Winter Play: NYC Game Expo, one of Playcrafting NYC’s many events catered towards game developers, provides a place for local indie game developers to present their works – either finished or in progress. Over 100 games were presented Thursday and over 700 local gamers and developers attended the event.
Board games in development were presented in the event space’s hallway, and the bulk of the video games and apps were stationed in two separate rooms.
“The point of the night is to give exposure to developers and games from NYC and the surrounding area,” said Dan Butchko, founder and CEO of Playcrafting. “It’s a way for developers to not just meet one another and potentially make new connections with professionals in the industry, but also I’d say more importantly and urgently for them, to get a lot of playtesting time from gamers and from people who wouldn’t typically try their games.”
At their corner setup, AVARIAvs showed what was described as an alpha build. A bit of Final Fantasy inspired turn-based gaming meets pvp, the current build was first presented at MAGFest in Maryland earlier this year.
Andrew Linde, one of the developers at Juncture Media, said AVARIAvs has been three years in development, with the first two years spent working on it alone. However, his current plans for the game’s story mode expand far beyond what they’ve managed so far.
“I’d love help from somebody bigger because we have such a huge vision,” Linde said.
Endless Fluff Games has developed and published three games to date – Valdis Story: Abyssal City, Legend of Fae, and Nimbus Sky Princess. Fae Tactics is their latest project currently in its alpha stage.
In Fae Tactics, fairy tales are real, and 30 years have passed since the world merged with the Fae World. The player controls various units that summon creatures of different elements and skill sets. Up to three leader units and three summoned units can enter a battle, and it’s game over if a leader dies.
Originally planned to be a short spin-off to their previous game, Legend of Fae, Tactics is said by the developers to be in the early stages of development.
Carolina Moya and Kyron Ramsey make up their entire development team, with Ramsey creating the pixel art based on Moya’s concept art. They’ve been working on the game for a year and had three hours of gameplay prepared for the expo.
“This is the first time we’ve actually shown a game here, but we attended the Halloween expo,” Moya said. As for an expected release date, she said, “Hopefully it’ll be done before 2018. That’s the plan.”
Brett Taylor, the one-man team behind Linelight, attended every expo for the past year and returned with the final version of his game. The game is set for release on the Playstation Network on January 31. In Linelight, the player controls a single light traveling a pathway. That light gradually branches out and becomes increasingly difficult to traverse as obstacles appear. The expo’s after-party served double-duty as a launch party for Linelight.
Taylor previously worked at Arkadium as part of their research and development team. He left that position to develop Linelight full-time. As for developing a game completely on his own, he said there were pros and cons.
“It’s tough,” Taylor said. “Not having anyone to bounce ideas off of or getting programming help is really difficult.” However, he also said he had complete executive control over the game and the experience.
One reason he said he took on game development by himself was his difficulty finding another developer who could match his passion towards the project and availability.
“I have very high standards,” Taylor said. “Not that Linelight meets those standards.”
The highlighted VR game of the night was Wave Boy, a concept game where players use a stationary bike to travel through a suburban neighborhood and play as a paperboy.Sam Levine, one of the game’s developers, said the goal of the game was to promote the stationary bike, VIRZoom, which was specifically built for VR development.
Playcrafting operates out of various locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle and New York City. They offer educational services such as eight-week courses and one-day workshops educating game developers on various aspects of development. Upcoming events include free info sessions and a winter expo in San Francisco on Feb. 23.
Dan Butchko founded Playcrafting in 2014 after two years of meeting with fellow developers through a local meetup group.
Butchko said the first expo they did had around 20 games and 200 people attending. Now, none of the expos have below 100 games and 700 people. Despite their growth in event attendance, the main focus of the group remains to educate local developers.
“And that’s without us doing any kind of advertising or marketing push,” Butchko said. “It’s really just been the kind of event that’s grown and grown. There’s nothing quite like it in the New York area.”
Photos by Jeremy Ibarra