Report: A MAZE 2015

David Stark / Zarkonnen
28 Apr 2015, 4:44 p.m.

I spent the latter part of last week at A MAZE Berlin, an indie games festival. I had a really good time - met lots of new people, got to deepen my acquaintance with others, and met some Twitter people in the flesh for the first time.

There were open screens at the festival, and Airships got a slot, which meant I was able to show the game to quite a lot of people, gather feedback, and observe them playing it. As usual, within a few minutes, I had to start scribbling down notes. Observing someone play your game for the first time lets you see so many little problems, inconsistencies, and confusions.

Add to that the feedback and advice I got from more experienced developers - I may have sort of pounced on Rami Ismail - and I now have a massive list both of straightforward things to improve and important issues to ponder. In practice, this means that the landships feature is going to take a little while yet, as there's a lot more urgent polish and fixes I now want to apply first!

Enough about my game - what about others'? I was very pleased to see Curtain win the main A MAZE award. Rae and I noticed it sitting sort of unloved, gave it a play-through, and loved the contextual storytelling. The weird pixelated graphics may strike you as obtuse first, but they helped set the mood for someone stumbling through a relationship that reveals itself to be abusive.

I was really impressed by Lichtspeer's visuals but awful at the game. Switchcars was riotous fun. Curious Expedition continues to become ever better. Codex Bash provided some good exercise and END/RUN looked promising.

In terms of talks, well, it's a bit hard to choose because I really enjoyed all of them. Nina Freeman's talk about making personal games was inspiring in a "I wouldn't even know where to start, I make games about blowing stuff up" way. Nadezda Suvorova's talk on playful science was beautiful and interesting, and I hope I get to see more of her work soon. Finally, Klondike's super-hyper 30 second talks were extremely funny and packed in a huge amount of stuff.

So many things! I'm still pretty tired from the whole thing, but I wanted to get some thoughts down before they fluttered away.