We visited the A MAZE this year, and it was relaxing and fun. After missing it in 2018 (we went to the Reboot in Croatia instead), we were eager to meet fellow German and international developers in Berlin again. For those who don't know the A MAZE, it's a games festival with exhibition, talks, live music and workshops (and probably more). The focus is on art/games, and not on the business side or even the development of games. It's all about personal stories, crazy, mesmerizing and/or glitchy visuals, VR/AR/MR/XR/PR and generally digital weirdness. So, we had a good time.
The A MAZE happened at a new location this year, at the SEZ, a big building reminding Friedrich of his former school which was built in the 70s. While the Urban Spree was always very fitting for the AMAZE in our opinion, the SEZ brought the event together well and was also better suited for this year's cold weather. The venue change was good!
In order to justify our visit a bit, we also brought Mondar's Dungeon with us and showcased it for a few hours at the Open Screens (right next to Sos' Open Sound System). Some people eagerly played the game and gave feedback, and overall we are stoked by the positive reception. Mondar's Dungeon was originally meant as our entry for the 7-Day-Roguelike-Challenge (yes, the same event Pitman Krumb was part of, back in 2011!), but we didn't finish in time and instead worked a bit more on it until it felt complete. The elevator pitch: "Mondar's Dungeon is a roguelike, but with cards." While future updates might still come, it is mostly finished and can be played on itch.io for free!
Our friend Björn was also at the A MAZE. He released his game Murder Machine Mini on Steam two days before, and Friedrich lent his laptop so he could present the game at the Open Screens too. He did, and quite a few people had a good look at this retro shooter.
As mentioned before, the A MAZE also offers talks and workshops, and we attended some of these. For example, while Jana took part in a workshop by Anita Sarkeesian about diversity and representation in games, Friedrich was more interested in the technical side of game creation and attended workshops about ray marching shaders and about stage design in Unity. But our personal highlight were the Hyper Talks, where nine creators each had five minutes for talking about everything, from playing with dogs to creativity burn-out.
It goes without saying - we also talked to friends and friendly people at the venue all the time, discussing games, game design and the weather. Jana took part in a podcast (about game difficulty), over at the Saftladen.
Now what does the future hold for Rat King? Sadly, Behind Stars and Under Hills is on hiatus with an unknown fate. But to keep going, we accept commissioned work - the second half of 2018 was dedicated to the game for an app about the sky disk of Nebra, commissioned by MotionWorks GmbH. This sky disk is probably the oldest still existing depiction of the cosmos - we will write a bit more detailed blog post about the game soon.
Of course Rat King is still indie, thus we create concepts and prototypes for different game ideas floating in our collective rat hive mind. This blog will hopefully be more active again soon!