Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ohio Game Developer Expo


Starting off the month of November the right way, I was able to attend the 2015 Ohio Game Developer Expo at COSI in Columbus, and it was certainly something memorable that I can and will remember for some time to come. My Saturday experience clearly opened some doors as to what is currently being developed in the gaming scene today, and I even got to try out some demos of games that I found to be the most interesting of the bunch. More on that later.

Prior to Saturday November 7, I had never been to a gaming convention of any sort in my entire life, and it had been a whopping 20 years since I last stepped foot inside a COSI building, so this was obviously significant to me. It was on my To Do List to finally participate in a gaming convention, and yes, I finally got to do it here. I didn't know what to expect since this was my first time taking on something like this, but as it turned out, it was a very fun and intriguing experience.

There were 2 tickets reserved for me and my mother, and we would take a tour through all the booths that were stationed on the 2nd level of the COSI building. Of course, there were scheduled events that I could have attended, but I was too preoccupied with the stuff that was going on in front of me. The game demos that I played were definitely interesting and they took me back to the more enjoyable times of me playing video games. These game demos reminded me of what it was like to be a gamer back in the day, but the unique thing is that these games are being made for current day gaming platforms, so while you get nods to the past, you still have a vision for the future.

Entrance to one of the rooms at the OGDE

Some of the games that I played at the OGDE included Gloobs, Armechgeddon, GalactiMax, Not Alone, Dehoarder 2 and The Pedestrian. Let's start with Gloobs. This is a game being developed by a group based in Ohio University (Athens) called Lantern Light Studios and Gloobs will be available on mobile touch pad platforms. The objective in Gloobs is to make like a scientist and experiment with the gel that you put into a pan. There are elements for you to add to the gel such as fire, water, dirt and electricity, and the gel blobs will take shape to form "Gloobs" after you add an element to them. You can also mix 2 elements together to see how a Gloob will change. This was one of the first touch pad exclusive games that I ever got to try out, and I am intrigued to see what the final product will turn out to be.

Armchgeddon: Keep an eye on this game

Armechgeddon was one of the games that really stood out to me at the 2015 OGDE because it took me back to all the games in the past where I would just stand back and shoot. Armechgeddon is basically like an arcade game where you steadily move forward and take out enemies that are trying to slow you down, and I believe this could potentially give gamers a feel for certain series they already love such as Transformers and Gundam Wing. You operate giant mechs that have unique abilities and you collect new abilities as you progress in levels, which is similar to that of a game I loved to play in the past called BattleTanx.

Armechgeddon was created by a game dev group called Code Medicine, and from what I played on the demo, I can tell that they have something really good cooked up with the gameplay mechanics. I would also keep an eye on where they go with Armechgeddon because it's certainly something that you can kick back and play with a friend in 2-player Co-Op. I'm interested in finding out what additions will be made to this game. 

GalactiMax is basically Galaga with a rather unique twist. You start off with just one small ship and you can fire at enemies in different ways. The further you progress in the game, the more upgrades your spaceship will receive, as in your spaceship will grow larger and larger as you defeat more and more enemies. There will be a point in the game when your spaceship will get really huge and will have an excellent firing range as well as a huge hit box.

Steven Vitte at The Pedestrian booth
Now The Pedestrian is a rather unique puzzle/platforming game where you guide a stick figure character, the familiar dude that you see on street signs in everyday life, though multiple areas. These areas are signs that are hung up on the walls of what appears to be a subway station (just a guess) and as I was playing this demo, I got the feeling that I was playing the old school platforming games of my childhood. Skookum Arts, the game dev group that created The Pedestrian concept, definitely has a cool concept going on here. The puzzles that you see in this game are the right kind of challenging, testing your mind to connect the right parts of an area together. I would also keep an eye on this game when it releases.

Dehoarder 2 was another demo I tried out and I found it to be very interesting. Developed by Brian Paulus of Smiling Cat Entertainment, Dehoarder 2 is an update on a simple objective: You have way too much crap inside your house and outside on your yard and you need to clean up the mess. You need to recycle all the stuff that's scattered about, and the more you recycle, the more freedom you will have as well as scoring more points. You have to wait until the trash guys come and pick up your discarded stuff, of course, but I found the humor behind all this. It was refreshing and fun. I also found it funny that rats were running all over the place causing a stir with your neighbors. Unique concepts like this help keep the gaming scene interesting.

Wesley Adams of Multivarious Games (Left) and Steven Vitte (Right)
Now I briefly got to try out Not Alone, a demo of a new project that Multivarious Games is working on. I got to hang out with my good friend Wesley Adams, who was also promoting Hatch-It! at the same Multivarious Games booth, and he would describe the concept behind Not Alone. It is basically a science-fiction themed game where you travel on a distant planet that's not your home and you have to guide yourself out of a maze and find the right path to do battle against foreign enemies. Briefly exploring through the first part of the demo, I definitely liked the graphics and the visuals that were on display. They were definitely pleasing for the eyes and a reminder of a few games that I played in the past like Timesplitters and Goldeneye. I'd like to see what comes from further development of this game.

Steven Vitte in front of a band stage
Conclusion: Gaming Conventions Overview

For this to be my first ever time going to a gaming convention, I was very pleased, and I came away with this experience wanting to return to another gaming convention. This was certainly a high point of my time as a gamer and gaming enthusiast, and it is my hope that I will get to extend this convention experience down the road in the future. For me to see a bunch of enthusiastic gamers who share similar passions like me, it was definitely encouraging. I felt like I was in my element when I was going through the OGDE area, and it only motivates me to document coverage like this in future blog posts so that I can inform my readers here at the Gaming Journalist Gazette on the happenings of the Gaming Industry, no matter how big or small those happenings are. 

By the way, just because the event says Ohio Game Developer Expo doesn't mean that gamers from outside the state of Ohio can't attend this convention. From what I have heard in conversations, it sounds like the OGDE will have a name change at some point in the future, to better reflect an entire region of game development instead of just one state. 

Now if you are a gamer or game developer and you live in other parts of the Midwest United States like Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin or Minnesota, for example, you are more than welcome to join in on what's going on here annually in Columbus, Ohio. We'll give you guys high fives if you do join in. This includes people from all over the country and even internationally. If you want to present something in Columbus for the OGDE, then feel free to show us Midwestern gamers what you got. Events like the OGDE positively highlight our passion for video games and that we love what we do in creating new games and concepts that will hopefully appeal to many gamers. I can easily see Midwestern game devs sharing the stage with the other guys who regularly attend conventions like PAX East in Boston, PAX South in San Antonio and PAX Prime in Seattle, and I think gamers would be pleasantly surprised.

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