Undercover IndieCade 2011 - Part 2 of 3

One man continues to expose the internals of IndieCade 2011. Second in a incredible three part series. Gamasutra expert blog exclusive.
Undercover IndieCade 2011
Part 1     Part 2
Organizers fell for elaborate "Become a Finalist" ruse, covering IndieCade from inside.
Thursday Evening - Seeing Red Carpet

alex, ryan, douglas, nathaniel, unimpressed await a van
credit: me

Gussied up for red carpet awards, awaited transport in gussied up parking lot. Noticed 2 indies biking instead - godspeed. In darkness, van arrives. Using recently aquired contortionist knowledge, wedge ass in gap between seat and door.

ignore the photo, the carpet was red
credit: me

Ass uncorked. Handed box containing magic. Entrance packed with reporters, cameramen and well dressed people. We lined up for red carpet, were photographed, then interviewed. Fear cover might be blown. The velvet rope kept adoring crowds from swarming us. Enter packed antechamber (credit: Alexander), instructed to sign wall posters. Drinks free, laughter everywhere, jacket wanting. As I exit toilet stall, John Romero enters.

confession: i photoshopped the hell out of these images
credit: me

The gates open, chairs fill quickly. Place is snazzy, ambiance is warm. Each table has a crayon, 6 sided die, and balloon - suspect future hijinks. We fit 12 friends, while the untouchables are banished upstairs. Bikers arrive! How was the ride? "long"

Award presenters managed to reinforce every gamer stereotype imaginable, and set back the cause of women at least 10 years. Award winners were inventive, charming and entertaining. I'm calling it even. Great summary here.

We head upstairs for drinks, food, and mayhem. Congratulated Olli & Otto, who were struggling to balance their trophy with food and drink. Chatted with Ed Key and David Kanaga while I accidentally damaged their audio award for Proteus. Are all game devs this nice? We're not. Did I mention those beef sliders? mmmmmm.

Friends are surprised Depths didn't win every award.

we have great friends
credit: Bobby Arlauskas
Friday - Beauty, Homey, Swinky, Deeply Troubling

richard and I both agree he deserves a better picture
credit: Jeriaska

10:00 - Beauty and Risk: Why I Love Indie Games - Richard Lemarchand

Started with video of iconic game stills set to grandiose music. The man has exquisite taste. Richard covered a lot of ground, Double Uzi kept up. Humans love systems. What they produce (sunsets, galaxies, fractals) is often profound and moving. Small "art" games like The Graveyard and Today I Die pack an emotional punch, but time consuming content creation keeps them small. Hence, indies might consider systems to produce meaningful content. Minecraft hints at possibilities... aren't human beings the product of an unimaginably complex system?

11:00 - Indies in da Playstation House - Jack Buser and Jesse Vigil

Sony discovered that games, not worlds, bring people together. As someone once said, Home sucks. Radically changing Home from virtual world to hub for social gaming. Indies perfectly positioned to provide games (think early XBLA). Crucial info mentioned in passing:

- Cogs has been integrated into Home as a multiplayer game and art piece. Avatars will be able to interact with the puzzles directly in Home's plaza.
- Making games is easy. Multiplayer networking is free, everything LUA scripted.
Big game makers, this is your virtual chance.
- 2D/Single player games welcome - they get housed in their own arcade cabinet.
- Money better than an app, less than a downloadable

12:00 - Experimental is Hard - Steve Swink

The constraints of Shadow Physics, combined with a commitment to meaningful experience and game feel, resulted in self punishment rather than really awesome shit.
i.e. Shadows best with a tall and leggy lead, feel wants short and stubby ala Mario
i.e. Player moves at varying speeds depending on lighting, feel demands full control.

Steve found himself imposing his will on the system, rather than learning and exploring what the system yields. While the game demoes great (showed 40+ amazing levels during session), and despite the fact I'd buy the current version, Steve assured everyone it wasn't fun to play. He's still trying to figure out what Shadow Physics wants to be - perhaps a series of moments rather than hard puzzler. Great artists struggle to make something beautiful. "Don't be afraid to kick the crap out of yourself." Steve is wise.

1:00 - Refreshment Break - GameSpy

Tasty sandwiches, cold drinks? Refreshment Break... I deem thee... LUNCH. A very busy Stephanie Barish stops to chat, insisting we indulge in the recently unveiled cheese plate. That's how you make an entrance.

Note: I recently discovered IndieCade's sponsorship tier document. It took me 16 hours to create TOJam's sponsorship page, which means Stephanie spent at least 10+ days on it.
Takeaway: Being CEO sucks.

2:30 - In Too Deep - Chris Hecker and Paul Sottosanti

Chris & Paul, together with the audience, attempt to answer the question "What makes a game deep?" The foundation they lay can't support the room's passion. Rabid designers attack one another with conflicting insights and passionate rebuttals.

Is Dwarf fortress deep or just complex?
Bejewelled is crochet, until it reveals itself.
Breadth does not mean depth... or does it?
Luck vs. Skill is a false dichotomy!
GO is straightforward to learn... NO IT ISN'T!

Before Chris & Paul can close Pandora's box, I have to leave.
I hope they got out alive.

Friday Evening - prepare for boredom

what our station looked like... in my mind
credit: Jeriaska

We were extremely lucky - a great location plus projector we requested (3D effect WAY better projected). Fellow finalists too classy to mention disparity, a more supportive group you will not find. To prove this, I shined the projector directly into Ryan's face, blinding him. He laughed the entire time.


Guided only by iPhone and hunger for Indian, walked until we stumbled into Lawrence of India. Ordered "Sorpotel" - a "Goan" delicacy. Words meaningless, meal tasty, service excellent. Group divided on food... next time, "Stick with Sorpotel"

Finished evening at Cold Stone Creamery. Employees and friends neglected to tell innocent Jaime about toppings, resulting in a plain pumpkin ice cream.
The cold stone laid there unused, mocking him...
Jaime: "That's okay! It gives me a reason to come back!"
I love that guy.

Nothing matters but the weekend... from an indie point of view

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