Screenshake 2015 - part 2
For those who did not take last week’s advice at heart and withered their weekend away on their couch after all; fear not for I will summarize some of the things you have missed. Though you should be slightly ashamed because it will still be but a fraction of the total package.
First off let’s start with the venue. As it was my virgin trip to Het Bos I was not exactly sure what I was stumbling into. Literally because I got lost three times before I found it. But after finally finding it, without asking for directions as male pride dictates, it felt surprisingly familiar for a place I had never been before. Just like Bram Michielsen (co-founder and organizer) said in last week’s interview, this was an ideal location for ScreenShake ’15.
The entry hall which was also the cafeteria provided an extremely cozy yet spacious environment as visitors walked in. Followed by other rooms like the game expo and the talks room which were both located on the floors above. During the weekend I found myself back at the cafeteria more than once between events, just to enjoy the atmosphere or have a bowl of their deliciously fresh soup.
Digital Fun Walhalla
Also on the ground floor was the local multiplayer hall. One big screen, two couches, four controllers and a myriad of games. A Walhalla for everyone who wants to lay back for a while and just have some digital fun. Now this was the room where I enjoyed the purest and most innocent form of entertainment, which is of course wrecking other people in video games and bathing in their tears during/afterwards. Not at all would I lose every game just to blame it on everything but myself. Not at all…My controller was bugged ok?
Anyhow, lots of games passed the revenue like Nidhogg and Speedrunners. Playing with and against other ScreenShake visitors in the local multiplayer hall was highly enjoyable for me, the other players and even the people just watching.
Heading up the stairs, the next room I encountered was the intriguing game expo. This area was filled with some of the most innovating and often rather peculiar games of the indie scene. With the hardware required for the game in question differing from classic consoles to a giant board filled with colored plates. The ones that caught my eye the most though were the ones that used the Oculus Rift.
Whether you’re sitting in a classroom, dismantling a bomb or flying into space with a dog as your co-pilot; everything looks and feels so immersive it’s almost (un)real. The virtual reality display project, recently acquired by Facebook, gives us a glimpse into the future of human technology and I for one can’t wait to see its further developments. I was and am still overly excited that I finally got to try it out thanks to ScreenShake’s game expo.
Climbing up the last stairs we reached the conference hall where all of the talks where hosted. The speakers who showed up on this stage had a variety of occupations and came from all over the world and all of them were of semi to high relevance to the indie games scene. Most memorable amongst these, for me personally, was Belgium’s own Swen Vincke. Founder of Larian Studios, latest project being a new chapter in the Divinity series namely ‘Divinity: Original Sin’. A game that has been soaring the charts ever since its official release on Steam, the most popular digital distribution platform for games.
After arriving just a tad late, with style of course, he took us for a short trip down to memory lane and how Larian Studios got to where it is now. Hearing about the studio’s long road of hardships only makes me more satisfied that their game is up there, next to and even above some of the biggest productions.
Looking back on the interview I had last week with one of the founders of the festival, I’m insanely happy that I followed my own advice and bumped the proverbial Ikea couch for this event. Everything in and around ScreenShake 2015 was resonating with a heartfelt passion for indie games. Tumbs up for the organization and thumbs down on the controller for me!
Text by Kevin Lau
Pics by Kevin Lau