Inside the Evo 2014 Indie Showcase, Part 2: Towerfall, Nidhogg, Starwhal, and More! Inside the Evo 2014 Indie Showcase, Part 2: Towerfall, Nidhogg, Starwhal, and More!
On Monday, we announced the first set of Evo Indie Showcase participants. Now we’re excited to reveal the remaining five showcased games: Starwhal, Battle... Inside the Evo 2014 Indie Showcase, Part 2: Towerfall, Nidhogg, Starwhal, and More!

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On Monday, we announced the first set of Evo Indie Showcase participants. Now we’re excited to reveal the remaining five showcased games: Starwhal, Battle Golf Association, Nidhogg, TowerFall Ascension, and Gunsport! Read on to learn more about the games and the devs behind them.

TowerFall Ascension

Who are you?

I’m Matt Thorson. I grew up playing local multiplayer classics like Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Bushido Blade, and especially Smash Bros Melee. TowerFall is an attempt to capture the same competitive spirit I felt with my friends playing those games.

When did you start making games, and how’d you get into it?

I started making games when I was 14 with Game Maker and I can’t imagine having any other job.

Why Evo?

Last year at Evo, TowerFall consistently drew crowds and I got amazing feedback that helped me fine-tune the balance for high-skill players. This year I’m excited to return and see how everyone likes the finished game! And of course there will be a tournament.

Starwhal

Who are you?

We are Breakfall – a tiny team of independent game developers who have been making games for many years together. We hail from the frozen north in Ottawa, Canada. All of us are huge fans of fighting games. Particularly the Smash Bros. series with its approachable nature and incredibly deep mechanics. We strive to use lessons taught from these industry legends into our own works!

When did you start making games, and how’d you get into it?

We all started making games at different times in our lives. Myself, I started making games when I was very young. It began with ASCII graphics and simple role playing adventures with only a few colors. Later on I got more serious into studies and finally attempted to do it full time. Other people like Jan and Andrew went to school to study how to make games, though they had made some smaller works before. We all sort of fell into games because we love them so much.

Why Evo?

Evo is such an exciting place for us– seeing games being played at a high level is a major thrill and we live for those moments! We all believe in “playing to win”, so it’s fun to see an entire community attempting to push the boundaries of these games so spectacularly!

Who’s your favorite fighting game player?

We’re all fans of David Sirlin, the former Street Fighter competitor and now game designer. We also love watching Justin Wong and a bunch of the Smash Bros. players.

Battle Golf Association

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Who are you?

I’m David Gardner (@iruinedyourday) and I have been at Double Fine since working on combat and gameplay on Brutal Legend. Since then, I have been wanting to develop multiplayer fighting games because of the energy that they create around them. I love the gameplay that evolves as people master the controls and learn the ins and outs of every level or map. BGA was an opportunity to explore that arena, and it was something that I had been thinking would be fun for a long time. And let’s be honest, combining golf and trial by combat has been something the Greeks and Romans were trying to perfect for centuries but could never get just right. It has been a long time coming.

Patrick Hacket (@playmorevgames) was not only a close friend and co-worker of mine, but also a partner in crime when it came to games and golf. We both love Street Fighter, and we both love golf. So when the moment the idea of combining the two came up, we knew we were going to make BGA. (Or maybe it was when we were waiting to tee off and started hitting golf balls at each other as hard as we could that did it.) After he hit me in the head maybe the idea for BGA came to me the same way the flux capacitor did to Doc Brown when he fell off his toilet.

When did you start making games, and how’d you get into it?

I started working on PlayStation 2 games; nearly everything I’ve worked on had some sort of combat element to it. My first game was Rise to Honor, a single player fighting game with Jet Li. It was a learning process, but as an animator and a huge gamer I was able to really merge what I felt with gameplay into what you could see with animation. Since then, I have worked on other fighting games — Conan for the Xbox 360 and Marvel Nemesis Rise of the Imperfects — always focusing on the combat and play control. Since working at Double Fine, I was able to add a level of humor to my work that I was not able to before. BGA is the ultimate combination of my love of fluid play control and hilarious gameplay.

I got into games at an early age and just never gave up, always wanting to develop them. Making games is something that anyone can do at any time; it’s a wonderful age where you can learn to program and be a dedicated artist at the same time.

Why Evo?

Because playing games in your living room with 6 friends is amazing, playing with 600 is what we imagined would never be possible when we were kids. Thanks to Evo, it is!

Nidhogg

Who are you?

We’re Messhof, a small indie game development studio based in Los Angeles. The team is Mark Essen and Kristy Norindr, and Nidhogg is our baby.

When did you start making games, and how’d you get into it?

Mark has been making games since highschool and Kristy got into video game theory in grad school.

Why Evo?

We were introduced to Evo two years ago when [Capy’s] Nathan Vella invited us to show Nidhogg in the indie section. The Evo audience is so perfect for the game and really helped push us to make the game better. People that come to Evo are, unsurprisingly, much better at fighting games and they will use whatever strategies they can to win. That kind of uncompromising player was super helpful for tuning the high level mechanics in Nidhogg.

Gunsport

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Who are you?

