Enzo is a writer of Italian descent. He has lived in Germany, Switzerland, and recently settled in New York City where he works as a freelancer. When he is not exploring the city or losing at Street Fighter 5 tournaments, he likes to play role-playing and strategy video games. You can check out his work at www.enzoscavone.com.
An event like no other has been gearing up in the ecosystem of New York’s conventions. We attentive observers of the indie game scene first took note of it through articles on OPN, Polygon, and TechRaptor — we who broke the news that Playcrafting was organizing New York’s first dedicated video game convention. After having interviewed Dan Butchko, the CEO of Playcrafting, in the week leading up to PLAY NYC, I was curious about how the event would turn out. Was the excitement justified, and especially: would it be a seminal event in a series of many to come, setting a movement into motion to grow the video game development scene in New York?
Enzo Scavone, senior journalist at OPNoobs, traveled to Mexico and met some of the leading figures of the wider professional videogame community in Mexico. Although his wallet was picked, his interest in the state of game development was also piqued, and he shares his thoughts here.
The four members of Windy Games, Adam Michaan, Alexander Ahlberg, Emily Compton, and Tom Brooks II, took a tour through Howe Caverns in upstate New York, conducting field research for their upcoming title Miasma Caves, a JRPG and cave-exploration game for which they need to generate an authentic cave environment.
Despite a flourishing indie game development scene, New York does not have host a games convention. Many claim that the need is covered by PAX East, in Boston, or GDC, far away on the West Coast. Furthermore, the supposedly little interest that is suspected to exist locally would be covered by branches of New York ComicCon or the Tribeca Film Festival. The success of the video game components of the two events, however, shows that the interest is growing and might not be satisfied as it is.
OPN had an opportunity to speak with the developers at length about their continuing work with Slime-san. Their answers show inside-track glimpses of the challenges and expectations of indie studios who seek to maintain and expand a title after release.
Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days by Big Star Games is a third-person top-down shooter with few connections to Quentin Tarantino’s film other than it being about gangsters with color-coded names; and yet Bloody Days partially succeeds in its aspiration to revive a classic for crime and gangster films, while offering a time-rewind mechanics that helps the game distinct itself from the pool of titles in the top-down shooter category.
“Jus’ watch me, you joyk,” New York might say. While the city doesn’t attract big name game studios yet, it has a growing and energetic indie game scene. The members of this scene are gaming devotees looking for communal support and wishing for New York to support small entrepreneurship and can-do attitudes. Programs to help start-ups exist, like NYU-Poly, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, and NYC Seed. However, the landscape lacks initiatives which support video game developers, specifically.
With Prey,the developer Arkane Studios has built on the proven success of its stealth shooters. The gameplay discourages a head-on approach, slowing down the pace of the action. However, the frustration of having to hide instead of fighting enemies is remedied by excellent graphic and sound design, a strong RPG element, and the possibility to gather resources and build useful devices. An additional perk is the inventive writing, which manages an immersive, haunting atmosphere.
While there are some problems with making the player feel truly relevant in influencing the plotline, there are occasions where this does happen, and then you feel taken along for a fascinating ride. Together with the superb voice acting and quality soundtrack, this episode leaves you thirsting for more.
Faithful to the franchise, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness manages to involve the player into speculative science-fiction that poses fundamental questions about the human condition. While the graphics rely on still images and, at times, follow dialogue to an extent that feels tedious, the storyline creates a gripping experience on crime and mystery that leaves one pondering their own views on happiness and self-determination.
Dawn of War 3, by Relic Entertainment, is a worthy successor to the first two installments in the series. While it struggles to implement the grimdark theme of Warhammer lore visually, the title manages to reference the theme through its elite units. The heroes and doctrines a player chooses before a multiplayer battle offer the possibility to customize strategy and develop individual playstyle.