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Indie Spotlight: Island

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Island is survival roleplay game made in retro graphics. You don’t just deal with hunger and thirst, but also with more realistic factors like fear, cold, and condition of your feet. You start the game without any skills at surviving and must learn along with what you see the most fit along the way: Train to become better at fishing when near a beach, learn to identify fruits when in a jungle. The game is meant to push the player under constant pressure until being able to escape the Island.

Island was inspired in its first iteration from classics like Robinson Crusoe and Mysterious Island. This was at first a tabletop roleplay game for one afternoon scenarios. The game was so addictive, and I realized that it was adaptable to video game form.

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The release date for Island in September 2019. It has funded on Kickstarter a few days ago. We will develop it for PC, Switch, 3DS, and possibly PS4 if the stretch goal is met. Before and during the Kickstarter, the public response has been amazing. We received many support & feedback messages. Many are eager to test it, quite a lot of people offered their help for the beta testing phase. It will also be possible to test the during some game festivals.

Review: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

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At E3 2018, DONTNOD Entertainment announced that they would release a new, free-to-download game at the end of June, set in the same universe as Life Is Strange. The game turned out to be more of a demo that sets up Life Is Strange 2, titled The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. It’s available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. While Captain Spirit only takes about 2.5 hours to complete, it felt wonderful to be back in the Life Is Strange-verse, even for a little while.

Captain Spirit stars a new character, a nine-year-old boy named Chris with an active imagination. He lives with his father; both are struggling to cope with the sudden death of his mother. His father does this through drinking; Chris does so by pretending to be a superhero called “Captain Spirit.” In the game/demo, your objective is to complete a number of “awesome” things that Chris has planned for the day.

First things first, a trigger warning: the original Life Is Strange dealt with some very heavy topics, including suicide, abusive parents, and kidnapping/assaulting young women. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit doesn’t get as dark as the first entry in the series. (It doesn’t have the same amount of time to do so anyway.) But it does show Chris with a dad who drinks heavily; it’s strongly implied that he’s physically hurt Chris when drunk, and he verbally lashes out at him more than once, depending on the choices you make. He’ll almost immediately backtrack and apologize, and he’s clearly trying to be a good parent, but that doesn’t excuse his actions at all.

My own parents are loving, supportive, and have never given me anything worse than a lecture. So, while I can say that I liked how Chris’ story was written, I can’t say whether or not his relationship with his father was handled correctly.  Regardless, if this situation hits a little too close to home for any of you, you might want to play something else.

That said, I immediately identified with Chris in another way. He spends a lot of time in his room or in his yard, playing with his toys as he acts out their adventures battling his arch-nemesis, “Mantroid.” I couldn’t stop smiling, because that’s exactly how I used to play with my toys. He does feel like a real nine-year-old kid.

There are a few little shout-outs in the game to remind you that Captain Spirit takes place in the same universe as Life Is Strange. This initially gave me the wrong impression that Chris might be related to Max or Chloe somehow. While I missed the previous cast of characters and would’ve liked to see a stronger link to them, I liked Chris so much that, ultimately, I didn’t mind switching over to his world.

The game plays the same as Life Is Strange, in the sense that you’re choosing what you want Chris to do and how to respond. But Chris doesn’t have time travel powers, so you’re stuck with the consequences of whatever you do. That felt weird at first. I’m used to trying something out, rewinding, trying something else, and then picking which outcome I liked best before proceeding with the story.

There’s also a hilarious mini game that you can play if you can unlock Chris’ dad’s phone. It’s a side-scroller starring “Hawt Dawg Man,” who dodges obstacles with his mustard jetpack. Although I never beat Chris’ high score, I had a lot of fun trying. It’s a nice bonus to flesh out the game and gives you something else to do besides your short list of tasks.

Captain Spirit ends on a good cliffhanger and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Chris’ story in Life Is Strange 2. The first episode of that game will be released on September 27 for the same systems as Captain Spirit. If you loved the original Life Is Strange, you’ll love this one too. And if you’ve never played a game in this series before, this is the perfect way to get a sense of what they’re like and whether or not you’d enjoy them.

