Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below.
Buckle up. This is gonna be...
One of my favorite parts of small conventions is the independent games that can get some inexpensive display space. Not just action games (though the sort of standard fare get their day to play also), but the more interesting, more personal titles can shine. Especially in a show like
GaymerX—with a group of people that, by mandate, want to celebrate the openness and individuality of others—you can find a lot of original alternatives to more standard gaming fare.
So I’d like to share a few of the games that surprised me the most, and honestly the ones that fascinate me the most.
Quoting the game's business card, Depression Quest is “(a)n interactive (non)fiction about living with depression." A browser-specific simulator of sorts, the goal is to display through prose what someone with depression can experience. The strain on relationships, the feelings of exhaustion, the haze of blankness, just a few minutes of the game and you can see first-hand the first-person thought processes and effects that depression bring.
(Just to make sure it’s clear: If you or someone you know are experiencing feelings of depression, to the point of suicidal thoughts, please contact somebody like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or any of the various available resources.)
An Ocular Rift game from a Game Jam session, where developers make the best game they can in a limited time span, Nostrum is a flight simulator set during World War II, where the object of the game is to save animals across a number different islands... with the added amusement of making my eyes shift awkwardly in their sockets due to the shifting views and all-engaging display. (I honestly don’t know how fellow GR writer Blake Peterson does it.) It wasn’t the most recent build, as there were issues with the animals in the most recent one, but it was still a trip to fly in a cartoonish car.
Also displayed at GDC earlier this year, Extrasolar is a real-time game where players take control of a rover on a distant planet, searching around for new plant life, animals, even rocks and pretty horizons. But there’s something darker within the world, and in order to find it out you need a backdoor account provided by a hacker who doesn’t trust the company.
It isn’t clear just where that will lead the player, or what else will be uncovered throughout a weeks-long (or longer) campaign, but in the meantime there are some pretty images to appreciate and share of “another planet”. Good background images for my laptop while I’m assisting a “hacker” with whatever mission they’re on. It’ll take some time to find out just what that is…
These weren’t the only games on display: Hugpunx was about hugging people and not keeping score, Blue Lacuna proves that text adventures are still a thing (and are as long as a novel), Triad had the goal of assisting helping three people comfortably share a bed with their cat (no joke, it was pretty frustrating watching that one girl roll off the bed over and over), and Read-Only Memories was developed by the founders of GaymerX (Jessica will have a preview soon.). But the first three above were definitely the most intriguing of the bunch.
Beyond that, there were also big-name franchises on hand, like Watch Dogs from Ubisoft and 2K’sBorderlands: The Prequel and WWE 2K15, but this was a place for the indies to strut their stuff.
They were here. They were queer. Some were not. But they were all still awesome.