The relatively heavy night we had before was nothing in comparison to the second. We woke up dark and early and had done so every thirty minutes or so as a result of not being proactive enough to bring an airbed. Foolish.
It took us about ten minutes to get from our tent to the main hall, a vast expanse of stalls, cosplay and intense gaming spawned a panoramic sight of a real-life gaming wonderland. The interview I had secured the night before was somewhat hazy in my mind yet my goal to seek new games was clear. We made a B-line for the indie section of the event that had small rows with office like segregated cubicles for the testers to focus.
I met up with Robert Saxton (lead programmer for Nature’s Zombie Apocalypse). He asked if we could return after twelve, perhaps a smart move considering both of our suffering states from the night before.
I suggested that we should go and check out the nearby Xbox tent which sported the Dead Rising 4 and Gears of War 4 banners that seemed to entice me in through nostalgic fueled curiosity and a need to re-immerse myself in competitive gaming. Serendipity smiled upon us as two adjacent consoles became free as we entered. The game Dead Rising was set up with a demo, we both began from the beginning with open minds and severe anticipation given our love for the first game.
Immediately I was disappointed. We were thrown into a timed mission with an electric battle-ax with no context. The hordes of enemies keeled over from the overpowered nature of the weapon we seemed to just have on hand. Even when it ran out you could merely go from one zombie to the next with your fists with no repercussions of suffering from any discernible damage. Weapons such as shotguns, ice swords and OP exoskeletons lay in abundance with little to no effort to find or retrieve them. About ten minutes later I had enough, lay down my controller and decided to do some photography.
A few moments later Phill dropped his controller, he too had experienced enough of it to give it an indefinite thumbs down. Luck again had it that at that moment spaces for our next game happened to free up as we turned towards the Gears 4 setup. I loved Gears one and two. The third never really wowed me but Judgement did rekindle my curiosity for the fourth. We came into more luck as the round started to reveal we were playing on the map Gridlock; perhaps the most iconic map that has been used throughout the Gears of War franchise. We battled with two other teammates against the opposing Cogs that stood behind a partitioning on the other side. Gears 4 was simply a prettier, HD version of the first… on this map anyway. The guns were diverse yet positioning of which remained unchanged from the first. I found the experience nostalgic and extremely entertaining! The thrill of downing an enemy and using them as a meat-shield has always amused me, especially against players you could flaunt your victory to in person.
The clock struck 1pm, with that we decided to go back to the indie section to meet with Robert. We arrived to an extremely busy stand with people huddled around the T.V. As we walked up to it two controllers became free and with that we decided to do some hands-on research. We were thrown into a world of Box-Head style madness that had the same relentless, never-ending horde feel of Left for Dead. My minigun was primed, my adorable elephant ready but, unfortunately, I sucked at the game. I do not dismiss a game as terrible just because I myself am so at the game, in fact I enjoy a new challenge and commend games that challenge me to the point of which I either scream or get frustrated.
Phill on the other hand was in his zone, he somewhat carried myself and the rest of the team as he drove forwards with an extensive list of power-ups and weaponry he had earned. All awhile he continued to revive me as I proved his efforts futile with each and every attempt. Regardless, I still thoroughly enjoyed it! We took a break from the game to speak with Robert. A short but sweet interview can be found below:
I found our conversation to be highly insightful. The conversation we had the night before really hit home why they were there and what they were trying to achieve. Insomnia is a chance, such as any other gaming convention, for game developers to get some real feedback from real gamers. It goes a long way to have instant access to your target audience, to listen to them and to create a product such as Nature’s Zombie Apocalypse that is so in-tune with what we want. I really hope to meet these guys again! Hopefully at i60…