This past weekend I headed up to Seattle for the Washington Interactive Network’s Power of Play event. Power of Play embodies a sense of community. There were three main elements during the event that tied together nicely. A single track set of talks from indie devs like Amy Dallas of ClutchPlay and Yulia Vakhrusheva from Tiny Build and some of the big companies like Valve, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. The Indie Expo, with around 70 exhibitors was nearly double the size of last year and showcased some great games. And the Seattle Indie Game Competition (SIGC), sponsored by Intel, that I had the pleasure of emceeing. The common feeling throughout the day was excitement about creating something new and unique, and sharing knowledge to uplift the community.
SIGC received many submissions from all over, and for the first time, one from Singapore. The Washington Interactive Network added a Youth Division to grow and support the pool of game devs at the high school level. Each of the five finalists in the Main Division and the two finalists in the Youth Division gave a seven minute presentation to the judges and audience, with three minutes for questions from the judges (and audience as time allowed).
The finalists were:
Elliot Quest by PlayEveryWare – a unique open-world story-based adventure. It takes inspiration from the art style in Legend of Zelda and has unique endings based on the choices you make as you play through the game.
Lascaux The Journey by Fat Pony Games – a strategy game reminiscent of Oregon Trail but based on the struggles of a small tribe trying to get to the Lascaux caves in France some 20,000 years ago. The art style has a unique cave-painting feel to it.
Mekazoo by Good Mood Creators – a team of DigiPen graduates decided to start their own indie studio. I loved the ambiance and the world they created with a fun and flowy feel. Characters have unique abilities, and as you flow through a level you can (and in some cases have to) swap between characters in order to unleash their special powers and progress.
Soul Locus by Fat Loot Games – an interesting take on the classic tower defense genre where you collect creatures and cards with an RPG story line. For a non-tower defense player like myself, I found it easy to get into and have fun with. It’s available on Steam Early Access.
Tumblestone by The Quantum Astrophysicists – This game was part of the SIGC finals last year after only four weeks of development. The core look, feel, and mechanic is still the same solid “Match 3”, but with a ton of great development including multiplayer, arcade mode, and special modifiers that really force you think steps ahead.
The Youth Division the finalists were:
Minimized by Cutback Games – a platformer built on Digipen’s in house engine (these high school students are taking college credits at Digipen) with a cartoon aesthetic. The main character has been shrunk (Minimized) and must defeat different bosses to retrieve pieces of the Minimizer in order to restore himself to normal size.
Project Titan by Team Titan – a first person shooter, still somewhat in proof of concept stage using Unreal Engine 4 from Epic. It is a tournament style FPS with wall running and a Spiderman-like ability to grapple and swing through an elevated world.
There was also a Special Mention presentation of Lord of the Bats by Project Asclepius – a group of students from Digipen who, above and beyond their class projects and normal workload, teamed up with Mason Beckler, a highschooler who was granted his lifelong wish to create a game via the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As the creative director of the game, Mason was able to work with the team to turn his hand drawn concepts into a game.
After the presentations, the panel of judges had the unenviable task of deliberating, scoring, and crowning champions in both the Youth and Main divisions. The Youth Division had a tie between both finalists, and in the Main Division, Quantum Astrophysicists’ Tumblestone was crowned the champion!