GAMMA.CON – The Games

To the frigid Canberra cold came the Capital’s biggest pop-culture convention; GAMMA.CON. It ventured into the AIS Arena for two days to lead a celebration of Canberra’s love of all things gaming, pop and community. While I can assure you all that there was plenty of amazing cosplay happening (and I was pleased to see more Tom Baker scarves than my own) my focus was on the titles brought by local game devs for public consumption.

The games in attendance this year included both digital and physical titles; I was able to play a number of them and this is what I learnt:


Digital:

Witch Thief:


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Which Thief is a third person bullet hell shooter made by the Cardboard Keep. It is a strange combination of genres but it does appear to work quite well. Floating around an open battlefield you are challenged to avoid a large number of projectiles heading your way. Like all bullet hell games, it proved to be quite unforgiving during even the early stages of the game… it may also be that I am quite rusty in the genre.

Approaching the last few stages of development now, Witch Thief will have you stealing the powerful and magical grimoire from the clutches of the last immortal warrior in early November.


Scrapper:


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I must admit that this game took a while to grab my attention. I have seen this at regular developer meet-ups, but GAMMA.CON was the first time I actually sat down to play it. You are piloting a spaceship through one of a number of types of locations, like asteroid fields or cave systems. You want to collect fuel, resources and power-ups, enough of which will eventually bring the level to a close. While it is not deep, it has the same zen-like qualities as found in games like Super Hexagon and Audio Surf; you can get into a rhythm and just fall into the zone, not so much thinking about what you are doing, but just doing it.

In order to add variety to the game, there are also unlocks and custom ship building. These will change the behaviour of your ship in ways which would improve performance on different levels. While there is no mouse support included yet, I still found the keyboard controls (or regular controller) entirely suitable.


Emu War:


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Hermit Mode is in the process of bringing to the small screen a representation of a true historical event… well I do rather wish that it was true. Emu’s are trying to take over the world, it is up to you and your comrades to put a stopper to this. Taking inspiration from games such as Killing Floor you are quickly engulfed in a flock of emus who would like nothing more than seeing you subjugated and bleeding… (short of that, they would also dance over your warm corpse) Emu War is still in pre-alpha stages with assets and basic mechanics included. While, at this stage, it is quite buggy and simple, the essence of the game was well captured in the demo that I played. I am excited to see where it will lead over the next few months of development and testing.


Another Fine Mess:


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Another Fine Mess is a title that was being demonstrated of particular note, it is may not look like a recent game, but it is a modern game just developed for the Commodore 64. Fortunately you are not restricted to playing it on such an old platform, it is also available much more widely. The reason for its presence on the 64 is largely due to the developers historical development platforms. John Darnell was one of the larger names in game development before game development was a thing. Stating off with older consoles like the Atari, he moved onto creating original games and ports for the 64. Another Fine Mess is a swansong for John, it is a game that he has wanted to develop for many years, this is was his change.


Physical:

Garage GamesReign


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An Australian Kickstarter success, Reign was a card game which ran the crowd funding gauntlet and brought home a sizeable $11000+ dollars in order to secure its release. The games goal is quite simple; forge alliances, break promises, back stab friends and leverage your way to the Onyx Crown and dominion over the kingdom of Kazeth. While I did not have the time to give Reign a go while I was at GAMMA.CON, Garage Games have been kind enough to give me a copy to review. Over the next couple of weeks I will be putting Reign through its paces and shortly afterwards we will have a full review out. Stay tuned!


Savage YetiCows VS Sheep, Kingdom Claim


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Savage Yeti is an indie game dev studio who has been reliably creating new and interesting ideas, even though not all of them have proven to be worth developing further. At GAMMA.CON this year they brought with them a new game that is getting its first round of public testing, Kingdom Claim. This game is a cunning game which may appear simple on the surface, but holds a great deal of strategic opportunity. Kingdom Claim is a position sensitive card game which employs similar mechanics to those found in Paper, Scissor, Rock and VS System.  I will be sure to be keeping you all up to date with the different games that Savage Yeti has coming up, there may even be something in the digital space.