Digital Blend: Wandering the IGF Pavilion at GDC 2013

IGF 2013

There’s one thing you can always count on at the annual Game Developer’s Conference: an Independent Games Festival Pavilion bursting with great ideas and fresh-faced young developers. This year was no different. Some talented indie up-and-comers came out with their best, students and AAA veterans alike. So for this week’s special edition of Digital Blend, I’m going to look at some of the cool stuff I saw.

To be clear, this isn’t a rundown of The Best. Everyone in the IGF Pavilion deserves your attention. This is just the handful that I got to spend time checking out. Keep an eye on them. Good stuff to come. Enough stage-setting … let’s take a look!

Gone Home thumbGone Home

The Fullbright Company brings some killer development chops along to the first-person narrative-driven experience, Gone Home. Founder Steve Gaynor wrote and served as lead designer on the excellent BioShock DLC, Minerva’s Den. Gaynor also put in a year on BioShock Infinite in Boston before moving to Portland and luring a handful of his former 2K Marin colleagues there to work on something fresh.

That something is Gone Home.  The eldest Greenbriar daughter (you) returns home from a year-long trip abroad. She arrives on a conveniently dark and stormy night to find an empty house. There is a mystery here that needs to be solved, one that you get to the bottom of as you search around for clues. There’s not-quite-menacing atmosphere in the empty house, with the story unfolding naturally as you examine objects and read notes in your search for the truth.

Read more about Gone Home on the official IGF website and on The Fullbright Company’s own homepage. I’ll have more to share next week from my chat with Gaynor on the show floor.

Samurai GunnSamurai Gunn

Beau Blyth’s excellent retro-style samurai-with-Glocks multiplayer game can easily be summed up in one word: awesome.

Samurai Gunn pits up to four players against one another in a series of 8-bit arenas. Each samurai is armed with a sword that can slash out in four directions and a pistol loaded with three shots per life. The flow of the game is straightforward: a successfully landed attack – sword or gun, doesn’t matter – is a one-hit kill. Simultaneous sword slashes deflect off of one another. Some environments move or feature spike hazards, others include destructible bamboo scenery. The most kills wins, with ties being decided on a level plane in a sunset duel.

Blyth doesn’t have a release date finalized yet, but he’s shooting for this year. Definitely keep an eye out for this one. Find out more on the IGF website and on the game’s official site, You can also keep up with Blyth on Twitter.

Blackwells AsylumBlackwell’s Asylum

Blackwell’s Asylum is an 1890-set student project that was developed by Blackpipe, over the course of a six week crunch . It’s a short game that could easily be fleshed out into a longer one (and hopefully will be). The story opens in a first-person perspective, with your nameless character being held down by the asylum’s warden while a doctor injects you with some nefarious substance. Your vision blurs, and the world around you starts to swim as your captors release you. Now you’ve got to escape!

The game features an assortment of inventive ideas and a cool visual aesthetic that doubles as a gameplay hook, since your constantly swimming vision makes navigation … a bit of a challenge. Find out more about Blackwell’s Asylum on the official IGF website and on the game’s website. And hey! You can actually play it for yourself right now! Go find it on Steam.


Finally we have Pulse, another student project from Team Pixel Pi. This Vancouver-based crew came up with a nifty concept for its first-person puzzle-exploration game: the main character is blind. You play as Eva, a young girl who is out to find her brother after he steps in to take her place in their culture’s rite of passage. Eva may not be able to see, but the environment around her is shaped through echolocation. You find your way around using static sound sources, such as fire, or by tossing around fuzzy creatures called Mokos.

Like Blackwell’s Asylum, this student project runs on the shorter side. Team Pixel Pi has big plans though. They’ve established a bigger story for this game and hope to find additional support for it on Kickstarter. Keep up with the game’s progress – and try it out for yourself! – on the Team Pixel Pi website, or check out the official entry on IGF’s website.


Asus's monster gaming phone is coming October 18 with a hefty price tag to match

Asus understands you can't carry your gaming PC around with you, so it created the ROG Phone, a hardcore, high-specification smartphone designed for mobile gamers. It's coming later this month.

Here’s our guide on how to get ‘Fortnite’ on your Android device

'Fortnite: Battle Royale' is one of the biggest games in the world right now, and it's finally on Android, even if getting set up is a bit long-winded. Here's how to play 'Fortnite: Battle Royale' on an Android device.

From Blackout to Zombies, here's everything we know about 'Black Ops 4'

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12. Here's everything you need to know about the game, including info on multiplayer, Zombies, Blackout, and Signature Weapons.

Score a free Google Home Mini when you buy an Nvidia Shield TV from Walmart

There are a lot of great streaming devices available today, but one really shines when it comes to gaming. The Nvidia Shield TV is our favorite all-in-one streaming and gaming device, and you can now score one from Walmart and get a free…

W. Virginia isn’t for mutants, but its tourism board doesn’t mind if you think so

Bethesda and the state of West Virginia are partnering on a new tourism program intended to bring Fallout 76 fans to the state. Vault Boy sightings have been recorded across West Virginia already.

GameStop manager marks ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ launch by mimicking cover art

To celebrate the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, GameStop stores held midnight launch events across the United States. One manager even cosplayed as the cover star from the game, complete with an accurate haircut.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Product Review

'Black Ops 4' learns a few new tricks, but it's Call of Duty to the core

Despite nods to hero-based tactical gameplay, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer feels as stable as ever -- even as the game trades in its story-driven campaign for the new Blackout mode.

Put your iPad Pro to the test with these great games

Did you recently purchase a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, or are you enjoying the 12.9-inch version? If so, we've rounded up a few of the best iPad Pro games currently available on Apple's mobile platform.

Open-world video games are getting too big for their own good

As technology has progressed, open-world video games have grown increasingly bigger. What seems like a universal positive has shown problems preventing the genre from truly moving forward, however.
Product Review

The Oculus Rift is cheaper, the Vive Pro is better. Is the original Vive still worth it?

The Oculus Rift may have brought virtual reality into the public eye, but HTC’s Vive, built in partnership with Valve, does it better. Does the Vive still represent the true future of virtual reality, or are there better competitors on…

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.

Nvidia is slowly rolling out its next generation of GPUs. Here's what you need to know about them

Nvidia's new RTX 2000 series graphics cards are impressive pieces of hardware, with some amazing advancements and some rather high price tags to match. Here's everything you need to know about Nvidia's new top-tier cards.