The Queensland Games Festival (formally known as Game On/GO 423) is the biggest celebration of games made right here, in sunny Queensland. Held on the 22nd of July at the Brisbane Powerhouse, this year Zed Games got to witness more games, more developers, more teams, and more interest in this wonderful event.
Our role? To host the Game Dev Hot Seat throughout the day, interviewing devs live on stage so that they may tell us all about their projects. With a massive variety of games, from narrative to first person shooters, to VR games to board games, and games that blend the borders between them all, at this year’s Queensland Games Festival we got to see it all! And after a long day of gaming, it was a tonne of fun to wrap up with an End Game session, with notable figures in the games industry duking it out against the game-master (with a bit of help from the audience!).
On top of that there were also a number of workshops, and discussions, such as the Emerging Developers Room, for those taking their first steps into the industry, and Gameloft Creative Kids, where children had the chance to meet the artists behind My Little Pony, and create some art of their own.
Missed out? Want to know what was shown? Got there and had so much fun and want to check out the games? Here you go:
In case you missed it, we hosted an Indie Dev Night at Netherworld in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley on Thursday (June 15th). The event allowed local indie developers to bring demos of their upcoming games for the public to try out and get a first look at. Check out all the games below. Catch us at the 10th Queensland Games Festival (formerly known as GO423) at the Brisbane Powerhouse on July 22, we’d love to see you there!
Schrodinger’s Cat Burglar https://abandonedsheep.com/ Join Mittens, cat burglar extraordinaire, as she ventures into a secret research facility and gains incredible quantum powers. Test your problem solving skills in devious puzzles, avoid detection by security robots and infiltrate top secret laboratories as you discover the truth behind an earth-shaking conspiracy. Developer: Abandoned Sheep Platforms: PC / Nintendo Switch Release date: 2023
Asiramyth https://asiramyth.com/ An upcoming expandable JRPG-inspired strategy card game. Developer: Brenton Finkel Platforms: Physical Card Game Release date: TBA
Sea of Survivors https://store.steampowered.com/app/2347940/Sea_of_Survivors/ In Sea of Survivors, you can sail in any direction but you can never stop moving. Dodge and destroy hordes of pirates and sea monsters to gain experience, level up, and upgrade your weapons and abilities. Earn gold and hire new crew members with every run. Discover mysterious curses, and unlock unique treasures as you fight for your survival. Developer: Nah Yeah Games Platforms: PC (Steam) Release date: 2023
The Thief, the Witch, the Toad and the Mushroom https://www.ashtowngames.com/thief-witch-toad-mushroom You’re curled up in front of the fire reading a folk tale on a cold winter’s night. Something about it seems so familiar. Have you read this before? A Visual Novel of strange magic and lost secrets. Developer: Jack McNamee, Ashtown Games Platforms: PC (Steam, Itch) Release date: TBA
Whatever Happened to Ruth MacArthur https://changeling-interactive.itch.io/whrm An interactive narrative experience where you are in search of a missing woman who left only a trail of audiotapes behind her. Developer: Ivan Randall, Changeling Interactive Platforms: PC (Itch, Gamejolt) Release date: 24th of October 2019
Bears in Space https://www.broadside.games/games/ Stranded and alone on a strange planet after a scientific experiment went wrong, Maxwell Atoms must come to terms with his new found abilities and embrace the power of the Bear. Now surrounded by enemy robots and armed with only his wits, paws and an abundance of weapons, he must blast his way out, find a way home and if there’s time… save his crew. Developer: Broadside Games Platforms: PC (Steam) Release date: 2023
Sumorbit https://www.sumorbit.com/ A physics based fighting game where planets sumo wrestle. Grab, throw, bounce and spin opponents out of the solar system. Developer: Jett Williams, Tournameta Platforms: PC (Steam) Release date: TBA
Cosy Kingdom A casual adventure game with puzzle elements. Developer: Made By Fraser
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the second instalment in the Miles Morales saga, Sony Pictures Animation’s adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-Verse series of comics. It has big shoes to fill following 2018’s beloved Into the Spider-Verse which introduced cinemagoers to a very different Spider-Man from the ones that have graced their screens in the past.
