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Play Expo Glasgow

Posted by on 15 Jul, 2016 in Fragmental

Inaugural Play Expo Glasgow

On the 11th & 12th of June, the Braehead Arena in Glasgow hosted the first Play Expo in Scotland. No longer would we all have to trek down to Manchester or Birmingham (or further afield) for our fix of pinball, old coin-ops, indie games, and classic console & computer games. There were other things there as well such as table top games, cosplay, merchandise area etc, but they’re not relevant to this article, so I can’t be arsed writing about them. I’ve got other things to do. Like helping get Fragmental finished!

 

Ruffian by name…

Usually at these things people set up their stand with maybe a poster, some sweets to entice the punters, If the budget allows possibly a free-standing banner. For an indie, these events can be expensive, so self marketing is tough. Then we turn up with our 2 large free-standing banners, stick a 3rd up in the seating area, and for good measure bring 4 bright red seats for players to sit on. Overkill? It certainly made us stand out, and hopefully brought a few more people into the indie area to see what was going on. We’re not subtle, but when it comes to selling games, you can’t really afford to be.

Stand

Devil child

Having just mentioned those red seats, now seems the opportune moment to mention the most awkward moment of the day, and that award has to go to the sneaky little girl who stole one of our chairs while we were talking to somebody about to play Fragmental. On top of this, she picked up the iPad at the next demo station along (HEDRA), and promptly exited to the desktop, scanned through everything available, then started playing Candy Crush! Having zero interest in having to remove someone else’s problem child, we left it to Craig from We Throw Switches to sort it out. For the record, he looked ultra uncomfortable doing it. Good job fella.

Exorcist

So how did it go?

Short answer – exceptionally well. Our stand had a continual stream of players on both days, with virtually no downtime. Once again, our initial thoughts on Fragmental’s demographic proved wide of the mark, with at least half of the players looking like they hadn’t even been on the planet for more than a decade! The feedback was universally positive, and I think in terms of both this, and the amount of people wanting to jump in and have a game, this was up there with the best show’s we’ve done.

Except for the 2 young lads who took 96 rounds to win a 1-on-1 ‘first to 10’ game. Watching that was like death by 1000 cuts. Or 96 at least.

 

Neighbours

One thing we’ve learned from our last year working in the indie games scene is that its a very friendly, collaborative community where everyone wants to see each other succeed. From the one-person entrepreneurs to the established studios, everyone just wants to make games, and hopefully make a bit of money out of it too. So, I’m going to promote out neighbours from Play Expo here, in the hope that some of our followers will take a look and support them:

 

“HEDRA” by Kirsty Keatch

A remarkably simple idea, all you do is rotate 3D shapes, then drop them on a variety of inclines with the aim of them landing, and settling on the one coloured face. Simple, but ridiculously addictive, especially when someone insists on beating your score you just spent ages achieving. I thought I was pretty good at it getting 22, then not at all competitive Billy went straight on and hit 35. Way to piss on my chips there Billy  :-(

Anyway, its available for free on iOS, so there really is no reason not to get hold of this.

HEDRA

 

~Ow~ by Vaida

I think this is actually called ~Ow~, though the phrase “Competitive Cuddling Simulator” on the blackboard next to the monitor is much more descriptive. How to describe this…

Essentially you control one person of a couple on a sofa, with the aim of matching the required body position through keyboard input. Think CLOP / QWOP, but where you have to first learn which key maps to which limb. It all leads to a confusing mass of limbs, which given I’m led to understand that a lot of Vaida’s work is based on her life experiences, makes me wonder about the origins of this game! When played competitively, ~Ow~ got quite frantic, which is pretty good for a game made so quickly. You should keep an eye on what she does in the future, as her current output level of games is crazy, and each one is something unusual and different.

Competitive cuddling

 

 

Honourable mentions

With pretty much every home computer and console ever present, along with a good range of pinball machines and over 40 classic coin-ops, there were plenty of those “Holy Shit!” moments on seeing a piece of hardware or a game you’ve not played since you were a kid. From a personal point of view, I made sure I got some time on Hyper Sports (Coin-op), Paperboy (Coin-op), Robotron (Coin-op), Blastcorps (N64), Power Stone (Dreamcast), and 3D Bomb Alley (BBC B).

I’ll not bother talking about the now ever present at these events Vive or Oculus. Needless to say, the queues were as long as usual.

 

‘Ruffian’ v ‘We Throw Switches’ Team Deathmatch Challenge!

