ESGS 2018: The Many Dimensions Of Gaming

This year’s E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS 2018) showed no stops when it comes to showcasing only the best in today’s Philippine gaming landscape. Aside from players, developers and providers showcased peripherals and hardware offerings to gamers. However, if there’s anything to take particular notice this year, it’s ESGS 2018 games.

Here’s the What’s A Geek! team for our take on this year’s offerings.

ESGS 2018 Games: The Future Is Good

More To Look Forward To

ESGS 2018 games proved there’s no one way to tackle a genre or a concept. The variation of ideas present in the Indie Fiesta and developer booths showcased the ingenuity of budding creators when it comes to getting ideas across. Hopefully, next year’s developers showcase will give convention attendees more games to try out and explore.

 

Mutual

Mobile seems to be the focus of some games showcased in the GDAP corner of the convention. FEU students Matthew Aquiatan, Elijah Cuneta, Kim Berces and Angela Peralta tapped into the appeal of puzzle games through Mutual. The team developed the game during the 48-hour Game Jam this year, which had “Transmission” as its theme.

“We want to make a game that’s engaging to players. And we want the game mobile, so it can be accessed by a wider market,” they said.

The goals are simple: players can only score by connecting shapes of the same color, the same shape, or a combination of both. Aquiatan and his colleagues explained the mechanics are similar to UNO, only except cards you do it on a platform. The game looks rather simple at first, but the time-based element adds decent pressure to players. Each level needs players to find the right pattern of colors and shapes to proceed.

Furtive

One might thing Furtive lies within the cup of tea of young gamers courtesy of its rather cartooney graphics. And gamers who assumed as such will be half right. However, Rai Martinez of iAcademy explained Furtive has more in store not just for its target audience.

“It’s a top-down stealth game for the younger audience,” Martinez explained. “We tried to make it as kid-friendly as possible.”

Her team, which had three other members, had completed the game for their thesis. However, what pushed the game’s development perhaps stems from the lack of kid-friendly stealth games in the market. Martinez said their lead designer may have influenced the squad-game push, given their designer’s interest in the military.

The game will have players take control of four (4) furry friends, all of which appear to be members of a squad. You have to traverse through puzzles and avoid being seen by enemies. If you get caught, you need to fight your way to survival. Thing is, not all of your squad members can fight. You need to take care how you control and position your squad, as you can traverse levels as a squad, or by positioning your members in different areas.

Joebert and the Crop Circle Heroes

What happens when you mix side-scrolling action with zombie creatures? Joebert and the Crop Circle Heroes appears!

Players take the roles of space police cadets, who had just finished their training. What initially had been planned as a homecoming turned into a rescue mission, though. These cadets now have to use their abilities to fight hordes of zombified creatures who conquered the Earth. Players can use any of the three cadets in stages, and they have to defeat enemies in a side-scroller with a variety of special weapons. Fans of Megaman will easily get fond of the multiple combat options the cadets offer, especially since their attacks offer varying levels of experience.

The game has been in development for the past three years. It shows, too, especially with the growth in both design and gameplay as shown in concept art displayed in the booth. Aside from the main three cadets, two more appear to be in development. However, what’s interesting lies beyond the game and more on the IP. According to Top Peg Games, they’re also working on a comic book series and an animated series based on the same IP.

Sam’s Odd World

If you’ve been hankering for some nostalgia, Kenny Lin has got you covered. Fans of classic games such as Sonic and Crash Bandicoot will love Vox Machina’s Sam’s Odd World.

Sam’s Odd World initially started as a thesis game developed by a team of six (6). The game actually taps into nostalgia as its main theme, which reflects with its gameplay and aesthetic choice.

“We wanted something personal and relevant,” they said. Given their thesis period came at a time when a lot of games were getting remastered, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to tap into this trend. “Why do people want old games remastered? Is it because they’re classics? Or is there a state of mind where we want to go back to our childhood?”

This theme can be seen even in the art. Developers depicted Sam, the titular protagonist, as a child with a CRT TV for a head. As he journeys through the game, Sam will be facing obstacles and bosses that reference games in the past. Platforming resembles a bit of Crash Bandicoot, bosses became reminiscent of classic Sonic, and the like.

While the team has yet to see a release for the game any time soon, they will continue development on the title.