Miles Morales is an academically and artistically gifted but awkward and deeply conflicted 14-year-old from Brooklyn whose life is turned upside down when he gains the powers of Spider-Man. After witnessing the original Spider-Man die at the hands of Kingpin he is quickly forced to take up the mantle and save the multiverse with the help of a ragtag group of Spider-People from other dimensions.
Across the Spider-Verse picks up a year after the events of the original. Miles is growing up and learning to be Spider-Man all on his own since being separated from the Spider-friends he made last year, who he still feels are the only people who truly understand him. He continues to struggle with the pressure of balancing his self-expression, the responsibility of being Spider-Man, and his parents’ high expectations for his academic talents. A chance encounter with a superpowered criminal named The Spot pulls him back into the dimensional chaos of the Spider-Verse, he finally gets the chance to see his friends again and meets a whole lot of new ones along the way. The storytelling is just as gripping and emotional as the first film but offers us deeper insight into Miles’ personality and internal conflict as he grows up and grows into his role.
The only thing that detracted from my experience of Spider-Verse was that it felt like it ended during its second act with a cliffhanger and a teaser for the sequel, Beyond the Spider-Verse, which is slated for release in March 2024. The story suffers from being used as the setup for its own story and feels like it’s supposed to be viewed back-to-back with next year’s sequel.
Having said all of that, I still encourage you to go see this film on the biggest screen you can find and crank the volume for the absolutely bangin’ soundtrack composed by legendary hip hop producer Metro Boomin and featuring the voices of Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Nas, and many other hip hop greats. The music sets the stage and pace for jawdropping action scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish and animation fans screaming “How did they do that?!” at the screen.
Across the Spider-Verse somehow manages to surpass the unbelievably high bar of animation finesse and creativity set by its predecessor with a playful use of the multiversal concept to introduce a blend of animation styles seamlessly integrated into the same scene. This is best exemplified by Hobie Brown AKA Spider-Punk, a character drawn in the style of a collaged together DIY punk zine with different parts of his outfit hand-drawn on different layers of paper that move independently. Spider-Punk’s DIY style is effortlessly blended into fluid animations that let him interact with the sets and characters of the movie’s incredibly slick primary art style influenced by Marvel Comics, as well as other extradimensional characters who are drawn just as distinctly as him. Even gadgets and powers originating from different dimensions are animated in their native art style while being wielded by characters like Miles and Gwen.
Overall, Across the Spider-Verse is a masterpiece of animated filmmaking that could go down as one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time, but its fate lies in the balance of whether Sony can execute on their own setup in March’s sequel.
We saw the film at a preview screening at Event Cinemas Chermside with press tickets provided to 4ZZZ by Sony Pictures Releasing.
An event organised by Springfield Gamers, SpringCon’22 is the culmination of a tremendous amount of effort, organisation, and heart in order to create a fun, newbie-friendly tabletop extravaganza.
SpringCon is a celebration of everything to do with tabletop role-playing games, board games, card games, and all the gear, loot, and community that surrounds these hobbies. There is also an emphasis on introducing these hobbies to people who are new, curious, or seeking a new community to join. There were tournaments with some impressive prizes, workshops for learning how to make terrain for tabletop games, demonstrations for various tabletop systems, a bring-and-buy event where attendees could bring in their old boardgames and get something totally new, and so much more. Zed Games got to experience the first ever SpringCon this year, and we are looking forward to seeing what’s on next year!
WHO ARE THE ORGANISERS?
A community effort requires a community, and SpringCon’22 was no exception.
