The jury consists of a bunch of interesting people from different parts of the game design industry, and the whole list of people can be seen here; needless to say I'm very excited to be part of this gang :)
Today (Sunday) was the first, inofficial, day of the conference, where the jury meet up for the first time and listen to a bunch of presentations held by the students about the games they've been making. Listening to the presentations is actually part of our duty as jurors, and we have to grade each presentation based on how good we thought it was.
|The jury meeting up for some expo information and a light lunch |
before starting the hard work!
I'm judging the Second Year students, and I have to say, they were really good! The presentations were all very clear, people spoke great English (they do presentations in English since not all of the jurors or teachers are native Swedes), and the games felt, for the most part, well thought through.
Once the presentations were done, we got to experience the expo floor for a bunch of hours on our own along with the students; tomorrow the public is allowed in so it'll be a lot more cramped. Unfortunately, I had to leave the expo area quite early today, since I've been feeling a cold coming on (got a horribly sore throat), and it got much worse towards the evening. Therefore I couldn't play as many games as I wanted today, but thankfully there are two more days and hopefully I'll feel better after some rest and a good night's sleep.
Anyway, of the games I did play today, some stood out quite a bit! One of those were Naar, a middle-eastern inspired game where you play as a guy who looks a bit like Super Mario in an oversized turban:
Naar manages to capture the spirit of a world that, at least to me, feels very unique: the theme is middle-eastern, kind of Arabian nights-styled, where your main character is on a mission to fight an army of djinns. The gameplay allows you to cast a variety of different spells, which can be combined in different ways, creating even more powerful attacks, and you gain new abilities by killing certain monsters.
While the mechanics may need some polishing, I loved the world and the premise of the whole thing. The 3D-graphics were among the best I've seen this school produce as well, with wonderful textures and a sense of everything fitting together really well.
Another game that showed great promise was Scrap Pirates, a 2D co-op puzzle-ish game where you and a friend take on the role of two pirates looting abandoned ships:
The 2D art of this game really appealed to me, and the mechanics were pretty cool too! Basically you have two different energy fields, one blue and one red, which works kind of like magnetic auras: depending on what color aura other things (or your friend) have, you'll either pull things towards you or push them away. For instance, if your friend activates the red aura, and you activate the blue aura, you will cling to each other, something that's very useful in certain parts of the puzzles. If you both activate the same color aura, however, you'll bounce off each other instead, which allows to reach new places.
My biggest gripe with this game was that the only way of playing was through co-op, making it an incredibly hard sell. I, at least, wouldn't want to buy a game where I have to have someone else interested in playing with me. While the auras definitely work the best in co-op, there were plenty of ways in which they were interesting in solo play as well, so hopefully they consider adding single player levels in the future!
That's all for today! Sadly no Secrets of Grindea updates, but later this week things should go back to normal :)