The IndieCade Report

IndieCade happened! As usual, it was exhausting, wonderful, and varied. My talk went over well, as did the rest of the Game Design Microtalks session. I’d say we had a clean sweep of cool and interesting speakers (myself included :). All delightfully different. The session room was packed, the chairs were all full, and folks were standing along the walls. After it was over, I had a number of really thoughtful folks come and talk with me afterwards. Which is really the best part of IndieCade – the opportunity to talk shop with smart, diverse, and creative people.

On Saturday morning, The Puzzle of Life attracted a number of curious people who took time to sit and construct some possible worlds. My modding sample – a man eating tiger that poops, and whose poop was gathered by a cheerful dung beetle – was sadly underappreciated.

I had the opportunity to play a bunch of random games. Some were surprisingly bland, which is really unusual for IndieCade. However, others were rather amazing!

Notable mentions:

  • Mendel – A gently beautiful scientific sandbox about plants, exploration, and genetics. Even if I wasn’t a botanist, I’d still love this game.
  • Crescent Loom – Which was not on exhibit at IndieCade. Rather, the creator caught up with me after my talk, and we got to chatting about our shared interest in science, games, and biology. It’s a KSP-like where you construct squiggly critters that run on hand-crafted neural networks. Like with actual neurons that you draw. It has a steep learning curve, but it’s really really interesting. Early Access on io now. Highly recommended!
  • Visitor in Blackwood Grove: From the folks at Tiltfactor and Resonym, ViBG was designed to help players learn to use inductive reasoning. Super interesting premise. I had a fairly long conversation with the designer. They are very much into games for good, but using a fairly different design strategy, one that I would do well to incorporate into my own work.
  • Quench: Currently in late beta. It’s a story-driven, nature/physics puzzler. While it wasn’t intended as a learning game, the beautiful design, interesting puzzles, and thoughtfully simulated world all fit together into a fun and interesting combo. A combo with lots of possibilities for teaching, learning, and inspiration.

– Tim