Primarily organised by Neal, the club president of Springfield Gamers, he has a tonne of experience with sharing games, but also teaching and guiding new players, organising regular gaming days and nights, and creating a welcoming environment. He is pictured here with the tournament grand prize, a full tabletop map.
The primary sponsor and vendor was Epic Ipswich, an amazing play space and game store with a fully equipped cafe, perfect for those who want to make an afternoon of it. Whilst having a look at their stall, which was stocked with absolutely everything anyone could possibly need to get into tabletop role-playing games or board-games, we took the opportunity to chat with the stall handlers, who were hugely welcoming, had a lot of information for us, and has instilled a desire to visit Epic Ipswich at some point.
Caitlin Fairchild dice bags, who had a tonne of creative, hand-made dice bags that were both very cute and very funny.
Geektastic Accessories, full of detailed, clever, and really funky accessories (including fabulous d20 earrings).
Terrain workshops were run by Corrupted Quill, and she was so booked out we didn’t even get a chance to chat with her, but we did take a tonne of photos of some of her work.
In addition there were plenty of food and drink stalls available, such as BBQ, potato tornadoes (a personal favourite), gigantic cups of iced tea, and coffee of course, all available outside with plenty of shaded seating. Perfect for recharging after seeing everything in the hall!
WAS IT FUN?
SpringCon was a tremendous amount of fun, but more than that it was engaging, interesting, and inspiring. Even if we couldn’t participate in everything that was available, just chatting to vendors and participants was fascinating as we asked how they got into this hobby, how they started, and their favourite creations or moments.
A common theme? Nearly everyone had, at some point, taken the dive to get into a game that they were curious about, but had no idea where to start, but thanks to friends or a small leap of faith, have been able to put their heart and time into something so detailed, interesting, and a little bit niche. That was a similar story, whether they were creatives, players, or organisers. Of course, a few people had simply grown up with it, but their open-arms approach makes it a lot easier for newbies to make that dive.
Truly, the best part of SpringCon is that there will be another one next year!
Melbourne International Games Week is Back Again The eighth annual Melbourne International Games Week will take place in person from 1 to 9 October this year, returning from 2 years of online-only events. Melbourne International Games Week is a major games industry conference for the Asia-Pacific region and this year will host a number of industry events including: High Score: Composition and Sound Art for Games, Game Connect Asia Pacific, Games for Change Asia Pacific Festival, Freeplay Parallels, Australian Game Developer Awards, and the Girls in Games Jam. There’ll also be some fun public events like a week-long accessibility-focused charity stream hosted by Variety.
Mario Kart Tour Has Earned Nearly US$300M Nintendo launched mobile game Mario Kart Tour 3 years ago to immediate popularity as well as controversy over its gambling-esque “gacha” mechanics that randomly reward players when they spend money on the game. Nintendo announced last week that they’re pulling the gacha mechanics in the game’s next update but not before it made the company almost $300M in revenue since release. The randomised rewards will be replaced with a regular in-game store that will allow players to purchase the items they want for a fixed price.
Sony Releasing Grey Camouflage PS5 Sony unveiled new Playstation 5 covers and accessories this Tuesday with a grey camouflage pattern that has some scratching their heads. While the camouflage patterns have precedent from the PS4 days, up til now Sony had only released solid colours for the console’s cosmetic outer covers and the new pattern is an… interesting look to say the least.
Splitgate Developer Announces Follow-Up Game The studio behind popular portal-based first-person shooter Splitgate has announced the game will not be receiving new feature updates as the studio, 1047 Games, will start work on the game’s successor. The new game will keep with Splitgate’s core premise of being a competitive shooter with portal mechanics but will be developed from scratch on Unreal Engine 5, giving the developers a chance to explore new ideas without retrofitting them into their existing game.
