One of The Welsh Gaming Network’s Streamers, TheGrumpyWelshMan was lucky enough to frequently visit The Arcade Vaults summer pop up, which took place this August in Castle Arcade, Cardiff. He got to chat with the organizers and developers, whilst getting a chance to play some new games in development as well as retro titles.
Don’t forget to hop onto the WGN Discord to become part of the community as we had a group meet up at The Arcade Vaults one weekend!
The first time I heard of The Arcade Vaults pop-up event was through the Welsh Gaming Network’s Twitter account. I had only recently started following it, so when I saw there was a gaming event near me, I immediately got excited and started making plans.
It wasn’t the thought of going to the event to play games from my childhood that hooked me, it was the prospect of being able to meet with developers from Games Wales. I’ve been to a few events in the past and chatted with developers then, but I don’t think I had talked with any Welsh devs until now.
The first weekend I went the the Arcade Vaults it was to meet Blind Sky Studios (@BlindSkyStudios) who made Mandagon a 2d story driven platformer, and Dark Planet Studios (@DPSWales) with their space combat RTS game Stellarmania.
A few days prior, I learned that Mandagon was available free on Steam so I downloaded it and played it from start to finish. Sadly, I wasn’t able to meet with Blind Sky Studios as they weren’t at the event that day I attended but their game was available to play, all set up and ready for anyone to sit down and try it out.
The developers flyer advertising was something I hadn’t seen before. One side had an overview of the in-game world with Mandagon displayed along the top. The reverse side had instructions on how to cut out and build the main character.
I did have to chance to talk to one of Dark Planet Studios team about Stellarmania. I’m not a huge fan of RTS games but Stellarmania hooked me. At the development stage it was in when I played it each player has a certain number of points they can use to purchase ships, such as frigates, gunships and small fighters.
There were some bugs in the game, which is to be expected in an Alpha build, but the developer expressed plans to both fix and possibly utilise a few of the bugs to make new features. The game had been in development for a few months and so far it’s looking promising. Since seeing Dark Planet Studios at The Arcade Vaults, they have put several update notes on their Twitter page showing the progress some ships and weapons have had.
Jeff’s Tower VR and the HTC Vive
The next weekend I had my first every experience with the HTC Vive, thanks to Filthy Fresh Studio (@FreshFilthy) with their game Jeff’s Tower VR. While tower defence games haven’t been my usual choice to play, doing it in Virtual Reality and having enemies surround you from all sides makes the game intense and hectic, whilst staying enjoyable.
According to the devs, they had a little bit of trouble setting up the Vive in the room as there were mirrors on the walls, which interfered with the Vive’s tracker. After fixing that issue but covering up the mirrors, Jeff’s Tower VR ran perfectly. I saw a lot of people going to try the game and it seemed like a big hit.
The team members from Filthy Fresh Studio explained their plans to possibly change some of the weapons currently implemented in the game, including thoughts to make power ups available, having different effects when two attacks are used simultaneously and some minor changes to the general design to make it more accessible.
2000:1 A Space Felony
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk to anyone from National Insecurities (@NIPresents) about 2000:1 A Space Felony but the game was available to try. Heavily inspired, as you can probably tell, by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the game is based on a murder mystery plot aboard a space station. The writing and delivery of the lines are incredibly well done and the humour fits my taste. Although I didn’t have the chance to meet the developers, I know the game is available to purchase on the Humble Bundle website.
The day before I managed to get to the Arcade Vaults, there was another developer, Subtractive Alchemy (@SubractiveAlc) showing their game Ribvolver. I did manage to play Ribvolver thanks to a developer showing it to me later in the week.
This game was a fast paced, four-player local game. Each player is a frog with 2 pistols, each with 1 bullet. The aim is to kill other players and survive, which is a lot more challenging that it sounds. Shooting first would usually result in your death, on the other hand you don’t want to wait to long to fire either. I had so much fun playing this with other people at the event that I want to play it again.
The following weekend I returned to the Arcade Vaults to meet with Lloyd Jones (@Lloyd_Jones93) who made NEENAWS! a 4-player racing game. Each player has a different role; Criminal, Cop, Fire engine and Ambulance respectively. The criminals job is to cause chaos by smashing things and avoid the cop, the cop’s job is to smash the criminal but nothing else. The fire engine’s job is to fix buildings and boxes on fire, and the ambulance has to rescue cars on fire.
NEENAWS! is a hectic and entertaining game with a lot of reply value, especially when playing with people you know. I think I spent almost an hour playing with Lloyd Jones and several other people. Lloyd was very happy to talk about his game and where he plans to go with it. He also listened to a lot of feedback from people who had ideas on what they thought would improve the game.
Fused by Ironsmith Studios (@IronsmithStudio) was an interesting take on first person puzzle games genre. I wasn’t able to play much of the game itself as the meat of the game is based around colour puzzles, which I struggle with. The few levels I played had me searching for a way to spawn a fuse in order to progress to the next area. Ironsmith studios were writing down a lot of feedback from people and seemed to be making plans in how to use a lot of them to make Fused more accessible for everyone.
Moo Moo Move
Mochi Games (@Mochisoftware) where there showing off their mobile game Moo Moo Move during my last weekend at the Arcade Vaults. Regrettably I wasn’t able to get hands on with Moo Moo Move personally, so I will write about what I saw when someone else was playing.
The aim of the game is to round up sheep either into the safety of their pen, or to their death using deep mud puddles. They had 4 levels on show during the event, although they did mention having more levels ready, just not ready for public viewing at the time. It looked like a relatively simple and relaxing game to play with bright and cute graphics.
I was able to talk to someone from Mochi Studios about their development. According to the team member they’re looking to get the game released on Android based systems in Q2 of 2018. They were also very open to suggestions on what to include in the game, one of which I heard was a Karma system.
And the rest…
Throughout the event there were several other developers presenting their games, however I could only be there on the weekends, which meant missing them. These included Duel Fuel (@duelfuelgames) with Infinite Void 2, Thud Media (@thudmedia) and Dojo Arcade (@dojoarcade) with Creature Battle Lab.
Overall, my time at The Arcade Vaults pop-up event was delightful and amusing. I spoke to Chris, one of the staff members, who told me that they’re hopefully working with Tiny Rebel in order to get more events going in the future. I would definitely recommend people go to any more of their events, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the games grow and become great games.
Don’t forget to follow as many of the above games as possible on Twitter for future updates, and keep an eye on this site for more Welsh development news and reviews!