I was back in the city once again to attend the this year's second Demo Night, the sixth one overall. I reported earlier this year on Demo night V, which was a great event and I wasn't dissapointed this time around either. Six great games were demoed in the space of 3 hours, and once again Heavy Melody was on hand with the video equipment to cover the event as well. Thanks to them you'll get to see video clips instead of having to read my boring text. Three cheers! The developers behind the six games are all from the New York City area and nearby cities, making it a great showcase event for the NYC IGDA Chapter. Not only are developers showing off their games in development, but they're also revealing a lot of information about the games and their development as well. Kind of a pre-postmortem almost.
Anyways enough of my rambling! Allow me to introduce the host of the evening: Wade Tinney of Large Animal Games
Frontlines: Fuel of War
Coray Seifert, Associate Producer from Kaos Studios, was first up at the podium to demonstrate some of the gameplay of Frontlines. After a few minor technical issues, the game was up and running and looking good too. I'm not much for first person shooters but it looks like this one could be worth my dime. I thought the coolest feature was having gunships and UCAVs on call and when they come in you actually see them flying over the map and dropping their load on the painted target. Nothing beats death from above, in my opinion. Coray also went a little bit into how Kaos develops the cinematics for the game, being that he's one of the people in charge of that process. He spent a little too much time on the gameplay however and had to rush through this segment of the presentation, which I thought was a bit of a shame.
Set in a fictional near future,based upon the headlines of today, Frontlines: Fuel of War brings players into the world's next great war. As society succumbs to a worldwide energy crisis, a new global depression takes hold. Amidst this gritty backdrop, two superpower alliances emerge. Players assume the roles of front line soldiers in 32+ person online multi-player battles, or in an intensely cinematic single-player campaign.
Company: Kaos Studios, THQ Inc.
Release Date: January 8, 2008
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Dev Time (calendar): 2 Years
Team Size (full time): 75+
Team Size (total): 80+
Fun Fact: Kaos has grown 600% in a little over 12 months, including 6 new spouses, 5 new babies, 2 new colonies of office ants, and only one work related injury.
Dave Gilbert, the head designer of Wadjet Eye Games, gave a great presentation of his game. One of the most interesting things about the game is its look. Old-school 8-bit graphics all the way, baby. It really does knock you nostalgic to see the game in action - it's almost impossible not to think of Kings Quest. Dave revealed a lot of interesting information in regards to the way the game evolved from concept to (nearly finished) product. Even cooler, his entire presentation was done within the game engine. Not too shabby.
"Blackwell Unbound" is a supernatural mystery adventure in the tradition of "Gabriel Knight" and "Broken Sword." The year is 1973. The sound of a saxophone drifts over the Roosevelt Island promenade, while a series of accidents plague a midtown construction site. The citizens of Manhattan take no notice of these events, let alone think they are connected. Embittered medium Lauren Blackwell and her spirit guide Joey Mallone are the only ones who believe that there is anything strange going on, and they are the only ones who can stop an enigmatic killer from striking again...
Company: Wadjet Eye Games
Release Date: August 31, 2007 (estimated)
Dev Time (calendar): 4 months
Team Size (full time): 3
Team Size (total): 4
Fun Fact: Cups of coffee consumed during development: 152
Okay so we started with a cutting-edge FPS, fell waaaay back to an old-school adventure - and now we're heading into the realm of... hardware tie-in gaming? I don't know exactly what to label this type of game, but Arkadium's CEO, Kenny Rosenblatt, put on a good show. He handed out two Funkeys, one to each side of the room and told people to pass them on after about 45 seconds - the person who held them at the end of the talk would get to take them home. I was first seat in the first row so I held the one for my side of the room for about all of 10 seconds before passing it on :P It's an interesting idea, collectible figures that let you interact with different areas of the game world. Certainly would push kids to want to collect 'em all, although it's kind of lame they don't really do much other than look cool and plug in to your U.B. to let you play new games. Kids these days...
