PLAY Expo is just too big for one article, so you will find a few cropping up over the next few weeks. This piece is dedicated to the Indie Teams that I met across the weekend with a brief piece about each of their games. The YouTube panels and general chat about the weekend will be coming soon.
The Mystery of Woolley Mountain
A good point and click adventure is always going to catch my eye and this was no exception. Developed by Lightfoot Brothers and Huey Games, the game harks back to titles such as ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ and ‘Trap Door’. The game is set in a strange, make-believe world where the audio scientists have to rescue some children from an evil witch. Good clean storytelling fun.
The first thing that draws you in is the beautiful graphics. Colourful and cartoony, they are really pleasing to the eye. I got a comic book to help me on my way with visual clues to help me get started. The sound effects and audio were great although it could feel a bit slow and clunky in places, especially when you have to wait for the scenes to finish before beginning your next task. Early days though and I am known for my impatience (it’s all the excitement of gaming, I can’t help myself!) It is also a family-friendly title which means that it is accessible for all ages without the concern of anything inappropriate cropping up.
The standard point and click genre rules apply. Find and use or combine objects to solve puzzles and win the game. I got to experience the whole of the first scene and was sad when it finished which is always the sign of a good point and click. Huey Games have a prestigious background in games development and you can be assured that their games are high quality while not being demanding of your time. They pride themselves on “Pick up and play entertainment” which is perfect for the more casual gamer. Can’t wait for this one!
Pre-Order: Google Play, App Store, Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch http://www.woolleymountain.com/pre-order.html
Contact: Rob Hewson (CEO & Creative Director at Huey Games) firstname.lastname@example.org.
My husband Chris, who accompanied me during the weekend, and I decided to make SteamHounds our first port of call on Saturday morning. This also happened to be our wedding anniversary. So why we decided to play a LAN version of this turn-based tactical game I will never know. I think Jason and his team were half scared, half fascinated as we got quite competitive. Sadly, I was not to be victorious and Chris then looked a bit scared!
SteamHounds aims to meld the classic JRPG with tactical, grid-based combat. It reminded us of a cross between Final Fantasy and Heroes of the Storm. It is developed by the team at Stray Basilisk. You have to choose your team and then execute skills, choose stances and pick positions to gain the best tactical advantage. There was a huge amount of information at the beginning which was quite overwhelming and we definitely found that just cracking on and playing was better than trying to remember all of the written instructions. Chris commented that a 1V1 tutorial mode would be really useful against AI for getting used to the interface.
The developers themselves were really friendly and enjoyed an in-depth chat about their plans for the future. They have been working on the game for 2 years and approximate that they have at least another 2 years of development to encompass all of their ideas. They have ambitious plans for a story mode in the future as well as other features to really make the game stand out in the market. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic and I could have sat there just listening to that all day. Very mysterious and definitely reminiscent of the RPG days of old.
Contact: email@example.com (Programmer)
Social Media: @straybasilisk
The team also have a Discord server where you can get access to the alpha playtest and take part in battles and feedback discord.gg/Y3fgTXC.
You really couldn’t miss the Bullion team. I mean that very literally. They were dressed as pirates and shouting ‘ARRRRR’ at people very early on the Saturday. This wasn’t just an attempt to win the Cosplay Masquerade though – they were actually there to showcase their new game, Bullion. It is a local multiplayer game developed by Leda Entertainment, which involves pirate cows fighting over treasure on a desert island. This game is ridiculously addictive. You have the competitive element of treasure gathering alongside the combat element of being chased by lots of skeletons. There are plenty of sneaky cow themed references so Orange Bison fitted right in there. The game looks stunning and played beautifully.
The team also talked passionately of their belief that the game development industry isn’t catering for graduates. Most developer jobs require the experience that graduates or youngest industry players simply won’t have. They actively want to encourage more graduate developers to get on board with their projects to give them a platform to gain experience and see a game to release. They refer to this as their C.V. Incubator and it is a fantastic idea for getting more developers experience in the field.
The game doesn’t have a release date or platform range yet, but it’s worth keeping your eye on this one. It has huge potential and I love the ethos behind the team.
Social Media: @ledaentertain
Undercrewed is a very visually beautiful game developed by Dave Strachan (who has the best business cards EVER) and Dex Cimino. The game is a 1-4 player Local or Online Co-Op involving building a ship and working as a team to survive in space. You have to control what happens by moving to different rooms on your ship to activate – and the rooms are your choice when you build the ship, so you have different tactical capability available.
I won’t lie – it isn’t my kind of game and I found it hard to know exactly what I was doing, however, it does look really lovely and I could definitely see the appeal to those who like tactical, team-based games. I was also in charge of shooting things and we all know that it’s never a good decision to let me be in charge of anything involving aiming!
