November, I’ll be writing about my favorite games played during the conference.  So be sure to check out these upcoming games and show some love to their developers.

 

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Sentinels of The Multi-Verse (Handelabra Games)

Being an avid collector and fan of comic books as a kid, I was immediately drawn to this game on the expo floor of OGDE.  The stylish comic book visuals, the colorful pop-ups, and the ability to play a team of super heroes…what’s not to like?  Fortunately, when I picked up the controller, I was not disappointed.  Sentinels of The Multi-Verse is the tablet version of the cooperative card game of the same name.  For those who have ever played Magic:  The Gathering or Star Wars: The Collectible Card Game, you will be on familiar ground when you play Sentinels.

The comic book theme of the game lends itself perfectly to tablet format as the dialogue and characters literally pop off the screen and come to life.  Combine stylish visuals, fun card game mechanics, and music that evokes the feel of Saturday morning action music, and you’ve got a world that invites you in. As you start the game, you go through a tutorial that guides you through the rules of the card game.  For people who haven’t played card games, or haven’t played in awhile (like myself), this tutorial is not only helpful, but essential.  Fortunately, the tutorial does a good job of explaining the game while keeping the pace active.

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The game mechanics are not hard, but they do take a few turns to become familiar with.  As with most card games, there is a combination luck and skill as the order in which you play cards matter, but of course, the cards you get are random.  However, each hero has a unique set of attributes and abilities that can be called upon to aid in your quest.  In addition, mini-pack expansions have been released to add new sets of cards to the game in order to keep it fresh.  Lover of comics.  Fan of card games?  Be sure to check out Handelabra and Sentinels of The Multi-Verse at:

Sentinels of The Multi-Verse

Handelabra Games

OGDE 2015 Highlights: About To Boom (Hand Cannon Games)

OGDE 2015

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This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Ohio Game Developer’s Conference in Columbus, Ohio, and although I was “working”, don’t feel too bad for me.  My “work” , consisted of playing game demos coming out of the indie game dev scene in Ohio.  The variety of games being developed ranged from RPG/Card hybrids to puzzle based games, and all this week, I’ll be writing about my favorite games played during the conference.  So be sure to check out these upcoming games and show some love to their developers.

AboutToBoom

About To Boom (Hand Cannon Games)

First up is the multi-player shooter “About To Boom” from Hand Cannon games.  The concept is simple.   Defend the sun against all enemies.  This at first seems simple as you are armed with 3 types of weapons, and with up to 3 other people joining you, you feel like you have everything under control.  Slowly but surely though, the screen begins to be flooded with enemies until the inevitable happens…the sun explodes.

However, make no mistake.  There is no stopping the invasion, there is only hanging on as long as possible in order to get the highest score possible.  What is most memorable about this game is those “O #$%#!” moments when you realize how massive the enemy force has become.  With the massive wave of enemies, the unique variety of attacks, and your fellow teammates, the action on screen gets tense quickly.

 

What’s also cool is where the dev team plans to take things.  On the demo itself, there were only a few weapons active, but many more weapons are being planned for the final version, including weapon customization options.

Be sure to vote for them on Steam Greenlight and check them out at the links below for more info.

Hand Cannon Games Website

Twitter

Steam Greenlight

 

 

 

Gaming Conventions for Winter 2015

When the cold nights draw in and winter grasps hold, what better to do than stay inside and design games? There are a multitude of gaming conventions and game conferences all year round that offer great opportunities to show off your game design skills, test and improve your coding against others, or get your game demo exposed to thousands of potential fans.

The global game jam is soon to be upon us again in January, and over the coming weeks we’ll take a look at how you can prepare for the event. Until then, there are a lot of gaming conventions around the world this winter that promise some rewarding experiences.

Eurogamer Expo

Eurogamer hosts their expo at the NEC Birmingham in the U.K. The Rezzed zone is a must see for indie developers looking to network or demo their game. The chance to meet and chat with other artists, programmers and game designers is worth the visit. The event takes place at the end of September, with the eSports ranked tournament offering a $100k prize pot. The Career fair is a lucrative event that might just get your foot in the door as a game developer. Yoggscast will also be attending and hosting a merchandise booth and signing session.

