Category «Festivals»

Gamescom – Day 2 – The mess(e)


After getting in touch with little game booths and crowded places at the Notgames Fest on Tuesday, we felt ready to check out the gamescom. Luckily Wednesday is Trade Visitors Day, so everything is just half-crowded, but totally set-up for the big mayhem to start.


The first thing we headed for was the CD Project Red booth in the business area. Most business booths are super boring, have food and drinks for the press, no booth babes and are seldomly crowded. The CDPR's booth was full of people that were interested in their upcoming projects.'s Trevor Longino was there handing out t-shirts with a raising fist claiming the DRM-free revolution. And there was a Witcher boardgame, that looked quite nice. But no game to play, nope.


Another booth we visited with great interest was the Indie Megabooth booth. Kelly Wallick talked about their epic project to make Indie games more visible and to bring them to tradeshows like PAX or gamescom. We met Zoii (Global Game Jam, Playful Arts Festival, Women in Games NL), Jonatan Van Hove brought his suitcase arcade with the multiplayer WTF-game 'Go Nuts!' and Sos Sosowski arranged his hairspray and Achtung! Arcade. When you have a game or any interest in indie games, go there. I bet you will meet someone interesting.






The Iran was there, too. And brought us games where you have to chase your nose! Or MMO cockfight games. But seriously, I regret that we didn't have much time to check out this booth more closely.

After leaving the business area we went straight to the German IndieArena Booth, assembled by Oliver Eberlei from Hammerlabs Games. In a short amount of time he achieved to get contacts, indies, material, computers and all the stuff necessary to present a great collection of games.


Thomas Schulze, whose game I'm currently playing, showed us his monitor with the special foliage he needed to keep his game Splatter (word!) from the eyes of children.


You can also play Beatbuddy by Threaks there. An underwater platformer where you play in the rhythm of the music with a fantastic art style and a cute character. They even have a human sized mascot!


Talk to Sebastian Mittag and Mareike Ottrand from Studio Fizbin about their adventure The Inner World.


Or meet Thomas Bedenk and his team Brightside Games, who work on a game with many indie characters you might know.

If you want to see the ten ambassadors of the German Indie scene, go to Hall 9, Booth A-045 and feel the bright, fresh wind of German indie spirit.


A picture of a nice dog. I asked the booth babe to step aside for the image. She didn't look pleased.


Yes, we had press material.

After getting deaf through the booth next to the IndieArena we seek a more peaceful place and found it in Hall 10. Our friends from Leipzig prepared together with a lot of other retro enthusiasts a huge area of exhibitions, retro consoles, games, relaxing spaces and more interesting stuff than you will ever find it in any other booth.


The yellow wall is a German 80s kid's room. OMG, look at this stuff!


Some steps further you can play the analog version of Pacman – the Whacky Wit boardgame. Norman Sommer created this beautiful-looking, wooden boardgame. It even sounds awesome when you reset the pills! We played one session and talked about the process of making such a game. Norman made this game for an computer-enthusiastic friend in hospital, so they could play things together there. Now he got quite famous with this luxury boardgame for collectors.

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Thomas Köhre from the Haus der Computerspiele (House of Computergames) introduced us to the most ugly, strange, shitty game covers exhibition. We should make a jam just from these packages.


In the same area we found game schools, cosplayers, the German Bundeswehr (if you like head shots, you should get hired there!) and case modders (the theme is 'Steam Punk').


That the OUYA is only one of many companies starting to be a competitor on the console market was something we recognized even more at the gamescom. There is the Pandora (you may find the creators in the retro area), UNU (by a German company) and the BOYO. The UNU was most interesting, because of its access to the Google Play store. The docking station will be delivered with a remote (quite similar to the Wii remote, but without the Gyro) and in the game version a controller is added as well. The UNU company is planning an own shop as well.


