Monday, February 29, 2016

[IndieDev] Back From Casual Connect Europe: Awesome Indie Games

So I'm back from Amsterdam and our trip to Casual Connect Europe 2016! I have to say that Amsterdam is a magnificent city, Europe is very different from North America, and Casual Connect had some freakin' awesome games.

Amsterdam has canals! And very narrow streets.
Cutting to the chase, sadly, Eon Altar did not win any Indie Prize awards, but to be honest our game felt a little out of place at the event. As per the name of the event, "Casual", we were probably not really the target indie audience. The grand majority of games there were the very definition of "casual", being mobile, or quick sessions, or simple mechanics, which Eon Altar is not really any of those three. But man, many of these other indie games were amazingly executed. Really cool concepts, gorgeous artwork, and so on. I'll expand on some of the coolest games I saw below.

I got to talk with representatives of all sorts, as well. My first real industry networking event that I actively participated in. Got to talk shop with one of the Unity engineers (probably my personal highlight, being a software engineer myself primarily); mingled with a bunch of folks running ad and analytic platforms; some publishers; translators; testing companies; others selling art, cloud, or programming services. Complete networking overload.

Indie Prize Participants
Many folks thought Eon Altar was super different and really interesting. Our control scheme was pretty universally hailed as innovative, and many commented on how smooth it felt, which for me felt really good. But at the same time, the same problem we have today with communicating Eon Altar via Steam cropped up at the event. How do we evoke the experience we're creating in our communications?

Many don't quite get Eon Altar when you describe it, because there's nothing quite like it on the market. But when they get their hands on it, everything clicks. So we still have to solve the issue of how to communicate what our game is and the experience without having to actively demonstrate said experience. We were originally mislabeled as a "mobile" game at the event because of this issue, and even advertisers and publishers approached us like we're a traditional mobile game because we use the phrase "mobile-enhanced". But we're very much a PC (and want to be a console) game, just with mobile elements.

Our Director with our "booth" just after we set up early. We had to squish in a little once other booths started arriving.
But that issue aside, it was a really interesting experience, and I met so many cool people. Awesome devs, neat games, fantastic city.

Some Cool Indie Games To Look Out For


This is totally not my usual faire, but the idea behind this education game was so freaking cool I was enamoured with the game immediately. Leon! is a game where you're reading a story, but words of the story can be swapped around to change the story. As you change the story, the illustrations and sentences change as well. It's basically a reading/puzzle game, but it's a beautiful, really well thought out concept.

Chatting with the devs, they figured kids in the 6 - 7 age range would be the target (along with their parents), but honestly if your child's reading level is high enough I could easily see a 5 year old managing just fine. I could easily see my nephews playing this with their mom. Also, bonus, you could swap between English and French in the demo they brought seamlessly on any page, which was pretty awesome.


Ellipsis is a physical puzzle/platformer game played on a touch device. It's similar to pacifist mode of Geometry Wars (and indeed, the neon geometric aesthetics of it definitely elicit Geometry Wars), where you drag your circle around dodging traps and enemies, collecting other spheres. Simple concept, fun gameplay. And good news, this one is actually available on app stores right now.


Slashy Hero

A point and drag action RPG of sorts, you're trying to retrieve all of the Halloween candy that's been stolen by a great evil. Enemies and environments all feel suitably cartoony Halloween, and even your character can wear different costumes. It's a bit of a puzzle as you want to create good slashing paths to kill enemies before they kill you, and of course in true ARPG fashion there are secret rooms and hidden portals. This one is also out on app stores right now.

Google Play:


A patty cake rhythm game. It sounds goofy, but oh my god I loved playing this game so much. It's basically DDR, except you're playing patty cake. Of course with my love of rhythm games I absolutely killed it on the harder difficulty (syncopation has nothing on me!). The booth with this game was pretty much busy non-stop for the entire convention, but I was really impressed at the use of the iPad camera as part of the game itself. Really clever.


A point-and-click puzzle game, with a little bit of Choose Your Own Adventure to it in the dialogues. Absolutely gorgeous 2D artwork (their trailer really doesn't do it justice), and I liked how you got to shape the story a bit by making choices along the way. There's no wrong choices as far as I can tell, but you do get to shape the story as you go based on said choices, which was a neat mechanic


I may do a post later on the differences I noticed between Europe (or at least, the tiny slice I saw in Amsterdam) and North America, because there were a lot, but hopefully now that's all over I'll be back blogging a bit more regularly. February was a bit of a wash, apparently. But really, check out the games I mentioned above if any tickle your fancy, because you will not likely be disappointed; they're all excellent games. To be nominated beside them is pretty amazing. #IndieDev, #EonAltar

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