Category Archives: News

Arizona game devs design indie esports title

A team of Arizona game developers is hoping to bring esports back to its roots with an indie title aimed at local tournaments and modding communities.

The game is RMF, a movement-based 3D arena title for PC developed in the Unreal Engine and aiming for a fall release. Project manager Austin Shamp said it plays similar to a competitive game of tag.

“The players will be playing high-stakes tag, where one player will be chasing everybody else,” he said.

RMF‘s main game mode has no weapons, which Shamp said emphasizes precision in movement. While team game modes are planned, the primary game type is free-for-all.

“Focusing on movement makes it a lot easier to balance,” Shamp said.

Shamp is working on the game with Alex Reiss – Shamp designs the levels while Reiss handles the programming. The team is looking for at least one artist to handle textures, models and animations, as the game is still using default Unreal assets.

RMF is still in development, Shamp said, and the movement mechanics are taking the most time to perfect. Because there is such an emphasis on movement as a “strong base mechanic.”

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Phoenix Makes Games Jam tests skills of Arizona developers

Game developers from across Arizona participated July 18-20 in Game CoLab‘s Phoenix Makes Games Jam, a 48-hour challenge to create a video game.

Four teams built games for the event based around a dinosaur theme and presented them July 20 at Arizona State University in Tempe.

“We wanted to bring people together and show them what we could do,” Game CoLab co-founder Ben Reichert said. “I wanted to do something that kind of symbolized Arizona because we do have some archaeological things here.”

Game CoLab has hosted game jams in the past with the most recent being the Phoenix Global Game Jam.

“With the global game jam we didn’t have any prizes and I’m really excited we had some prizes this time,” Reichert said.

A panel of judges chose the winners based on theme, programming quality, art style and gameplay features.

Event sponsors included the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Ascendum, Arizona State University, The University of Advancing Technology, Unity, Cartel, Cosplay Fan Gear and “Indie Game: the Movie.”

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The winning team behind Dinosaur Story.

First place and the prize of a permanent Unity Pro license went to Dinosaur Story, a dinosaur exploration simulator that challenges the player with surviving in a 3-D world. The player dinosaur must prey on weaker dinosaurs while evading larger ones that can kill it, team member Tyler Knecht said.

“It’s a battle between surviving hunger and not being eaten,” Knecht said. “Eventually plants won’t suffice and you need to become a predator to survive.”

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Endgame to host ‘beta test’ gaming party July 12

Endgame Bar is looking for more beta testers to attend a daylong gaming party this month.

Endgame will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at the Brickyard, 699 S. Mill Ave. Suite 201 – a location Endgame’s project founder Ryan Scott plans to make permanent this fall.

A $5 cover charge gets you access to all of the bar’s video games, a slice of pizza and entry to the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournaments at noon and 5 p.m. (a new addition to this month’s event)

Although the campaign failed, anyone who pledged at least $10 to Endgame’s Kickstarter will get into this and all future “beta test” events for free.

You can bring your own games, food and drinks but no alcohol. Parking is free on the weekends at the garage on Fifth Street and Forest (across from the light rail).

RSVP for the event on Endgame’s Facebook page.

Aztez, Grave developers showcase games at E3

Last week, the Arizona game developers behind Aztez and Grave attended E3 2014 in Los Angeles to showcase their work. I caught up with them to get their thoughts on this year’s expo, what it was like to present their games there and what moments stood out to them.

Ben Ruiz makes up half of Team Colorblind, the minds behind fighting game/real-time strategy hybrid Aztez, coming this year to PC, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U and more.

Tristan Parrish Moore is the creative director for Grave, a survival horror game with randomized gameplay a surrealistic elements. The game recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and is shooting for a release date in early 2015.

Q: What did you think of this year’s E3 Expo as a whole?

Ben: It was kind of hard to get a holistic view of the event since we were hovering around the Aztez kiosks in the Microsoft booth. I just know that I saw a lot of great new games coming up, and it finally got me excited for this new generation of consoles. I have them, I like them, there’s just not much to do on them yet. So that was nice.

Tristan: This was my first time going to E3 – I’d never actually been in any capacity before. It was a bit of an interesting experience. it’s definitely different from many other conferences. We got a lot of support from Microsoft, which was really cool – we got presented in the Microsoft press briefing as one of the ID@Xbox games, so that was super great… It was really awesome to see that Microsoft is going a long way to represent the indie crowd.

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Gaming bar launches Kickstarter, eyes Tempe location

A video game bar has its eyes on a space on Mill Avenue in Tempe – but it’s dangerous to go alone.

