Black Nerd Problems recently had the pleasure of attending the Game Devs of Color Expo in Harlem. This gathering is dedicated to bringing together games made by developers of all genders, races, abilities, sexual orientations, and religions. With nearly 30 games available, we took the opportunity to play and learn about as many as we could. Here are some of the highlights.
The Ultimate Clapback – Mot & Dot LLC
Ever played The Dozens? Trade a few wisecracks with the family? Clapback at your Auntie who don’t know how to mind her own damn business? Well, imagine mixing the Dozens with Cards Against Humanity and you’ve got The Ultimate Clapback. Created by MaryMartha E. Ford-Dieng, this game is wholly unique on its own. Pick a player, throw an insult, and hope that they don’t clapback with something spicy. In our short time with the game, the fun is in being clever with the insults in your hands while putting a little attitude behind your play. We certainly can’t wait to grab a copy of our own.
Solace State – Vivid Foundry
Visual novels are an evolving genre. No place exemplified that more than at Game Devs of Color. Solace State is an interesting visual novel that changes up the formula a bit. The biggest difference is in its graphics and storytelling style. The game has 2D characters in a 3D experience, with a dynamic camera that flips through the scenery as you progress through the story. It takes place in a futuristic sci-fi society ruled by the rich, who oversee the working class and young.
Creator and founder of Vivid Foundry, Tanya Kan wanted to make a game humanizing social concerns. She modeled the setting after her own experiences in Canada and Hong Kong. What sets the game apart from others of its kind is how players progress through the story: by making several choices which influence the various social groups in the game. These factions may share the same agenda, but have different stances on how to achieve them. Solace State is due to arrive sometime on PC and consoles. You can watch the game’s trailer by visiting the website here.
Swimsanity – Decoy Games
Underwater Smash Bros.? Maybe not; but pretty close, and plenty of fun. Swimsanity is a ‘party shooter’ more than a ‘party fighter’. Up to four players take on underwater characters in various different competitive and cooperative modes as they swim and float through the stage. While all players use the same base character abilities to teleport and shoot, they can select different super attacks before the match begins. There are also plenty of power-ups that appear during gameplay to aid you along the way.
The minds behind Swimsanity are brothers Khalil and Ahmed Abdulla, who call the game a ‘passion project’ of sorts, with art duties handled by Chris Venne. The project has had a bit of a journey, as it was once being a Flash game that came up short during a Kickstarter run. However, the brothers went back to the drawing board. By working on the game on their own time, they made it what it is today. Swimsanity is expected to release sometime in early 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Another visual novel changing up the formula, Code Romantic is more than your average game. The game mixes beautiful art with an expansive story and Coding 101. Players actually input code during gameplay, learning the basics of C# code. Lead Developer Dale Lemieux and Creative Designer Miko Charbonneau, husband and wife coders, designed the game for players to learn how to program – no matter what coding experience you have. Meanwhile, artwork for the game’s unique watercolor style was created by artist Allyson Kelly, who Charbonneau tells us is working on a game for the first time.
Charbonneau also stressed the importance of applying a story to the code, where romance blossoms in a world filled with humans against machines. The team felt that adding a compelling story to the game would make the learning portion less intimidating, and easy to access. Each of the 13 chapters focuses on a different aspect of coding with the whole gaming being equivalent to taking a Computer Science 1 course. Look out for Code Romantic, coming soon to Steam. Players interested in giving the game a spin can check out a preview build on their website.
Memoir Blue – NYU Game Center
Memoir Blue is a beautiful puzzle game that built by Designers Shelley Chen and Kevin Zeng for their MFA thesis project. The game is narrative-driven, with the player navigating young swimmer Miriam through a dreamlike world. Each puzzle unlocks the next scene, moving the player from one eye-catching set piece to the next. The game also uses water as an overall theme to solve most of the puzzles through logic and some crafty thinking. As a part of The NYU Game Center Incubator, Memoir Blue is still in development. No word on when the game will be released.
Exposure – The Sheep’s Meow
With its psychedelic art style and addictive gameplay based around camouflage, Exposure is a game you can find yourself getting lost in. You play as a tiny creature in a dangerous world. The objective is to collect offspring and lead them to safety, while avoiding predators and other dangers along the way. Your only means of protecting yourself is your ability to instantly camouflage into ever moving light and dark areas of the levels.
The game can be frantic, but in a good way. You’ll find yourself challenged with trying to protect the offspring following you, while at the same time trying to avoid getting hurt yourself. It’s an experience that is reminiscent of relaxing games like Flow, but with a mix of ‘bullet hell’ arcade action. According to Game Director GJ Lee, the creature abilities and look are inspired by the Peppered Moth – known for the black and white variations of their species. Exposure is expected to release sometime in 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux, and mobile devices.
These were just some of the games we got to experience at Game Devs of Color. Be sure to check out the other games that were available at the expo by visiting their website.