Fantastic Arcade

By: Derek Yu

On: September 25th, 2010

cactus at Fantastic Arcade

Enviro-Bear 2000 by Justin Smith

Hey, guys! Apologies for the lack of updates. Aside from bein’ busy game-makin’, I’ve been moving around a bit. This week I’m in Austin, attending Fantastic Arcade, a video game spin-off of Fantastic Fest, the horror/fantasy/sci-fi/cult movie festival that takes place here every year. True to its name, Fantastic Arcade does feature an awesome indie game arcade with custom-built cabinets for games like Enviro-Bear 2000, Norrland, NIDHOGG, Every Day the Same Dream, and Monaco. The cabs have some great details – the Enviro-Bear machine pictured at right rocks a pretty funny fur-lined control panel installed with a trackball.

There’re also some great events going on, like panels and tournaments (Canabalt, NIDHOGG). Yesterday, for example, I had the fortune of (nervously!) moderating an interesting discussion between Jonathan Blow and filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, who seems to have a surprisingly good understanding of video games. Despite the fact that the attendance of some of the panels has been modest, I think Fantastic Arcade shows a lot of potential for cross-over between fans of indie games and genre films. In any case, it’s a pretty sweet production all the way around.

Anyway! There are still two days left of Fantastic Arcade, but I was having trouble sleeping and wanted to express some of my excitement for the festival as well as commiserate with you all about the sparse updates on the front page. We do have some cool things we’re working on for TIGSource and I’m also looking forward to posting some more games.

  • Andy Schatz

    Yeah, I had literally 8 people in the theater during the Monaco session, bummed me out. I realized afterward that the individual game sessions aren't listed in the main panel/talk itinerary so most people prob didn't even realize they were happening.

    Ah well, its been fun anyways. And playing 4 player Monaco on a movie screen was freakin awesome. :)

  • Godatplay

    Maybe this is silly of me, but for some reason it's romantic to think about awesome indies delivering talks in relative obscurity at Fantastic Arcade.

    Just think about it, Andy. 5 years from now when the rooms are packed, those 8 people will get to brag about how they were there. :P

    Did you take advantage of the low turnout to have a more roundtable format? I always thought that was a cool way to make a presentation more interesting with a fewer number of people.

    Question about the talks – will we be able to hear them at some point? I'd like to hear the Blow vs. Vigalondo discussion.

  • Mitch Weaver

    Ever consider changing the banner at the top of TIGSource? Right now, it says “Independent Gaming News. Unfiltered.” This is no longer really a news site, as it's updated every week or so, and is more just a blog of what you and one or two other people find fun to play.

    Why not “Independent Gaming Features. Occasionally.” ?

  • fartron

    Are any of these sessions going to end up online?

  • Bob

    What game ya makin, Derek?

  • rinkuhero

    spelunky for xbla?

  • Funnyguy

    ..more like Bitch Weaver! :p

  • Andy Schatz

    Heh, yeah, ff has been fun, and I took the day off to explore austin, so I have no right to complain :)

  • Vegas

    Yeah, I went all day thursday, some of today, and hopefully will go tomorrow. I even took notes and wrote up what I saw. You can check it out here if you're interested:

    Another post about what I saw today will go up soon. Swords and Sworcery looked SO FUCKING SICK.

  • PopsMcKenna

    I can't really see how his point is bitchy. I don't even see any rude words or anything. Thanks for your comment, though!

  • Dodger

    The only glaring flaw of Spelunky for XBLA is that it's not Spelunky for PSN. ;-)

    Same goes for Monaco! :-)

    Seriously though, the games look like amazing fun. I wouldn't care which system these games were made for (since I did own them all) but after you go through 3 Xbox 360 systems and your warranty has expired there's nothing left to do but bury the damn thing – and have the wisdom to resist buying another since you know that's just stupid.

    Hopefully, and with a little luck, we'll see these games on PSN (hell or even WiiWare – but I more doubts about that one since the service is tapering). I know Derek and Andy couldn't talk about it even if they wanted to though, for fear that Microsoft would castrate them and serve their testicles as prairie oysters in some obscure bar/restaurant somewhere down in San Antonio.

  • Wiley Wiggins

    I'm blogging FA here, if anybody is interested:
    I should have some video up of the S&S:EP talk soon.

    As for panel attendance- mistakes were made with the way the panels are listed and promoted. Please know that the festival organizers know this, and are learning. It's going to be a slow build up to get FA up to speed with the film festival, but there is sooo much potential here. I'm also kind of giddy that I got to meet so many talented people.. I probably wouldn't have been able to hog so much time with the speakers if it had been the size of an established industry happening.

  • Mike Hunt

    What SA restaurant would serve nonsustainable food these days?

  • kryptonics

    I had a great time at Fantastic Arcade. If it turns into an annual event, I'd love to help out however possible.

  • Funnyguy

    I guess you failed to detect the latent sarcasm/passive-aggressive tone? Reread the post and tell me that it wasn't yet another bitch-and-moan comment.

  • Bob

    Thanks. I had heard about that, but I was wondering if Derek had something else up his sleeve.

  • Mitch Weaver

    The post was just pointing out that the site gets updated once every week or so, and it's not really a news source of any kind. There are occasional features about esoteric gatherings of unshaven twenty-somethings. Or announcements about said gatherings.

    Every once in a while (monthly?) a game is accidentally featured. And that's about it.

  • the_dannobot

    Fantastic Arcade was pretty cool. My favorite part was the left 4 dead level set in the Highball, I interpreted it as a commentary on the difficulty of ordering a drink at the bar ;)

  • Einsteinsarcade

    Thanks for coming out, those who did! It was an awesome experience.

  • rinkuhero

    25 games featured in september, bro (counting the 22 i featured as part of weekly updates)

    and yeah i'm late with this weeks, but it's-a comin'

  • Dodger

    Ya, but Paul, considering how much you get paid for doing this dude… We, the public, expect you (and all of the other high paid executives here at TIGSource) to have up-to-the-minute news on everything indie! I'm sorry sir, but next election campaign, obviously, we won't be voting for you.

    {Sar-Sarcasm – Double Sarcasm – Damn, people expect a lot even when what they're getting is free kinda Sarcasm) ;-)

  • Dodger

    Oh, and let's remember people – it does take less time to actually read this stuff than write it, and we all have lives (or at least I hope some of you people do). Maybe the updates aren't as often as everyone would like, but if you like receiving updates then you must like something about the site, so have the patience and understanding to realize that perhaps Derek, Paul, Brandon, and crew, etc. etc… are also busy doing other things with their lives, which may in fact be making more games for people like us to play. So without insulting anyone, rather than moaning, how about an attempt to offer up a couple of solutions regarding time management (since some of the people complaining are so good at it), or why not volunteer to help update the news – at least see if that will fly with Derek and co. and if you're serious about it whether or not that would be something within reason for Derek to look into.

    I appreciate that everyone likes and enjoys the site and wants to see, hear, and learn more about indie games or things involved in the indie community, but moaning and bitching about the lack of updates or giving lip service through innuendo isn't a positive way to get what you're looking for. Think about it for a bit. On top of this site, the people that contribute to it, also have their own sites, works, and blogs that they are also contributing to.

    At the very least, offer some constructive criticism or some suggestions based on actual ideas that you've thought about, something that might actually help you the kind of news or info that you want. It'll benefit everyone, and I'm sure the people here can at least appreciate the gesture of taking the time to actually think of how to increase participation / contributions / updates, if you're sincere in your suggestion about how to manage these things while living and working on top of contributing to the site.

  • Derek Yu

    Cool, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, it's been pretty slow-going lately, but I'm probably not going to change the header out. It's not worth my time at the moment.

    As for the esoteric gatherings, I figure the only way we can make them less esoteric is to post about them. And trust me, there are plenty of esoteric gatherings I'm not posting about, and the people who run those are probably just as pissed at me as you are.

    And I'm looking forward to posting more games, as I mentioned in the post.

  • Mitch Weaver

    Nah, I'm not pissed at you at all. You seem like a swell guy, in any case.