Another trend that was very visible at the gamescom are games that enable the player to be more creative. At Microsoft's booth you can see presentations and playable versions of Project Spark. With this tool you can create a 3D-world by adding and removing material, like working with clay. Afterwards you can paint the stuff with prepared grass, rock, ice or desert textures and add props like trees, rocks, plants and enemies. This is just the edit mode. In play mode you can add a character and walk through your newly built level. With a very basic and easy programming tool you can add behavior to your character. The whole tool looks like a polished and more user-friendly successor of Kodu.



And for those who already have the boob pads, check out for the brain wave controlled cat ears. Hooray for technology!

Alright gamescom. We leave now. See you next year, probably with more to TRI.



Gamescom – Day 1 – NOTGAMES FEST

Notgames Fest

Five years ago Tale of Tales created a game called The Graveyard. You play an elderly woman who is visiting a graveyard. When you walk too fast, she starts to limp. At the end, you can reach a bench and listen to a dutch song about life and death. Afterwards you can leave the graveyard and the games is finished. What followed was a big discussion about this project. Is it a game or not? Should it be called a game? Is walking enough to be called 'gameplay'?

Since then Tale of Tales created a lot more games which fancied me because of their attitude towards gameplay or their way to tell stories, like 'The Endless Forest' or the 'The Path'. As an answer to the reactions towards their games they created the term “notgame”, to describe their kind of interactive media.

In 2011 they even started the Notgames Fest in cooperation with the Cologne Games Lab, a university for game design. They selected a variety of games contrary to the games at the gamescom, which takes place in parallel to their exhibition.


This year they came back to Cologne to present even more games at the second edition of the Fest. Games which – according to Simon Bachelier who was jointly responsible for the exhibition – invite the player to toy around instead of achieving given goals. The area was split into the main exhibition and the playground, where prototypes of upcoming games were shown. Sadly they were presented only on Tuesday, which was also the night of the opening party.

In contrast to the gamescom, the whole place was super-relaxing with little booths that where seperated by white strings. A dark room, just illuminated by the gloom of the monitors and beanbags put in the middle to invite the player to have a good time. You get the feeling that this is the only right way to present games. Instead of joining the party we played every game and discussed them with the developers who where in place.

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Right at the beginning you find a game called 'Bokuda'. The first comment I heard somebody saying about it was: “Oh, like Minecraft!”, but if you dive into the clean designed white valley with its black sun, you will recognize that there is more to it. In Bokuda you can built chains of cubes, which at the same time are also your path to walk on. You can slice them and thus physicalize the created object. Then you can smash them. The whole game is like a huge playground with an endless amount of building blocks. What I liked about the game was the attitude, that there was no goal and you have to find your own entertainment in it. Or find out for yourself what this game has in mind for you. Or you for it.


'Kachina' was another game that really caught my interest. The game by Ben Esposito, who got the Indie Fund as financial backup, is something like a physics adventure. Your goal is to clear the area from every object around with a hole. You can move the hole around and 'eat' anything that will fit in it. Sometimes you need to eat small things first to grow for bigger things. Or eat a frog, that will jump out of it to eat the flies that buzz in the air. Instant fun. This game takes the term 'Clearing the level' to the max.


Projected on the wall you can find the so-japanese 'Noby Noby Boy' by Keita Takahashi. You play a worm that eats to grow larger (a gameplay element you can find here quite often). In the two-player mode the both of us tried to realize what actually can be done. The whole stuff looked buggy, couldn't be reset. When we checked the menu the damn worm eats up the text and we never managed to shrink the worms to be able to handle them. Nevertheless we played this thing over and over again. Recognizing that we can eat each other to shit us out was the best. Nice feature! Is this a game about relationships?


The most interesting game in this place for me was 'Shelter'. A game which I mentioned at the Amaze festival because of its strange emphasize on obvious texture tiling. We discussed the art style a bit until a bystander asked us if we even know how games are made.

Whatever feeling you have towards the art style (I love it, btw), the game is great. You play a badger mother walking her little ones on a journey of life and death. Plainly spoken: It's a linear walk-through with food to find, foxes and frogs to kill and enemies like huge flying birds to avoid. But the whole world really begs for exploration and you start to have a really strong relationship with your little badgers. Try to find food for them, because they get hungry, which is neatly visualized by them getting light grey until they crawl up and won't move anymore. I stopped playing it because I want to buy it, but I strongly recommend this game, if you like exploration and little cute animals that you can call with a click of your mouse.



