IGDA Demo Night: Local devs show their wares

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Contrast, from Compulsion Games

For the second year running, members of the Montreal chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and non-members alike packed the SAT on the Lower Main last night for a preview of local games currently in development.

For either a big-budget title or a bare-bones solo endeavour, IGDA Demo Night is the great equalizer: each presenter had seven minutes to show off their project. There were 14 games demoed last night, some nearly done, others barely off the ground, so without further ado, here’s a recap of what was shown:

1. The Firemasters by Miscellaneum Studios (iOS, Android): The first game announced from Execution Labs’ indie game investment team/incubator. About firefighters on Mars in the year 2332. The team drives a massive truck and fights monsters in both side-scrolling mode and in 3D shooting mode. Extremely early in development.

2. 8th Wave: Abyssal Rise by Lazy Nuke Games (iOS, Android): A randomly generated ocean filled with aquatic enemies to shoot at with your submarine. Visually speaking, it slightly resembles classic edutainment game Operation Neptune, but thankfully there won’t be any tricky math problems. Set for release at the end of February.

3. A.N.N.E. by Gamesbymo (PC): Alternate between fighting on foot and flying around in your upgradable spaceship in this somewhat open-world, Mega Man-inspired action game. Stars a robot looking to retrieve the pieces of his disassembled titular lady friend. Hopefully out by the end of the year.

4. Treasure Tower Sprint by Sava Transmedia (iOS, Android): The tower may look like an isometric Prince of Persia, but the coin-collecting element is pure Pac-Man. The only difference is your hero can fight back, although it’s advisable you find a way around the enemies in your quest to acquire shiny loot and open treasure chests.

5. Neuro-Hack by the Circle Machine (Flash): A cyberpunk ninja telepathy game created by “a couple of Americans hiding in Montreal” who consider themselves more like a garage band than a development team. Each room starts off dark, so you’ll have to hack into the minds of guards and hobos to acquire their line of sight. After that, accessing terminals and bringing down the evil corporation is a snap. Out now on their tumblr.

6. Red Rover by Nick Rudzicz with KO-OP Mode (PC): A completely accurate retelling of an event that hasn’t happened yet, built with the help of untold amounts of readily available NASA and ESA data. Fly from Earth to Mars, explore the colonized Red Planet and learn about how man got there in the first place. Very early in development.

7. Contrast by Compulsion Games (PC): The highlight of the night, set in a 1920s vaudevillian universe. Guardian angel Dawn can interact not only with the world around her, but with the creepy shadows as well. It’s a 3D platforming world, but Dawn can also jump into the shadows, which are naturally along walls and in 2D. The interactive cut scene shown was amazing: two silhouettes acted out the scene, while Dawn had to manoeuvre around them, jumping from moving limb to moving limb. Sports a vague Q1 2013 release date on Steam Greenlight.

8. Mercenary Kings by Tribute Games (PC): A run-and-gun RPG where the best looters and gun-crafters reign. The levels are small-scale open world, the missions have sub-missions (my favourite line of the night) and what got a hearty applause from the crowd was the four-player split-screen co-op. Could be out this May or June on Steam.

9. Bot Colony by North Side Inc. (PC): Siri meets industrial espionage. In the demo, the player has to return items in a house to their rightful place (and figure out what was stolen by an unknown intruder), and must do so by verbally communicating with a knowledgeable blue humanoid bot. Who doesn’t love shouting orders at AI servants? Their blog says the first two episodes could be out in March 2013.

10. Untold Realms by Marc-André Caron (Flash): A bit crude in terms of look and gameplay, but the concept is intriguing: a role-playing game where everything is randomly generated and can be played from start to finish in 30 minutes. It’s meant to be played over a lunch break, so the combat is performed from a simple menu screen. Another neat idea is you play from a young age to a pre-determined death, so time is treated like currency. Available now.

11. Zero Shade by Minimal Move (iOS, PC, Mac): A minimal stealth game starring a colour-changing chameleon. Similar to a really simple Metal Gear Solid with physical cover replaced by different coloured backgrounds to hide in. Meant to be played with two people, with one person as the chameleon and the other as the security guard. Still in conception phase.

12. Skipping Stones – Autumn by KO-OP Mode (iPad): Imagine a sombre poem about a sad event where a serene lake is considered an escape from painful reality. Skipping Stones allows players to inhabit the location described in the poem — an interactive polygonal landscape where skipping stones makes music and changes the time of day. Due out next month.

13. Heroes Never Lose: Professor Puzzler’s Perplexing Ploy by Heroes Never Lose (PC, Mac): Long, alliterative, tongue-twisting name, but a familiar kind of game. A things-falling-from-sky stacking puzzler in the style of Columns, except it’s played in a two-player, head-to-head format, with each player assuming the role of a cute cartoon superhero. Far from finished.

14. Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel by Visceral Games Montreal (X360, PS3): Will the third time be a charm for the oft-maligned bro-op blow-’em-up shooter? They’ve ditched the fratboy fist bumps and amped up the epic moments, meaning you and your BFF will be causing massive explosions in a more serious manner. In stores March 26. ■

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