Endgame Bar has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money and support for its bid to move into the 7,000 square foot space at 699 S. Mill Ave., owned by Arizona State University, by the fall

Ryan Scott is the project founder and a former ASU student. He said in a interview with Arizona Gamer that he has plans for Endgame to provide console-based entertainment in a gamer-friendly bar atmosphere.

He’s joined in the project by Nikki DelRosso, the lead designer and website manager, and Mike Goosens, the project’s marketing coordinator and head bartender.

Scott said in an interview with Arizona Gamer that there are two main goals for the Kickstarter campaign: to raise additional funds to pay for a liquor license, which costs around $70,000 in Arizona, and to demonstrate to ASU that there is interest in such a venue.

“We wanted to be able to use the Kickstarter to show the people that have doubts that this is something that people actually want,” Scott said.

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Arizona developers present games for Education Hackathon

Above: Justin McCandless explains his game, Mathpx, to Education Hackathon judge Mario Vassaux.

Local developers demonstrated the educational potential of games May 16 at a Game CoLab Education Hackathon pitch event.

The hackathon began April 22 and asked participants to create an educational game over the course of about three weeks and then present it to a panel of judges.

Four judges evaluated the eight games on four factors: fun, creativity, marketability and assessment. The winning game would be fun, feature original design, have a marketable concept and be able to measure a student’s progress and achievement.

Game CoLab partnered with Pearson to host the event and provided $600 in prizes divided among the top three finishers, with $300, $200 and $100 going to first, second and third place, respectively.

Justin McCandless won first place for his game, Mathpx, a learning game built in HTML5 that teaches students addition and subtraction through number visualization. A traditional math problem appears at the top of the screen while pixel balls are shown on the lower half, allowing students to manipulate problems and picture the math as they go.

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Puzzle platformer TesserAct heads to Steam

Portal was about using physics to your advantage. TesserAct, a puzzle platformer from Phoenix-based Propelled Bird Software, lets you bend it to your will, lead developer Clay Walters said in an interview with Arizona Gamer.

TesserAct was greenlit last month and Walters expects the game to hit Steam this summer. The developers also recently received backing on Indiegogo to pay for licensing fees.

The game is set in a “universe based on scientific theory,” Walters said. It follows Sam, a student who is inexplicably teleported to an abandoned moon base in another dimension.

She stumbles upon the Catalyst, a tool that can manipulate the laws of physics, and sets out to find a way back home.

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Game CoLab announces incubator program

Local gaming co-working organization Game CoLab has announced plans for a gaming entrepreneurship program funded by two sizable grants.

Co-founder Ben Reichert announced the Game CoLab Incubator Program on Tuesday. It’s funded by a $33,798 grant from the city of Phoenix.

The program will assist local game developers with innovative and disruptive ideas, according to Game CoLab’s website. Its goal is to create three new jobs in within three years.

Game CoLab is accepting applications for membership in the program. Four teams of developers will be selected and receive a monthly stipend of $300 as well as free workspace, classes, mentorship and networking.

There will be two four-month sessions beginning in June and October with space for two teams each. Some of the classes will be open to members of the Game CoLab for a to-be-determined fee.

Mind games: Researcher to kick off education hackathon

The world needs more games like Age of Empires. The series not only required strategic thinking, it taught an entire generation of gamers about medieval history through an engaging story mode. And it did so without the player even noticing.

Kristen DiCerbo
Kristen DiCerbo

Kristen DiCerbo, a Pearson research scientist and member of gaming education organization GlassLab, thinks games can be an excellent learning tool. The key to a successful educational game, she said in an interview with Arizona Gamer, is its ability to both teach as well as assess student work.

She’ll try to impart that idea to local game developers Tuesday, April 22, at a kick-off event for the Game CoLab Education Hackathon. The challenge gives participants three weeks to create an educational game that will be judged on its capacity to teach, assess and engage its players.

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Made in Phoenix: Devs showcase work at Indie Game Demo Day

Alex Osuna, above, demonstrates the mechanics of Zwarms, a science-based RTS for mobile devices.

Game developers from around the Valley shared their work with the community Sunday night at an indie game showcase in Scottsdale.

Game CoLab hosted the event, Made in Phoenix 2: Indie Game Demo Day, as part of the Phoenix Film Festival.

The purpose of the event was to give the public a chance to “check out and support the hard work local video game developers have been up to,” according to a Game CoLab email.

“It’s a community thing,” said Ben Ruiz of Phoenix-based Team Colorblind. “I like setting up and talking to people. I do the local stuff because it’s fun.”

Ruiz attended the event to demo Aztez, a hybrid real-time strategy and fighting game set in the Aztec empire. The game tasks the player with managing an empire while handling uprisings and other challenges through fighting sequences, Ruiz said.

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