Hi!!!!! I’m Brandon Sheffield! I’m the director of Necrosoft Games, which basically means I have ideas and tell people what to do, and they do all the real work and get real mad at me all the time. It’s great! (I occasionally do some real work too). We’ve released one game, called Gunhouse, for PlayStation Mobile (porting to other platforms now), and are close to finishing our second, called Oh, Deer!, which is also for PSM. Now we bring you our first esport-type thing, Gunsport. Maybe you’ll like it!

Back in the day I ran a magazine called Game Developer, and still sometimes contribute to Gamasutra. I also started a site called Insert Credit, which was a big source for Japanese fighting game news in the early 2000s. I live in Oakland, I like dogs and cats (and every kind of animal), and collect rock music from the 60s and 70s from around the world. How cool are these guys?

When did you start making games, and how’d you get into it?

I started making games in a smaller capacity back in 2005. Basically I was a bit bored as a journalist, because I sort of felt like I’d done all I could within the existing structure of a magazine or lower-budget web site. So I started checking around for folks who might need writing in their games. My first projects were just editing text for localizations, but I started working my way through to original writing, though most of it was not a smash hit. Remember Barnyard Blast!? Sure you don’t! Well, I rewrote most of that script.

One of the games I worked on only came out in France. It was made in Thailand, and then only came out in France. I mean…that was a bit demotivating I guess. Over time I got a small bit of notoriety, and was given the chance to be narrative director on a game with a 50 person team, for a big company. It was awesome. The game was great. And then it never came out. After that I realized that if I wanted to make the kind of stuff I want to make, it’s got to be on my own terms. So I quit all my jobs and formed this tiny indie studio with some cool folks who thankfully want to make games with me. I think that right now, Gunsport is our best shot at making it.

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Why Evo?

I’ve never been to Evo, but I have always watched the fighting game scene. I’ve enjoyed fighting games since SFII on SNES, which was my first introduction to fighting games. I was terrible at it, and I remember my friend explaining to me what a quarter-circle was, and I was just like, “Man, I can’t do this biz.” But over time I got really into it. I even punched a kid who bit my ear from behind because he wanted to take a turn, but I hadn’t lost yet, so it was still my dang turn! Punched that kid right in the mouth. Sorry guy. :\

From there I graduated to KOF, which I loved for ages, then CvS2, and then my favorite dang fighting game of all time, Asuka 120% Limited for Saturn (and the hack upgrade Limit Over). There’s something about that one on one competition, especially when it’s close, that gets your blood pumping.

Over time, I started to really enjoy watching matches, as well as participating, and Evo is the best place to see that. I’ve been watching the streams over the years, watching the commentary and technology and techniques improve. It just feels like a good time for me to go to Evo and see what the fighting game community thinks of my little esport game.

Players of fighting games appreciate precision where it counts, but also a looseness of play that allows for the unexpected, within a box of predictability. Gunsport is designed for that sort of person, and fighting game players seem to pick the game up real fast. It has slightly complex controls, but once you master them, it feels intuitive. I want to put my ideas into practice in front of a discerning audience, and take some feedback from the people I want playing my games. And that’s you people! So yeah, come break my game and tell me if you think it’s crap!

Who’s your favorite fighting game player?

Oh man, so when I was in Singapore, almost exactly two years ago, I met a dude named Raymus. I met him because he was my college buddy’s friend, and the “only guy he knew who played games.” Turns out Raymus is one of the best Soul Calibur players in Asia.

Anyway, Raymus was showing me the arcades (I got him to play CvS2 for the first time – I beat him one round, and then he said, “I think I get it,” and destroyed me thereafter), and eventually took me to Tough Cookie. Tough Cookie is a console arcade, where you rent games by the minute, and play on nice screens in a closet-sized room. Raymus told me that this is where the best fighting game players in Singapore come to compete and practice, and it was run by a guy named Xian, who he told me was the best Street Fighter IV player in the region.

So I played a few rounds against Raymus, who was barely looking at the screen as he destroyed my scrubby Ken. Raymus once gave Daigo a fair fight, after all.

Then I decide it might be nice to see Xian play, if he’s so great. He just dismantles Raymus with Gen like it was nothing. I had never seen a Gen like that. Heck, I had practically never seen a real Gen, period! I was impressed.

Fast forward to last year’s Evo. I didn’t even know Xian was going to be in there, but slowly I see him creeping up the ranking. Once he got to finals, I knew what was going to happen. Unfortunately, I can’t find the tweet now to brag properly, but I basically said, “I’m calling it now, Xian’s Gen is going to win EVO.” And then he did.

Watching it unfold, I felt a weird sense of pride. I’m not Singaporean, and Xian probably doesn’t even remember my name from our small interaction. But I had this feeling of having been there first. Here was this amazing fighting game force rising out of obscurity, and I had been there to see his power before it was revealed to the rest of the world.

It wasn’t pride for myself, it was pride for the underdog, for the unknown element, for the guy or gal who can find the best in something that others had given up on. That moment for me represents all that I love about fighting games and its community. So that’s that – Xian is my favorite fighting game player, because he embodies something new and exciting for me. And I’ll always go for that new and exciting thing, when I have the chance.

Evo 2014 is scheduled for July 11-13 at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Check out the event’s official website for more information, and be sure to give these great indie games a try if you’ll be in attendance.