Overall, I can see this having huge appeal as a ‘dip in and out’ game for co-op lovers. Gorgeous graphics make it a feast for the eyes too.
Steam Wishlist (With early access availability): https://store.steampowered.com/app/731310/Undercrewed
Social Media: @DavesInHisPants
I didn’t get to spend a huge amount of time with Gods Remastered but it looks absolutely amazing. The graphics are beautiful and it has an ‘Amiga View’ which switches the gameplay to the original Amiga aesthetic. Originally released for the Amiga and Atari ST back in 1991 by The Bitmap Brothers, the remastered version has the expertise of Mike Montgomery (The Bitmap Brothers) and the veteran team of developers at Robot Riot. The game is a platformer with puzzles and simple combat and has been very accurately reproduced in terms of content but modernised in terms of graphics and soundtrack. The game was expected in Q3 of 2017 according to Steam Greenlight, so it will be interesting to see what challenges they have faced and why.
This will be a real nostalgia trip for fans of the original or those who wish to try a really solid puzzle platformer from a tried and tested team of developers. Expect quality!
Steam Greenlight: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=899394131
Expected Platforms: Google Play, App Store, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam.
Social Media: @RobotRiotGames
Chris was drawn to this like a moth to a flame. It is completely his type of game, so I sat him down, popped some headphones on him and had a lovely chat with Gareth Williams who has created this RTS Co-op. As the spiritual successor of Cannon Fodder, it currently has 50 playable levels and it the perfect ‘pick up and put down’ game for RTS fans. Gareth was keen to tell me about his plans for a PVP mode and a football match mode (it sounds much more exciting when he explains it).
The graphics are reminiscent of Minecraft which attracted a lot of kids over to explore the game and see for themselves what was going on. There is a single player campaign mode, 2 player co-op online and then an 8 player multiplayer mode too. There will also be a series of maps and a map editor function. The game uses a voxel engine, which enables scenery destruction. It has been in development for about 2 years with some more to go yet, but Gareth is very excited about the reception he received at the expo from a variety of players across age ranges. The more you read about what the game will provide, the more you realise how huge a project it is and the capabilities it has. Look out for this if you are an RTS fan, you will love it.
Steam Wishlist: https://store.steampowered.com/app/661250/Jarheads
Expected Platforms: Steam, Itch.Io (Windows, Mac and Linux).
Social Media: @garethiw
Sociable Soccer – Look out for a feature and Interview coming soon with lots of details about the game and the challenges the team has faced courtesy of our very own Matt Goss!
Mao Mao Castle
Quang, one of the team at Asobi.Tech is a force to be reckoned with. He is the bounciest person I have ever met, likens the pronunciation of his name to the swishing of a sword (QUANNNNNGGGGG!) and has developed a game that consists of a cat dragon that eats rainbows, cuts grass, punches through walls and has friends including an axolotl, a unicorn and soon…an alpaca.
Originally created as a mobile game, it will now also be released via itch.io and can be controlled with standard controllers depending on your device or via a Leap device.
They expect to also develop code that will allow the player to use movement control (tilting etc.) on devices which would lend perfectly for future releases on devices such as the Nintendo Switch. It had a funky soundtrack which was stuck in our heads all weekend, an excellent ‘learn as you play’ tutorial mode and was just plain and simple madness. Utterly brilliant madness. There was a queue to play all weekend with people constantly returning in a bid to beat their score. Simple enough for all ages, I think this is going to be a huge hit.
Expected Platforms: iOS, Android, Itch.io
Compatible with Leap Device
Social Media: @asobitech
Baggers in Space/Warhawk
Jim Bagley is simply a legend – a giant in the halls of developer glory. He and his colleague Michael Ware, have been developing games since the dawn of the home computer age. I can confirm that Jim also gives amazing hugs, loves meeting fans and loves talking to everyone. He chatted to me at length about his upcoming releases for the ZX Next – Baggers in Space and Warhawk and about his time in the industry and all his experiences.
He has developed more games than I can count so Baggers in Space and Warhawk are guaranteed crowd pleasers. They were very responsive with plenty to do. As will all good retro games, you can pick it up and instantly ‘learn as you play’ by building on trial and error. Joystick and keyboard compatible, its good old fashioned fun with excellent use of the available resources. Look out for an interview with the man himself coming very soon.
Platforms: ZX Spectrum Next
Social Media: @jimbagley69
So there you have it. That’s just a glimpse of the Indie Zone at PLAY Expo London and there is so much more for me to tell you about with everything else that we saw there so look out for those as they are posted. Huge thanks to ALL the developers and teams who took the time to talk to me on the day. I really enjoyed getting to network with you in person and look forward to building successful launches with you.