Upcoming Releases Now for some upcoming releases, September 8 brings Block’Em!, Hyperviolent, Rift Sweepers and Roadwarden to PC, Justice Sucks: Tactical Vacuum Action to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, and Steelrising to PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. September 9 brings Betrayal At Club Low and Broken Pieces to PC, Catmaze to Playstation, Xbox, and Switch, NBA 2K23 to Playstation and Xbox, and Splatoon 3 to Switch. September 13 brings Little Orpheus to PC, Playstation, Xbox, and Switch, Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2, SCP: Secret Files and Sunday Gold to PC, Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden to PC, PS4, and Switch, and WW1 Isonzo to PC, Playstation, and Xbox. On September 14 You Suck At Parking comes to PC and Xbox One and Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary comes to PC and Xbox Series X.
Unknown Worlds Entertainment, developers of Subnautica, will be debuting a completely new sci-fi game at this year’s Gamescom Opening Night Live event according to a now-deleted tweet from host Geoff Keighley. The game is assumed to be the same project that was first hinted by the studio in October 2021 and along with Sonic Frontiers will be one of 30+ games showcased during the opening night event. Australian viewers can catch the event in 2 weeks on August 24th at 4AM Brisbane time, but there’ll be a replay for anyone who doesn’t feel like waking up at 4am on a Wednesday to watch 2 hours of trailers.
Final Fantasy 14 Streamer Plays With Spellbook
Final Fantasy 14 streamer Super Louis 64 is infamous for configuring the game to be played with wacky controllers including everything from a Nintendo Switch Ring Fit controller to an actual edible pizza. This week he debuted his latest project: playing the game with a literal book and pen and using it to write out his spells in the book to cast them. The control method is still in its early stages but Louis has apparently had some success hammering out the bugs and actually managing to play the game with it. He tweeted early Wednesday morning Brisbane time to say that the project was done and uploaded a YouTube video of him playing the game with it.
MultiVersus Hits 10 Million Players During Beta
Warner Bros’ free-to-play fighting game MultiVersus launched an open beta recently and in just a few short weeks the game has picked up 10 million players. The game promises Smash Bros-esque gameplay with a hilarious mix of Warner Bros characters from Batman to Velma and Shaggy from Scooby Doo to Steven Universe. MultiVersus has already been the focus of online memes due to the inherent comedy of Bugs Bunny beating the hell out of real life NBA player LeBron James and the ensuing discussion of strategies, gameplay meta, and ranking the characters in tier lists.
Leak Says Fall Guys Sonic Crossover Coming Soon
Twitter user FGPancake, known for leaking Fall Guys event information ahead of official releases, has stated that the game’s new Sonic the Hedgehog crossover event will release this week on the 11th. Previous leaks showed off Sonic the Hedgehog character costumes that will be available in-game and a Green Hill Zone map that were subsequently confirmed by the official Fall Guys Twitter.
Now for some upcoming releases… we’ve got a big week ahead as August 11 brings Arcade Paradise and Cult Of The Lamb to PC, Playstation, Xbox, and Switch and Tower of Fantasy to PC. August 12 sees Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered releasing on PC and Voyage on Playstation, Xbox, and Switch. Backpack Hero comes to PC on August 15 and launching August 16 are Blossom Tales 2: The Minotaur Prince on PC and Switch, Rollerdrome on PC and Playstation, Tribes of Midgard on Xbox and Switch, and Way of the Hunter on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. Finally, Catizens comes to PC on August 17.
Steam for Chrome OS on the way, after more than 2 years of a slow drip of news about gaming platform and storefront Steam coming to Google’s Chrome OS, Google has quietly announced a small list of Chromebook models that will support Steam in the future through a project codenamed Borealis. The list primarily consists of Acer and ASUS models with internals on the higher end of the spectrum for Chromebooks, for Steam this is just the latest development in the gradual rollout of support for Linux-based systems. Neither company has announced any kind of release timeline for the feature as of yet.
