PAX AUS 2019 – Shaun’s Indie Round Up Part Two
Player2 writer Shaun Nicholls spent hours on the floor of PAX AUS 2019 getting hands-on with indie title after indie title for the benefit of our readers. This is the second part of this mammoth effort, so make sure to check out the first part if you haven’t already.
Camped Out – Inca Studios
Camped Out, formerly known as Scouts Honour, is an Overcooked-like game in which you and up to three others have to make a camp before dark. It sounds simple enough but while you are doing this you will have to contend with traps, the environment, ghosts and even the efforts of your other campers as you race to get everything done before the sun goes down.
There are going to be a lot of comparisons to Overcooked in Camped Out, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Much like its spiritual predecessor, Camped Out is very easy to get the hang of, and while the PAX demo was of earlier levels and seemed a bit easy I am sure there will be enough of a challenge to test both players’ skill and patience. After all, can this genre be truly successful if you don’t have players ready to throw their controllers at each other’s heads in frustration? Such as the guy who kept taking the wood I had chopped down instead of chopping his own…. deep breath… I’m good now.
At this stage I am not sure if the tasks to set up camp will be more complex as the game progresses or if contending with the environment will be the main challenge of the game, however with the colourful art style and simplistic controls this will be a game you can happily play with your kids, just as long as you don’t throw your controller at them.
Camped Out is coming to Steam early 2020 with plans for console release to follow.
Operation Armstrong – Fullbeans Studio
Ever wanted to make like a secret agent? As one would expect, it is a lot different than in a video game. You can’t just press pause and pull out a map in the middle of a hallway. Operation Armstrong makes you that secret agent and leaves you to sneak your way through various installations, but you are not alone. Just like Solid Snake, you have allies that will help to guide you to your objective, only this time the voice in your ear that guides you will be your friends.
One of the main problems with playing VR games with other people around us that there is nothing for the people who aren’t playing to do but sit around and watch. Operation Armstrong instead engages these other players through their smartphones to become the voice in the ear that helps the agent get to their objective. Players simply go to a website hosted by Fullbeans Studio and enter a key to access the current game and from there they not only see a full map of the level but also see robot guard patrols, objective locations and can remotely open doors.
It is a really interesting concept with potentially no limits on the number of people helping, or hindering, the agent, as the ‘spotters’, as I refer to them, can drop in and out as they please, with access for doors split up between audience members. However, while the spotters will see a map on their phone screen, the agent location is only shown on the main screen itself. Thus the spotters will have to divide their attention between the main screen and their phone so they know what they are doing and when they are needed to take action to help the player.
The level on show at PAX was split into multiple sections. The agent had to make their way through each of these sections with the help of their spotters within a time limit, a task made harder when the 3 spotters decided to have an impromptu team meeting to figure out the best way through. It was funny at the time as the agent was just standing there, looking around in VR waiting for the group to come to a consensus of the best way to proceed. This sort of interaction could lead to hilarious results as spotters shout out different and confusing instructions to the bewildered agent.
When the game releases there will be a level editor included, so people can download user-created maps. I can see users creating some very challenging levels that will push prospective agents of the kind we see in games like Mario Maker. In speaking to the developers I asked about the possibilities of multiplayer components, such as agents competing against each other to complete their objectives or have a counter agent trying to sabotage you. They said while those sorts of things would be awesome to do they want to make sure the core experience works as designed before delving into those sorts of things.
For those that want to have a look at the game and experience it for themselves, there will be a closed beta held in January, with the full game expected to release on PC based VR systems in late 2020. Hopefully, the team will be able to get a release on PSVR, as with the TV screen already in use it would make it the perfect system to play on.
If you are the sort of person who loves a good management sim then MMORPG Tycoon 2 just might be the game for you. Design the world, quest chains, towns and cities, combat and even when to hit someone with the banhammer. Make the MMORPG you want to make, and deal with the users as well.
