USC at IndieCade 2019

Jason Martinez

This past weekend we had a blast exploring IndieCade, a festival celebrating independent games and their developers, held at Santa Monica College. Accompanied by a great backdrop of sunny skies and a cool ocean breeze, IndieCade 2019 kicked off October 10th and provided a weekend full of entertainment, giving us plenty of time to enjoy some amazing projects.

IndieCade accepts submissions from all over the world, giving attendees the chance to play these games hands-on for possibly the first time ever. Of these submissions, USC Games clearly had a big presence.

Right inside Building C lay the USC Games booth featuring numerous student and faculty projects, some of which rotated throughout the days. These projects spanned from PC-playables to tablet games to card and board games. One such game was Tiny Trees, a 3D board game where players attempt to become the next Demigod of Trees by growing them right from the board. Lead developer Michael Perce spoke on the game saying “unlike normal board games that are just flat on the table, the trees you grow branch out of your table and into the third dimension.”

USC Games weren’t only present at our booth. Down the stairs lay familiar projects such as Plasticity, an environmentally conscious puzzle-platformer. (Look out for our upcoming interview with game director Aimee Zhang and lead designer Michelle Olson). Upstairs in one of the nominee galleries lay IndieCade Location Based and Live Play Award winner Ama’s Momento and ARBox. Both were easy to spot because of their long lines of attendees hoping to get the chance to play either experience.

Outside of playtesting, numerous talks were given by esteemed speakers all about the world of games. One such speaker was our own Associate Professor Richard Lemarchand, who gave a presentation on “How To Build a Healthy, Happy, Game” during the educator’s summit portion. Professor Lemarchand highlighted the importance of trying to avoid crunch and burnout as much as possible in order to create a polished game. To do so, the entire process needs to be split into four sections: Ideation, Pre-Production, Full Production and Post-Production. All of which need to be given their own moments in the process (aka you can’t skip out or just shorten pre-production, else the rest of the project will suffer). The talk was full of quotable moments,  but one that stuck out most was when Lemarchand said, “The process is always a work in progress”. This is because while a game is always in development, sometimes even after it’s been released to the public, the process by which people make games is also constantly changing.

The event ended with a Night Games session featuring games that thrived under the night sky with bright LEDs and light based controls. There was even a fortune teller giving out self-care themed fortunes for attendees that dared to learn their fate. Overall, the entire event was a wonderful celebration of all things indie games, and all of us at USC Games would highly recommend attending/submitting if you haven’t in the past!

While IndieCade US is over, IndieCade Europe is still on the horizon. The European branch of the festival will be held in Paris, France from October 18th – 19th, 2019. To learn more about IndieCade US and IndieCade Europe visit their website here or follow them on Twitter.


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