Feature – GameCityNights: GameCity7 Festival Special

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Feature, GameCity
Tags: , , , , , ,

I know… it seems like we have another launch special, but this event is so special its specialness cannot be contained in a single special night. At least that’s what the organisers told us. The time has come for GameCityNights to start up again, three weeks before the start of the main event that is GameCity7. After a tearful reunion with the Grand Master of GameCity Iain Simons, House Band Owain Davies and bar manager Dan Bull we took up residence in a new spot…

It seems the furniture has been altered in our absence. Big people in suits sat in front of chairs positioned in front of the usual perch. Shifting to nearby seating had a giant pillar blocking our view. There was no choice for it. We had to move closer to the front. Swallowing our pride and devastating the reputation of being one of the cool kids who always sits at the back we took up new residence in a position not far off front-and-centre. A further distance from the bar and toilets but offers a much better viewing of the evening. A fair compromise. Munching on crispy bacon we decided to dress more professionally to reflect our new outlook on reporting and the image of this site, hopefully Derek-Wheatley.com will be taken more seriously and better things can happen for the people here and you – the avid reader.

Frustration has a new name.
It has five sides.
And none of them like you.

On offer tonight to play was Super Hexagon from Terry Cavanagh, a game which sounds simple enough when you hear about it but challenging to ball busting proportions when it comes to playing it. Guiding a little arrow stuck in orbit by the titular hexagon you shift from left to right in an attempt to avoid the increasingly fast walls which zoom in on the hexagon you start getting into a rhythm, but the smallest of distractions can see you failing instantly. However the attempts are so fast paced you’ll hardly notice and jump straight into another attempt. With difficulty levels titled Hard, Harder and Hardest you have a sense of what you’re letting yourself in for. A perfect example of a great game which doesn’t have to rely on the latest graphical engine to be appealing. Available on iOS for you right now.

The night began with the announcement that GameCityNights was going on tour. That’s right, for those who were afraid to travel into Nottingham the popular night out that is GameCityNights may be coming to a city near YOU.

Tour Dates (Shamelessly taken from their website)

Nov 13th – National Media Museum, Bradford
Nov 20th – BFI Southbank, London
Nov 21st – Dublin Science Gallery, Dublin

Jan 24th – Antenna, Nottingham
Jan 29th – Arnolfini, Bristol
Jan 31st – Junction, Cambridge
Feb 5th – MAC, Birmingham
Feb 22nd – Animated Exeter Festival
Feb 23rd – Margate, GEEK2013
Feb 25th – Carriageworks, Leeds
Feb 26th – FACT, Liverpool

GameCity Overlord Iain Simons commented that “What does this mean? We don’t really know” but changing into Professional Mode added “After three years of nights’ gigs in Nottingham and loads of brilliant guests and audience members, it seemed like a good time to share the love. The one thing we love more than doing GameCityNights events is driving – so this really is the ideal combination for us. We’re really looking forward to making some new friends and trying out some new ideas on them. More than anything else, we’d really like people to get involved – so if you’ve got something to say or a game to show – get in touch.”

The first UK showing of Lego Lord of The Rings will be happening, and if we can we’ll be getting some bootleg footage of that on YouTube the second we return to DW HQ.

The unveiling of the GameCityPrize Longlist proved popular with the crowds, however few of the games on offer many hadn’t played – or even heard of.

The winner will be revealed during GameCity7 on the 24th October. We will more than likely be tweeting it, so be sure to follow us on Twitter to find out first if you’re sadly unable to attend.

Over Skype we had Alan Saltsman who will be attending festival with his game Capsule, which sounds enticing on paper but looks rather boring in execution. Sounding like the 1979 coin-op game Lunar Landing, which was cited as an inspiration for this game – Capsule is exclusive to Venus Patrol subscribers and gallery events. Explained as “a radar console for something which doesn’t exist, in a place which doesn’t exist, only way to access the imaginary place on the other side of the radar screen is through the radar screen” it mainly consisted of watching a cross move cumbersomely through “space” and “collecting” dots which many of which will be titled “fuel”, since it depletes at an alarming rate. Extraordinarily dull to witness, but the creators themselves has stated that you have to play it to “get it”.

