Every month, as part of the regular monthly meetings of the Austin, TX independent game community JUEGOS RANCHEROS, we do a very casual & chatty rundown of the ten or so games from the previous month for the audience, to give people — especially those outside the indie community itself — a look at what they may have missed. The featured games are both local and global, and both indie and, on occasion, a bit-bigger-budget — what binds them together is simply that they’re all amazing.
Originally pitched as a physics-based toy that let you “play with the creatures and artifacts of North American mythology”, Ben Esposito’s Kachina quickly became one of my most anticipated games back in 2012, with its vaguely Katamari-in-reverse mechanics that allowed you to swallow up successively larger objects with a player-controlled hole that grew wider every time something fell in.
After its showing at various festivals throughout 2013, including last year’s HORIZON conference, news about the game went somewhat dark, as Esposito simultaneously continued development on Perfect Stride — the first-person skateboarder he’s creating with LA game collective Arcane Kids — as well as that collective’s numerous side projects like the cult hit Bubsy 3D.
After another couple long weekends spent with a few hundred excellent games, the first eight selections of this year’s Fantastic Arcade have just been announced, each of which will be given the full arcade-cabinet overhaul (as above, from last year) and put on public display for all Fantastic Fest & Arcade-goers in Austin, TX from September 18th to 21st.
Once again, the games have been selected by the operators of Austin indie collective JUEGOS RANCHEROS (aka Adam Saltsman, Jo Lammert, Rachel Weil, Wiley Wiggins & yours truly), with some of those games also serving as public tournaments throughout the festival’s five days — full information on each follows below.
Developer: Kyle Reimergarten
The next major game from Kyle Reimergarten — creator of Fantastic Arcade 2013 selection (and one of my overall top 2013 games), Fjords — Banana Chalice is a tunnel shooter about cats, bananas and monsters, with all of the off-kilter and lo-fi home-spun charm that by now has become his signature. Reimergarten promises as much mystery and magic out of Chalice as he brought to Fjords, which is to say, a lot.
Missed the livestream of our recent E3-alternative press conference? Look no further than the video above, which will let you watch the 2014 edition of HORIZON in its entirety. Held just a few weeks back at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the latest edition of HORIZON featured debuts and new looks at games by the creators of Windosill, Thirty Flights of Loving, Dear Esther and more.
Below the fold I’ll also include the other notable highlight: Brendon Chung of Blendo Games revealing, for the first time, single-player time-manipulating co-op mechanics of his upcoming 20th-century-cyberpunk game Quadrilateral Cowboy.
Ready to give the world of Ed Key & David Kanaga’s Proteus a second visit in an entirely new way?
Venus Patrol is proud to present Purgateus, a Proteus remix by Devine Lu Linvega (aka Aliceffekt) — a strange dream-within-a-dream-world that plays just like Proteus but “feels” entirely new.
Inspired by a tweet by The Floor is Jelly creator Ian Snyder, Devine (best known most recently for Oquonie, the abstract iOS adventure game created in collaboration with illustrator Rekka Bellum) has given Proteus a total aesthetic overhaul with new graphics, sound and an entirely new soundtrack (available for streaming below the fold and for purchase on bandcamp).
To enter the world of Purgateus yourself, visit the new dedicated site for the game here on Venus Patrol and enter your name and email to receive the mod. You’ll need to already own a copy of Proteus (which you can purchase on the Purgateus site), but once you do, installation of the mod is as easy as replacing a folder inside the Proteus directory with Devine’s new files.
[It's no secret that I count Kentucky Route Zero as one of my favorite videogames of all time, and one of my highest recommendations particularly for people who haven't dipped their toes in the videogame waters in a while, and so seeing artist Tamas Kemenczy was a top priority at this year's Game Developers Conference.
His talk (linked below) was a fantastic account of how theater and film staging influenced the game's visuals & transitions, made doubly valuable by loops of those pieces playing independently as Kemenczy talked. I was particularly entranced by Burton's face in Equus, as below, which I didn't recognize, and snapped a quick photo to have him identify it later.
Having then subsequently watched & been blown away by Equus, I asked Kemenczy to ID all the films in his repertoire of influences, which he's written up in full after the jump, and to which I've added streaming/DVD/Blu-ray links, where available. I hope you find it as valuable a resource as I already have!]
