Haven Editorial: Salt Lake Gaming Con

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This past weekend was the Salt Lake Gaming Con. A first for the Salt Lake valley. The convention is meant to focus on all sorts of gaming. Video, card, board or what have you.20150806_132514 There were booths for all of these. The biggest of these were of course video games. With AAA publishers, as well as local indie developers scattering the floor. For the most part Gaming Con was fairly small, not a huge surprise since this was it’s first year. However, Salt Lake Comic Con grew to massive numbers in 3 short years, Gaming Con could possibly have the same upswing in numbers in the coming years. For the most part the Local indie dev scene had the largest presence at the con. Including an organization known as the Utah Games Guild.

The Games Guild is a collection of indie devs here in Utah coming together to create an organization to help test, and promote each others games. The Presence of the Utah Games Guild was so large that there is another article entirely to cover it. I demoed a ton of their games, talked to the developers and even got some insight from one of the founding members of the Guild on Developing games in Utah. There were some other local game developers there aside from the Utah Games Guild. Including up and coming developers from the local University, and A studio called Fourth Axis games. I spoke with the Developers at Fourth Axis about their new game Children of Uum. A FPS conceived mainly for the Oculus Rift. This game focuses on a race of people deeply devout in their religion, living on the moon Ghar, that circles the Planet Uum. The player fights his way through the world using a wide variety of guns, and magic spells to traverse this highly religious world and find out what happened to your tribe. Playing this on the Oculus was fairly strange at first. The totally immersion is surprisingly a little disorienting. It took me a minute to get the hang of walking around and looking. Once I did though, I found myself in a beautiful world. You start in an enriched, deep blue forest scattered with Giant Mushrooms, and canopied by a star filled sky. By the time I encounter my first enemy, all the disorientation vanished and I was entirely focused on my goal. The depth of field could have been larger, since my gun took up a large amount of the screen, but I was able to dispatch the enemy, which was an interesting flying upside down pyramid, and ended the demo. It definitely left me wanting more. I tried to figure out the suumpell casting, but really couldn’t. Plus, I feel after a bit longer I really could have gotten used to the Oculus Rift and enjoyed the game a bit more. Unfortunately there isn’t much more information on the game, and There is talks of releasing a Kickstarter, nothing is available yet. If you’d like to keep up with this game, and I know I will be. Please visit Fourth Axis’s Website fourthaxis.com or their page on Indie Database indiedb.com/games/children-of-uum. Thanks again to Ross Moreno (Writer and Programmer) for the lovely conversation and Demo.

Apart from Video games, Board games were a major part of the con. A ton of local board game stores all had booths with games that you could play and purchase. I will definitely be heading down to a few stores nearby to check out some cool things I saw. However, the coolest part about board games being featured at the con was all the creators coming out to show off the games that they’ve made. I got to test play a few of these games and I was pleasantly surprised by all of them.

The first one I tried out was called Bad Decisions, by Diamond Dust Dreams a party game similar in design to Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. However, the interesting thing about this one is that the reader must use their cards to put together part of the story as well. There are three types of cards that boil down to people, mishap20150807_111410s, and results. The story card will ask the reader to combine two of these cards to create the story and the other players will choose a card from the remaining category. It gives the reader as much creativity and agency as the player and there is never down time where you just read off cards. It’s definitely not as vulgar as Cards Against Humanity is, but that’s fine as there are a lot of funny and interesting card combinations that came out of the little demo that I played. If you are into those types of games then it’s a fun addition to your collection. You can find the game at baddecisionscg.com/ and their other game Kitsune at kitsunecg.com/

The next game I got to play is called Outchasers. A mech battling strategy card game. You have your mech and pilot, each of which give you one special ability. In addition you can play cards you boost your attack or defense. You can stack them on top of each other to give you higher value more effects. Or you can play them straight out doing a direct amount of damage. Some cards in addition to health and damage have special effects, such as ignore armour, or ignore face down cards. It’s definitely an interesting game. There is a lot for you to consider, and while it’s not as complicated as other card games like Netrunner, I feel that works in its favor. It’s simple to play but the amount of strategy involved is fairly high, I of course lost my game to one of the booth workers, but I did fairly well and feel like I got the hang of it in the later game. Which was great. It only took half a game for me to feel comfortable playing, and there is still so much I could learn to do and what strategies work best against which mech. You can also collect cores which give you permanent effects like +1 damage, and so on. If you collect all the cores or kill the opposing mech you win the game. Purchasing it comes with the full 72 card deck and there is no additions at the moment. Look for a kickstarter soon, and check out the offical website for more information outchasers.com

The final game that I got to play is called Middara, created by Succubus Publishing it’s a cooperative miniatures board game similar to Descent. However, there are a few things that are different. There is a whole addition of role-playing and story telling along with the action and combat. The demo that I played only included the combat, which was fun. The rules were solid and not complicated. The Dice mechanic was fun, especially when you got to upgrade to the different specialty dice. I wish I got to try out the story telling as well. There was so much information on my character card that when I asked about I was just told that’s what it was for. The monsters that I faced were all different and interesting to figure out how to defeat. They were fairly challenging, and I’m sure at higher levels the monsters and bosses will be quite hard. It’s the type of game that I really like, DnD in board game form, but there is always a question of just playing a role-playing game instead. I’m not sure if this one is good enough to sway that decision, but if the demo is anything to go off of, it’s definitely a contender. If you are interested in this game, they have recently completed their Kickstarter and will be selling the game on their site succubuspublishing.com soon.

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In addition to all the new games being shown off there were also a ton of tournaments going on. Including card games like Netrunner, and Hearthstone, fighting games, and first person shooters. I sat down to rest for a bit and caught some of the hearthstone tournament. The winner got $600usd, and points toward the Blizzard world tournament. There was also a ton of space for people to sit down and play their own games, Bring their own hardware and really engage with other game players of all kinds. There were also tons of artists, and artisans selling the things that they worked hard to create. As well as voice actors, and actresses giving panels, and talking to fans about their work in video games.

20150807_13225320150806_181651It was awesome to see so many different aspects of gaming during the con. There was definitely something for everyone. My time at Salt Lake Gaming Con was incredible, I saw a ton of stuff that I am excited to keep an eye out for and talk about again when more comes out about them. This was definitely something well needed here in Salt Lake, as Comic Con just doesn’t do enough to cover gaming.

There will be more articles about the con to follow, including exclusive interviews with Elais Toufexis, Deus Ex, Amber Goldfarb, Assassin’s Creed, and Nicki Rapp, The Walking Dead.

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Thanks to Aaron Hastings, for this great opportunity.

-Jordan Kamm-