The next room, which I already mentioned above, was just there for one day - the 'playground'. You could play prototypes of upcoming games. Mattias Ljungström from 'Spaces of Play' presented their game 'Future Unfolding' there. The game is in a really early development state, but has an interesting approach to exploration. You are a person who is just able to walk, run or sprint in this beautifully designed woods. On your journey you encounter different animals that all have a different behavior. A rabbit that grows bushes, wolfs that split up every second to surround and kill you. Or the deers that lead you to their leader if you follow them. I just cannot say 'no' to games which take place in woods.


Another project that caught my interest since I heard of it was 'That Dragon, Cancer'. The game is about a father and his little three-year old who has cancer. The game was presented in a very early state as well. You play the man in first-person perspective and can freely explore the hospital room. When you reach certain hotspots he is telling his moving, depressing story about his son. From time to time you take action to feed the toddler or bring him back to bed. But you never see him, because he is already dead (or not implemented?). But you can hear his crying and the desperate attempts of his father to calm the boy down.

Wow. I mean, the game was at it's very beginning and the game part was a bit irritating. But this game shows what interactive media can be capable of. Just the sound and talking in this hospital room made me feel his pain. His true, sad story.

I feel insensitive to switch back to my developer talk and experience, but I'm no journalist, so I stick to what interests me about the game as well: 'That Dragon, Cancer' by Ryan Green and his team will be the first OUYA-exclusive game. Which is an interesting choice for a gaming platform.

And don't forget to play Tale of Tales' own game 'Luxuria Superbia'. I felt lesbian afterwards. And I know that I want to please my iPad more often. It feels great. "Thank you".


I feel that there needs to be written more about every game there, but games are best been played. So, just take some time, leave the gamescom and check out for the Notgames Fest, because its worth visiting for its nice selection of games.

Svetovid and gamescom

Last week I participated in the 7DFPS - a game jam that wants to "keep first person shooters interesting". I'm not really sure if people really lose interest in the FPS genre somehow, but here you are, a jam that is all about first person perspective and shooting. Of course neither is mandatory, as there are entries without any pew pew and even 2D ones. Overall the genre is a very open one, and with the rise of Unity3D, a lot of people were able to participate without much hurdles.


My own entry, Svetovid, uses Unity3D too. The name comes from a Slavic god "of war, fertility and abundance", and like a lot of gods he has several heads, each looking in a different direction. I kinda was inspired by our visit to the island Rügen where he was worshipped. But mostly I just wanted to do something unusual with the camera and experiment a bit, as I didn't have much time and motivation to fully use the seven days of game jamming. Thus Svetovid was made in circa three days and can be downloaded or just played in your browser here. Gameplay-wise it's very simplistic, and as it is turn-based, it reminds of a roguelike a lot.

I'm pretty happy as the game already got a bit attention: @notch, @PeterMolydeux, @radiatoryang and @AdamKuczynski tweeted about it! Svetovid also was mentioned on IndieStatik and


In other news, we will be in Cologne on Wednesday, visiting the gamescom 2013. This year a collective booth of German indie developers will be open from Wednesday to Sunday, presenting ten different games:

  1. Beatbuddy (Threaks)
  2. GhostControl Inc. (bumblebee)
  3. The Inner World (Studio Fizbin)
  4. Forced (Beta Dwarf Entertainment)
  5. Splatter (Dreamworlds)
  6. The Last Tinker (mimimi Productions)
  7. Team Indie (Brightside Games)
  8. The Red Solstice (Ironward)
  9. Ethan: Meteor Hunter (Seaven Studio)
  10. Sky Arena (Hammer Labs)

The trailer shows the awesomeness of these games and the German indie scene, even though it's much too short:

Indie Arena at Gamescom - 10 games in 1 Booth

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Oh - and on Tuesday we will be at the official Expo Party of the Notgames Fest, talking to artists and other indie developers.

Hope to see you there!