Aussie game devs at GDC, this year’s Game Developer Conference in San Francisco will feature 4 panels hosted by Australian industry professionals including hometown heroes Witch Beam Games, developers of last year’s indie hit Unpacking. Wren Brier and Tim Dawson from Witch Beam will present a panel on the game’s narrative design while composer and sound designer Jeff Van Dyck hosts a separate panel about the game’s much-lauded foley work. Leena van Deventer, creative producer on upcoming Melbourne game Dead Static Drive, will be part of a talk on preparing students entering the games industry to create a more inclusive and culturally-informed environment. Dr Benjamin Abraham will also be giving a talk on the environmental impact of the games industry.
Capcom accused of recycling stock image Into Street Fighter 6 logo, Capcom announced Street Fighter 6 this week and showed a teaser trailer which features a new logo design with the letters SF in a hexagon. Ars Technica creative director Aurich Lawson pointed out on Twitter that the logo looks nearly identical to an image available on Adobe’s stock image library for US$80. Capcom did take the bold creative risk of making the logo slightly more angular before slapping it on a AAA title however.
Raven Software union and Activision Blizzard enter labour relations hearings, Activision Blizzard and QA workers at subsidiary studio Raven Software have entered a hearing with the US National Labor Review Board to determine which employees will be included in the formation of a union under the new umbrella group Game Workers Alliance. Raven QA workers have accused Activision Blizzard management of using union-busting tactics by reassigning employees to split them up and embed them with other departments and arguing that all Raven employees should be allowed to vote on whether the department should be able to form a union. Activision Blizzard has hired Reed Smith, a law firm that openly advertises their experience supporting anti-union campaigns, and issued a statement to Polygon which openly accuses the union of not understanding the games industry and hints at a potential strategy of circumventing collective negotiations with the union to try to sway the votes of individual employees.
There’s never been a better time to dive into the world of Tabletop Roleplaying Games but there’s so much information out there it can be hard to know where to start. Especially if you want to look beyond the mammoth that is Dungeons and Dragons. We’ve got a list of some great systems you can try to expand your horizons, and a list of tools that can be used with any system to enrich your game experience.
Game System Recommendations
Blades in the Dark
Blades in the Dark is set in a gritty industrial-fantasy world. It boasts a fast-paced system, and requires minimal preparation compared to other games were talking about. Players become a crew of daring scoundrels, seeking their fortunes through whatever means necessary. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and riches to be claimed.
Pathfinder is a direct descendant of the 1st and 2nd editions of Dungeons and Dragons, splitting off before 4th Edition it’s a cousin of the modern-day phenomena. Pathfinder is now in its own second edition and has carved out its own identity. Paizo provides a great number of choices in character creation, allowing for highly specialised characters (especially compared to D&D’s broader strokes)
Pathfinder is a good choice if:
Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t let you customise characters enough
You want a more involved combat experience than systems like D&D can offer.
You want to try your hand at new systems but don’t want to go too far from the familiar.
World of Darkness is a horror fantasy TTRPG set in our world. Not just modern fantasy, but the real world tinged with supernatural secrets. World of Darkness excel at telling stories about paranormal power struggles, and the edge between mystical and mundane.
In my experience with World of Darkness, I sometimes found myself getting overwhelmed with the mechanics and the rulebook. If you struggle with learning heavy systems like me, you might want to find someone or an online guide to help explain. If you enjoy diving into rich mechanics, this will be a delight for you. Either way, don’t let this be a dealbreaker as they serve as a framework for World of Darkness’s rich gameplay.
World of Darkness is a good choice if:
You want to explore supernatural characters and settings
Now, quite simply, the Fate system is entirely set up with 2 assumptions: you want to roll less dice, and you want to do more roleplaying. I have to say, it accomplishes these things fantastically. The very first session had us a little nervous because there were so few numbers involved, but it was so refreshing to be able to just focus on roleplaying, investigating, settling into our characters. Plus, once you get the hang of the mechanics, it’s a lot more immersive and engaging than you expect.