You’re Not Alone: My Tribe

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I’m sitting here listening to Danny Don’t You Know by Ninja Sex Party for the millionth time. If you haven’t heard the song, you should give it a listen. There are a few lines that always hit close to home for me but it reminded me that I was supposed to write something for Vanri. (Sorry, Vanri!)

When I was a kid, I had zero friends most of the time. There were a few people that I’d hang around but, no matter what I did, or tried, I never fit in. I never fit in to the point of relentless bullying, severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and attempts. I had a plate overflowing with shit. It was so full, so awful, so heavy that I couldn’t see the other side of it. I just imagined that this was going to be the rest of my life and who the hell wanted that.

I was into D&D, Magic: The Gathering and video games as I became a teenager, but at the time those got you bullied more. I made some friends, but nothing really changed for me. I still dreaded life nearly all the time.

Let’s fast forward because this went on into my 30s. I met Vel, we got married, and I started to figure out what I was and what I wanted to do with that. Five years ago, I kinda got mad. I liked games and I happen to be female, but I couldn’t find myself being represented anywhere. So I, metaphorically, kicked down my first door and said, “Alright, bitches, who wants to form Real Women of Gaming.”

I didn’t see us past a Facebook page, but something amazing happened. Here were people that (most knew me, some didn’t) were listening, supporting some ideas I had, investing themselves in this thing I started. This amazing group of people that were uplifting. This is My Tribe.

All of the things I was bullied for when I was young were now helping me kick down doors and expand this amazing thing. Being loud, excitable, talking about literally anything to anyone. Overweight, mental health, video games, nerd stuff. Everything that I really am helps me and these amazing people helped me find that and show the world that I’m an amazing person.

I get to spend nights laughing while playing Creativerse, Stardew Valley, Gears of War. I plan parties around board games and amazing new foods that my friends bring over. I make new friends that I’m excited to find because we both love specific games. These are things I look forward to. This is my crazy awesome wonderful life.

Now I will side note, that doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer from depression, anxiety and a host of other issues. Those are chemical imbalances in my brain that I am in therapy for, and I take daily medication. The support of my friends, of our fans, helped me get into therapy, helped me ask for medication. They helped me seek the appropriate help I needed to work on a healthier me. Life is no longer unbearable, it’s amazing and I am blessed.

The You’re Not Alone Anti-Bullying Fundraiser was on July 21st and we raised $1,075 for PACER’s Bullying Prevention Center.

Influential Women in the Gaming Industry: Team Sailor Scouts

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Esports is a growing phenomenon that is surpassing even the gaming world. It is a form of competitive gaming. Now team gaming has been going on for years but Esports is a little different. These competitions have it all; professional players, live broadcasts and cash prizes. It has even made it onto ESPN. The one thing that seems to be lacking in the field is female competitors. Team Sailor Scouts is working hard to change that.

Team Sailor Scouts is a group of female gamers who compete in Esports playing Overwatch. This young team of women is taking the field by storm from Canada.

The team meet at Meltdown, an Esports bar. There they discovered a few things. They all loved gaming. There was a lack of female teams and they wanted to change that. Thusly the seeds were planted for Team Sailor Scouts were sown. Funny enough none of the members had known each other previously. They were brought together by a love of gaming.

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The team has meetings throughout the week to play together. Twice a month there is a big meetup to exchange information. The Scouts also try to make time to hang out together outside of gaming as well. Every member of the team is considered important and they want to make sure everyone feels that way.

Team Sailor Scouts have a two fold mission that they are trying to achieve, well other then kicking some serious butt in Overwatch that is. The Scouts want each player to reach her maximum potential. They also, of course, to introduce more women to Esports. They hope to achieve this mission statement by doing what they love, gaming. They know that the best way to get women included is by making space for women to be able to game. To really compete and win against all kinds of gamers.

