Delaware game designer Matt Sharp, founder of Momiji Studios, started working on his latest game about five years ago. The resulting Video Game Fables is his humorous take on replaying old games, set in a ’90s-style 8-bit world.
On March 26 through 28, he’ll show that game publicly for the first time at Makers Play, a virtual indie game and makerspace showcase put on by the Baltimore-based Indie Maker Syndicate.
“It’s about characters who live in a game world and they kind of know it’s a game world,” said Sharp. The characters haven’t been played in years, and when you, the player, return, things go awry. “They haven’t had anyone use the game for a while, so it’s kind of rusty. The whole script goes completely off the rails [and] you have to get things back to normal.”
The game can currently be wishlisted on Steam, but if you want to try it out, you’ll have to go to the free Makers Play event on Twitch — which promises to be a unique experience itself.
The Makers Play showcase usually takes place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Though it’s virtual this year, the community has worked hard to make it as immersive as possible, even recreating the inside of the convention center using a virtual reality game called VRChat. Participants will be able to “walk around” the exhibition area, interact with developers and play demos just like at a real convention. No VR headset is needed, though using one creates the most immersive experience.
“They’re basically going to do it like an in-person conventions where each of the game developers are going to have our own little booth space,” Sharp said. “They gave us creative freedom to make our virtual booths,” all in the virtual expo hall.
The incorporation of Discord, the voice and text chat app deigned for gamers, makes it even more interactive.
“We have virtual TVs in our booths to play the trailers on,” he said. “Each of our games has a [Discord] channel where we have a text chat and a voice chat. We’re going to recreate the experience of walking up to someone’s booth and asking to play the demo. A lot of us will be using [screensharing platform] Parsec, which allows us to stream our screen to Discord, where they can play directly from our computer just like they would in person.”
If you’re not familiar with VRChat, here’s an video unrelated to the event that will give you an idea of what Makers Play will be like; the actual virtual conventional hall, or VRChat map, is not yet public:
Gaming cons, Sharp says, are a big part of gaming culture, a way for gamers and game devs to interact and socialize in person, and it’s been missed by many in the community.
“We haven’t been able to go to conventions for a while,” he said, “so it’s cool that we’ll get to experience it. I think it will be good for mental health, especially for people who miss going to these conventions. For a a lot of people, cons, whether its gaming or comic cons or anime conventions, that’s their thing, it’s where friendships are made.”
Makers Play will showcase an international curated group of more than 40 independent game developers who have built video games for PCs, mobile devices, classic gaming consoles and vintage arcade-machine cabinets. The event will also feature live demonstrations from experts in 3D printing. Admission is free, with donations accepted throughout the event to benefit Child’s Play.-30-
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