Essentially, you have a long list of skills and you’re mediocre at all of them, except for a few depending on your character. Each skill can do 1 or more of 4 actions: attacking, defending, overcoming obstacles, or creating an advantage. Aspects is something notable about a character or the scene, and it can be used to give you a bonus to a dice roll, which usually costs a Fate point. For example, if I snuck upon someone on the toilet, then the aspect would be the fact that their pants are down, impairing their movement. So, I get a bonus since my pants are up and secure. It’s flexible, but it has a cost.
Stunts are more mechanical and are pre-defined, but they grant characters a mechanical benefit. For example, you might have established that your character is extremely strong, and once active then you may get a bonus for an arm-wrestling competition, but you underestimate your strength and accidentally break the fragile glass relic. It’s not that it’s simpler, but that it has done away with a lot of frivolous rules and numbers for the sake of allowing you to focus on your character, and to approach all situations from a role-playing and characterisation perspective
FATE is a good choice if:
You want a simple system that wont hold you back with rules.
You’re looking for a highly flexible system to play a atypical setting within.
Now, it’s always tricky getting the party together for a game. It might be a schedule conflict, distance, or finding time and energy, and in these past couple of years that has only become truer. But there are ways to remove some of those issues. Roll20 is one such option, allowing you and your party to play together over the internet, and it can be just as immersive, or even more so! Essentially, it acts as a virtual tabletop.
You can create your characters, put together the maps you need, and make it as detailed or as simple as you want it to be. And it supports just about every tabletop RPG system there is. It’s all in-browser, sign up for free, and you can either create the maps, encounters, everything you need, from scratch, or even buy an adventure with all that already created. For art assets, you can upload your own, or use what’s available from the Roll20 library.
You can manage rolls, roleplay, act out your actions and battles, and there is a tonne of customization that is available. You can even create your own code to make some repetitive tasks a bit easier. Between Roll20 and your own imagination and patience, in a lot of ways it can be more immersive and easier than face-to-face games, but it does take a little bit of time to get the hang of things.
Music and sound effects is probably the easiest way to get some instant immersion in your game, but it can be frustrating to not only maintain the game and do your rolls and roleplaying and keep track of all your NPC voices, but to also manage music from your music app of choice, and you get blasted with an ad right in the middle of the boss fight. Well, a local dev created the perfect little tool: Grandpa’s Audio Helper.
It’s quite simple to use, load it up and you have access to a library of sounds and music for all sorts of settings. Busy village, a quiet night around the campfire, a horde of zombies. But more than that, you can layer the various sounds in order to build the perfect soundscape. On a ship in the middle of a storm and there’s zombies? Sorted. In the middle of a forest, only birds for company, when you hear a strange chanting in the distance? Done.
You can adjust the volume for each aspect individually, and you can even create groups of sounds, allowing you to load the perfect, pre-prepared scene when you need it. Can’t find the sound you need? You can import your own sounds into the app. It just makes building the auditory experience so much easier, whether it needs to be on the fly, or if you’re planning something epic and need the scene to be just right.
Heroforge is a store that sells customisable miniature figurines. While the store is a great option if you’re wanting to purchase one, I want to specifically recommend Heroforge for it’s free-to-use creation tool. You can create a digital 3D model using the hundreds of assets they offer across many genres, pose it dynamically, and paint the whole thing to complete the look. If you aren’t artistically talented this is a great way to design your character and share with others.
There are far more tools available for your TTRPG than we could list here, very few of which are a good fit for all the available systems. With a near endless list, how could they be? This conundrum is why our last recommendation for you is Drive Thru RPG. Drive Thru RPG is a huge online marketplace selling all manner of digital TTRPG content: sourcebooks, supplements, battle maps, and inspiration. The range extends from official Dungeons and Dragons to Homebrew rulesets, to the most obscure, indie title you can imagine. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your TTRPG experience beyond what we’re talking about tonight, I have no doubt you’ll be able to find something that scratches your very specific itch on DriveThruRPG.