Normally I cover the Boston Festival of Indie Games for 2old2play, but this year I double booked myself that weekend, so here’s some info on what its all about and why you should check it out if you have the chance!
Second only to the Penny Arcade Expo, this is one of my favorite gaming events of the year. Massachusetts is gorgeous in the fall and you get to tour the hallowed halls of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a few weeks after the newest crop of students has just started school. This third annual festival is definitely one I am sad to miss!
Keynote & Panels
Misogyny and gender have been hot topics in recent weeks if you follow video game blogs or devs on twitter. Definitely timely that BFIG booked female gamers and voice actors Ashly Burch (Tiny Tina from Borderlands) and Sarah Elmaleh (Katie in Gone Home) as keynotes. Here’s an excerpt from the plan for their talk:
We will share aspects of our performance and character development process to connect strong acting decisions with this principle of inviting specificity. We’ll discuss the principle at play in modern successful indies with previously underrepresented protagonists, such as Gone Home, Mainichi and others. We’ll take a look back to debunk the legacy of games as exclusive purview of white male teenagers, and explore the impact of genre trends on representation – tying the current fracturing, reimagining and cross-pollination of genres to the flourishing of character diversity.
In addition to the keynote, this year’s lineup has both hands on classroom learning as well as speakers. A few highlights that look interesting are:
Simulator Sickness a Research Overview
Speaker Name: Michael Lin
Talk description: Simulator sickness is a phenomenon similar to motion sickness that is sometimes experienced by people interacting with simulated environments, such as those in video games.
This talk will provide an overview of existing research on simulator sickness and summarize original research findings on simulator sickness specifically pertaining to games. These findings include a discussion of race and gender factors for simulator sickness and what they imply for game developers and consumers. The intention of this research is to provide indie and student developers with a basic understanding of sim sickness and how to deal with its symptoms through conscientious design.
Can you say Symptoms of sim sickness five times fast?
Unity 5 Preview
Unity is THE engine if you want to work on your own game these days Here is a great talk if you are thinking of starting your own indie title.
Speaker Name: Carl Callewaert
Join Unity Evangelist Carl Callewaert for this exciting preview demonstration of the yet to be released Unity 5.0! During this presentation beginners to Unity will get an overview of the editor and more advanced users will get an in-depth look at some of the amazing new shading and lighting technologies that Unity users can look forward to. Carl will not only demonstrate the new physics-based "Universal Shader," but will also take look at some of the new Image Based Lighting (IBL) tools as well as direct and indirect illumination shading. A host of other new 5.0 technologies and Unity services will be showcased like the expanded collection of 2D colliders, direct WebGL / HTML 5.0 support, Everyplay, Unity Ads, Unity Cloud Build, and improvements to Mecanim, Unity's included animation system.
Digital Games Showcase
The second year I went to BFIG I was a little disappointed to see many of the same games still in development (although to be fair many indie devs are working on a small budget, in their “free” time so it shouldn’t be surprising if a game is still in development a year later). This year it looks like the lineup has changed around and there are a bunch of new titles that sound interesting.
Bacon Man: An Adventure
I actually played an alpha version of this game during their recent successful kickstarter campaign. This platform game follows the adventures of toast gun toting, Kung-Fu Fighting Bacon Man: Heir to the Meat Throne. The graphics were cool but about 30 minutes in I remembered I hate platform games for their punishing difficulty unless they are made by for babies by Nintendo…
Felted wool characters with googly eyes?! #shutupandtakemymoney
There was even a felted cabinet version in Brooklyn. When its available for Android I will definitely be checking this out!
I did love text based adventure games back in the day! And its written by women. But umm yeah this video is kind of terrifying, definitely NSFW. So ahh this is a thing that will be be at BFIG next weekend!
Black Hat Oculus
Indie Games festivals are great venues to get hands on experiences with the latest technology without having to wait in lines! There will be at least on developer at BFIG with an Oculus (which I highly recommend checking out after playing some Steampunk mini golf at PAX East 2014). This one is a two player co-op game based on the Matrix movies. If nothing else its worth it just to put on the headset and do your best Keanu Reeves “Whoa!” impression.