iFEST Melbourne 2015

For those of you that aren’t aware, Melbourne’s indie game scene is positively thriving – with numerous events held year round you can readily find enthusiastic developers exhibiting their work. One such event is iFEST (Independent Games Festival), now held in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Seattle and Lafayette each year. iFEST is an event at which local developers have a chance to show off their games and interactive projects in various stages of completion, completely free of charge in a public space. Along with a large number of games to play there are panels with guest speakers covering a range of topics, useful for those involved in the indie game dev scene. This years Melbourne iFEST was held on Sunday 29th of March at the Atrium (next to ACMI) in Federation Square, with 24 exhibitors showing off their latest creations. Unfortunately due to a crazy schedule and busy booths, I only managed to visit 13 tables and chat with the exhibitors but, from what I saw, the talent and quality of games being produced in Melbourne this year is not something to bat an eyelid at.

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FLIP STICKPost-iFEST-FlipStick

Developer: TR Games, Mountain Top Games
Platform: iOS, Android
Engine: Unity 5
Release Date: 15/04/2015

Flip stick is a fun little ‘time waster’ in which the player quite literally flips a stick. By pressing the left or right rotation arrows and causing the stick to spin left or right accordingly, the player must complete a full 360 degree rotation to score. A rotation must be completed without touching the stick to the ground, as this will result in the player restarting the counter and losing their progress.

Speaking to Tyler – the Company Director/ Designer – I got a great sense of passion coming from the team about what they were doing and for the Melbourne game dev scene in general. TR Games are definitely a bunch to keep your eye on in the near future, with a number of titles in the works, scheduled for release during 2015.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the TR Games website, the TR Games Facebook page or at the Mountain Top Games website.


MUNCH ELITESPost-iFEST-MunchElites

Developer: Broken Spear
Platform: iOS, Android
Engine: Unity
Release Date: April 2015

Broken Spear is comprised of a group of passionate and recent graduates from the Academy of Interactive Entertainment’s Incubator program. The Incubator program aims to aid students in starting a game business, something which I feel should be an optional part of every game design related university experience. I took a look at a soon to be released title titled Munch Elites, a game in which assorted healthy and unhealthy food items slide into the screen, which players must bin (unhealthy food), or feed to the Football player (healthy food). The art style is very polished and for a recent graduate project, quite impressive. The team is working for the MCG Melbourne Cricket Ground museum, where Munch Elites will be available for play in early April.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


HELP I’M HAUNTEDPost-iFEST-HelpImHaunted

Developer: Sky Pirate Studios
Platform:iOS
Engine:Unity 5
Release Date:TBA

Help I’m Haunted is an 8 bit adventure/ platformer in a similar vein to games such as Castlevania, with all the charm of the Ghost Busters films. The two Sky Pirates are working remotely, however both are based in Melbourne while they chip away at a number of projects with Help I’m Haunted being their main focus. The game is currently running on iOS while nearing the end of development. The player will find themselves exploring the creepy world full of gross ghosts, slimed up goober throwing monsters and Harry hating witches.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website.


MASCOT RUGBY LEAGUEPost-iFEST-MascotRugbyLeague

Developer: Early Worm
Platform:iOS/ Android
Engine:Unity
Release Date:Early April

Mascot Rugby League, made by Early Worm – another AIE Incubator program created project – is a simple, well scoped game in which players jump over or charge through opposing players as they run towards the player controlled Rugby League Mascot. This project will also be on display at the Melbourne Cricket Ground Museum from early April.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website.


ABLOCKALYPSEPost-iFEST-Ablockalypse

Developer: Dime Studios
Engine: Unity 5
Release Date: 15/04/2015

Ablockalypse was a Gobal Game Jam project that was voted runner up in the iFest end of day voting – and for good reason. I had a great time in my brief experience with the game as I worked with Dan (Creative Director of Dime Studios) to build up Tetris shaped blocks in to towers which we then climbed to escape the rising lava. As the game ramped up in difficulty the ‘Ablockalypse’ entered full swing, with meteorites falling from the sky threatening to cave our heads in and the lava rising ever faster. This made for an exciting and ridiculous experience I’d love to play again.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


PUZZLE WIZPost-iFEST-PuzzleWiz

Developer: Sculptured Entertainment/ Wicked Witch
Engine: Wicked Witch Proprietary Engine
Release Date: Soft launch in Australia in May

Puzzle Wiz is a really nice little adventure game in which the player moves a wizard around a tiled environment, casting spells and converting groups of 3+ tiles to the same colour in order to pick up coins and increase the score. It’s reminiscent of Candy Crush, but much more engaging. I spoke to the Executive Producer James Halprin, a veteran game developer working out of Melbourne. He mentioned that Puzzle Wiz, created in association with Wicked Witch (also present at iFest) will be soft launching within the Australia region in around one months time.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website. 