I gave a talk this year at GDC about the scenography of Kentucky Route Zero, the theatrical and cinematic influences on the game, and how we go about designing for performance. Some folks asked about the films shown during the talk, so here’s a list of them, but I thought I’d include some that were on the shortlist but didn’t make it onto slides, and some of these were shown in the KRZ talk the year before as well.
(Not included in this list is David Lynch, who we admire and most people are already familiar with.)
I really like the long take of Dysart’s (Richard Burton’s) face, totally stressed out about the chaotic moment that brought about Alan’s personal horse-god. There is a literary connection in KRZ to this play, but also the film by Sidney Lumet has dramatic flourishes that we took to heart.
Doing anything particularly romantic between May 24th and June 8th? No? Good, because I’m super happy to announce that Venus Patrol is organizing the first in what I hope becomes a regular series of game jams, this time dedicated to the lonesome future west-world theme: the space cowboy.
The game jam, hosted with the help of itch.io, is open to developers worldwide, and will run for two weeks, after which it will be judged by players for the week following on a variety of to be determined criteria like romance and psychedelia.
The idea for the jam came, as you probably have already guessed, after I finally got it together to watch all of Cowboy Bebop in one crazy week-long marathon (which I suggest you do or re-do in advance) and realized no game had quite struck that tone the series did — an ineffable feeling I also get from Cory Mcabee’s film The American Astronaut and Lisa Hanawalt’s web-comic Coyote Doggirl.
And hopefully you’ll find that feeling just as evocative and inspiring, because just as exciting as the jam itself is news that our Austin indie collective JUEGOS RANCHEROS will be showcasing the best of the games from July 2nd through the 6th in the real-life mystical West Texas high desert town of Marfa, as part of the Marfa Film Festival.
A few of us just got back from Marfa late last night, where we met with Film Festival organizers & location-scouted the area we’ll be carving out and dedicating to your Space Cowboy games, and there’s a whole lot of expectation from all parties involved that This Is Going To Be Really Cool for the thousands of people that attend the Fest.
We’ll be putting out more detailed information at the official Space Cowboy Game Jam site and open up for your submissions on the 24th of this month, but in the meantime start clearing off your calendar, dreaming up big ideas under an endless starry sky & discussing collaborations on twitter via the hashtag #spacecowboygamejam — we’re all crazy excited to see what you come up with!
Every month, as part of the regular monthly meetings of the Austin, TX independent game community JUEGOS RANCHEROS, we do a very casual & chatty rundown of the ten or so games from the previous month for the audience, to give people — especially those curious onlookers from outside the indie community itself — a look at what they may have missed. The featured games are both local and global, and both indie and, on occasion, a bit-bigger-budget — what binds them together is simply that they’re all amazing.
In keeping with the tongue-in-tobacco-packed-cheek tone, we call these run-downs A Fistful of Indies, which are presented here on Venus Patrol for your reference, each fully-annotated, -linked, and off-the-cuff blurbed, in addition to their home on the JUEGOS RANCHEROS site.
Following what I think we all can pretty much agree was an amazing lineup last year, I’m super happy to announce that Venus Patrol will once again be partnering with LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art to present the next installment of HORIZON: an alternative press conference that showcases beautiful, original games from studios both small and large.
The conference will be held at 10AM PST on Thursday, June 12th, 2014 — the same week as this year’s E3 expo — and hopes to give you a second dose of games as exciting as the ones we brought you last year, like Below, Sportsfriends, Hohokum, Kachina and, well, you remember last year’s big surprise still, don’t you.
If you’d like your game to be considered for the showcase, we’ve set up this survey for you to fill out over the next week. While we won’t be able to show everything submitted, we hope to once again highlight a selection that provides an alternative to the genre of games typically announced that week.
If you’re a member of the press, invites to the event will be headed your way shortly — so save the date now — email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re especially excited about attending and we’ll do what we can to make sure you’re there!
Thanks again to MOCAtv, Sarah Brin and our sponsors — who this year include Humble Bundle — for making this year’s conference possible, and see above to rewatch last year’s conference in its entirety if this is the first you’ve heard of this whole affair!
We hope to have much more to say about HORIZON in the coming weeks — and hope you’re as excited about the conference as we are!