On a more interesting note, Capsule will be featured at GameCity7, putting people into a capsule isolated custom constructed environment (dubbed the Capsule Capsule) to see if they can survive a special live version of Capsule. Saltsman elaborates as you “climb into a thing by yourself and hopefully have an experience which is different than other video games” which Iain Simons compared to “the world’s most loneliest, slowest theme park ride”. Another intriguing idea, let’s see how that turns out.

A future GameCity celebrity, Headteacher of the GameCity STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) school revealed herself to the masses and showcased her new game from her studio Lady Shotgun Games – Buddha Finger. Although not actually mentioning a single word about the STEAM School at GameCity7, we learned much about the woman herself. Being been a games developer/designer for 15 years, founder, lead designer and “general dosgbody” of Lady Shotgun Games, Anna Marsh talks about how indie games can save the planet.

With her love of coding beginning with the ZX Spectrum, Marsh played a lot of Atic Atac, Jetpac and Ghostbusters and after realising that the ZX came with a programming manual Marsh set to work messing around with code and has been hooked ever since. Marsh would spend her school holidays making “a tiny little rubbish tank move along screen in a very ineffective way and flash different colours”. When the Doom and Quake engines gave mass creativity,Marsh started creating her own mods and became part of the modding community, even making her work part of coursework at university. Her first mod involved being in a nightclub with the objective of trapping the perfect man whilst repelling other women and creepy guys using beer and vodka as weapons. Her second was set in the London Underground which collapsed, turning people into mutants with a boss being a 20 foot high nun who would fire green fireballs. As awesome as these levels are – sadly they no longer exist.

Modding gave her enough fame to attract the attention of Psygnosis and led to the development of her first game Team Buddies, which became a cult classic. Later Marsh went to Eidos and worked on titles such as the brilliant Hitman Blood Money and the Legends and Anniversary instalments of the Tomb Raider series.

At the end of 2011 Marsh founded Lady Shotgun with Sarah van Rompaey. Both worked at Eidos and whilst working on Tomb Raider both decided they wanted to work for a different kind of game developer with flexible hours, from home and even though they don’t have much money the projects they wanted to work on were ones they were actively passionate about.

Then Marsh went indie, but why? Approximately 5 years ago Marsh gave a talk at the Sense of Play symposium which was about why game publishers and game buyers risk adverse. Concluded that publishers want to minimise risk by releasing games they know the punters will enjoy and customers will want to buy games they know enjoy and as such they are risk adverse. Big consoles go for obvious strategy for making money as they don’t want to take a risk and creativity loses in the face of capitalism and many sequels. Since then digital games have revolutionised everything, giving birth to a wide market of people to create games which can be done cheaply with less risk being taken. In the wake of this Lady Shotgun have brought us Buddha Finger! Inspired by the highly addictive Elite Beat Agents and a moment in Kung Fu Panda when Po takes out Tai Lung by attacking his pressure points and visually inspired by cheesy action movie stars such as Van Damme, Segal and Lundgren. Although it doesn’t follow a rhythm like Elite Beat Agents, it does offer speed tapping for high score attaining action. Plus it’s rather fun to play, so that’s a bonus.

When asked what the future holds for her and Lady Shotgun, Marsh commented that there were a few projects in the pipeline which are different than Buddha Finger and are hoping for some extra funding such as a grant without having to turn to a major publisher. Marsh was also adamant that there wouldn’t be a Buddha Finger 2 (at least for the time being) as she would become the kind of person she didn’t want to be.

To find out more about Lady Shotgun Games, visit their website http://www.ladyshotgun.com

And to find out more about Capsule visit their website too! http://venuspatrol.com/tag/capsule/


GameCityNights is an event that happens on the last Thursday (even though on this occasion it was a Friday) of every month at Antenna in Nottingham. For more information check out http://nights.gamecity.org/

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