On Friday, December 14, a bunch of local game developers got together and had an independent game showcase at the Make Your Mark Center at 38th and Lancaster.
I got to spend a lot of time playing games from these local devs, including Championland, Cipher Prime, Evil Spares None, Final Form Games, Island Officials, and Quadratron. There were also many others I didn’t get a chance to do more than take a quick glance at, like AMI, Moises Carreras, Fat and Dumb, Hit The Sticks, Origaminc, Redcap’s Corner, and Warbles.
The event started at 5 and took up the whole front room of the center, which was full of tables, laptops, and various mobile devices, running all manner of video games.
Cipher Prime had a nice array of games, including Fractal, Pulse, and their most well-regarded game, Splice. Splice was in the PAX 10 at the latest Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle (meaning it was hand-picked as one of the elite independent games to be showcased on the floor). The game is available on just about everything now, except maybe your grandmother’s pacemaker.
Final Form was showing off Jamestown, their most beloved game, which was also in the PAX 10 at last year’s PAX. This fast-paced top-down shooter has you manning ships to fight against aliens. They had it set up on a PC with Xbox controllers, so multiple people could try it out in all its beautiful glory. I got to play with the company’s founder, Michael Ambrogi, which was pretty intimidating. (He also took all of the awesome pictures you see here. Thanks, Mike!)
Island Officials had a huge table with a lot to offer. They were showing off a copy of Hands-On Pattern Blocks, the sequel to their DS game Hands-On Tangrams. I spent a good amount of my time playing Pattern Blocks, which, unlike the first game, gives you more freedom in choosing how to fill in the silhouettes of the shapes to make the images come to life.
Evil Spares None was on Kickstarter not long ago. It’s a clever board game in which you are a bunch of horror movie clichés trying not to get offed by the crazed killer. It was great to talk to the creators of the game and to see it in action, especially some of the designs of the levels (spoiler alert: the final level is the boiler room). If your investigation score stays ahead of the psycho score, you might just keep your head. Keep an eye out for this one at your local board game retailer.
Also playable was Pixel Lincoln – both the PC game they’re designing as well as the card game that was successfully Kickstarted by Jason Tagmire of Championland. The PC game is gruelingly difficult, but a lot of fun. Jason also had his copy of Quarriors with him, which was exciting because he helped design the latest expansion, which you may remember from when he was Geek of the Week. Like I said – he’s a superstar!
I spent a little time with Zenas Bellace from Quadtratron as well, playing his game, Monsters!, which was also recently Kickstarted. I’m actually writing the story for the game, so I’ll play it any chance I can. I can’t give away anything, but I can tell you that there’s some new stuff happening with the game, including a shift in the art style. There’s some new writing happening as well, but I definitely can’t tell you about any of that.
There’s such a vibrant game development scene in Philadelphia, and I was glad to see so many people come out to enjoy the fruits of their endeavors. It’s incredible to watch these games as they go from ideas, to prototypes, to beautiful and functioning creations. Be on the lookout for more of these in the future, as they are the best opportunities to discover the creativity going on right under your nose.