GDC 2010: The Games of Gamma IV

By: Derek Yu

On: March 17th, 2010

Gamma IV marked a nice interlude at the midpoint of GDC (following the Independent Games Summit). I’ve never been before, but I left feeling more than ever that games are work great for shows, galleries, and parties when they’re created for those spaces. Here are the six games that won the chance to be in the show:

4Fourths – That’s got to be the sickest trailer for a game ever (by John Likens). Anyway, Mike and Greg’s 4Fourths is a 4-player game where teams of two cooperate to destroy nukes before they fall onto a city. In each team, one person controls the thrusters and one person controls the laser. You can also shoot the other team, which is easy to do accidentally or on purpose. Great fun, and it looked fantastic projected big.

Faraway – Far and away (h’yuk) the game I played most at Gamma IV, Faraway is an addictive highscore game from Steph Thirion, who created Eliss for the iPhone. Like Eliss, Faraway has a great minimalistic audio-visual design. The game, which has you playing a comet trying to make constellations, requires a lot of skill and practice. You can be seriously good at this game, as was evidenced by Colin Northway’s “constellation domination” throughout the conference. I wish I was playing it right now!

Poto & Cabenga – There’s no video for Honeyslug‘s Poto & Cabenga, unfortunately. In this game, you control both Poto & Cabenga at the same time, with one button. The way it’s handled is really clever (you can read about it in more detail here), and the character designs are great. I can’t wait until they release it on the internets.

B.U.T.T.O.N. – I had no clue what B.U.T.T.O.N. was about when I started playing, so I was holding a drink in one hand with the notion that I could play a one-button game with the other. Then the screen instructed all the players to do five push-ups. Thankfully, being me, I did twenty push-ups, finished my drink (whiskey and snake’s blood), and still won (sorry, there were no witnesses!). You can’t tell from the above video, but the game actually has pretty nice graphics! Fun party game.

GAMMA IV – The GameIGF Nuovo Award Winner cactus released a really fun, trippy Gamma game, aptly titled Gamma IV – The Game. It was projected behind the DJ, which was a good idea. It will make you think of swastikas and then you will have a seizure.

Silent Skies – I didn’t get a chance to try Michael Todd’s Silent Skies, unfortunately. But I enjoyed watching the planes do loop de loops from afar.

None of these games are playable as of writing, but a lot of the games that didn’t make it are. There were around 150 entries this year, so plenty of great ones didn’t make the cut. You can check them out at the Gamma IV forums.

  • hryx

    I was so proud of myself when I half drunkenly beat Poto & Cabenga on the first round — the control mechanism is cleverly brain-twisting. The artist for the game is a kind and hilarious guy.

    4Fourths and Faraway were definitely the most amazing games there, even while Faraway is so simple. Both are more difficult at first than they seem.

    Considering the cleverness or pure quality of the other games, Slient Skies actually felt a bit weak, though I’m sad to say it.

  • Strange

    I could watch the 4Fourths trailer over and over and over again…

  • Ezuku

    That 4 Fourths trailer is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Silent skies I thought looked quite nice as well.

  • GoSign

    The thing that stood out to me most was the music on the trailer for Cactus’s game. It’s amazing!

  • FISH

    i made sure to play that song at one point, early in the evening.
    it’s vitalic’s “sea the sea (red)”

    thanks for the nice writeup, D!

  • celluloseman

    I may or may not have helped goad Derek into playing. I pity the poor fools who were pitted against him, and suffer great guilt regarding their subsequent dismemberment.

    Other fun story is, I was wandering around and saw Tim Langdell at the party (who I had also passed earlier on the street the same day) and proceeded to point him out to Phil Fish.

    After that, Cactus apparently walked up to Langdell and said things to the effect of “I’ve heard you’re pretty big, I really like what you do”, which were graciously received. While performing said praise-shower, he stopped mid-sentence, turned around and walked away.

    Ooh, and I live in Ames, Iowa where I’m well-acquanted with Mikengreg.

    GDC was so awesome.

    This was my first GDC.


  • celluloseman

    Oh, and I forgot to mention! That’s me in the 4fourths trailer. With the long hair and bad posture. The fellow with yellow hair is my friend Nick. :D

  • cactus

    I just asked him if he was Tim and then told him he was a living legend, which is actually true. Then he smiled and I walked away in silence.

  • crackers

    Derek paid someone to do those pushups for him. This is the truth that they don’t want you to know.

  • capy_nathan

    Easily one of the coolest, most fun nights I’ve had in a long time.

    I’ve had Faraway etched into my brain since I played it for what felt like an hour during Baiyon’s set.

  • mike

    outsourcing pushups is one of the fastest growing problems of our industry, thousands of jobs are being sent overseas every year leaving families to fend for themselves in these already difficult times. derek should be ashamed…

  • tráver

    Would anyone happen to know the artist/track name of the song on the 4Fourths trailer?

  • doombat

    The artist is Jinder. The song is Youth Blood (12th Planet & Flinch Remix)

  • Ricky

    We had a whole load of fun playing B.U.T.T.O.N. on the Expo floor! Despite several painful injuries (Dick – Poto & Cabenga artist – sustained bleeding thumb and bashed knee in a single session), it was ace watching passing strangers being initially bemused, and then drawn into the nonsense.. definitely best around 5pm at the height of all the free beer giveaways..

    Also really got into 4Fourths, and *loveloveloved* Faraway

  • Anonymous

    that 4fourths trailer is the sickest shit eva