Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pixelpop 2016 in the STL

While at Archon, a local sci fi convention, I got a flyer about Pixelpop, which is a smaller video gaming convention. So, of course I went. It was held at the St. Louis Science Center. Although it was small, it was worth going to see, because it was fun. I sat in panels and played gaming demos. I want to highlight here a few of my favorites.


I’ll start with VR Funhouse from Nvidia.

This was my third VR experience ever, my first VR game. Before, I had only watched a dinosaur demo at an AT&T store using a cellphone VR and also I’ve experienced a roller coaster using Google Cardboard. They were… not extremely impressive, to be honest. OK. Not amazing, but cool enough.

Using an HTC Vive headset and controllers, I demoed two minigames within a carnival setting collectively called VR Funhouse. The first game was using swords to pop balloons. It was fun. Cool to have a real VR experience, too! But… let me tell you… the next one I tried did it for me…

Wall Walkers. Is. Awesome.

And dumb, but I was legitimately laughing out loud while playing it. Basically, the mini game consists of pressing a button, which drops down a slimy-stretchy octopus toy before you. Using the two controllers as hands, you can grab the octopus and fling it across the room at a target on the wall. It’s like those old stretchy hand toys you get from a quarter machine.

The physics are amazing and hilarious. When you pick one up, it slogs around as you’d expect a real one to. You can shake it like jello and then throw it. SLAP! It sticks where it hits. But you can also use two hands and stretch the rubbery toy out and even sling it like you might a rubber band. Let me tell you, it’s so funny in motion. There’s no way to describe it in text to do it justice, but man… try this one. I was laughing so hard. The mechanics of this stretchy octopus thing should be the center of its own game. I don’t know. Octo-man?

First-person text-based adventure

The other game I saw that wowed me was Text Quest (there’s a demo on the site!).

The look of this game feels very much like Minecraft. It’s first-person and the graphics are minimalist. 

However, instead of blocks, everything is literally text. Fire, for example, will be the word fire pointed upwards and pulsing like flames in orange and red font. Your sword is not a picture of a sword, it is the word sword, pointed out like a sword.
It’s really cool looking. Everything you walk up and touch can be interacted by bringing up your keyboard and typing what you want. So, to go through a door, you type “open door.”

The developer was taking notes on what I typed out while I played. I tried to push the limits and he seemed to enjoy the creative things I typed. Hopefully, when it comes out, the limits of your words will surprise you.

It’s somewhere between Scribblenauts and Minecraft in feel. If the developer releases player-creation tools then this game will be a goldmine, I swear. I would love to make my own adventures and send them to my friends.

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