NYU’s Game Culture
I may have put my solo Hyrule-saving on hold in the last four months, but my semester wasn’t completely gameless! NYU is HUGE on gaming. In fact, HUGE is an understatement. There are clubs where people get together to play different games every week, and there are even game-specific groups for just about any multiplayer game you can think of. I kind of disappeared on the generic gaming club I had originally joined because I found something else that suited my interests more – NYU Smash, a group dedicated to playing competitive Super Smash Bros Melee every week.
Super Smash Bros Melee is “the game” for me. By “the game” I mean that one game to each of us that’s special because we grew up with lots of memories of it. I’ll never forget the weekend Smash missions my best friend and I undertook when we were 11 years old – teaming up as Link and Roy to battle pairs of CPU characters on level 9. And succeeding! However, at NYU Smash, I was a complete newb. The group is consisted of lots of guys and a few girls who can wreck me without taking damage! They didn’t mind my newb-ness though; the top player in the group even coached me through some of the competitive skills. It’s just unfortunate that I had to miss a lot of the fests and tournaments being a busy graduate student.
Other than NYU Smash, I took an elective on designing and developing games and made my very first game (that will be a whole other post on its own) because my graduate program is located at the famous studio called the NYU Game Center! The NYU Game Center was opened in 2012 after acquiring the School of Engineering and a lot of new technology resources. There’s an entire major called Game Design now (I am in a different major that shares the same studio space). Our studio hosts lots of gaming events and talks with speakers from the game industry, like Freddie Prinze Jr from Dragon Age Inquisition. But most importantly, every Thursday we have an event called Playtest Thursday where Game Design majors or people taking game electives showcase their work-in-progress games. Here are some of my favorite super-indie games I’d like to share with you guys! Sorry NYU for direct-linking your gifs.
Stellar Smooch. Jenny is one of the first people I’ve met in graduate school altogether! She and her boyfriend make the cutest games, several of which I have playtested. Stellar Smooch is their highlight. It’s a co-op game where two people must control two spaceships, and coordinate to press a button button at the same time. If successful, both spaceships should collide and smooch! Each level has a different arrangement of planets that the players must avoid in order to face each other’s spaceships properly.
A Good Snowman is Hard to Build. Okay this one wasn’t a game I playtested, but one that was showcased at a conference I attended. I met the developer, Benjamin, and talked to him while I played a demo of his game. It’s an adorable puzzle where the player must go through a garden by figuring out how to build each snowman. Each segment of a snowman has a specific size you need to acquire by rolling the snowball in the right direction. Roll too many times and you get too big of a snowball! Oh no!
Crazy Cart Chaos. This is a four-player game where each player must pick up a character and drop it in the right location based on character design. There’s a time limit so the player who has dropped off the most characters wins. Players can also steal characters from other players, so it’s pretty competitive. One of the guys on the team that made this called me a dedicated fan because I playtested this game almost every time I saw it, and (excuse the shameless self-promotion) would always win, hehe.
Nebulous. I’m usually not a fan of space-stuff, but this game is BEAUTIFUL! I’ve playtested it a few times so I got to see its progress each week and chatted with the main developer each time on his process. I’ve dubbed the game “space ghost” as a little joke, because you literally are a spirit that must take control of enemy spaceships and shoot other enemy spaceships to protect your homebase, which is a beautiful diamond core.
The playtest sessions are still going on in the summer so my Thursdays evenings are occupied, and I can’t wait to test even more games next year! There are so many great games being developed, but you won’t know how good they are unless you try. Playtesting is also extremely beneficial for developers because they get to hear what the audience thinks step by step. It’s definitely a time for indie developers to break out of their shell, which I will write more about in my next post about MY game. (It’s nowhere near as good as these, but I still learned a lot from the experience.)