 

Tickets for the 3 day gaming convention range from £17.50 to £20 and can be bought on the website at http://www.egx.net

VGU Con

The Video Gamers United Convention is a two day even on the 3rd and 4th October. Tickets cost $25 per day (around £15) and VIP entry is $110 (£68). A two day ticket costs $40.

Exhibitors can register on http://www.vgu-con.com to reserve their booth. GameStop, E.A, and Alienware are sponsoring this year’s video game convention. In attendance this year are Microsoft, Bethesda, and the W.I.G.I.

The VGU convention in Washington D.C is a great gaming event for aspiring game developers. It has a ton of panels on career paths, where companies like Bethesda are hiring talented individuals. There’s also a noteworthy Music in video games panel this year, with a discussion on getting your music licensed for video games.

The Retro gaming zone offers yet more events, and the chance to play big brand games, as well as indie demo games. Workshops will feature hands on game design, game building, minecraft modding, virtual reality, and surface gaming. This is one convention you just should not miss.

 

Play Expo

The Play Expo runs October 10th and October 11th in Manchester, United Kingdom. This is a virtual treasure mine for indie game developers as Play Expo is dedicated to offering prime location exhibitor stands to indie artists at low cost. This offers an immensely valuable opportunity for indie game designers to get their demo game shown to thousands of visitors. Developers can apply directly on the website for an exhibit booth. The weekend is packed full of events, with celebrity signing sessions, eSport tournaments, cosplay competitions, guest speakers, retro gaming, pinball, minecraft zone, and tons more.

One of the most exciting features of Play Expo is the education fair, where you can learn more about game design and speak with industry professionals, game studios, and colleges in their sponsored hands-on workshops. Tickets are available at http://www.Playexpo.net and cost from £16 a day for adults, or £26 for both days. A family ticket is £42 for 2 adults and 2 children.

PAX Australia

Penny Arcade Expo also runs an event down under on October 30th in Melbourne Australia. Penny Arcade is perhaps one of the most popular gaming conventions and draws in the largest crowd of gamers, fans, designers, coders and developers from around the world.

Event attendee tickets start at $60, and a three day pass costs $160. Booth exhibits can be registered at www.paxaustralia.com.au but you should act fast because this major event fills up quick. PAX events, if you’re not familiar with Penny Arcade are literally jam packed weekends filled with an immense choice of panels, keynote speeches, and live gaming streams. A wealth of game studios, developers and designers share their knowledge and demonstrate game design as well as showcase indie game releases and major AAA games. Developers can learn a lot from panels and workshops running all weekend. The most rewarding opportunity at PAX is making contacts and getting your soundtrack or game shown to millions of attendees.

Ohio Game Developer Conference

This event covers every aspect of game design and development. From graphics and soundtrack design, to porting and marketing games. The Ohio Game developer expo begins on November 6th. Interested designers who want to get their game noticed can register an exhibit at https://www.ohiogamedevexpo.com/

A standard booth is $200 and a large booth costs $450. Smaller exhibit space ideal for indie developers is available in the form of the Independent tabletop at $20.

The event is home to a massive range of over 50 exhibitors, including Extra life, the charity foundation. Gary Butterfield, musician, gamer and podcaster at www.duckfeed.tv is speaking at this year’s event. Also in attendance and speaking is renowned eSports event host Jess Brohard. Event tickets start at $15 rising to $75. Indie game developers will be very interested in the audio panel mentorship, and voice acting panel at this year’s event. There are also workshops and audio competitions serving up the chance to get your music licensed and included in game releases.

Dreamhack

Dreamhack is an amazing gaming convention experience to behold. The event is held in Jönköping, Sweden from 26th to 29th November. The winter hack this year offers great esport tournaments in Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. There’s live music, and a cosplay contest. The atmosphere at Dreamhack is just surreal, with thousands of gamers joining the huge Lan party to game and compete professionally, just for fun, and for prize pots. $40,000 is up for grabs but the competition will be fierce. Be sure to watch the streams live online if you can’t make this event.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.dreamhack.se or at the event on the day. A table seat will cost 989 SEK, roughly £77 or $115. An event pass is available at 600 SEK, and a competitor pass also at 600 SEK (approximately £46 or $70).

