by Devon Wiersma

With only two people on a team of game developers and no experience shipping games before, one might (naturally) think that getting started in development and shipping your first game could be a difficult skill to tackle.

But this didn’t dissuade Jordan Pearson, a game developer based out of London, Ontario who together with a partner founded VDO Games, a studio which develops an action-platformer series called Cally’s Caves for mobile devices since 2013. After quitting his job and learning game development in the Game Maker engine, Jordan and his friend soon spent the next four months developing their first title, Cally’s Caves. …


By Devon Wiersma

Violence is a common thread in many games.

In fact, anyone browsing through games this holiday season will likely be hard-pressed to find a title that doesn’t feature killing, fighting or shooting in some capacity. Beating and shooting things are as ubiquitous to games as the holidays are to being cold and trudging through the snow; likely due to the quick, instinctual bursts of satisfaction they deliver. …


By Devon Wiersma

Indie games frequently struggle to find their place. Whether it’s attempting to appeal to browsing users on services like itch.io or developing content unique enough to stand out against the ever-expanding service that is Steam Greenlight, creating games that are one-of-a-kind and marketable is always an uphill battle, especially for new developers. For most developers attempting to showcase their work it’s a constant struggle against the odds, full of attempts to sway discerning users into buying their games.

Yet for Alain, sole developer at BMC Studios (or Branche Moi Ca, which translates roughly to ‘Plug Me In’), it seems to come naturally. While he’s only 16 years old, Alain already has two games published to Steam. His first, Kimulator: Fight for your destiny! is a shooter where you play as an awkward French-Canadian teen whose family has been held against their will and must assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the current supreme leader of North Korea, to get his family back home safely. Not three months later he published another, Zombitatos the end of the Pc master race, starring another pair of gangly teenagers struggling to survive against the apocalypse while attempting to put aside their preference of gaming platforms. …


By Nicole Pacampara

For Dietrich “Squinky” Squinkifer, their love affair for games was born out of a love for stories. As a kid, they relished becoming part of the stories themselves. Gravitating towards classic adventure games like the Monkey Island series to Grim Fandago, these games would spark their early interest in making games.

Best known for the 2013 musical detective adventure game Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once the Fat Lady Sings!”, Squinky’s games tend to explore everyday experiences mixed in with their signature humour and “general silliness.” Last month, as Squinky settled in their new home at Concordia University’s Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) research centre, I sat down with them to talk about their own story. …


By Nicole Pacampara

On a searing hot day in July, I trekked over to the Junction, a neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end, to find Axon Interactive. Started in 2010 by Tabby and Jeff Rose, the studio is housed in an unassuming red-bricked building once home to a rubber factory. Intrigued by the “brick-and-beam” vibe of the place, the loft-styled office has been the studio’s home since 2014. In the midst of developing their first game, Quench, I spent the afternoon chatting with Tabby and Jeff about the meandering path that led them to the game.

quench-studio
quench-studio

For the both of them, the path to Quench was an unlikely one. First meeting as undergraduate students at the University of Guelph, making videogames was far from their minds. Tabby was pursuing a biomedical science degree in hopes of going to medical school while Jeff was in an engineering program that was “somewhere in between electrical, computer, and software engineering.” …


By Nicole Pacampara

Nestled in a former gramophone factory in St-Henri, a neighbourhood just outside the rustle and bustle of Montreal’s downtown core, lies the studio of Compulsion Games. Since Guillaume Provost founded the studio seven years ago, it has grown both in size and reputation following the release of their 2013 debut game, Contrast, and their upcoming game, We Happy Few.

Two weeks before the Early Access launch of We Happy Few [when players can pay to access the game while still in development], I sat down with the team to talk about the studio’s origins, the struggles and challenges of building an independent studio, and their quest to make games “about real people in sometimes ridiculous worlds.” …


By Alex Roberts

It’s late summer 2015, and I’m at a beach house in New Jersey, about to play the most Canadian game ever made. I don’t know this yet; I just know it’s a freeform scenario called Hope was the Last Thing in the Box. Freeform is a style of role-playing game in which a small number of players, led by a facilitator, use a few pages of text and pictures to generate a series of scenes; either narrated while sitting together, or acted out like an improvised play. People call this one “the Terry Fox LARP,” and though it was released only a few months prior, it has a reputation. Everyone I knew who’d played it wanted to tell me about it — but they had trouble finding the words. They sighed. They put a hand over their heart. They got suddenly quiet and they urged me, softly, to play it if I ever got the chance. Four hours after my chance appears, I am reeling. …


By Nicole Pacampara

The crowd screams. Anticipation rises. Two dancers pace up and down the screen. Finally, the music starts and the battle begins.

In 2007, a short animated film about street dancers went viral. Set amidst Jonathan Ng’s entrancing hand-drawn 2D animations and the uptempo musical beats of Eric San (better known as Kid Koala), Floor Kids brought to life the energy, fluidity, and the frenzied pace of break dancing.

Focusing on two dancers (B-Boy O-Live and B-Boy Nugs), the film shows them duking it out with dance moves aimed to impress, entertain, and to challenge each other. Capturing the essence of street dance culture, the film achieved some success. …


By Nicole Pacampara

It was an uncharacteristically cold day in San Francisco. A few blocks away from the commotion that is the annual Game Developer’s Conference, I sat down with Toronto-based game developer Yifat Shaik to chat about her life, her game making journey, and her latest game, Real Army Simulator.

Originally developed in 2015 with Derek Quenneville, Real Army Simulator is a narrative-driven game exploring the life of an army personnel. As a player, you get to dive into such exciting and epic choices as getting coffee or smoking a cigarette. This mundanity is deliberate. The very tagline of the game emphasizes this: “Adventure. Excitement. A meaningful existence. …


If you were to meet me in real life, you’d no doubt see my bespectacled face and have a hard time picturing it any other way. With the exception of sleeping and bathing, I’m never without my glasses. When people ask me about my vision, I make crudely hyperbolic statements like “I’m totally blind without them.”

For Steve Saylor, there’s no hyperbole about it.

Legally blind from birth, Steve lives with a condition called nystagmus. “[It’s an] involuntary movement of my eyes,” Steve tells me. “My eyes can’t focus. There is no way to fix it.”

If you have any preconceived notions of what it means to be blind, Steve is the person to shatter them. By day, Steve is a graphic designer and videographer for a major Toronto radio station. By night, Steve not only plays video games, but under the name Blind Gamer Steve has been posting Let’s Play videos to YouTube since early 2015. In short, Steve Saylor is doing more with his life blind than most of us are doing with 20/20 vision. …

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