The members of Team Sailor Scouts are:

Fabulous– Main Roster

IDDQT– Main Roster

Mixy– Main Roster

Quake– Main Roster

Annieonfire– Main Roster

Calypso– Main Roster

Surlysheep– Substitute Player

Tachikoma– Substitute Player

Idkmonkey– Substitute Player

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Team Sailor Scouts are proof that women can make more space for themselves in the world of gaming by fighting like a girl. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

How Gaming has Helped Me Cope with Bullying

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Be sure to join Real Women of Gaming for their 4th annual Anti-bullying fundraiser, You’re Not Alone on July 21st. The event takes place from 10am-9pm at Uncanny Comics and More in the King of Prussia Mall. You can also catch the event at mixer.com/realwomenofgaming and twitch.tv/realwomenofgaming.

I was bullied my whole childhood. We never had a lot of money for me to have the latest things, though my parents tried very hard. I was overweight, which seems to be some kind of cardinal sin to kids. I also grew up very religious which I feel stunted some of my social skills. Despite going to Catholic school very quickly it was considered “not cool” to be as religious as I was. I also didn’t get to join a lot of clubs because I was helping as a caregiver at a young age for my mother, my younger brother and later my grandmother. 

I had undiagnosed mental illness as well as learning disabilities. I could never seem to say the right thing. I was “stupid.” I was always “ugly.” I was the kid who got asked to play only to be made fun of or physically hurt. No one wanted to come to my parties except to make me feel bad which was really lame considering how hard my parents worked to have these birthday parties. I would be invited to birthday parties but it was well known that it was just because parents forced kids to do so. I was also bullied by some teachers. I hated school. I wanted to die.

I did have my family. The good thing about lots of cousins is that you have built in friends and we all loved playing games. My younger cousin Kelly was my only real friend till high school. We are still very close. I also was very close to my mom. She played a lot of games with all of us kids. The awesome nerd family made of friends that I met in high school helped me a lot and we have also always loved games. We still play a lot of games when we get together. 

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Gaming has also led me to meet some of the rest of my made family. Crymson and Vanri have told the story of how we met many times. In short she was friends with one of my best friends and she had invited us all to come play games on New Years Eve. I didn’t want to go. I was, honestly pretty terrified that this would turn into some other trick. Or I would say the wrong thing, like I always did and no one would like me.

Thankfully I did go. I became friends with Crymson and Vanri quickly and I am so glad that we clicked. Crymson invited me to join Real Women of Gaming and my social circle grew. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with Oresan running a small group as the Dungeon Master. Soon we were playing with a slightly larger group on Mondays. Then I was lucky enough to become a part of The L.O.S.T. A Dungeons and Dragons Tale.

Dungeons and Dragons has given me so much more confidence then I had when I started. It has given me a way to problem solve within a group that I didn’t always have growing up. It stretches my creativity and has made me a better world builder. It has forced me to look at why I am making my characters the way I am. It has challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone when I play my characters.  

Gaming gives me set scheduled interaction with others that, as a person who had such terrible experiences with people in the past, I value beyond worlds. It gives me challenges. It gives me a way to look at my own growth as a person and player. Gaming has given me friends who help me through difficult situations. They celebrate my vistories with me.

Gaming has given me some of my only fond memories of my childhood. It has given me more confidence. Gaming has given me friends and a way to connect with others. Gaming has helped me become the strong woman that I am. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have been given by gaming to help me realize that I am so much more than what bullies tried to make me believe. I am worthwhile. I am funny. I am not stupid or worthless.

Gaming has helped me in so many ways to cope with the bullying that I experienced.

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Always keep sparking!

Influential Women in the Gaming Industry: Brianna Wu

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Brianna Wu is a game developer. She is also the head of Giant Spacekat which is a female lead gaming development team. She is also often a speaker on the subject of women in the tech industry.

Brianna found a love of technology early in her life. This would serve her well as that love helped her to pave her own way. She was adopted into a conservative family that she would not always feel like she belonged in. Learning to program and work on computers are some of her happiest memories as a child. Thankfully her family supported her in her love of technology and provided her with resources that have helped her to become a successful woman in the field of gaming.

That support helped her to start her first business as a teenager. From her parents’ garage she would modify cars and computers. By the time she was in college, she had saved up a nice nest egg, which enabled her to leave the program she was not happy in. Brianna went through many changes and challenges that helped her find her own views and voice in the world during this time. This journey would help her discover what she wanted out of life, and gaming.

