Induction into a chef’s cult, figuring out the mystery behind a ghostly bride, meeting a butcher turned game designer, hearing talks from industry veterans and witnessing how diverse the gaming community is, was an unforgettable first time at IndieCade 2016. FOR PROFESSIONALS A festival is a celebration, and IndieCade can’t celebrate independent games without also celebrating their creators. The indie games festival not only exhibits games but also sets up playtests, workshops, talks, and other events to help facilitate growth for game developers. I remember attending a talk by Kriste Stull which was appropriately named, “The Most Strategic Game of All: How to Launch a Successful Career in the Video Game Industry.” Kriste Stull is a veteran of the game industry and worked for companies like Blizzard, EA and Sony as a hiring manager. In other words, Stull has insider knowledge of what hiring managers like to see and what types of people generally get the job. In the end, it was always the person who worked well with others, a person who listened and kept open lines of communication. It wasn’t always the talented artist that got the job, but usually the candidate that people wouldn’t mind spending 10+ hours working with. Along with other incredibly helpful knowledge, Stull imparted hope for the future to many ambitious game devs. There were also other talks being held by industry veterans like Frank Dille, current creative lead of Niantic. Also present were industry writers, animators, professors and more. IndieCade proved to be extremely educational for people who are serious about entering the game industry. FOR GAMERS Of course IndieCade isn’t just for indie developers — it’s also for people that enjoy playing games. I had a tremendous amount of fun playing all sorts of games ranging from board games to VR to more regular form games. However, the most memorable experience at IndieCade was when I participated in the festival’s unique Night Games event. When I arrived at IndieCade’s night games event, filled with an assortment of games that take advantage of the cooler nights and darker lights, I noticed an eerie sight. Around the grounds of the School of Cinematic Arts walked a bride in a white dress and a thick veil. The veil obscured her face, making it difficult to see who was underneath, even if you walked up to her. While I played other games, I made sure to keep an eye on her. It was strange to me that no one reacted to the sight. She would walk past groups of people and none of them would even acknowledge the sight. Involuntarily I shivered more than once, perhaps it was from the icy breeze from the late night or something more sinister. As the night went on and I played more games, I felt more and more disturbed by the sight that didn’t belong. I’m not one for horrific experiences, so the sight of a bride with her hands over her chest as if she were on … Read More
At the conclusion of IndieCade, the Red Carpet Awards celebrates the best of the selected nominees with a diverse set of awards that highlight everything from technological achievements, to design marvels, to the most well-received of the attendees. At this year’s ceremony, fourteen games were selected for the various awards. Of these fourteen games, four were from the USC Games Family: Hyper Light Drifter, Infinit-O, Soundstage, and You Must Be 18 Years or Older to Enter, were selected as winners. Hyper Light Drifter, a 2D action RPG designed by IMGD Alumni Theodore Diefenbach, received Jury Choice Award for it’s fantastic design and amazing gameplay. It is available on Steam, and should be played by everyone. Infinit-O, an interactive experience engineered by IMGD Instructor Archie Prakash alongside the award winning artist Corazon Del Sol, received the Visual Design Award. The game uses dream-like vignettes to allow the player to explore the creative power of womanhood. More information about this amazing experience can be found here. Soundstage, a unique virtual reality sandbox where you can play a variety of musical instruments in room-scale VR, was awarded the Audio Design Award. The game was designed by Logan Olson, M.F.A. graduate of IMGD. At USC, he began exploring room-scale with at the USC MxR with the assistance VR luminary Mark Bolas, before moving on to Disney Imagineering. Soundstage is his first independent project. Last but certainly not least, You Must Be 18 Years or Older to Enter received the Media Choice Award. A secret look into the awkward world of a newly pubescent youth, the self-ascribed “looking-at-porn-for-the-first-time-as-a-kid-simulator” is one of the many games designed by M.F.A. graduate student James Earl Cox III. The game was made as part of his journey to create 100 games in five years. The game is free to play and download at https://seeminglypointless.itch.io/18orolder. We’re so proud of all the games that were shown, and are thrilled that such a great time was had by all. GAME ON!
