This month marked Playup Perth’s 3rd year anniversary and what better way to celebrate than at new venue, The Nostalgia box. Run by accountant turned retro video game console curator Jessie Yeoh, the venue hosts an impressive collection of consoles, some of which the staff at GameCloud had never before seen. Early home systems such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mattel Intellivision sit alongside the adorable, quirky and obscure. Also on offer are an impressive array of handhelds and other gaming oddities, the historical traces of many bordering on mythical. Offering visitors the opportunity to ‘experience game history through play’ The Nostalgia Box presents an inspiring environment for local developers to show their wares while allowing the opportunity to reflect upon the growing legacy of gaming consoles and classic titles that continue to inspire a new generation of game developers.
Grae Saunders shows off his Voxel Engine for ‘Little bit Lost’
Described by developer Michael Vatskalis as a two player competitive arcade ‘puzzlemasher’, Samurai Showdown is not to be confused with the early 90s SNK title of the same name. In a game which tests the reflexes and accumulated muscle memory of more experienced console users, players take on the role of Samurai warriors in a button press duel to the death, attempting to complete a randomised set of button presses as quickly and accurately as possible. With the longest round only taking around 20 seconds or so to complete, rounds are designed to be fast and furious so that many players can take part.
“I had a few people comment that they’d love multi-stage battles where winning a duel removes a chunk of health from the other player, and the duels continue until one of the players dies. I think that that’d be a great addition to the ‘classic’ game mode I’m already offering and so I’ll add that in when I get my next chance. As a final example — but certainly not the last of the suggestions — I had people ask for a timer in the ‘classic’ mode that would display how close the end of the (round) was. Given that I missed two people’s attempts in the near blink of an eye I think that this is a very good idea.” Future plans include the addition new characters and art inspired by Japanese woodcut artist, Hokusa.
Artisans Game Studio’s ‘Collateral Damage’
Another developer showing for the first at Playup; Grae Saunders is a full-time programmer who has been working in games development in his spare time. ‘Little Bit Lost’ is a Voxel-based first-person survival game which ‘follows the journey of a science experiment gone wrong, where you wake to find your world is much larger than it once seemed’. With Grae and his wife often playing similar sandbox/survival type games together, the game is inspired both by the shared nature of their experience and various other aspects of his personal life.
With a work ethic not often seen in the current generation of indie developers, Grae has spent the past year building the Voxel engine for his game from the ground up, writing network code and creating all the graphic assets himself. Currently, he is in the process of implementing an inventory and crafting system, already allowing the player to fashion clothes and weapons from found items such as grass blades, pebbles and woodchips, the latter of which seemed a more effective defence against gigantic roaming ants than simply punching them in the face.
Wez Lamont’s intriguing new concept ‘Glitz’
Collateral Damage is a 3rd person multiplayer mech shooter utilising the Unreal engine. With Melee, charged projectile and other abilities forming the core gameplay, a variety of energy crystals and health drops distributed throughout the battle zone become focal points. Despite some commentary regarding possible performance optimisations, I rather enjoyed the frantic run and gun, hide and recharge style play. In particular, I took great pleasure in distracting the devs with questions while locking on from behind with damage per second armaments and then scuttling away to safety.
Liz and Dan from the Screen Fighters team.
Another new title from Developers Liz Haynes, Sam Foster & Dan Campbell: Screen Fighters presents a unique two player concept where you literally attempt to occupy the another player’s (split screen) in order to win. The concept may sound somewhat plain in the abstract, but when it involves roaming a globe map in pirate ships hurling dynamite at each other.. it’s rather a lot of fun. The team have employed simple enough controls to have a first-time player up and running in seconds, and with its well developed fast and funky style, the game displays a high degree of appeal to the casual multiplayer gamer (i.e., me =D).
Top secret/TBA VR concept in action.
Also featured a this month’s Playup; Bob Hayden’s ‘multiplayer vehicle battle and emoji disco-scape’ Vectonic, and a new concept from Wez Lamont of RAEZ called Glitz – which although I didn’t get the opportunity to try out, certainly appeared enticing. Garnering more than its fair share of attention was an exclusive VR demo utilising the HTC Vive. With developers wanting to keep further details under wraps, for the time being, I can only say – what I experienced was quite amazing. Anniversary celebrations culminated in an assortment of mad cats, party hats and crazy string, with Kate Raynes-Goldie making official announcements. Perth Games Festival director Jon Hayward was on hand to provide further details of the upcoming event – to be held this year at the Perth Library, with the weekend ‘unconference’ announced by Sofie (formerly of SK games). Look forward to exciting developments in the Perth Dev scene and more new concepts at Playup’s new venue in coming months!