U.B. Funkeys(TM) is the exciting computer game that transports you to the fun and funky world of Terrapinia - a virtual world and home to the Funkeys(TM). Each new Funkey(TM) that you collect gives you access to a new zone, and new games within. Play each Funkeys(TM) game and earn coins to buy cool new items to customize your Funkeys(TM) crib. Once you have it decked out, upload it to share with your friends and family. But watch out! In this virtual world, Master Lox(TM) and his evil henchmen are lurking about; waiting to steal your coins and stop you. Unlock the Funkeys(TM) Zones....Play the Funkeys(TM) Games....and defeat Master Lox(TM), bringing peace to the Funkeys(TM)!
Company: Arkadium Games
Release Date: July 1, 2007
Dev Time (calendar): 9 months
Team Size (full time): 8
Team Size (total): 16
Budget: Arkadium Game Licenses and Custom Development for Radica Games (Subsidiary of Mattel)
Fun Fact: "U.B. Funkeys" were originally called "Bitty Bytes", however focus group research revealed that the name "Bitty Bytes" sounded to childish to children. Go figure. :)
Okay, now on to the classic remake, in this case the Bungie game that made Mac gaming cool for a time - Marathon. Freeverse got their hands on the license and ran with it, taking the game to XBox Live all dollied up and HD'd. However don't get to thinking that HD means the graphics are all modern and spiffy. Heck no, it just means you get to enjoy Marathon on a huge screen! The Doom-style graphics are still in effect, and the gameplay is similar, with a few additions of course. A good chunk of the dev team was present and they took some Q&A after showing off the game for a bit.
Marathon: Durandal is a remake of Bungie's classic Marathon 2 Xbox Live Arcade. Before there was Halo there was Marathon. Now the entire game has been re-done in HD graphics and revamped for the Xbox 360.
Company: Freeverse, Inc
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: August 1, 2007
Dev Time (calendar): 12 Months
Team Size (full time): 6
Team Size (total): 14
Fun Fact: Marathon: Durandal was awarded IGN's Best of Show 2007 for Best Download-Only Game
Yes indeed, Demo Night excelled at showcasing nothing but uniqueness in its line up, and after the classic remake came a new twist on social gaming. I'd have to say that although Frontlines was my choice for coolest game of the night, Casablanca took the prize for most innovative. It actually reminds me of a game that was released sometime in the 90's that had players interact via email and even phone. Someone's going to have to help me out here (post a comment) but I think the developers mention it in the video as well. Anyways, the developers talked a lot about what went into designing Casablanca and it was all very interesting, so I'm going to shut up now.
Casablanca is the social networking game where your 'enemies' become your friends... Two teams compete for control of the imaginary city of Casablanca. It's a race against time, as the agents of the Occupation try to infiltrate and undermine the growing Resistance networks, while the Resistance work together to identify the spies hidden in their midst. For more, check out http://casablancathegame.com/
Company: Situated Games, LLC
Platform(s): Web, mobile phone
Release Date: August 27, 2007 (limited release)
Dev Time (calendar): 6 Months
Team Size (full time): 0 (none of us are technically full time on this)
Team Size (total): 4
Fun Fact: Ed Purver has twelve toes.
The last game of the night fell into yet another category, this time it was through a partnership with the History Channel to release small multiplayer online games based on the scenarios depicted in their weekly television series Dogfights. This is branded gameplay taken to a new level, where you just don't have a game based on a show, you have a game based on individual episodes of a show. You can imagine the development schedule of keeping up with a weekly TV series, but Kuma has the tech for the job, as they explain.
Dogfights is the History Channel's top show in terms of viewers Season 2 premiered in July. Kuma releases Dogfights game episodes as the shows air on TV. The game is primarily a multiplayer experience but with each multiplayer map we also release a single-player training map.
Release Date: July 6, 2007
Dev Time (calendar): 4 months to date
Team Size (full time): 3
Team Size (total): 6
Budget: not sure
Fun Fact: Flight game built on a 1st person shooter engine (i.e. Source)
Well you certainly couldn't find six more different games if you tried; As usual Demo Night certainly rounded itself out quite nicely. The after-party took place in a bar down the street but as is usually the case with me and loud bars with alcohol I don't drink anyways, I didn't stick around too long - mainly just caught up a bit with people I don't get to see that often. I also didn't mention that Oluseyi came out as well to the event. Perhaps have him include his views on the games presented as well.
Demo Night VII is coming up in roughly six months!