The Locker was envisioned by an unlikely pair—a maker of tactile experiences and an interactive film designer—who joined forces in a graduate production course taught by Richard Lemarchand at USC. We combined our strengths by weaving puzzle solving, physical exploration, and non-linear storytelling into a cohesive mystery-solving experience. The Locker began life as a shoebox filled with papers and, following Lemarchand’s iterative playtesting methodology, evolved into a metal school locker filled with personal artifacts. The film sequences began as hastily drawn storyboard cartoons and blossomed into film vignettes produced with a full cast and crew. Since its completion, The Locker has made appearances at showcases around campus. As a portable experience contained in a single locker, it just might pop up where you least expect it. Features: Snoop through the locker of a student who has recently gone missing Reveal her memories using a bewitched magnifying glass Solve physical puzzles and clues she left behind More information can be found at: [website] playthelocker.com
From Game Designer AQUMA (IMGD MFA ’16), “When I had to make a thesis game for the IMGD MFA program, I wasn’t sure what to make at first. I knew I wanted to get better at making games and that making a lot of work was the only way there. So I decided to try and make a game a week (or so) and just create many of the things I had in the back burner of my head. The goal was to craft experiences that were personal, simple, and unique. After a while, I realized that I could start sequencing these games together as a sort of mixtape that tells a larger story when played in order. Now I have a couple chapters, and I’d like to complete a couple more before releasing it.” Features: Code and playtest a game Navigate an angry online mob Relax with some breathing exercises Roll a joint Get some tacos Talk to your mom Exploring Aquma’s cell phone! More information can be found at: [website] frknwknd.com
700 to 730 is an interactive video installation that allows the audience to create a montage within a story about solitude. The audience is invited to enter a theatre space, with a controller in the front that resembles a vintage radio. There is a knob that the audience can tune to alter the shot currently playing on the screen. Each audience interacts with the controller differently, thus creating a distinct montage experience unique to them. Different interpretations are encouraged. Art is “interactive” in a number of ways; missing details requires the user to fill in the missing information. We are asked to follow pre-programmed, objectively existing associations… but 700 to 730 asks the user to assume the mental trajectory of a new media artist. “Through observing the world of a 7-year-old girl as she lives with her grandparents,” says Director Zekia Zhan, “I want the flow of inner speech to be activated by montage, and build toward an emotionally significant event, all through the power of visual juxtaposition.” Features: Interactive cinema experience Open for different interpretations Solitude as a state of existence that blurs the boundary between life and death Story background is set in a small town in Northern China More information can be found at: [website] www.thezhan.work [project twitter] @700to730 [artist twitter] @_z7studio [contact] email@example.com
From Steve Cha (IMGD MFA ’16), Revision’s Creative Director; “I developed REVISIONS as my thesis project. I wanted to create a project that showcased my sensibility, told my story, and reflected on the craft of design. The idea came to me in small bits during classes. During Visual Expressions, Bruce Block talked about limited space. This lead me to wonder, what’s behind that limited space, behind the panel? This inspired the game’s main twist: what starts as flat and 2D reveals itself as 3D. Tracy Fullerton told me that it’s sometimes best to acknowledge a ludonarrative tension in a project. To that note, REVISIONS is essentially an internal argument about how design and narrative (don’t) work together. Writing out the Annie Hall / M. Butterfly inspired dialogue in Maureen McHugh’s class solidified for me that this is what I wanted to spend my last year creating. A game about using game design metaphors as epiphanies about real life seemed like the perfect ending to my formal education in game design.” Features Five vignettes about growing up as Steve Cha! Midgame twist; it’s actually a 3D game! Go behind the scenes in 3D and learn about the game’s origin! EXCLAMATION POINTS! More information can be found at: www.revisionsgame.com