  • ortoslon

    i don't have a life

  • Dodger

    Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;-)

    (see: Seinfeld)

  • Carr

    Can't wait to see some more typical tigsource circle jerking.
    Seriously, the day tigs starts covering some decent games instead of the already tiring “here's the new game from X who did Y and Z, and also happens to be my new best friend that I met at the XY convention” perhaps the site will gain the reputation it once had.

    And no, I'm not mad at tigs for not covering my games, as a matter of fact the last one I finished was made like 4 or 5 years ago and to be honest was complete shit compared to some stuff I've seen and was never covered here.

    Consider this constructive criticism from someone who used to check out tigsource for cool new indie games pretty much every day but has been visiting increasingly less because it seems all that gets posted here is mostly junk from derek's friends or games that seem like they were made in two hours but get posted here because the creator did something half-decent before.

    There I said it, I'm sorry if I insulted someone, but I hope this post inspires the editors to check out other indie gaming sites and see what they post.

  • TIGSMelly

    My life will not be complete until I have that Enviro-Bear arcade cabinet in my fucking bedroom.

  • Geoknob

    That was your idea of inspirational??? Whoa, no wonder you haven't made a game in 4 or 5 years.

  • Derek Yu

    I don't think that's a completely fair assessment, but I'll try and look for more games by unknowns. I'm just not sure how it would make someone's game any better just because I don't know them or because they haven't made a game before.

  • Carr

    I don't think you got my point, I never said a game is good because it isn't covered here or because the creator never did something post worthy before.
    I'm just saying that there are many games out there that are many times better than most “X game by the creator of Y game” I see regularly posted in here.

    I feel as if the site's focus and overall quality has been wanning for the last 2 years or so, and now it seems it's more of a personal blog than the awesome indie gaming site it once was.

    Back then we'd see actually interesting stuff to play, games for all tastes, regardless of the genre, creator etc… I already felt there was some circle jerking going on but it wasn't as noticeable as it is now because there were lots of quality content to make up for that.

    Right now I feel as if tigs isn't the same site anymore, and that saddens me because I've seen quite a few sites die like this. This recent lack of activity doesn't help to that feeling but I know sometimes life is a bitch and I wouldn't mind if the few posts that crop out from time to time were actually interesting.

    Don't get me wrong, I love tigs hence why I've been visiting for years, I just hope that someday the site gets at least close to what it once was.

  • chrisz

    Why does coverage of any social event or conference qualify as “circle jerking”? The way I see this article is “Here is this event, these indie developers were there”. It would definitely be fucked up if Derek didnt cover developer X or Y that was at Fantastic Fest because they weren't his friends, but thats definitely not the case. The trend I'm seeing is that any time some event like this or a game jam gets covered by TIGS, we see this type of backlash. If you ever been to a game jam or GDC, you'd understand the enthusiasm behind wanting to tell the world about it and why it's important for the other indies to be aware of it. Participating in stuff like this is very good for yourself as a developer and for the community.

  • Derek Yu

    Yeah no, I appreciate people's criticism (if not always the tone), and it does spur me into action. I do feel like there's an “anti-popularity” vibe amongst a lot of the readers of TIGS, though, which bothers me, because it really works against the overall success of the indie community, imo.

    But right now I'm hunting around and looking for some fun and interesting games by “unknown” developers. Let me know if there are any in particular that you'd like to see. It's a lot more helpful to me if you guys give me specific examples.

  • SirNiko

    What cabinet will you put in your sleeping bedroom?

  • Carr

    I don't care if the games posted were made by someone who did something decent before, that was my point all along.
    I do mind if these games aren't that good but get posted anyway because the developer did something deemed good before. If the creator was unknown before, I wouldn't praise the game either.
    Thing is, I feel there's lots of games covered here of questionable quality that were posted because of the creator's background.

    If you want some more specific examples about what I'm talking about I could mention the recently posted L'Abbaye des Morts, Frenzy Defense, Shoot 3, Warlock Bentspine, Solipskier, Streamerz all those Ikiki games and so on. Not that all these games are awful, but there are many others that don't get any sort of coverage here that are miles better than most of these.