Just before the end of the show, Craig & Andrew from We Throw Switches challenged myself and Billy to a Fragmental Team Deathmatch. They talked the talk. But walked the walk? More like shambled like the undead, or crawled like a baby. Next time guys, you’ll get there…

SwitchesLose

INSOMNIA…

Posted by on 20 May, 2016 in Fragmental

…I can’t get no sleep…

Insomnia_Gaming_Scotland

The latest public showing of Fragmental happened a few weeks ago in Edinburgh, at Insomnia Scotland. Traditionally these large scale LAN party events take place in Birmingham, but for the first time it has branched out and this was the inaugural event in Scotland.

 

Insomnia Scotland – Edinburgh EICC

Pre-show

The event started for me on the Friday night, when I finished work then headed home to Edinburgh to what I thought would be a very quick setup, test, then off to the pub for a beer. What should have taken half an hour, took 3 and a half hours. After spending the first 15 minutes in almost total darkness, it turned out the wireless Xbox One pads decided they had no intention of binding to the PC. One change of wireless adaptor later, still no joy. The tech guys from Multiplay Events then tried it on their PC. Nope. In the end, the fallback was to go with wired pads, which is no real problem, just having wires everywhere is a bit of a nightmare and a trip hazard. And OCD hell for anyone so afflicted…

OCD

 

No beers were had that night. :(

 

Day 1

Halfway through the day, comedian and host of Videogame Nation, John Robertson, wandered by our booth. He was performing his show, The Dark Room that night, and I’d already promised to go to his show in the evening if he played Fragmental (despite the fact I already had tickets. Shhh…). Fair enough, if I must go and see one of the best comedy shows of the last few years, then I’ll take that one for the team! He was immediately good at the game, and full of praise for it, and I’m inclined to think he meant it and wasn’t just being nice. As he wrote on Twitter…

Robbotron_tweet

He also went one further and at the end of his show that night, in a packed auditorium, told everyone they should go and play Fragmental on day 2. Cheers Robbotron!

Robbotron

 

Overall the first day went well, with myself, Dave and Alex on hand to help fill any spare slots to ensure all games had the maximum 4-players. We had always expected Fragmental to be a post-pub game, for people who remember these kinds of games from the 90’s, but surprisingly there were a lot more children playing the game and loving it. And a lot of parents who opted to just stand back and watch. (I took this to mean they were too scared to get beaten by their kids. Which to be fair, did happen quite a lot)

At the end of the day, Dave and Alex headed back to Dundee, leaving me to chat to some of the cosplayers, watch The Dark Room, and totally ignore Craig from We Throw Switches who was apparently waving for about a minute and like a blind idiot I never noticed. After that I headed off to the Beltane after party, which is a bit of an Edinburgh institution. I’ll not attempt to explain it all here, but as expected it went on until 5am, at which point I thought I should probably call it a night. Or morning…

Many, many beers were had that night. :)

 

Day 2

The doors open time of 10:30 came and went on day 2, but nobody appeared. For a good half hour I thought this might be the most awkward disaster ever for an expo, then one of the organisers mentioned that there had been a brief power cut overnight, causing all of the competition PC’s to reboot then start windows updates. Pfffft! So they had to delay the opening to the public for an hour, which was a nightmare for the organisers, but quite funny otherwise.

Instead of Dave & Alex, who cleverly wanted to have at least some of their weekend to themselves, I was joined on the 2nd day by Billy, eager to show off his digital baby. The attendance was visibly lower today, but we still had a steady stream of people wanting to play Fragmental, including many returning for 2nd and 3rd games. My personal highlight was a girl of about 7 turning to her dad and proclaiming that he had to buy it because it was amazing. I agreed completely, which pretty much decided the issue, lest he look like a bad parent.

It wasn’t the biggest show in the world, but Insomnia Scotland had a good atmosphere, lots of good games on show from the past 4 decades, and plenty of kids playing indie games and not just Minecraft (although the area with rows of children all silently hooked up to Minecraft was an ultra creepy sight). Hopefully it returns next year, bigger and better!

An acceptable amount of beers were had that night. 😉

 

Post-show

At this point in time, I think we’re pretty satisfied that we have a game that is fun, accessible and addictive. What we need to do know is get this thing finished and in the hands of the journalists! Until we have AI in and working (coming soon in the next update), we’re somewhat limited in the coverage we can get, as it is simply not a fully finished game experience yet, especially for the solo player. That said, media coverage is something we need to think about well in advance, and on that note, we got our first, albeit brief, write-up…

Stuart Cullen from The Scottish Sun took a few soundbytes from us at the show, and we made it into his final write-up. I was going to crop the image to just include our bit, but that would deprive you of the chance to win one of 20,000 holidays from Walkers…

Sun_snippet