TA PAX East Roundup - Part Two

By Michelle Balsan,
Day two of PAX East had us more indie-focused as we trekked down to the indie megabooth. One of the notable things about PAX is that every year has seen growth in the number of independent games that take up space on the showfloor. With developers and publishers from around the world gathered to show off their wares, there simply wasn't enough time to catch them all. We did, however, collect some of the highlights from the day.

Tiny Build (SpeedRunners)

We started over at the Tiny Build booth where we happened by a VR set up in the middle of their display that was showcasing an upcoming Oculus title, Stage Presence. In the game, the point was to stand in front of a virtual crowd and keep them entertained for 60 seconds. We had the opportunity, while the game was being demoed, to speak to Mike Rose, who is a producer. He explained that the game was set to feature different settings, such as a comedy club, and that more people than just the guy with the VR headset can enjoy the title. Once the game is fully realized, people can join in the audience and react to the goings-on as well.

As we had Mr. Rose's ear anyway, we decided it couldn't hurt to ask him what the story was with the release of SpeedRunners, which was also present at the show. He explained to us that, as the game was released onto Steam, they'd received notes from fans about things that still needed fixing. Their aim is to release a product where patching isn't needed, and the best way to do that is to make sure everything is worked out with the Steam version. They're still aiming for SpeedRunners to be released later this year on Xbox One.

Our next stop took us over to Tribute Games who were showing their latest piece, Flinthook. Xbox gamers will be familiar with Tribute from Wizorb, where PS4 gamers will also know the developer from Ninja Senki DX, Curses N Chaos, and Mercenary Kings. Though Mercenary Kings wasn't on the show floor, Jean Francois Major from the development team told us that they're working on bringing it to Xbox One via ID@Xbox.

Flinthook was shown for the first time at the show and is visually very much in the style of past Tribute games. Not many details were given, but players will be able to use coins collected to purchase further upgrades for their weapons. At this stage, the game is being developed for PS4 and Steam, but they hope to bring it to Xbox as well.

As an interesting aside, we were told by Mr. Major that Tribute Games started in Xbox development, but the barrier of entry to Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing caused them to rethink their approach, thus explaining their relative lack of presence on Xbox consoles since Wizorb. With the PS4 and Xbox One having more similarities between each other with regard to development than previous generation's consoles, they're hoping to have more of their titles available across both platforms.

Fans of Power Stone on the Dreamcast will be excited to learn about LASTFIGHT, which is coming to all platforms. Developed by French developer, Piranaking. The game is set to feature a campaign as well as 1-v-1 and 2-v-2 modes. At the show, we tried 2-v-2 and it was a lot of fun. In addition to typical fighter controls, there are environmental objects that can be picked up and chucked at your foes. You can also pick up a teammate should they fall, so working together is important. The game is easy enough to pick up and the cooperative element made it so weaker players could still enjoy themselves. During each battle, items are dropped that give various effects. With one special item, if you collect all three that become available, your fighter powers up greatly.

Bastien Vivès, who created Last Man – the comic upon which the game is based - contributed his art to the game. He also crafted background stories for each of its characters. One of the many great things about PAX is how you can walk in to a booth honestly having not heard about the displayed product before and then walk out thinking what you've seen is something you're eager to see more of in the future.

Speaking of previously unknown titles turning into potential must-haves, our next stop was at the Workinman booth where they were showing off their single stick, Lovecraft-inspired title Deathstate. The game is already out on Steam where it has received generally positive feedback.

The build showed at PAX had many of the characters open already, but we understand that they will open as the game progresses in the final build. Each character has different stats as well as a different special ability, such as teleporting or an especially damaging attack. As noted above, the game is a single stick shooter, which means that the character will start shooting enemies as soon as they're within a certain range. The game almost functions more like a bullet hell in that your primary objective is to avoid getting shot. Thankfully, it's not a one hit kill type game or it would be hard to accomplish much. The levels also contain certain artifacts players can find, or they can desecrate items. Desecrating an item will cause an enemy to appear and defeating that enemy will prompt the game to go into a higher difficulty.

As mentioned above, Deathstate is already available on Steam, but is looking to a console release later in the year.

Forced: Showdown
Spawner Shrine

Next up, as we tried to figure out where we wanted to go next, we happened into the Forced: Showdown booth. Forced: Showdown is an offshoot of the Action-RPG Forced that was released on Xbox One. This time, the game is a dual-stick shooter with arena elements.

As people go through the game, they will unlock cards that grant different perks that will aid in getting through the game's action. The game is already available on Steam and will be ported to Xbox One and Playstation 4 in the future.

Just Shapes and Beats
Including this one is a bit of a pet project, but this was easily my favorite game from the showfloor last year. The game plays like a bullet hell but uses music cues to let you know when something is coming to destroy you. During last years show, we were shown a stage featuring Mortal Kombat characters, and since then, developer Mike Ducarme has secured the rights to Mortal Kombat characters and tunes so they can be used in the game. He has also lined up 12 artists who will feature their chiptunes in the game.

As of now, the game is set for a Steam release in 2016. Mr. Ducarme stated he was aiming for a similar release on consoles, though he was advised to avoid release windows against major titles, so expect the game to hit consoles in 2017. It's only confirmed for PS4 for the moment.

Major Nelson
Finally, we stopped at the Major Nelson Podcast recording panel where TA's own Spazpol and planting42 asked questions, so if you tune into his PAX East podcast, you can hear their lovely voices! Planting asked Major Nelson about when we might see another AAA Kinect title, which actually drew notable applause from the audience. Major Nelson stated that Kinect is still definitely being worked on, though he did not specifically mention game development. Spazpol asked about when we'd see a wireless headset and was referred to the accessories team, who was hanging out downstairs with a variety of special controllers.


As for the podcast itself, Overwatch: Origins Edition was the main topic of discussion, and the first 500 people in attendance were given codes for access to the beta. Major Nelson also revealed that he'll be delivering the keynote speech at this year's PAX Australia. If you want to check out the podcast, you can do so by checking it out once it goes live over at Major Nelson's Podcast.

If you want even more PAX you can follow along with day three's coverage here. Did you miss day one? Check out our recap of that here.
Michelle Balsan
Written by Michelle Balsan
Michelle is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueAchievements and has been a member of staff since 2010. When not contributing to gaming websites, she makes her living as a mild-mannered librarian. She can be compelled to play just about anything if there's a co-op component, and has been playing games with friends and siblings since the Atari 2600. As it's reportedly healthy to have hobbies outside of gaming, she also roots for some of the most difficult sporting franchises to root for, the New York Mets and New York Jets, but offsets that by rooting for the New Jersey Devils. She's also seen pretty much none of the movies you have, but she's working on that.