    I don't really want you to cover games by unknown developers, but rather give them a chance, at least the same chances as the creators who made the games I mentioned above.

    Some games that I don't think were mentioned here but I feel they deserve a post would be: Zombie Cow's Privates, Star Ruler, Recettear, Amnesia, Puzzle Agent, The Oil Blue and many more others. Coincidentally most of these are made by known developers, but you could check out the tigs's own announcement and feedback forums, I keep finding interesting stuff in there.

    Also sorry about my tone, but sometimes I am excessively honest so to say. :(

  • Carr

    By circle jerking I wasn't talking specifically about conventions or social events (I don't really mind those and I don't classify them as circle jerking), I was talking about more about some of the games (and their creators) that get posted in here.

  • Derek Yu

    Thanks! I'll check out those games.

  • Doro

    It's good to see someone give suggestions, but why not go with that as a starting point instead of a (somewhat useless) complaint?

    There's a thread for TIGdb suggestions on the forums that hasn't been posted in since May. I assume that whoever updates the database would consider suggestions there not only for TIGdb but also for the frontpage.

    Finally, there is a matter of taste involved in what gets posted on the frontpage. Derek and Paul (who seem to be the two only current active posters on the frontapge) has the right to choose what they personally like enough to write about. If there are a few developers who consistently impress them or make things that they feel are worth writing about, then who are you to judge them for that? Especially seeing as there are way more complaints about what games get featured than there are suggestions for games to be featured.

    Out of the games you suggested, I only found two interesting. Yet not interesting enough for me to actually go and download them. That's because we have different taste. The same thing can be said of many games posted here, or on Out of a hundred games I probably try five, and find maybe twenty to thirty interesting enough to investigate at all.

    I think these complaints mostly serve to make Derek and Paul feel weary about writing up games by “famous” game developers, and not in making them write about games by “unknown” devs. And that is completely wrong imo. If you're passionate about something enough to write an article, go for it.

  • anthonyflack

    Mixed feelings about this. Sometimes it does feel like the indie “scene” has become a sort of globe-trotting hipster clique; dominated by a few individuals who have, for whatever reason, captured the zeitgeist and come to define indie games fashion.

    But on the other hand, maybe it's just me getting old and feeling disconnected from it all. When I was young and making games, it wasn't considered cool AT ALL, and even though I guess it ensured that my motivations were pure, on the whole I have to say it's much better now.

    Although fashionability is still something I instinctively react against in any medium. I am… distrustful of trendy aesthetics. Now that my own formative childhood experiences in the early 80s have also become a consciously hip gen-y affectation, I feel like I need to reinvent myself somehow. Find the new uncool.

    On the other hand, consciously reacting against trends is just as bad as jumping on the bandwagon…

  • Carr

    I think you missed my point altogether, you should probably (re)read my previous post.

    Those games I suggested were only the first that came into my mind, there are many others that I think deserve a mention but never got the opportunity. I already did suggest games and wrote an article once (which never got published but that's beside the point), what I wrote there was only something I felt needed to be said and I know I am not the only one who thinks that way, that's something I already discussed with some indie devs and they all feel the same way, and even though you could argue their opinions are biased because their game(s) (or not all of them) never got some frontpage love, they do have a point if you look at the games that were mentioned here in the last 5 months or so.

    I never said the editors couldn't write whatever they felt like. They can, but the readers might not like what they write about. They could write exclusively about the developers they like, regardless of the quality of their games, that's fine, it's their site.
    But the readers also have the right not to like that, and to stop visiting. And me, being a reader, I have the right to judge their posts, the same way you just judged~me and my comments. When you do something to the public, you are always exposing yourself and you are prone to other people's judgements, I thought most living beings knew that.

    Derek does seem to be concerned about what people think about the site, and that shows he loves it and wants to make it as good as possible, so kudos to that.

    Also one last thing,do you know the “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” proverb ?

    I could suggest him 10 or 15 games, that would only help him in the short run and what good would it make if once he's done posting those games everything is back the same way it was right before ?

