Hi from the 2023 Game Developers Conference! I’m contributing to GameDeveloper.com’s coverage of the annual event in San Francisco this week, which means I’m attending panels and playing video games. Some highlights:
- I attended a fascinating presentation that asked its audience to rethink what the game-industry buzzword “accessibility” should actually mean in practice. Aderyn Thompson is a master in the industry specialty of accessible video game design, and they did a remarkable job connecting real-world parallels and emphasizing fairness over pity. (“Participation on par with everyone else”: A rethink of accessibility in games, GameDeveloper.com)
- I did my best to parse a technically rich presentation from Nixxes Software, a legendary video game studio that specializes in porting video games from bespoke consoles to the wilder, more diverse ecosystem of Windows PCs. Once upon a time, the 2018 video game Marvel’s Spider-Man seemed like it’d never get anywhere near a storefront like Steam. Times have changed—and one very capable dev team explained the serious technical prowess to make it happen. (How Marvel’s Spider-Man optimized its web-swings for PC gamers, GameDeveloper.com)
- I played some intriguing, unreleased video games at the 2023 Indie MIX, an annualized event that celebrates small development teams and ambitious game designs. My favorite, without question, is Antonblast, which has a free, playable demo at itch.io until further notice. Its dev team, who attended the Indie MIX and presented the game to me, is as irreverent, amusing, and fun as the game they are working on, which is both “a spiritual successor to Wario Land Virtual Boy” and oh, so much more. Imagine that lost Nintendo classic, only resurrected with a rush-and-destroy sensibility that would make Sonic the Hedgehog 2 look like Kirby’s Dream Land in comparison.
- My runner-up pick from the same event is Let’s! Revolution!, which turns the Windows 3.1 classic Minesweeper into a roguelite adventure game. Incredible art design, compelling plot, and clever mechanics make me instantly excited about where this game is going already. (No free demo as of press time, sadly.)
Tune in later this week for more coverage from GameDeveloper.com by yours truly. (Is anybody reading these? What else do you want to see here? Contact me, my first name at samred dot com, if so!)