Last Wednesday, on what was possibly the hottest day of the year, I dropped by the first MGSA meeting of 2015.
The Make Games SA community was brought to my attention shortly after I stumbled into the first Super Friendship Arcade in February last year. Since then, I’ve gotten involved in the community’s forums as well as befriended and worked with a great selection of community members. Considering this, it felt odd that last Wednesday marked my first proper community meetup. Unfortunately the nights clash with a kung fu class I have, so breaking away is tricky. In March last year, I caught the tail end of a meetup where I awkwardly stood around for a while, too intimidated to talk to anyone. My girlfriend suggested I go home, make things, and come back to the community with a few small projects under my belt, so I wouldn’t feel like such a n00b.
Fast forward to last Wednesday, and I’m heading through to meetup, squeezed into the backseat of a car packed with four game-maker friends, a selection of talent I once found too intimating to approach. I attempt to dish out in-car-high-fives to Raxter, Evan, Stu and Richard – who sits with the Quadra-butt (see previous post) awkwardly perched on his lap. We snuggle in the scorching heat for a scenic drive to City Varsity – which is already buzzing with people attending the meetup. As the first event of the year, everyone’s donning name tags.
Evan fires up the latest build of Broforce. I’m really excited to see the alien campaign that was recently completed for PAX. The taster is promising, but soon we are summoned to get the evening underway.
With Nic out of action, Danny’s leading proceedings.
Some great news is that Danny and Marc are speaking at GDC this year (woo!). But there is no mention that Cadence has been nominated for a Gaming Award at SXSW Interactive this year (boo!).
We head into a feedback session on the recent Global Game Jam. Apparently the Cape Town contingent of MGSA made no less than 14 games! After a few words from some of the teams involved, I am even more curious and excited to have a go at some of these offerings.
Francois takes to the stage, sharing the story of Clockwork Acorn‘s creation, their first year in business and the lesson’s learned over this time. It’s inspiring to hear how the company came together, jammed their hearts out, re-evaluated their business model and found themselves on the other end of 2014 with a great collection of projects and prototypes beneath their collective belt.
Megan takes over, sharing the latest draft of the launch trailer of Retro Epic‘s Ginjah. Even without any sound design, it’s a great little trailer for an incredibly charming-looking game. The trailer loops on and on as Megan chats to community members who volunteer comments and suggestions.
After we escape the hall, my first instinct is to head outside to try cool down. When I head back in, the Quadra-Butt’s making its public debut and I get to join in on a few rounds of a bizzare circle-jerk game Richard has made for the cabinet. It’s weird and people are confused and amused and freaked out all at once. I catch a glimpse of someone playing Desktop Dungeons on an iPad, which is a nice sight. There’s some sort of platformer-shooter that I check out, but don’t get to play. I get to give Ginjah a spin, and become an instant fan (yet this exposure left me feeling like the trailer we had watched earlier doesn’t do justice to the insanely fun chaos contained in this game). Overall, I’m left very excited for Retro Epic and their upcoming release of the game – I think people are going to love it! Quadra-butt has been switched over to running Gung Ho Hippos, a Hungry Hippos mod I spoke about in my previous post. It’s great to see how happy it makes people.
From here I have my mind shattered, not once, but twice.
Beast Brawl is a two player augmented reality card game. Incredibly, it was put together in the space of 48 hours for Global Game Jam. I’m in total awe of the magnitude of this game: going through the 40 card deck and seeing how they come to life through the lens of a phone, which runs a corresponding app. Getting this game done (within the timeframe they had) must have nearly killed the little team behind it, but Beast Brawl is incredible and surely well worth all the effort that went into it.
My next mind-blowing moment comes in the form of an VR experience that Raxter has been working on over his recent stay at The Free Lives house. I’m not sure what Raxter is calling this thing but something along the lines of “Interstellar Mega-brain Trip 9000” would be apt. The Occulus Rift that the game should be running through is acting up, so I’m only half playing it, taking the game in via a normal screen. It’s still phenomenal. Endlessly intricate and utterly beautiful. The viewer is basically thrust through a never-ending stream of light and texture, passing through one little galaxy after another. For me, it’s a joy to see. A game like this doesn’t shift the goal-posts…it teleports them to a different dimension! Given that this concept has been designed for the emerging world of VR is even more of a thrill to witness.
I break away from the pixelated acid-trip and give Raxter a very well deserved atomic high-five. From there, Jem and I make our way through to Miao to join in on what’s left of the week’s Modern Alchemists meetup. I’m introduced to someone called Matt, actively working on a game that centers around a city modeled through procedural generation. More MGSA friends pull through. I have an impromptu meeting with my friend/client Ivo about a logo I’m making for his company Mexicanopiumdog. Beer is drunk. Fun is had.
At the end of the evening, Ivo gives me a lift back to my place. As I head home, I feel pretty damn stoked and greatful to be a part of a community as vibrant, active and welcoming as The Cape Town contingent of MGSA. Here’s hoping I can make the next meetup, and many more to follow!