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Developers Share Creations at the Boston Festival for Indie Games

September 15, 2019 | By Levi Kaplan

The annual Boston Festival for Indie Games (BostonFIG) took place this year on September 14, in Harvard’s Athletic Complex. The festival serves as an exhibition and celebration of titles being created by independent studios, big and small, in the Boston area. Booths lined the walls with developers standing ready to answer questions or show off their projects. With screens, controllers, and keyboards dominating the small tables, crowds gathered to watch demos and see what these games are all about. The games featured were all at different levels of development — some were new releases, some in an early access period, and some were still works-in-progress — resulting in varying levels of polish, and some with balance issues or bugs.  

Photo Courtesy of Boston FIG

One designer showcased a rough proof of concept for a dungeon crawler game called Loxodonia, made by a group of students from Cornell University. Another had a role playing game (RPG) nearing release that had been in development for over five years, called Wildermyth. It seemed that all these games, regardless of development time or level of polish, were backed by passionate and enthusiastic developers who clearly loved talking with players and receiving feedback.

One such developer, Matteus van der Wilden, is a Northeastern alumnus who released his game Fruit Postal Service on June 28. Released on Steam, the game is described as a “package-delivery, battle-racing game.” He described his process of getting into game development as a result of his capstone project with Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media, and Design. Working with a team of five, he completed two capstone projects: Fruit Postal Service and Mazu, which is still in development. Fruit Postal Service took seven months to develop and was released on Steam with high praise, garnering 1,600 reviews and a Mostly Positive rating.

“One thing we knocked out of the park was scope,” said van der Wilden, while describing his team’s development process. He explained how he designed 10 characters and multiple level maps, but decided not to put them into the final game. Instead, his team focused on making the existing game polished and fun to play. He plans on releasing an update to include new maps, game modes, and online play in 2020.  

Luigi Guarnuccio is the solo developer behind the upcoming game The Last Hex, a rogue-like deck building RPG with 11 classes of characters to choose from. When asked about his development process, Guarnuccio described his decision to reach out to an artist whose library of assets struck him as perfect for the game. He used the entirety of the artist’s catalogue and commissioned him to create new artwork exclusively for the game. As a solo developer, this decision greatly cut down his development time. Guarnuccio was able to release an early access version of the game last May, after starting development just a year prior. He has been releasing weekly updates, including bug fixes and new content, providing his early supporters with additional gameplay while finalizing the game for a full release. Guarnuccio hopes to release the game to Steam in February, with a port for the Nintendo Switch following soon after, due to feedback from fans.

In addition to video games, BostonFIG had a large selection of tabletop games on display. Some were highly polished and nearing release, while others were at the early stages of development and looking for player feedback moving forward. One game nearing release was Widget Ridge, a steampunk deck builder made by Furious Tree Games. With branded shirts for sale and copies of the game out to play, the creator Ian Taylor was promoting for release in November after raising funds through Kickstarter. The tabletop section also included a wide selection of board games free for attendees to play.  

In both the tabletop and video game sections, the developers were warm and receptive and the festival goers eager to explore and share their thoughts. Such an environment allowed developers to get instant feedback on their games and for players to explore new genres and game ideas, gaining hands-on experience with the forefront of indie gaming.