WARHAMMER: SNOTTLING FLING / CATAPULT KINGPost-iFEST-SnottlingFling

Developer: Wicked Witch
Platforms: iOS, Android
Engine: Wicked Witch Proprietary Engine
Release Date: Available Now

Wicked Witch had two games on show at iFest alongside Puzzle Wiz (Sculptured Entertainment). These were Warhammer: Snotling Fling and Catapult King. Catapult King has been around a fair while, but with many updates since release, this physics based destruction fest is still as relevant as ever, bringing joy to all who embark on the adventure of catapult based destruction. Warhammer: Snotling Fling is a Games Workshop licensed title that effectively is clever re-skin of Catapult King. Re-skinnings get tend to get a bad rap these days, but when handled this well, I feel that a fresh face and the Games Workshop license can only be a good thing for consumers and the studio.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


TO BE OR NOT TO BEPost-iFEST-ToBeOrNotToBe

Developer: Tinman Games
Engine: N/A
Release Date: Available Now

Tinman Games are prolific for their ‘Gamebook Adventures’, which, as the name might suggest, are digital narrative experiences with a ‘gamified’ element that allow the player to select their own path through the experience and  influence the world. I played To Be or Not To Be one of Tinman’s newer titles, written by author Ryan North based on the words of William Shakespeare. As this type of experience requires a significant amount of concentration and time, I feel I didn’t get as best of a representation of how it would be as a reader/ player as I could in the loud atrium. However, from what little I did see, I was really impressed, these types of games appeal to me greatly as a huge fan of novels and any attempt to integrate interactivity in the traditional book experience. Tinman have a huge catalogue of similar titles and I highly recommend you take a look at their website for further information.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


COLLATERALPost-iFEST-Collateral

Developer: Dancing Dinosaur Games
Platform:  PC
Engine: Unreal 3
Release Date: Available Now (Steam)

Collateral, having recently finished a successful Kickstarter project is well on the way to a final product. The game is available now for download via Steam with regular content updates. From the short time I had playing it and speaking to one of the developers, it appears you play as a futuristic cyberpunk taxi driver ‘Zack Edgewater’ as he is caught between eight warring factions, bloodthirsty customers and the corrupt corporations that run the city of ‘New Bedlam’. The aim of the game is to gain enough favour from one of the factions in order to access special pass codes that allow you to leave the city. As you undertake missions for the factions, you are able to equip your cab with weapons and upgrades, making you ever more effective and bringing you a step closer to leaving the hellhole city.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


ADVERSARIAL MANIFESTOPost-iFEST-AdversarialManifesto

Developers: Frazer Burrows, Andrew Maxwell, Matthew Korda, Scott Aquilina
Engine: Unity
Release Date: Available Now

Adversarial Manifesto was by far my personal favourite game of the day. With a quirky and ridiculous concept and the gameplay to match, this party game would be a roar with a few drinks down the pipe. As it goes, the players control an on screen avatar that must attempt to form the most profound and ‘hipsterish’ statements possible from a given list of words as the scroll down the screen edge. The trouble is, without throwing the selected word at the opposing players character and knocking them down, you can’t add the word to the sentence you are crafting. Players must also run around the screen, competing for verbs which allow them to connect the crazy array of half baked philosophical drivel. Once you’re done with your sentence, you submit it for review by throwing exclamation points at the other player and an adjudicator will rate it on a scale of 1-10. The player with the highest score at the end will win.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


DESYNCPost-iFEST-Desync

Developer: The Foregone Syndicate
Platform: PC (Steam)
Engine: Unity
Release Date: TBA

Desync is an intense single-player first person action game that drives dangerous and creative play. With unpredictable enemies, awesome attack combo’s and sweet digital weaponry I couldn’t look away from this game. Forged by The Foregone Syndicate over the last year, Desync is currently in pre-alpha nearing full alpha stage. Making waves online in its successful Steam Greenlight campaign and with regular developer diaries and frequent public discussion, Desync is certainly a hot title to keep your eyes on during 2015.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website.


GRIM BALANCEPost-iFEST-GrimBalance

Developer: Little Reaper Games
Engine: N/A
Release Date: End of 2015

Grim Balance is a charming little platforming game, with a similar feel to Little Big Planet. The player explores the game as Ollie the Reaper, acting as the real Grim Reapers little assistant while he is on holiday. Unfortunately Ollie knocks a jar full of souls and must collect them back up before Death returns, or else face his wrath and lose his job. I was quite impressed with what I saw from the Little Reaper team, especially for a bunch of fresh faced developers. They are clearly going places in the future. The gameplay felt familiar and was very easy to pick up. I felt compelled to try over and over to beat the final boss of the section I played, which can only be a good sign if the rest of the experience is similar.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.


SPACE DUST RACERSPost-iFEST-SpacedustRacers

Developer: Space Dust Studios
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Engine: Unreal 4
Release Date: Early Access (Steam) Septemeber 2015, January 2016 (Console)

Created by 5 ex AAA developers in Melbourne, Space Dust Racers played and felt exactly how I expected it would coming from a group of industry veterans. It’s highly polished aesthetic (using the lighting system and physically based materials of Unreal 4) plus good old-fashioned competitive and fun game play made for a great multiplayer experience. Clearly the most professional looking game of the bunch, Space Dust Racers ended up taking home first place in the day of voting at this years iFest. There is certainly a huge audience for a game like Space Dust Racers, as it takes great inspiration from old school racing titles like Crash Team Racing and Mashed, making for great party game entertainment.

Would you like to know more? Additional information can be viewed at the website or on their Facebook page.

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Jair is a running, climbing, jumping, video game making ginger roustabout. People tend to yell "Oh jeez, Fentooooon" as he walks by. Youtube will explain that one.

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