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Brianna started Giant Spacekat in 2010. The company was not started with a strong feminist stance in mind. Brianna simply wanted to make things that she liked and wanted to see in games. It turns out that what she wanted was a more inclusive gaming space. This tone led to Revolution 60, the first game from Giant Spacekat, that featured all female operatives and strong feminist overtones in the game.

As she spoke with more women in the gaming industry, Brianna found that many of them were having similar experiences to herself. This led her to changing the culture of her studio. It also led Brianna to taking on more speaking appearances and writing about women in the gaming industry.

Brianna Wu is an example of how life takes us on paths we may not expect. Everything is a learning experience and we are meant to grow on this journey we call life.

Always keep sparkling!

 

Indie Spotlight: Forgotten Anne

Tell us about your game: Valdemar Schultz Andreasen (Lead Game Designer):

Forgotton Anne is an untraditional 2D platforming adventure, with a heavy focus on the narrative and an interest in telling a very human story. We’ve done what we can to make it feel as if you’re playing inside an anime-movie, with a cinematography that swoops and zooms around.

The story centers around Anne, one of two human beings trapped in the world of lost and forgotten things – the Forgotten Lands. The inhabitants are socks, scarfs and other objects that people forget, animated into life as citizens of this world.

Anne and her Master Bonku are trying to get back to the human world, but as the story begins, an explosion occurs – somebody is trying to destroy their plans of returning home.

Since Anne has the role of Enforcer of these lands, she is sent out to locate and find the cause of the rebellion.

You play the game as you would a platformer: Anne can walk, run, jump – and then she has two tools in her belt: Her wings give her a boosted jump. Her Arca-glove on her hand can draw and transfer energy – called Anima – between cylinders and power up machines. It can even draw the Anima out of Forgotlings.

Through the story told, Anne interacts with a lot of Forgotlings, not just drawing life, in fact, mostly speaking to them. Anne encounters a lot of different situations that ask something of her situation as the Enforcer, but also moral situations for the player to contemplate.

The decisions Anne and the player makes impact aspects of the story, and it is not always clear what action leads to what reaction or consequence, which might just make it worthwhile to go through the game for a second run.

Situations of identity, loyalty and choice weave in and out of a beautifully aesthetic and engaging experience, that has a constant drive forward with new areas and situations.

The human story emerges as the story becomes an investigation of Anne – not just of her past, but also of who she is as a human being. We have done what we can to avoid turning her into a caricature or a superhero, rather trying for a naturalistic description of a complicated person full of contradictions and emotions, like any of us. While Anne is athletic and cool, she is also sometimes slightly clumsy. Our lead animator, Debbie Ekberg, was really great in portraying Anne’s movements with 2D animation. The game contains more than 5000 individual drawings, frames, of Anne. She would add these subtle touches of animation that showed Anne from a more vulnerable and naturalistic side that really rounded off her character.

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What was your inspiration to create the game

Alfred Nguyen (Creative Director): It came about after a soul-searching period after I quit my job as a creative lead at a mobile games company. I was reaching a point in my life where I wanted to make use of all the skills I had accumulated throughout the years as an animation film director and artist to express something meaningful. I think there is a space for fun addictive mobile games in our lives, but it did not allow me to go deep with crafting imaginary worlds of wonder and tell stories that affected people in a meaningful way. The same way certain games, books and movies had a lingering effect on me growing up. So the first thing I did was to reflect on themes I kept returning to as an artist and topics that kept being there on the back of my mind throughout my life. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam war and I grew up in Denmark, and so had two very different cultures vying for my identity growing up. So the search for an identity, the feeling of being lost, ‘forgotten’ I could see was a recurring theme in my life. Making a game can be a sisyphean task and so I knew it had to have a personal core that guided the project through tough times, and so this world of the forgotten began to form in my mind. From there it’s just been an incredible journey, starting a company, assembling my great and loving team who is responsible for making Forgotton Anne into what it is, and bet that years of work will feel worth it, as long as we focused on a meaningful creative process instead of calculating what will be ‘hot’ in the future to play or current trends.

Forgotten Anne is availble on Steam, Xbox and PS4 May 15th