Howdy everybody! I hope your week has been going well, I know mine sure has! I actually just got back from spending that day at IndieCade here in Culver City, and I’m excited to share my experience with y’all!
If you’ve never heard of IndieCade, feel free to check out their website for some more information on them. Essentially, IndieCade is a conference for independent developers and artists both locally and globally to get discovered and showcase their work. This includes developers of budding VR technology like Leap Motion as well as small time developers like Deep Dark Hole with their game, Elbow Room. The event is open to developers, designers, artists, and the public alike to not only explore this showcase, but also experience it first-hand by trying out some of the games, or even building one themselves!
My experience at IndieCade was fantastic, my friend Nick and I started off with a hands-on demonstration of 3D printing, liquid silver circuit board pens, and Fwooshball. To describe Fwooshball in a word, it’s simply chaotic. A game played by two players, each player connects their mobile device to a locally hosted wifi network and goes to cats.com (because why not?). Since the network isn’t actually connected to the internet, this is actually a custom page that allows the players to control a circuit board underneath the game table. On the game table is a small arena (pictured below) with fans pointing inwards at the four corners, slanted edges to guide a ping-pong ball into openings at either end, and a small Pokemon figurine to be the goalie. From there, the ball is placed in the center of the board and a free-for-all begins. Each player can control all four fans to propel the ball into the opposing side’s goal, but with multiple people all controlling the same fans, it becomes a constant battle to keep your fans off and the opponent’s off! While the game can often go pretty quickly, Nick and I battled it out for a solid 3 minutes before I finally fumbled with my thumbs and failed to get my fan running in time.
However, Fwooshball was only the beginning of our journey. Afterwards, Nick and I ventured over into the virtual reality section of the village where we got to see some cool new technology coming out of Perception Neuron. They have an interesting setup of multiple tiny receivers that can be placed around the body to track individual hand, leg, arm, and body movements. What was really fascinating about the way that these sensors worked was that each sensor was independent and could be moved as needed, meaning that a set of 20 sensors could be used to track full upper body movement, including individual finger movements, or the could be used to track full body movement, including legs but not including finger movements. Once these sensors are set up, they are tracked wirelessly and can port the player’s full body movements into several game engines such as Unity or Unreal 4, meaning that they are fully adaptable to current systems! It was cool to see this Kickstarter movement in person and watch them demo their technology. Right next door, we saw Sixense, which has developed an alternative motion tracking system to track simple hand and leg movements. While the design is fairly simple, I’ll just let you watch me struggle to be a Jedi Master in the clip below:
Finally, we rounded out our experience with a game of Nightball, which is essentially a cross between basketball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and sports in general. Every player is on their own team and the only required materials are a small handball (dodgeball sized), a cardboard box that you can fit the ball and be held in your hands, and some friends to play with! Everyone starts the game by forming a circle around the ball and box, and then takes 6 paces away before somebody, anybody really, shouts Go! At that point, everyone races to the middle to grab the two focal points of the game. The object is simple, shoot the ball into the box; everyone is on their own team, but both the shooter and the box-holder get a point each for a successful shot. There are a few simple rules: 1. If you have the ball, you can’t run without dribbling the ball like a basketball or repeatedly tossing it gently in the air. 2. Opposing players cannot steal the ball unless it is being dribbled or shot 3. When you have the box – Run. If you are tagged by any other person, you have to discard the box and the new owner has a 3 second no-tag-back time. 4. No dunking. You have to shoot the ball from at least 6 feet away. And that’s it! The game can get incredibly chaotic, and incredibly fun at the same time! After that, Nick and I called it a successful day, with several new contacts in the industry and several new ideas for some awesome games!
While IndieCade is over for LA after this weekend, definitely keep your eyes out for more trade shows and expos like this and GDC as they’re a great way to get some firsthand experience in anything that interests you as well as meet some people who can help you along the way! Until next time!