Players will be able to create a world that they want to make, and they can choose just how deep they want to dig into the game’s systems themselves. If you are the type of person that wants to control absolutely anything then you can do that. For those that just want to be a bit more relaxed about their creation can take advantage of several auto-generating systems so that they can focus on expanding the world. It is up to the player how they would like to play the game, something that the developers have been keenly aware of during development.
Currently, the game is looking at going into early access by the end of the year with a full release period sometime around the end of 2020. Speaking to Trevor Powell, the designer and coder of MMORPG Tycoon 2, as it stands right now, the game is ready to play, with the simulation being able to run from start to finish. What it is lacking is variations on content, such as building designs, that will allow the players to really tailor the game world they create to their own liking. He is hoping to have around 20 different design styles before he would be comfortable calling it a full release.
In more good news the game may not be relegated to just the PC world. After seeing that games like Cities: Skylines can be made to work on consoles, Trevor is hoping to look further into the possibilities of porting the game to consoles. The limitations put on the game by the graphical output, you can zoom out and move to any area in the game world, of which is about as large as the original WoW map, may mean that smaller powered devices like the Switch and tablets will not be feasible, but the team want to bring the game to as many devices as possible.
If you are a fan of management sims then this game may just be one you want to check out for yourself.
Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy – Bad Goat Studios
Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy is a traditional point and click adventure that tells the story of young Henry Mosse and his adoptive mother Seren. The story will have them travelling the cosmos and taking down the big evil mega-corporations.
With an art style reminiscent of Day of the Tentacle, the game world is bright and colourful, with fully voiced characters who are also Australian so that is a bonus. The puzzles, while not super challenging, did make me have to think and experiment a little bit, however, unlike the older point and click adventure games, you don’t have to go hunting pixel by pixel to find objects you can interact with. Pressing the space bar will show everything that you can interact with within the current screen, but how you will make use of them is up to you to find out.
According to the developers, the average playthrough will take about 10 hours from start to finish. To add replayability to the game, there are choices you must make that will affect what happens in the story, the reactions of those around you and even story content. To see everything, there is to see a player will need to make the journey multiple times.
The developers are very aware of the accessibility of the game as well and helping newcomers to the genre feel comfortable in playing, without the frustration many people felt back in the point and click golden years. To help players they have built-in hint systems as well as the ability to skip the puzzles that would ordinarily require fine motor skills. The developers are also working to make the game friendly to people who are colourblind, dyslexic and those that suffer from motion sickness in an attempt to open up the game to as many people as possible.
For those who want to relive the old glory of point and click adventures be on the lookout for Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy sometime in 2020.
Primordials: Fireborn – Toybox Games Studio
I first saw this game last year at PAX and was really impressed with what I saw, as was our Editor Matt Hewson. You could see that not only were the guys from Toybox Games passionate about their game, but they wanted to shoot for the stars and go big. The type of scope that was shown in Primordials: Fireborn is that of a AA level developer, so to see what was created with a core team of only 7 people working around their day jobs was very impressive.
This year Primordials: Fireborn was back at PAX once again, showing off some of the changes they had made in the last 12 months. The first thing you noticed was that combat felt much better. Last year it was just a single attack button, but after receiving feedback the team redesigned combat to include both a heavy and light attack. This gives the player more options in how to take on enemies, providing a deeper experience. The combat is not quite optimised yet, something the team was very upfront about, but the difference it made to the experience was gigantic.
Another major change that has occurred during the last 12 months was the introduction of foliage that the player interacts with as they move. Where last year your character would just run through the foliage, now it deforms around and under you as you move. It may seem like a little thing to players but it is something that helps with the immersion of the game.
For those who have yet to see what it is like I highly recommend going to the Toybox Games website and watching the trailer for the game. With gorgeous backgrounds, full voice acting and what seems to be an interesting story this is definitely one Australian made game that will be going places and one that I hope the team has great success with.
Unfortunately, since the team has to work on the game around their day jobs, there is no clear schedule to release. I am alright with that. Given what I have seen so far I think it will be worth the wait and would rather give the team the time to truly bring their vision to life than to have them push out a half baked product.