As part of the Brighton Digital Festival, the 'Pop up arcade launch party' was a spectacular indie arcade games event I attended with a few others from Bright Interactive last Friday evening. Organised by Press Fire to Win who run fringe games events and manage a gaming meetup community. This event was sponsored by Unity and the Brighton Digital Festival. This event kicked off a weekend of juicy indie gameplay, live music and talks/workshops from developers and artists. Hosted in Otherplace at the Basement, a cosy underground space that served as an ideal venue for showcasing a variety of some of the best indie games around.
We went down the entrance steps and were hit with a wave of chiptunes, glowing screens and ambient LED lighting. We traded in our six sided dice drink tokens at the bar and were off to experience what this miniature gaming mecca had to offer.
Here's just a handful of the wonderful games that were available to play at the event :
First up we had a go at Line Wobbler, an Arduino powered one dimensional dungeon crawler, made by Robin Baumgarten. This highly addictive game was composed of a strip of coloured LED's hooked up to a custom built controller made from a door stop spring and an accelerometer, which made interacting with the game a truly unique experience. The idea was simple, a strip of LED lights represent the dungeon, moving red lights are your enemies and you have to navigate the dungeon avoiding them plus obstacles in order to reach the exit. By wobbling the controller you could attack your enemies with an area of effect ability, which would kill in one hit, but had to be timed correctly. Playing this game was a tonne of fun, it's simplistic visual nature and unique controller system was a real joy to experience. Here's a video demonstrating the game in action, from the creator himself :
Johann Sebastian Joust, commonly known as JS Joust, was a multiplayer game of physical finesse and dexterity. Each player was given a Playstation Move (motion sensing controller), which could only be moved as fast as the music was playing (Bach, which changed in tempo randomly). If you moved too quickly or if someone tapped your controller it would trigger and you would get knocked out. This battle royale for the last man standing was an epic experience played to the tunes of Sebastian Bach himself.
The atmosphere in "the pit" (smaller room of The Basement) was extremely inviting, there seemed to be a real sense of community for your fellow gamer, anyone who played a round would search the crowd for a new player. Unfortunately I didn't record any decent videos to depict such an enjoyable experience, I guess you had to be there. Here is a video of the game in action:
To quote the website Push Me Pull You is a "Cooperative physics-based sumo-soccer. A videogame about friendship and wrestling." This game was one of the funniest co-operative games I've played in a long while. The 'human-centipedesque' aspect had me in stitches from the get go, but as soon as we picked up the controllers things got quite competitive. In Push Me Pull You co-operating with your team mate is essential. Both players conjoined at the hip could control the length of the character and the position of their end of the body. In the game mode we played, the objective was to keep your ball inside the sumo ring, whilst knocking your opponent's ball out. Needless to say the four of us spent many a round fixed to the screen, laughing our faces off.
The rest of the evening we spent meandering around the various other games and jamming out to chiptunes from Chipzel, the young lady responsible for Super Hexagon's, Spectra's and Interstellaria's sound tracks!
I can honestly say I had one of the most enjoyable evenings in Brighton I've had so far. This welcoming community of game lovers really know's how to hit the high score on throwing an event. If you fancy attending on of their future events, then check out their website or meetup group.
As a die hard Unity fan, I feel obligated to mention who Unity are and why they are so important to the game development scene. Unity is a cross platform 3D/2D development tool that can be used to create games and applications for: PC, Mac, Linux, consoles, mobile devices and even web pages.
Unity is free, making it an ideal candidate for anyone who is looking to start producing games. Their is extensive documentation on their API and online resources, so anyone who is interested can start building their very own game in unity JS/C#. If you want to take it a step further, Unity do offer a subscription at ($75/month) for their premium version of the software which provides a lot more support and features, I'd only recommend it if you are already in the games industry.
I've been using Unity for roughly four years, in that time I've made a few games and applications which have not only fueled my love for game development but taught me so much about programming in general. I'd highly recommend this software to anyone interested in making any type of interactive application, not just games. One of my previous unity based projects was an earthquake visualiser. Using a live RSS feed I could feed in the magnitude, longitude and latitude of earthquakes as they were happening, then map them onto a three dimensional explorable globe. With the ability to export your application to pretty much any platform, Unity provides real world applications for interactive and visual design.
Unity isn't just for noobs, many independent and successful games companies use it to develop their games. Here are just a handful of some of the most popular games that have been built in Unity :
Kerbal Space Program, Poly Bridge and I am Bread. Here's a full showcase of Unity's games published on their site. Another great place for viewing games made by Unity and also other methods is itch.io. Not only is itch.io a store/showcase for independent games, but they also run game jams, for anyone who is interested in hacking at their keyboard to build a game in race against the clock.
I've blabbed on long enough about why Unity is such a great platform. So if the sound of developing games or applications has tickled your fancy, then I'd definitely check out Unity's learning section, it has all the tutorials you need to start building your own game.
Big shout out to Jo over at Press Fire to Win and the rest of the team, the staff at the Basement and anyone else who was involved in helping make such a fabulous evening!
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