GDEX 2017 – Amazingly Creative Community and the Rise of Indie Developers

Indie devs at GDEX

The event I’d been looking forward to for weeks finally came along at the end of September 2017 – GDEX 2017. GDEX (The Game Developer Expo) is a major game developer expo in Columbus, Ohio of all places. I’m so lucky to have this event in what is pretty much my backyard. This is my third time attending this event and its fifth year running.

What makes GDEX so special? It’s mostly made up of super-passionate game developers, artists, musicians and people doing related stuff all coming together to show off the work they have poured their hearts and souls into. This year they had 100 exhibitors on the show floor.

The people exhibiting range anywhere from college kids making their first game to industry veterans going off and founding their own studios and sharing their new creations. On top of this, there are almost always sessions going on where you can hear inspiring talks and learn new things about making games. Continue reading

Element4L – Physics-based Platformer With Unconventional Fast-Paced Movement

Element4L (pronounced “elemental”) is a great physics-based indie game that can be best described as a platformer. The deceptively simple game has one goal: get from the beginning of the level to the end. No enemies. The only thing standing in your way is the environment.

No Walk in the Park

As the Element4L trailer indicates – this is no walk in the park. The gameplay is challenging but not nearly impossible like the trend is for some recent games. It is not a “rogue-like” randomly generated game. Once you beat a level, it unlocks “race mode” which challenges you to finish the game faster than before.

What Is “Non-Traditional Movement?”

What makes this game shine is what I have seen described as “non-traditional movement.” You don’t simply move up, down, left, and right like in most games. The only way to move is switch your character from one element to another and let the element’s characteristics take over. The only controls are the arrow keys which convert you into one of four elements. Hit up – turn into an air bubble and float up, right to turn into a fireball and shoot to the right, down and you become a rock and fall, left and you become a block of ice that slides downhill. Notice one missing? LEFT. You cannot directly go left. If you need to go left, you generally need to turn into ice and slide downhill. This adds a very interesting twist on things on getting from point A to point B.

FREE DLC!!! – Race Mode

One thing that did impress me – a few months after the game was released and race mode was one of the more popular features, the developer released a set of DLC levels that consisted entirely of race mode tracks set up to see who could do three laps around the track the fastest. The new DLC is made up of a total of sixteen tracks which is a nice chunk of update.

Storyline + Soundtrack

A couple more things about the game I found interesting: they seem to have been inspired by the little bits of narrative quotes between the levels of Thomas Was Alone, because this game does something similar. Unfortunately no narrator which is one of the very slight downsides to the game.

The other is the sound track is fantastic, and included for free with the purchase of the game. Which was a pleasant surprise indeed.

Is It Worth It?

Verdict: this game is very much worth the price. Don’t been fooled by the screenshots, which make it look like a mediocre game because of the graininess, it looks fantastic when it is in motion.  The grainy look gives it sort of a home video hand made feel which fits right in with the game.