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IGDA Demo Night VII

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So tonight was the seventh bi-annual Demo Night. I've done previous coverage of Demo Night here on GDNet, you can find my coverage of Demo Night VI here and my coverage of Demo Night V here. Before Demo Night V I had been a participant in the original Demo Night, which went down at the Large Animal Games' offices in midtown Manhattan. It was back in 2001/2002 thereabouts because I, along with my fellow team members, demoed Galaxy Conquest.

Tonight's presentations were pretty interesting. The first was a mobile version of "Assassins" - that game where you have the name of a person to kill and you have to shoot them with a water pistol (at least, that's how my friends and I played it) before someone gets you. You kill someone and you pick up their mission to kill someone else. Okay so the mobile version is slightly different, you just have to remain within 30 feet of your target for 2 minutes to score - you track them using your phone and GPS, various actions reveal you to your prey and vice-versa. Seemed interesting but the presentation was more of a demo pitch to players/publishers than developers.

Gamelab and Large Animal though got their presentations right, however they've presented many games at Demo Night in the past so they know what it's all about. They both put up plenty of information into the development process behind their respective fashion-themed games, showing off asset work and early gameplay versions - Large Animal even displayed a shot of a bulletin board chock full of notes representing items that didn't make it into the final game version.

There was also a presentation about procedural character animation. The demo showcased various stages of the process in developing the system (still undergoing development), from a simple block with extruded "legs" strutting around the screen in various manners (hot foot, hopping, etc) to a skeletal figure with kinetic movements. Eventually the hope is to be able to "direct" digital actors within a game - so instead of animating the entire cut scene, the designer creates a script that tells the character when to be "happy" or "sad" or "angry", etc. Is "procedural" the new buzz word? If it ain't yet it's soon to be that's for sure.

Finally, one local studio showcased The Princess Bride game, which is obviously a licensed title based on the movie (which was based on the book). I don't know if a computer game has been made for the movie before this, but I can't believe it's taken this long to get one out to the mainstream casual downloadable market. I mean, it's a sure hit in that space, with the majority of users being older and well-accustomed to the movie - heck at least 99% of people in the room, when polled by show of hands, had seen the movie (including myself, of course. I love it). It was crazy-well done using Flash, with animations and voice-acting that immediately immersed me in characters/environment. Kris Schlacter also stepped up to the podium to give a little tech overview of the fluid "physics" used to animate the cauldron in Mad Max's potion mixing lab. For Flash, it looked really cool.

To get a look at what the event was like, I created a Facebook photo album. Yes, you can see it without having a Facebook account so follow the link if you so desire. As usual, I've teamed up with the guys from Heavy Melody, who video taped the event and will be posting the coverage on YouTube, which I will then embed in my own coverage to be posted here the week after GDC.

On a final note, a funny coincidence happened as well. During one of the demos I suddenly happened upon a gameplay tweak for Galaxy Conquest that would hopefully solve one of the game's major gameplay issues - pretty much the only one that's always kept me from releasing it. I jotted the idea down in my iTouch, but then later on someone from Kaos Studios came up to and introduced himself - turns out he had play-tested a build of GC ages ago that was slipped to him by my musician. Although he found it fun to play, one of the issues he had with the game was the very issue I had just (maybe) thought up a solution to. Anywhoo I found that interesting.

K that's all from me. I probably won't report back in here until GDC in (my god) just a few days. You know, to keep my sanity intact. Maybe.

Wish me luck.
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