I attended New York Gaming: Demo Night at Microsoft where six groups presented their games: Traci Lawson of Taptiles, Michael Weiksner of Tip or Skip, Dat Nguyen of Smart Kick, Vianel Aquino of Wavelogy, Muse Games presenting Guns of Icarus and Noah Sasso presenting BaraBariBall.
Taptiles were first to present. Traci Lawson of Arcadium presented Taptiles as one of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) products on Windows 8. “It was launched on October 26 with Windows 8,” Lawson said. “It is incorporated into Windows 8 like Minesweeper or Solitare.” Taptiles has three major play modes. It all shares the same tutorial, and the tutorial “teaches the user the least they need to know to have fun. Tutorials should be as slim as possible.” The game is user intuitive. It can be played via touch or mouse. “Think of Majong tiles,” Lawson said. The modes for Taptiles range from Dash Mode—a 60 second fast-paced game with items to increase time to get the highest score, Origins—think “Classic,” Relaxation—no time limit, no pressure and “just a place to chill out.” Some parts of the game are ad-based—which the audience experienced firsthand. The Daily Challenges mode updates with fresh content daily and is rated on pass or fail. Each puzzle has a twist to the game physics. If the user passes, the user wins coins. “Taptiles worked in tandem with Microsoft Studios,” Lawson said. They have no plans to incorporate user-generated content yet, with Lawson admitting that that would be a good idea and there is no in-app purchasing to create an ad-free game.
Vianel Aquino presented Wavelogy, a cloud-based 3D racing game. “It is compatible enough to play on Android, iOS or the PC,” Aquino said. The game engine was developed in-house and the game itself was developed in three weeks. Wavelogy is currently in beta with two levels to explore. “The game uses cloud techology,” Aquino said. “The game is stored on a server so you don’t have to worry about moving the game from platform to platform.”
Noah Sasso presented BaraBariBall, a 2D sports-fighting game developed for No Quarter at NYU. “The game is fast and technical,” Sasso said. “Players can perform tricks in the air. You can see eight circles surround the player at times, and they are how many times the player can jump. When the player is on the ground, it recharges, but this adds an element of strategy to the game. It includes faking the opponent out, out-jumping the opponent, and the goal of the game is to dunk the ball into the opponent’s pool of water.” Sasso, for the past two months, was focused on promoting the Kickstarter for BaraBariBall to get them on the PSN distribution network. They finished crowdfunding on December 10. “The end was pretty dramatic,” Sasso said. “Some large donations were pulled at the last minute, so that they didn’t have to pay.” There is no plan to bring the game to mobile because BaraBariBall needs a controller and a friend to play.
Mike Weiksner demoed Tip or Skip, a mobile shopping game. “Style and fashion is a game that we all play, Weiksner said. “We’re taking an implicit game and taking it explicit.” Tip or Skip is the gamification of shopping. “Think of it as ‘Hot or Not’ for products.” The platform runs on HTML5 and uses a Twitter-style follower model. It is from this model where “Tips,” which can be seen as “Likes” or “Favorites,” comes from. “On the first time visit, people play about 57 rounds,” Weiksner said. “On a month average, about one million Tip or Skip plays happen.” As the user—or the curator—plays the game, the profile is created. Badges are earned for exploring the website and the user’s taste is cataloged based on the Tips or Skips. “The game started out with everyone getting Sway [the game currency], but it felt like work to get more, clicking through the game, so we flipped it on its head to have users get Sway after ReTipping. It makes it more fun because users have to interact with each other more,” Weiksner said. Curators can create Tips while shopping online. These Tips go out to all of their followers. Tip or Skip currently has over 50,000 active users. It was originally going to be mobile only, but due to the value of Facebook as a traffic driver, the developers expanded out to other devices. Weiksner, however, is now looking into Twitter and email integration, as Facebook’s growth has been declining.
Dat Nguyen presented Smart Kick (iOS), also known as Messi Kick (Android), a mobile brainteaser app. There are 12 levels ordered by difficulty on the free version. “The game works like chess,” Nguyen said. “You have to move Messi to any tile and kick the ball into the net.” The environment is a 8×12 grid and can have up to six balls and two goals. Messi must be next to the ball to kick. The kick is delivered by swiping in the direction the user wants the ball to go. The user, in order to progress, must place any ball into the net. The game uses an A* algorithm to develop levels.
Jess Haskins and Eric Chung of Muse Games presented Guns of Icarus, a steampunk-themed airship-to-airship combat game. Running exclusively on Unity, Guns of Icarus was released on Steam as a desktop game. It was in closed beta for four months and was opened to the public on October 29, which was during Hurricane Sandy. “We take pride in our stellar customer service,” Jess Haskins said. “We try to personally address every email and issue our customers have as quickly as possible.” Guns of Icarus emphasizes the importance of community. It is a team-based game and retaining and engaging the users is important. Its retail model is pay-to-play ($20) and has in-app purchases to customize users’ characters. On November 22, version 1.1 was released to address bugs and balance issues in-game, which had been contributing to the decline of active players. They also sent a newsletter informing registered users of the new updates and free items, which led to 10% of the users returning to the game. On December 18, Muse Games released version 1.1.2 of Guns of Icarus, to iron out bugs and nerf overpowered weapons. “We released the update just in time for the Christmas sale,” Eric Chung said. “The game will go on 50% sale on Steam. The update has new guns and a new map and new costumes.” Muse Games is continually trying to add new features, fix bugs and maintain good customer relations.