Following a string of new speaker announcements, Gamercamp co-founder Jaime Woo revealed that five No Quarter developers will be heading north to discuss their games at the first Gamercamp No Quarter Arcade, as part of the annual games festival.
Toronto attendees will have the exclusive opportunity to get their hands on some of the most critically acclaimed and innovative indie titles currently in development.
No Quarter, an annual gaming exhibition founded and funded by the NYU Game Center, challenges participants to explore new mechanical and creative boundaries in gaming. So far, that approach has yielded some of the most unique titles in recent memory, with some – such as Deep Sea – going on to become the talk of major conventions like E3 and GDC.
Among them will be Ramiro Corbetta with his game Hokra. On the night I first played it, the game ended with a drunken chorus of “O Canada” after a pair of plucky Canadian underdogs demolished the barn-storming favourites from America.
Corbetta was one of several New York-based indie developers showing off his work for a bar full of local Toronto gamers. Hokra can prompt the impromptu belting of national anthems, exactly the novel reaction that the NYU Game Center hoped to foster with No Quarter.
Other artists making the journey to Toronto include Matt Parker (Recurse), Noah Sasso (BaraBariBall), Robin Arnott (Deep Sea), and Zach Gage (SpellTower, Guts of Glory).
This year, the Toronto delegation includes the aforementioned Hokra, a four-player sports game that’s much closer to video-games-as-sport than the usual Madden simulation. Two teams of two score points for maintaining possession of a black pixel puck in color-coordinated areas on the field, a simple concept that belies the startling complexity. Hokra is the rare game that’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to play (particularly with alcohol-fueled spectators), a feat that’s doubly impressive given the game’s beyond-minimalist graphics grid.
Matt Parker is another developer making a return visit with Recurse, a full-body motion control game that forces players to contort themselves while moving to highlighted portions of the screen. It’s an iPad game that plays like a Kinect game thanks to some extraordinarily clever camera work, although prospective players should be warned. The game takes pictures while you play, so you will become the subject of a gallery of silly photos if you’re gunning for high scores.
Noah Sasso’s BaraBariBall, meanwhile, is a sports game that plays like bizarre mix of basketball, Worms, and Super Smash Bros. Two teams (1v1 or 2v2) must battle for control of a spherical object and dunk that object into the water on the other team’s side of the arena. Oceanic masses are larger than the average sporting target, but players lose points for drowning so scoring doesn’t get too out of hand.
Then we have Deep Sea, Robin Arnott’s sensory-deprivation experiment that takes the ‘video’ out of video games. Players don a gas mask that cuts off all external light and sound, then use a joystick to navigate an underwater world populated with sea monsters they’ll never actually see. Deep Sea represents the Arcade’s most extreme subversion of traditional gameplay norms, aptly demonstrating how genuine physical discomfort can make for a claustrophobic and terrifying experience.
As for Guts of Glory, you can support the Kickstarter campaign here. Zach Gage’s post-apocalyptic board game encourages literal stuff-your-face-with-food gluttony.
Three other No Quarter games will be on display in the Gamercamp arcade, albeit without their creators. Mark Essen’s award-winning Nidhogg is a strategy-heavy fighting game that doesn’t end even after one fighter has been impaled, while Terry Cavanagh’s At a Distance is a two-person puzzler played on adjacent computer screens.
Finally, there’s Drunk Dungeon from Margaret Robertson, played “over the course of a…drunken night” and will serve as the entertainment during Gamercamp’s Saturday Social.
These games may well influence the future of development, so be sure to check out the arcade when Gamercamp kicks off on November 3.