  • Carr

    You're welcome :)

  • Mike Hunt

    May I suggest “Every day the same dream”?

  • rinkuhero

    what about my weekly new 10 games report? is that chopped liver? :)

  • Phubans

    Can I get a “love” button for this post? I think “globe-trotting hipster clique” sums it up perfectly. Wow.

  • Carr

    I wouldn't say it's chopped liver though it kind of suffers a bit from what I said.
    I do think however it's a great idea, I hope you don't run out of games to cover :p

  • rinkuhero

    how specifically does it suffer from the same things? if so i'd like to fix it, because the original idea (as i mentioned in the forum thread) was exactly the opposite of what you are saying: the reason i'm doing it is to give unknown and lesser-known developers and people on the fringe of the community rather than in the heart of it a chance to see their game mentioned here.

  • anthonyflack

    Keep it up Paul, it's much appreciated.

  • Carr

    There's seems to be a few “here's game X from creator Y who did W and V” kind of posts, though some of them are of good quality so I don't think you have to worry about what I said. :)

  • rinkuhero

    the main explanation for that is that nobody's first game is ever very good, so by the time someone gets to the point where they're making good games, they have previous games which can be mentioned. you can't really expect someone to not have a previous game if they made a game worth anything

  • chrisz

    Yea guys, dont travel, work together, and strengthen the community. Some people on the internet won't like you.

    I can see why this sort of thing may come off as clique-ish but disliking it solely for that reason is just more of the same tribal-us-and-them bullshit. No one is stopping you from attending too, similar to the other events that get covered on the front page. In this case the organizers of the event invited these developers and their games if I'm not mistaken, so why bring this point up?

    You dont have to attend these sort of things, and by you not attending no one there is going to label you and talk shit about you. So why would you do the same thing? You can make games in solitude and thats fine, but being around a bunch of like-minded individuals is a really fun thing and can make you a better game designer. This open hatred that comes out every time theres a post like this is so childish and makes the front page that much worse.

  • Carr

    I disagree completely. Most people made several games before finishing one, so a lot of people's first complete game might or might not be good, but it doesn't mean it's the first time they attempted at making a game. Of course, people with some experience have a bigger chance at releasing a good game, but it's no exact science. Who had heard of Jon Blow before Braid ? Pixel before Cave Story ? I could be here all day naming other widely known developers whose first actual game was a success.

  • rinkuhero

    are you seriously asking who heard of blow before braid? he was all over the indie game news sphere for years before braid was released. pixel also made ikachan, which was a very popular game long before cave story came out. braid wasn't blow's first game either. if you can, please name some more besides those two, because those two aren't very good examples (in fact they're staggeringly bad examples). just because you don't know what games they made before their most popular games doesn't mean they didn't put in the years of self-training required making games before they made a successful one.

    anyway it's okay to disagree, but you're still wrong in my experience. i've been making indie games for 15 years and been helping others make games and participating in the indie game community and reviewing indie games for almost as long, so i'm just speaking out of my experience.

  • Carr

    rinkuhero: And during those 15 years of experience what have you done that could be deemed popular ?

    You kind of missed my point, just after I just said that experience is a bonus, even though it's no rocket science that just because I did something good in the past doesn't mean I will start shitting golden eggs from then on.

    What I meant by “first actual games” I meant first (at least remotely) popular games. Ikachan wasn't widely known before Cave Story was released and what popular games Jon Blow did before Braid ? I can't name a single game he made, let alone a popular one.

    Not that it should matter anyway, but some more examples on top of my head right now would be Introversion's Uplink, Ace team's Zeno Clash, La Mulana and Nigoro (if you exclude some short flash games he made before, if I'm not mistaken) or if you consider Ikachan to be that popular, you could include it in that list.

    But well, I don't really get your point. So before releasing a good game you need to have made another good game before ?
    If so, how would that first good game exist ?

  • Joseph Gibson

    He had a haircut by popular demand. Meet me in the ring.

