September 24th, 2012 NYC Gaming Meetup's Demo Night

On Monday, September 24th, 2012, OLC attended NYC Gaming Meetup's Demo night at Microsoft. Seven startups presented their games to the community.

Kevin Chen and Joe Kowalski showcased Third Rail, an iOS strategy game. They explained that Third Rail is a game that lets the user rebuild the New York City subway (and more—they are working on more cities). It is a turn-based game, where each turn adds a year to the game (it starts at 1900). The city actually grows organically as you build your stations, responding to where the subways are placed. As the game nears the end (year 2000, they say), the map will be all developed. The AIs range from extremely competitive to very lax, and each have their own characteristics. Third Rail has three modes to play the game: 1) Pass & Play; 2) Turn-based; 3) Single Player. The map zooms in and out far smoother than Google Maps due to Third Rail's built-from-scratch animations. Third Rail hopes to have the game out by next month.

Kiwi Interactive presented 5 Card Hero, an interesting blend of poker and RPG. They called it "Pokermon," which drew a lot of laughs from the audience. The card-puzzle RPG was rated a "casual entry-level" game. The game itself played like an RPG game, where the player and the opponent took turns attacking one another. Brian Lee, of Kiwi Interactive, explained that the player has "5 cards at a time," and that "anything higher than a straight gets you a special attack." He listed the types in the deck: club—plant-based, diamond—water-based, and hearts—fire-based. "The monsters all have special abilities," Lee said. "The hearts monster burns up cards in your hand. The club monster causes mischief, and the diamond monster freezes you to hold certain cards." There are 52 monsters in the deck, mirroring the cards in a poker deck. Collecting monsters makes the player's deck stronger. Lee described 5 Card Hero to be like a Bejeweled-type game, as it has the user playing for extended period of time. The game is currently out on Steam.

Grumpy Goats took the stage and screened an in-depth cinematic, explaining that the team wanted to develop a game like Angry Birds, but with more of a storyline to it—a console game on the internet. The game played almost like Angry Birds and Crush the Castle, except for that the user is able to "dress the goats." Items can be bought in the marketplace and the goats can be equipped with helmets to rockets to demolish the structures that the sheep have taken residence in. There are 360 stages in Grumpy Goats and after completing every 8-10 stages a new item is unlocked. The game is currently available on Facebook and is presented as a "skill game," where the user has to play the game to learn. Grumpy Goats called it "user discovery."

Aaron Isaksen presented a very polished game to the audience. Titled Chip Chain, it is an iOS casual game. It is Isaksen's first US-based game and his first time using iOS as a platform. Chip Chain is to be a free-to-play game, but there will be options to purchase cards in the game. The user gets two free modes per day and can play a short mode first. The gameplay was similar to bejeweled except that the user is able to select one card out of a possible three from the bottom of the screen to help clear the board. The user must create chains on the board to score points. The graphics and animation seemed extremely polished, but Isaksen admitted that Chip Chain needed at least one more month of debugging before releasing it to the iTunes App Store.

Rally Games presented Top Bot, an iOS-based racing game. It is a "Mario Kart and Words With Friends and Jet Pack Joyride" mixed racing game, where you can taunt opponents. The game allows for both public and a private, invite-only game. The style is casual and simple and the bot is customizable. To Rally Games, visualization was a major component of Top Bot, but they kept it simple and an attractive background, as well as funny and interesting skins for the bot was showcased. The races are held like King of the Hill and lasts three days. The first place cannot race until their time is beaten, which is the only time when they can race again. The levels are randomly generated and seamed together. There are usually two paths to choose from and the levels are not complicated at all. Top Bot is—as of now—Facebook based. Rally Games explained that it is the easiest way to control and know who is using it.

Rob Grossberg presented a Mondo Studios and TreSensa game with Mondo's Happy Tree Friends as the main culprits. Strandead was released and faced "mixed reviews" because it bypassed an app center. The user could click a link and play the game as if they were playing a flash game on their browser. Strandead was built in 30 days and is described to be like Jetpack Joyride.

Pwnee Studios showed the evolution of their game, Cloudberry Kingdom, from the initial stages of the game to the almost-finished product. They have signed up with a major publisher and they have released a beta version on Steam. The game is a "hardcore platformer" and went through a series of artists to create cinematics and new graphics for the game. TJ Lutz of Pwnee Studios gave two pointers to startups that are thinking about submitting to a high-profile publisher: 1) "Don't follow submission guidelines because they [publishers] will get back to you in six months. They'll reject you and you'll be six months behind schedule." 2) "Focus on your pitch." The game at its highest setting seems impossible, but according to the developers, there is always a way to beat the level. An algorithm always allows one possible way to beat the level. "As ridiculous as [the level] looks, it is always possible to beat it," Pwnee Studios claimed.