Who says childhood anxiety can’t be fun? James Earl Cox III (@just404it) created the Twine prototype in a single night to hit an interactive fiction deadline. After gathering feedback where people actually liked being subjected to childhood horror, he scoped out the final design for the game. Julie Buchanan (@GoodkingJules) and Joe Cox (@JoeCawks) joined the project bringing it to life and amplifying the atmosphere. While still a work-in-progress, ‘You Must be 18 or Older to Enter’ has already dredged up prepubescent memories at Tokyo Game Show, AMAZE. / Johannesburg, Blank Arcade, and Game Happens! festival. Once complete, it will be Seemingly Pointless (http://www.seempoint.com/) first release. ‘You Must be 18 or Older to Enter’ will be free to download and play. Features Looking-at-porn-for-the-first-time-as-a-kid-simulator awkward-maker dredger-upper of childhood confusion memories horror without monsters or death More information can be found at: Website: http://www.seempoint.com/ Itch.io: https://seeminglypointless.itch.io/18orolder GameJolt: http://gamejolt.com/@SeeminglyPointless Twitter: https://twitter.com/seempoint
Octobo is a reactive plush octopus toy with a tablet display on his head, soft sensors throughout his body, and his own interactive storybook! As parents and children read the book together, they discover what Octobo wants, give him things they find in the book, interact with Octobo, and see him respond to them. Octobo has been selected for alt.ctrl.GDC 2016, IndieCade Showcase @ E3 2016, and Indie Prize Showcase | USA 2016. The Octobo team is starting to look for interested partner companies for manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, and is planning a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Features Interactive plush that combines seamlessly with tablet Octobo responds to touch and storybook pieces Fun for the whole family New stories available on the app store About YUTING SU and OCTOBO: Octobo’s creator, Yuting Su (IMGD MFA ’16), is a maker, designer, and producer of games and new media. She feels a strong affinity toward tangible products and innovative combinations of different media forms. Octobo began as her MFA thesis project at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media and Games program. In a world where children are turning away from physical toys in favor of unfeeling screens, she hopes Octobo can introduce a new kind of seamless digital/physical hybrid gameplay that brings back the joy of tangible play. More information can be found at: http://www.playoctobo.com On Twitter @playoctobo Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SoundStage is a virtual reality music sandbox built specifically for room-scale VR. Whether you’re a professional DJ creating a new sound, or a hobbyist who wants to rock out on virtual drums, SoundStage gives you a diverse toolset to express yourself. From creator Logan Olson: “If you look at old rock concerts, you’ll see these HUGE synthesizers that the musicians connect together to make electronic sounds. These instruments are literally enveloping the player. SoundStage attempts to capture the feel of those epic music machines then take it to the next level with tools only possible in a virtual environment. You can hook up your sounds to the electro-maracas or drive your keyboard with a 3D theremin. All in a world inspired by the airbrush paintings and computer graphics of the 80s. When I was a kid during that time, this is how I’d imagine making music would look ‘in the 21st century.’” About LOGAN OLSON: An alumni of the IMGD, Logan Olson is an experience designer who has worked in immersive entertainment since 2008. He started building for room-scale VR at the Institute for Creative Technologies with Mark Bolas then moved on to theme parks and interactive toys. SoundStage is his first independent project. More information can be found at soundstagevr.com twitter.com/soundstagevr facebook.com/soundstagevr/
Occurring through October 14-16, the University of Southern California and IndieCade are proud to announce that this year’s festival of independent games will be hosted at the School of Cinematic Arts. In addition, admission to the main exhibits will be free for all USC students, regardless of major. In addition, students will receive a 30% discount on tickets to GameU, think:summit and Night Games. “We’re thrilled,” says Tracy Fullerton, director of USC Games, “that the world’s largest independent game festival will be hosted this year at the SCA on the USC campus. We encourage everyone to come out and experience the best of what the independent game world has to offer.” IndieCade celebrates the work of independent game developers everywhere. In the vast medium of games, IndieCade shows off the ingenuity of the impressive independent developers around the world. Full of games dedicated to new artistic and experimental experiences, IndieCade is an opportunity to support unique developers and to experience games that have yet to be released. The games exhibited at IndieCade range from VR games, large party games, tabletop games, video games, and more — all of which can be played by the public. Some of USC Games’ very own will exhibit their work at IndieCade. Attend and support your fellow Trojans! See the full IndieCade schedule here. UPDATE 10/04: Additional information was added, clarifying what exactly the free ticket includes.