This year's Demo Night was held at the New York University's Woolworth Building facility in New York City, on Tuesday the 20th of February 2007. Demo Nights have been an annual (and sometimes bi-annual) tradition first started back in August of 2004 by the New York and New Jersey IGDA chapters. The idea behind Demo Night is to give local developers the opportunity to come out and showcase their games for other developers, both to give others insight into game development and to receive feedback on their titles. I was involved with the first Demo Night, which was held at the Large Animal Games office in New York City. In fact I presented my (still unfinished, I can admit) game Galaxy Conquest with my fellow developers Coray Seifert and Rasion Varner. Since then however scheduling conflicts have prevented me from attending again until this year's event.
Wade Tinney's opening remarks (with a small cameo by me)
The night was kicked off by Wade Tinney, one of the founders of Large Animal Games and chief organizer of the event. Thanks went out to Atari as the main event sponsor, and in addition to Large Animal there was Gamelab and of course NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies listed as IGDA New York chapter sponsors. Video recording of the event was handled by Heavy Melody. In addition, the event was staffed by several volunteers: Dylan Tredrea, Jorge Diaz, Luca Fusi, Kode A.C., Julia Detar and Dave Gilbert. While I took some of my own photos, additional photos of the event were provided by Luis Garcia
The first demo of the night was a Nintendo DS game developed by Powerhead Games for Ubisoft. Jason gave a lively presentation and mixed things up a bit (a la Will Wright's keynote at GDC last year) by tossing in a few slides of his photography along with talking about the game itself. As for the game, Jason goes into a lot of detail regarding the design decisions they made while porting the game over to the DS, research that went into developing cute kittens, and taking advantage of what the platform offered them (voice input, touch screen, network-ability, dual screen). He caps it all off with a Japanese commercial for the game, cute voice-over and all. Classic.
Your local animal Adoption Center has many kittens in need of a loving home. Once you take a kitten home, keep her/him happy and healthy with good food and fun toys.
- Have fun caring for adorable kittens! Your faithful feline loves hearing her name and being petted
- Earn "coinz" and use them to dress up your kitten with cute accessories
- Take cute pictures and share them with with your friends via wireless DS mutli-card play
- Cat-sit for your neighbors and you'll earn kitty cardz that expand your knowledge of our feline friends!
Company: Powerhead Games
Release Date: Holiday 2006
Platform: Nintendo DS
Dev Time (calendar): 7 months
Team Size (full time): Around 10
Team Size (total): Around 10
Fun Fact: All catz purr between 25hz to 150hz
Out of Your Mind
This new game coming from Gamelab carries with it the company's known brand of unique and innovative gameplay. Gamelab is also the studio that creates and manages the real-life MMO games that run during the Game Developers Conference. Well-known designer Eric Zimmerman took the podium first to talk about the game and describe the gameplay, which took a fair amount of in-game examples to properly showcase. Next Charles Wheeler stepped forward to cover more of the background regarding the game's actual development, showing various images of the game as it went through several phases before they were satisfied with the current gameplay. Then the whole team came up to the front of the room for Q&A
Out of Your Mind takes place in the Blissful Brain Holistic Luxury Spa, where the player gives guests mental flossing treatments to remove Nega-Tics - the nasty little creatures that live in our brains and cause bad behavior. Out of Your Mind is a bizarre and humorous game featuring innovative gameplay, animated cut-scenes, and more than 70 unique levels. Created as a co-production with the NYC-based animation studio Curious Pictures.
Release Date: March 2007
Platform: PC Download
Dev Time (calendar): Nine Months
Team Size (full time): 3
Team Size (total): 8
Budget: Low 6 figures
Fun Fact: Required more than a dozen gameplay prototypes to figure out the core mechanic
Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island
This latest offering from Large Animal Games is targeted towards a unique audience - bird watchers. In talking about the game, Wade mentions researching online for popular hobbies and coming across bird watching quite often. This lead them to prototyping a game. After realizing that the idea did indeed have some potential, Snapshot Adventures (original working title) evolved into Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island. The highlight of this game is the creative use of Torque Game Builder's 3D model object capability. Although TGB is a 2D engine, it's built off the Torque Game Engine and can thus render, to some extent, 3D DTS models. Large Animal took advantage of this by creating a generic bird model they could then morph and texture to create hundreds of real-life birds in their game and still keep the game size small enough for a download-able release. They took this even further by creating a Bird Editor and a completely extensible region of the game where players can upload their bird creations to share with others. Also, some slick game editors for the development team were showcased as well.
Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island is a bird photography game in which the player travels across the country, unraveling the mystery of their grandfather's disappearance months earlier. The player travels from town to town, meeting with the grandfather's birdwatching friends and colleagues. These characters send the player into the field with bird photography challenges and evaluate the photos they bring back.
Company: Large Animal Games
Release Date: April 2007
Platform: PC Downloadable
Dev Time (calendar): 11 months
Dev Time (man months): 55 months
Team Size (full time): 5
Team Size (total): 10
Budget: approx. 200k
Fun Fact: The Tufted Titmouse lines it's nest with soft materials, sometimes plucking hair from a live animal such as a dog.
This tactical sneak game was developed in Flash, which isn't readily apparent when viewing this demo. Peter did an admirable job describing the gameplay and the Flash tech behind the game while trying not to get into a fight with any bad guys wandering around the map. At times he was forced to fight rather than focus on speaking but it was all still very entertaining. It's great to see how complex Flash games are getting this days. Remember when all it did was make your website look pretty?
In 9th-century America, dragon-powered ships vomit a force of blood-soaked killers onto the shore. They are Vikings, bent on slavery and destruction. Numbed by the loss of his tribe and driven to vengeance, Ghost sets out to confront the invaders with only the spirits of his ancestors to guide him. But what hope can wisdom bring against the invincible technology called Steel?
GHOST WARRIOR is a 3rd-person, 2D isometric real-time combat sneaker for the PC, featuring advanced enemy AI, gripping action, rich graphics, and an original score. It was developed to promote PATHFINDER, the upcoming 20th Century Fox feature film. Download it for free at http://www.ghostwarriorgame.com!
Company: Templar Studios LLC
Release Date: March 1, 2007
Dev Time (calendar): 1 year
Dev Time (man months): 4 months
Team Size (full time): 5
Team Size (total): 7
Budget: Less than the sum of its parts!
Fun Fact: In eight years, Templar's first game featuring medieval human butchery!
Reno 911 Paintball / Web Browser 3D Engine
Poor Kris, I can feel his pain. He asked me not to mention this but I do, only because I can relate. As I mentioned earlier, back in 2004 at the original Demo Night I showed off Galaxy Conquest with my co-developers. Well, it didn't really go quite as planned. I arrived early at Large Animal to work on some last-minute stuff (and this was actually the first time I met Kris!) and I ended up breaking... something? I have no clue. All I know is that the game wouldn't run any faster than like 4fps when placed in fullscreen and viewed on the projector. So my buddies Coray and Raison are stumbling trying to explain the gameplay, which really needed some in-game examples like Eric's Out of Your Mind for people to fully grasp. Needless to say I was in the hot seat and it didn't feel very good (especially in my stomach). Kris had his turn in the hot seat this year, having some trouble first getting his laptop to display anything on the projector, and then the game would crash both IE and Firefox. But he made the awesome comeback by throwing up his slides and carrying on. The cool thing about this game is the 3D engine it's built off of, which is only 400Kb. Kris went into a lot of detail describing how he developed the technology, from the requirements, to why he couldn't go with existing code, to problems and solutions. Oh and he did get the game running later, cause he's a ninja coder after all. So we can both laugh about this, Kris.
The game is ultra simple. Using a paintball gun, shoot the Reno 911 characters and collect the flags on each of the 7 levels. Avoid the robotic targets. The game was an excuse to develop a custom 3D engine that we would enhance with each game that we used it for. Eventually it will be a multiplayer engine. The game is a shockwave plugin that is a custom 3D engine written from scratch in C++/DirectX 8.0.
Company: MTV Networks
Platform(s): PC-Shockwave player plugin
Release Date: March 2007
Dev Time (calendar): 8 Months
Dev Time (man months): 8 Months
Team Size (full time): 1
Team Size (total): 2 - 1 fulltime programmer & 1 part-time artist
Fun Fact: The game engine itself is only 400KB
It was great to once again be out among fellow developers and seeing all the great games coming out of studios in the area. New York City is quickly becoming a new hot-spot for game development, and of course the local studios would love to see it become the next mecca for developers. While that's still obviously quite a ways off, events like these greatly enhance the overall community by drawing together so many developers from various studios to chat and network and share ideas. It's for that reason that it was unfortunate so many of the people who attended that night couldn't stick around for the after-party.
Looking forward to Demo Night VI, maybe being held in Q3 of this year!