With less than a month to go before we’re all at the 2015 Game Developers Conference, officials are excited to reveal the lineup of the ever-popular Experimental Gameplay Workshop, which returns to GDC for its 13th year.
This action-packed extended session — which is taking place on Friday, March 6 at 1:30pm in Room 135 of the San Francisco Moscone Center’s North Hall — will showcase an eclectic mix of unusual game prototypes that defy convention and explore new ideas and genres.
This year the EGW is once again curated and organized by standout game creators Robin Hunicke and Daniel Benmergui, and it promises to be an exciting opportunity for presenters and attendees alike to explore some fresh territory in game design.
You may remember that many ‘experimental’ titles that debuted in previous EGW showcases have gone on to become some of the most well regarded in the industry, including Bounden, Gorogoa, SpaceTeam, Starseed Pilgrim, Braid, Portal and Soundodger.
This year the Experimental Gameplay Workshop hopes to continue fostering such innovative and spirited work with a lineup of 20 titles from some of the industry’s most creative developers, including Funktronic Labs, Numinous Games, Tale of Tales and noted independent game makers like Nicky Case, Robin Arnott and Vi Hart.
Plenty of cool prototypes and games in development will be showcased during the workshop, including the IGF award-nominated audio puzzle game Phonopath, the deeply evocative That Dragon, Cancer and Robin Baumgarten’s fascinating one-dimensional dungeon crawler Line Wobbler — which is also part of the Alt.Ctrl.GDC alternative controller exhibit at GDC 2015.
Many games in the EGW lineup take advantage of unique controllers or situations, so the best way to appreciate them is to check out the event in person. Here’s the full lineup:
Phonopath is a puzzle game based entirely in audio. Each stage of the game is comprised of a sound clip and password request. The password lies hidden within the audio file itself, and can only be revealed through critical listening, careful analysis and manipulation.
SineRider is a math/sledding puzzle game that was inspired by a TI-86. It is a cross between LineRider and a graphing calculator where the hill is a graph and the goal is to compose a function that causes the sled to pass through a series of points. Solutions to puzzles can range from simple slopes and waves to elaborate compositions that change over time.
Parable of the Polygons is an interactive essay about how harmless choices can make a harmful world. Our “playable post” builds on top of the work of Nobel Prize-winning game theorist, Thomas Schelling. With this, we let the player explore and understand how systemic bias works… and how to reverse it.
Sunset is a first-person thriller that takes place in a single apartment in a war-torn South American republic, in the early 1970s. You play as a housekeeper, alone in the home of a wealthy eccentric. You come to do your work each week at sunset, and slowly discover your employer’s role in the revolution.
That Dragon, Cancer includes three scenes from a poetic and playful interactive retelling of Joel Green’s 4-year fight against cancer from the perspective of his parents. This “software art” uses several structures of meaning including story, poetry, music, and game. In these scenes, the game structure is focused on to use mechanics to attempt to communicate specific feelings and meanings.
Synonymy is a non-profit, educational word game narrated by Richard Dawkins in which players are challenged to find the paths between random words through their network of synonyms. Endorsed by noteworthy academics like Stephen Fry, Steven Pinker and David Crystal.
Earth Primer is a science book for playful people. Discover how Earth works through play on your iPad. Join a guided tour of how Earth works, with the forces of nature at your fingertips. Visit volcanoes, glaciers, sand dunes. Play with them, look inside, and see how they work.
The Thumper prototype contains a tutorial level. We also included test levels we used to make the gameplay video. These are difficult, but serve as stripped down demonstrations of how we explore audio/gameplay creation.
Sentree is a game for two mobile devices, preferable a smartphone and a tablet. The players take two different roles, the shooter gets a device, and the spotter(s) get the other. The shooter will control the hero character in the game, while the spotter(s) give directions and offer support.
Maze of Heart is an attempt to use Kinect in a different way using your whole body. The player’s body is mapped to a robot on screen and he/she has to move his body around (dance in awkward ways) to be able to move different heart pieces all around the body of the robot to build him a new heart.
Cleveland Games, Space Cruiser, and Sidescroller are three site-specific installation games that Ivan Safrin has created over the past few years with a number of collaborators, including Keita Takahashi, Thu Tran and Babycastles. Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to provide playable demos, but I hope that you will find them interesting.
“Curiouser and Curiouser!” is an interactive pop-up book based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.” It has a physical component (the pop-up book) which has many sensors and buttons that feeds into an arduino. The sensors and buttons control the digital component (the Unity games that are played on screen). Every page of the pop-up book has a new game to explore on the screen.
The TRIPAD device is a touch-controlled multiplayer game ‘platform’, designed for three s
imultaneous players. It is constructed from three Novation LaunchPad Mini devices arranged in a special configuration, controlled via MIDI commands. Each of the three players is provided with 80 input buttons, which double as ‘pixels’
Line Wobbler is a one-dimensional dungeon crawler game with a unique wobble controller made out of an upside-down shoe-spanner and a several meter long bright LED strip display. The entire game runs on an arduino, including sound, particle effects and 60+fps.
SoundSelf is the collision of centuries old meditation technology with the video-game trance. Turn off the lights, amp up the volume, and use your voice to fall through an odyssey of light and body.
Collider is an audiovisual experience using the LEAP Motion (and Oculus Rift, optional) where you travel through a psychedelic supercollider use 3D motion controls and gestures to warp your face with generative visuals and dynamic sounds.
Puzzlets is a hands-on introduction to programming and game console for boys/girls, ages 6+. In box: Universal Play Tray, 22 Puzzlets, Cork the Volcano software. “Cork the Volcano” asks players to program solutions to get golden puzzle pieces in each level. Kids use the 22 programming Puzzlets on the Play Tray to physically program their solutions.
You can find full details on it and all of the other announced talks in the online GDC 2015 Session Scheduler, where you can begin to build your conference week and later export it to the up-to-the-minute GDC Mobile App, coming soon.
GDC 2015 itself will take place March 2-6, 2015 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. For more information on GDC 2015, visit the show’s official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.
Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech.