Sunday, 13 November 2016

This Week: MIGW, GCAP, PAX Aus & Aftermath (Special Edition)

Welcome to This Week, a weekly series where I discuss all the gaming (both video and tabletop) content I've played, made, prepped, run and seen that's cool this week. If you want to see what I got up to last week, go here.

However, this is a bit of a special edition... As I mentioned in my last post, it was Melbourne International Games Week over the last two Sundays, so I didn't get a chance to do those two posts. Which means that this This Week is actually covering three whole weeks. Now, I won't go into full detail on everything that happens (and, frankly, there were enough things in this last week alone that I'd rather not write about at the moment - though you can bet I damn well will be talking about it later). What I will mainly be doing is covering MIGW.

Let's jump in!

What I've Played

Whilst it may be strange to hear, but I don't often play many games during MIGW. I spend most of my time talking to people - sometimes whilst playing games, but usually with undivided attention.

However, I did play two gems this year, which I want to talk about. The first was a tiny, one-button prototype from Sky Pirate Studios, who recently got their game Help! I'm Haunted on Steam Greenlight. The prototype was called Tokyo Sword Club, and the rules could be explained in a matter of seconds. Two samurai face off. Tap once to jump back. Tap again to dive forward. Tap a third time to slam your sword down. Kill the other dude. Simple.
(Image from Sky Pirate Studios.)
I saw the Sky Pirates pitch, and present, this game eagerly to dozens of people, who all got it within seconds, and were jumping at the chance to play another round of five straight after. Honestly, I want to buy it now, but they (quite wisely) want to finish up with Help! I'm Haunted before they release Tokyo Sword Club. Which means we need to give them as much support as possible now so they hurry up and release Tokyo Sword Club!
(Image from Flick White.)
The other notable mention was Putty Pals from Harmonious Games. It's a co-op side scrolling puzzle game. Super cute, and super tactile. I actually went back for seconds on this game - playing the demo twice because it was damn good. It's the first title from this ambitious studio in Melbourne, and it's pretty damn fun. I'll be getting it when it comes out, for certain.

What I've Run

I got the chance to run a demo - the first public demo, actually - of Do or Dice at PAX Aus this year. It was pretty great, to be absolutely honest. I think I would have been more nervous about it, if I weren't so exhausted (this was on the Sunday afternoon, with the weight of 6 full days of MIGW behind me).
(Image from me... Sorry about my photography lack-of-skills.)
The players were all receptive, and the rules were taught in part at the beginning, and the rest during play and example. I ran a very simple adventure: meet a crime boss in a tavern, get a map to a dragon's hoard, raid the hoard. But, as players are want to do, they made a massive scene in the tavern talking to the crime boss, and we decided to just focus the entire adventure on getting the map. We had bar fights, boasting, espionage, infidelity, ambushing, magical phenomenon, all sorts of nonsense. We tested just about every part of the MIGW Preview Rules I made especially for the week, and the only negative feedback I got was that the character sheets - the ones I threw together the Friday before - were a little cramped and confusing. Which is great news!
(Image from William McAusland, used with permission.)
Expect to see more out of Do or Dice soon. I might even just throw that Preview up here for everyone to download, if there's interest (let me know in the comments if you want it).

What I've Seen

Now for the big part... What I've seen. I saw so much, and learned so much more, that I'm probably going to do an entirely separate post on What I Learned at MIGW 2016, so for now I'll just stick to the ridiculous and amazing.

One of the best things I saw during GCAP was the final keynote from Innes McKindrick, an incredibly inspirational speaker, who's a Programmer on No Man's Sky by Hello Games. Listening to Innes speak was incredibly hopeful, and gave me a good view from the shoulders of my industry's Giants. I feel a lot of what's going to come out of my mind from here on out is going to be fuelled by GCAP, and by Innes in particular (among others, certainly!)
(Image from Lauren Clinnick.)
I was able to see Objects in Space, a retro submarine-sim-IN-SPAAACE at PAX Aus this year, which was amazing! If you don't know anything about Objects in Space, check out the developers at Flat Earth Games. Basically, they build the bridge of a freakin' space ship, brought it over from Sydney, set it up at a booth, and had people flying around space all weekend. The booth was so busy I didn't even get a chance to get into the inner circle and say "Hello!" to the developers properly, which was a shame, but a great sign. People are keen. I am one of them.
(Image from Flat Earth Games.)
I was also able to meet up with a few RPG personalities that inspire me constantly (specifically Steve Dee and Anthony Stiller - both awesome people) as well as a bunch of my local and interstate comrades in arms. Recently I've been thinking that its ridiculous that I don't know more about my fellow RPG Designers in Australia, so I made motions to change that - yes, I set up a Guerrilla Panel (an unsanctioned, totally illegal, underground, edgy-as-all-hell panel on the landing between some of the Lecture Halls at PAX).

The panel was great! We talked about the RPG dev community, and why it's not great now, and how we could make it into something amazing. Things are in motion, and I will discuss them more later... However, if you are an RPG Designer (or want to be) in Australia, let me know now and we can get you in on the ground floor. We want as diverse a crowd as possible, so please please let us know, whoever you are in all your wonderful varied ways!
(Image from warpkey.)
Speaking of diversity - this MIGW was by far the most diverse I've ever seen (in fact, it's by far the most diverse anything I've ever seen). There are still some gaps - we still have an overwhelmingly white community - but things are getting better. Games are for everyone, and games culture has a lot of work to do to prove that. But I met with some amazing people, who I now count as amazing friends, who are doing great things to make it better, and who were willing to share insights into how I can help. I'm not armed with that knowledge, and determined to make it better.

And last, but certainly not least, there was a fantastic panel called Game Development with Sock Puppets. Frankly, what it was, was all in the title. Two great people - whom I'm lucky enough to call my friends - backed by a team of hilarious individuals, set up a small stage with a horde of sock puppets, and enacted a play about game development. The crowd got involved, and I could tell whilst everyone was having a good time, they were also learning about the realities of this craft... Which is a GOD SEND! We need more people to understand that we are human and that we need rest and that what we is difficult and that it doesn't take one week to encode multiplayer. It was a lot of fun, and I believe it was all filmed for Twitch so you can watch it here (the link goes to the whole Game Spot Theatre stream, set just before the puppet show!)
(Image from Amelia Sarif, please excuse the quality!)
That's all for This Week this week. Sorry about the length, but hopefully this is an insight into just how awesome MIGW was. Maybe you should join me, next year?!

I'll talk to you next week, and tell you of all my adventures again! In the mean time, fill your own week with as much awesome as possible.