  • rinkuhero

    “And during those 15 years of experience what have you done that could be deemed popular ?”

    well, i made immortal defense, which is probably one of the most popular tower defense games, and was strategy game of the year for game tunnel in 2007, and has sold thousands of copies. other games i've worked on include fedora spade, alphasix (a freeware game which won a cage match award and has been downloaded over 150,000 times), wingedmene, missing, etc. etc. — just google me if you want the full list. i'm also an editor here and on other places which review indie games. i'm not in the top 10 of most famous indies or anything, but probably in the top 100.

    your argument now seems to be that people don't have to have made popular games before they release their first popular game. that's a tautology, obviously. the progression is from no games, to unpopular example games, to popular games. a process which takes years. it usually goes in that order, although there are exceptions.

    the developers of uplink, zeno clash, and la mulana did made games before those games. they didn't do so under those company names in all cases, though. do you seriously think that the first time those guys sat down to make a game they came up with something as advanced as zeno clash or uplink or la mulana? those games were the culmination of many years of experience and training.

    i do think you're missing what i mean, though. my point is simply this: that it takes time and experience to get good at making games. no more, no less. and during that time, one usually builds up a small body of work, example games for instance. so, when someone's game is reviewed here, i like to mention their earlier games.

    to take an example, look at the top 10 games i posted on oct 1. most of the developers there made games before those games. but those games weren't necessarily good or popular, nonetheless they deserve to be mentioned.

    what i think is wrong with your evaluation is that you think that if i mention a game that someone has made that you assume it was a popular game and that that person is a famous or known indie, that isn't the case at all. very few oof the game developers i've reviewed the games of in the weekly top 10's are popular by any stretch of the imagination. but all are experienced, and most have made a few games in the past which a few people very into indie games remember, and it's those games that i mention.

    in other words, you believe that if i mention someone, they're popular, and then complain that i mention only popular people. but most of the people i've been mentioning *have never been mentioned on the frontpage before*.

  • Carr

    Dude, for fuck's sake, you are still missing or pretending to be missing my point completely.

    I don't want to you to post everyone's first games. I just happen to dislike “here's game X from creator Y who did Z” kind of posts.

    I said this over and over again, is it that hard to understand ?

    “your argument now seems to be that people don't have to have made popular games before they release their first popular game. that's a tautology, obviously. the progression is from no games, to unpopular example games, to popular games. a process which takes years. it usually goes in that order, although there are exceptions.”
    wtf ? That goes to prove you completely misunderstood me.

    “the developers of uplink, zeno clash, and la mulana did made games before those games. ” No shit… Where any of those games popular ? THAT'S THE POINT

    As for your games, I googled a bit and found your site, and no offense but I never heard about any of them. Anyway that's beside the point, I don't even know why I brought this up in the first place.

    “what i think is wrong with your evaluation is that you think that if i mention a game that someone has made that you assume it was a popular game and that that person is a famous or known indie, that isn't the case at all. very few oof the game developers i've reviewed the games of in the weekly top 10's are popular by any stretch of the imagination. but all are experienced, and most have made a few games in the past which a few people very into indie games remember, and it's those games that i mention.”
    Now I agree, and that's probably where the whole confusion started, though I was under the impression that could be true , hence I said you shouldn't worry about what I first said.

    “so seriously, you're operating and making conclusions under limited information (you don't seem to know which indie developers are popular and which aren't, for instance)”
    That's basically calling me ignorant which is not only uncalled for, but I also believe I know a thing or two as I've been following the indie gaming scene for over 10 years, even before the term “indie” was coined.

    My definition of popular is definitely different from yours and other people's, and that's why I assumed you were mentioning “popular” creators, not that I had ever heard of them, but because they had the “from creator X who did Y and Z” bit of text in the post. Does that make ignorant ?

    “i've been intentionally avoiding reviewing games of popular indies, and still you claim that i'm only reviewing games of popular indies, simply on the basis that the people i've reviewed the games of have made games before and that it isn't their first game ever that is getting posted.”

    Wrong and untrue on so many levels, it's almost funny. Seriously man, you should read my posts at least twice before making any sort of judgement like that.

    Anyway, I hope you got my point, finally, it's getting tiring to repeat my posts over and over again with different wording and defending myself of your “you're ignorant” arguments.