Listen, I get it. You all saw Ancient ring and quickly lost your shit so loud that you accidentally closed the stream and missed the full presentation that was happening afterwards. But the most impressive part of Summer Game Fest happened immediately after Geoff Keighley dropped the mic. Ancient ring‘s revealed, during the Day of the Devs indie game show.
What is Developer Day?
Developer day was an indie game showcase hosted by iam8bit and Psychonauts Double Fine developer. Rather than being a shotgun of game announcements, two-second teasers, and interviews with your best friend, Day of the Devs was a much cooler showcase. The slower paced presentation allowed developers to show off their games in more detail than a sizzle reel would. As such, viewers had more time to marvel at some quite phenomenal games like stop-motion animation. Vocabulary.
Holy shit, check this out! I was captivated by stop motion host Johan Oettinger who demonstrated how he painstakingly posed, filmed and moved the models, achieving the same pose from different angles to faithfully recreate how the light hits the characters. More than just showing off a cool and unique art style, seeing the level of technical detail that was used to create Vocabulary Made me want to play it, whereas a few moments before, I had not even heard of it.
This sudden wave of “fuck it, I want this now” happened to me a lot more during Day of the Devs than during Summer Game Fest. Frankly, the kind of games released during Summer Game Fest just aren’t for me. Of course, I can be excited about whatever Kojima is up to, because, at the very least, the memes will be flawless. But the games Geoff showed weren’t my speed. It was like stuff I wasn’t interested in when I saw it and stuff I never intended to play. Don’t get me wrong, my closeness to everyone’s enthusiasm on social media about Far cry 6 or Little Tina’s Wonderland In turn, I got excited, and I’m always willing to try new experiences outside of my typical gaming comfort zone, but nothing in this presentation has jostled my needle.
But Day Of The Devs made me cry.
Another game featured at Day of Devs was Unbeatable, an anime style rhythm game in which you use the beat of music to fight enemies. I love rhythm games, especially if this is a new version of the rhythm game format, and I’m beyond reason excited for the full release of Unbeatable. I downloaded the demo seconds after hearing it, it was on Steam.
Soup pot is another game that I’m almost mad at. Cooking games are my jam. Being able to realistically cook foods from different cultures in a respectful and educational way? Double my jam.
I’m ready to be completely destroyed by Moon moon bay, a fishing RPG that makes you use your fishing skills to save your dying town. Same with roguelike immigration Route 96, in which the different choices you make affect how or not you reach border security.
I come love all Day of the Dev games. They look so unique, different from fixing AAA development with hyper realism, and they felt more human and personal to me than the flashier, more popping titles of the Game Fest presser. I know AAA development isn’t without some heartfelt personal stories, and I’ve had as much of an emotional reaction to bigger budget games as I have to these indies. But there is something touching about half of a two-developer team talking about how they modeled their football game. Turn signal of his experience growing up in Ecuador.
The conversations you hear in the trailer are improvised by ordinary people, and the buildings in the background are real photos taken of Ecuador’s capital, Quito. These are the kinds of stories you don’t often get in big budget game presentations. And it’s these personal stories, blood on the pixels, that remind me of why I love video games so much as a medium.
I suspect we’ll see more of this kind of games on Saturday Healthy live. Hopefully this time people won’t be distracted by Ancient ring.