Paris Games Week

Paris Games Week serves up aspiring game developers a unique jobs fair with its own internship forum that can land successful game designers a job offer on the spot. The event starts on 12th November, and there is a focus on French artists and games developed locally in France. The eSport World Cup is probably the biggest event of the week that draws in thousands of gamers to downtown Paris. Developers in the U.K or Europe should consider a jaunt over to Paris Games Week for the chance to network with professional game developers and visit some of the 300 exhibitors. Tickets start at €11 and can be booked in advance on the website.

 

That fills out the roundup for the winter season of gaming conventions and conferences in 2015. Which event will you be attending? We’ll take a look at more upcoming events in January 2016.

PGH Meetup Game Jam

This weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in a local game jam held at the soon-to-be-open space, Looking For Group PGH. Even before walking into the space, I knew something special was brewing as a group of neighborhood kids huddled outside the space looking to get a glimpse of what was going on inside.   As they saw me walk in to the space, one of them said “You are so lucky that you get to go in there!”. They were absolutely right.

Location

The setup is a unique twist on a growing trend. Half of the space is a dedicated co-working area complete with a few tables, comfortable chairs, and other office amenities. However, what makes this place truly special is its dedicated gaming space. Each side of the gaming area is flanked with rows of gaming computers while the middle of the room hosts various flat screens hooked up to the latest console systems. Furthermore, newly arrived sofas and some slick-looking chairs are provided for furniture. It’s an incredible space. As we jammed throughout the weekend, you could see various people having a great time lounging on the sofas and playing Mario Maker on the flat screen.

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The Jam

Compared to the Global Game Jam, which I attended earlier this year, this game jam was much smaller (comprising about 10 or so people), but much more intimate.  It was started casually when one of the Meetup PGH Game Makers members proposed the idea of a game jam.  The owner of the space replied back offering up use of the space and just like that….it was on. It was a great group of guys from the Meetup PGH Game Makers group that were all on the same page about one thing, we just wanted to make a game. Being the only music/sound person in the room, I had the pleasure of actually being a part of both projects that were made that weekend.

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The Games

The theme of the weekend was KISS…Keep It Simple Stupid which was a great theme considering that we had only 48hrs to produce a game. One project was a fighting game with a twist. Simple button presses delivered special moves. For example, pressing X on the controller delivered a laser eye beam (a la Cyclops). However, button mashing or doing complex combinations resulted in a simple punch or kick. The intent was to flip the fighting genre on its head as it rewarded the player for simplicity over complexity.

The other game was a space game where you had to maneuver through rings in outer space while avoiding objects and the pull of gravity from nearby planets. The star of this game was a stalker asteroid that would follow your ship if you got too close to it.

The Verdict

All in all, the event was fantastic and brought together people from a variety of disciplines. In the end, everyone got together to make the games happen. Even though the place was still be worked on, we were all more than comfortable in the space. Furthermore, situated within walking distance from the space were a few restaurants such as Las Palmas and Pita Land. Perhaps the most inspiring and unique part about the space is that it is much more dedicated to the culture of game development as opposed to just playing games. Talking with the owners, the plan is not only to offer a space for gaming, but to do classes on how to make games, setup LAN servers, and much more.   You get the sense that this place is looking to be a real home to Pittsburgh’s development community and a breeding ground for the next generation of indie developers. Awesome.

For all Pittsburgh game devs, be sure to check out the PGH Game Makers group.  And definitely check out Looking For Group PGH and support their Kickstarter campaign. I know this will become an icon in the Pittsburgh Dev scene, as well as becoming my second home! I’ve found my group!

Frank

Launch Day

It’s launch day at Jam Sonic and we are pleased to introduce our brand new website. Take a look at our services, approach, games, and stay tuned as we will be making some big announcements in the near future. Also, be sure to check back soon as we will be publishing articles designed to help game developers get the best quality audio and music for their games.

Jam Sonic