IndieCade wasn’t all fun and games (okay, maybe it was); there was also people getting work done. Tucked away in the corner, next to the collection of honoree games, was a major player in the video game industry attempting to help some indie game developers get some much-needed exposure. Sony, one of the IndieCade East sponsors, was hosting a three-day long GameJam that leveraged their PlayStaion Mobile platform. The twelve teams that participated were competing to take their creations to GDC, and hopefully win a spot at Sony’s booth at E3.
This GameJam was an opportunity for Sony to help get the word out about their newest gaming platform (no, not that one), which has been around in one form or another since late 2011. Formerly referred to as the PlayStation Suite, PlayStation Mobile games are designed to run on any PlayStation Certified device, which includes up to thirty different phones, as well as the PlayStation Vita. While developing for that many different platforms can be a challenge, the experience has been standardized to a degree, offering onscreen controls, and making use of the analog sticks on the Vita as well as the face buttons on the Xperia Play phone. Since the platform officially launched five months ago, Sony and its developers have released over fifty games that are compatible with every device that supports PlayStation Mobile.
The GameJam teams were slated to work on their games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but were allowed some prep time in advance to familiarize themselves with the PlayStation Mobile platform. In addition, Sony had dev support engineers on hand to help the teams overcome any of their issues, helping to wade through the waters of what can be the less glamorous side of the development process. Once completed, the teams presented their creations at the final panel of the festival, which is when the winners were revealed. The result of the teams’ hard work was clear in the four finalists that were chosen to bring their games to GDC:
Team Name: Crystallon
Game: “Crystallon” is a match-three puzzle game about exponentially increasing geometry.
Team Name: Golden Ruby Games
Game: In ”Hermit Crab in Space” you play as a hermit crab…suddenly transported to space. As with any vulnerable crustacean, the crab has little to protect itself from the harsh, cold realities of dark space: enemy ships & asteroids mean certain doom for our hermit crab hero. Luckily, the crab is quickly given a gun: using the salvaged parts of the enemies, the player slowly builds his ship for protection. Only by evolving his ship is our clawed hero going to get home.
Team Name: Team Snakessss.
Game: “CRUMBLE,” which is a highly conceptual puzzle adventure inspired by classic arcade play simplicity of games like “Helicopter” and “Doodle Jump.” But there’s a twist! Your avatar, a block-like cell, changes shape as it brushes against walls and obstacles. And that’s good, because you must refine your shape in order to meander through narrow passages. In one gameplay mode, the end goal is to match the block’s shape to a receiving pad at the end, which requires simultaneous attention to moving through the level and awareness of shape. In a second gameplay mode, users navigate through adventure levels, using the block’s falling rubble to grow shooting flowers in order to break through walls and hopefully, beat the level.
Team Name: backpedal games
Game: “don’t wake the bear” is a multi-player game played on a single Vita. Similar to “Hot Potato” the object is to pass the Vita back and forth between players (gently) so you don’t wake the sleeping bear. To add to the challenge of passing the Vita back and forth, players can add objects to the bear’s slumber chamber to make it more difficult for the next player who takes possession of the Vita, such as an alarm clock that could go off at any time and wake the bear. And player can also counter those moves by stuffing cotton in the bear’s ears or injecting the bear with a tranquilizer.
These four teams now have about a month to polish their game before heading to San Francisco. There’s clearly some potential behind these games and hopefully we’ll see more from these teams in the future. While IndieCade showcased some of the best completed indie games on the scene, the 38 developers that we on site for the entire weekend helped demonstrate the dedication of the people that actually make these games. Keep an eye out for the final round of judging from GDC to see which of these games will get to set up shop at Sony’s booth at E3.