4 x 3 months = a year of incubation
In the summer of 2014, The NYU Game Center launched its Incubator project. Initially open only to students of the Game Center’s own programs, it offers a launchpad to promising games. By providing working space, a living-wage stipend, and access to a world-class team of advisors, we aimed to help teams bridge the gap from student project to real-world product in three short summer months. Last year, with financial support from the Empire State Development’s Digital Gaming Hubs program, we were able to open the project up to all applicants making games in New York.
This year is our fourth anniversary, and we’re preparing again to welcome a new group of game-makers. We’ll spend the summer helping them resolve tough design decisions, select commercial strategies, troubleshoot camera systems, write their first contracts, pick a killer logo — and every single day we’ll be inspired by the way they chew through the 10,000 other challenges that lie between them and their first commercial game release.
We’ll be announcing this year’s projects shortly, but in this little quiet lull I wanted to scratch together some personal picks — projects I’ve especially loved seeing go through the Incubator program. They are in no particular order, and all of them are worthy of your attention.
I lied. They are in a particular order. Beglitched is first, because Beglitched gives great gif, and gifs power the internet. An irresistible premise (you have found a witch’s laptop) and a witch’s brew of game mechanics (battleships meets match-3 meets more) are brought together in a irrepressibly vibrant world. Get it on Steam, itch.io or the App Store.
Speaking of color, Rewordable is a gorgeous licorice allsort of a game, determined to rescue word games from the clutches of Scrabble nerds and return them to the rest of us. Rewordable graduated from the 2016 Incubator with a successful Kickstarter and will be launching preorders and retailer news later this year. Sign up for info here.
I first heard Softbody pitched as ‘bullet heaven’. As someone who still has Espgaluda 2 in regular phone rotation, and still actively reminisces about BulletGBA, a bullet hell reference is a pretty quick way to get my attention. Zeke Virant’s game lives up to its hook — sinuous and hypnotic, it turns you into a painter, not a fighter. Get it on Steam or PS4.
If Softbody has you feeling too good about yourself, then line up for ever decreasing circles of Circa Infinity hell. One of those games that looks flatly impossible to comprehend in video form, and is instantly intuitive when under your thumbs, it’s stark, inventive, infuriating and irresistible. Get it in the App Store and Play Store.
And just as it wasn’t an accident that Beglitched is at the top, it isn’t an accident that Badblood’s stylish violence is safely at the bottom. It’s a game that’s bloodful and uncompromising about its premise — up to four players stalk each other across a split-screen savannah, armed with blunt objects and restless desire to murder. It’s lusty and artful and unsettling, with a rock solid stealth puzzle at its heart. Get it on itch.io and Steam.
Special thanks to all the Incubator advisors, both local and remote, who volunteer their time to help Incubator teams reach their full potential. All of us in the program deeply appreciate your involvement.