Aether

Are you looking for a stylish brawler and side-scroller rolled into one game? Aether takes you on an action-packed side-scroller. Not only that, you look good kicking butt, too!

Side-scrolling platformers like Metroid and Megaman have captured the hearts of many thanks to its unique take on beat ’em up mechanics and stylish-yet-strategic gameplay. Jaromir Enriquez and his team from the De La Salle University – College of Saint Benilde made Aether with the best elements of side-scrollers in mind.

The game puts you in control of a research scientist studying a renewable source of energy called aether, which comes from trees. However, a corporation took all the aether in stock by force, eliminating all the protagonist’s colleagues before they even got to research it. In its desire to control all the supply of aether, they’ve also begun cutting trees in the area. Angered by this mess, the protagonist took it upon herself to resolve the situation.

Gamers who look at the game might think it’s a simple platformer. However, the real spice of the game lies in its combat. Aether offers not only stylish combat, but it also ensures players remain methodical to their approach. Slight deviations in button sequences make or break combos, and seeing your character have a “flow” in their attacks make playing the game quite a satisfying experience.

Jank Fu

Fancy yourself tearing through enemies with what you think is kung fu? Perhaps Jank Fu might be up your alley. If you’ve seen Khan dismantle 3D enemies using bona fide martial arts, you’ve probably remembered Jank Fu. Vincent Ortega II made the Microsoft Kinect game with crazy martial arts antics in kind.

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Controls remain extremely straightforward throughout the game. You need to kick, punch, and flair around at enemies until they go down. You and your character stand on the center of the playing field, too. This means enemies will come rushing towards you, and you need to jank your way out.

According to Ortega, his observations as an animator had a lot to do with his game design. “People move in different ways, whereas characters in games only move one way. I want to make a game that incorporates movement. You can move as yourself – and you can play and have fun.”

He’s developed the game for a month, with a few weeks’ worth of debugging. According to Ortega, GDAP’s Game On event pushed him to fully develop Jank Fu. Ortega plans on finding ways to get the game out for players to experience in the arcade.

Graywalkers

Players with a penchant for strategy and tactics will appreciate Graywalkers. Its premise takes the post-apocalyptic genre to a new spin, with roleplaying mechanics to dazzle gamers who fell in love with X-COM and even tabletop staples like Dungeons & Dragons.

Developers at Dreamlords Digital have brought in quite a dynamic tactical RPG experience with this post-apocalyptic game. Players of Graywalkers will find them in an Earth ravaged by the Rapture, with both Heaven and Hell deciding to take the fight to Earth. The game puts players in control of Graywalkers, a group of adventurers with varying skill sets and abilities, to fend off these threats and hopefully save the world. However, the game won’t be your standard Baldur’s Gate or X-COM clone.

Granted, the aforementioned game had been key inspirations for Graywalkers. However, according to Dreamlords Digital, Graywalkers will put huge emphasis on the story and character dynamics. This seems obvious with the demo alone, as players can control more than 10 characters to experience all their abilities. Aside from dynamic land mechanics, things such as items, ammunition, spells, weapons, and cover all interplay in encounters.

Not only that, but your choice of who to pick in your team relies a lot on story encounters. This means there’s no one way to play the game. The game feels very overwhelming, given one character can do a whole lot with the options that exist within their menus. They can attack and use skills with multiple weapons, or even use spells. They can walk, run, and change stances – all of which can affect combat. Cover, ammunition, and item also affect gameplay in little yet key ways. Graywalkers packs a huge punch, and tactical RPG enthusiasts should watch out for this game.

Bayani

Who needs a hadouken when you have Jose Rizal shooting energy blasts from a rapier? Fighting game enthusiasts may already have heard of Bayani. However, what perhaps makes it unique is its aesthetic approach to fighting games. Ben Banta and Architect Anthony Dacayo II gave What’s A Geek! a quick rundown on what to expect when playing Bayani.

It’s easy to see Bayani and get the occasional grin, especially with its take on fighting game aesthetics. Its core theme lies in its usage of “alternate” versions of popular historical figures. The game takes place in an alternate reality of sorts, where historical figures in the Philippines have to somehow fight each other to help save the world.

This rather interesting take on history was enough to get traction abroad, though. Aside from OFWs Ranida Games met, they said other foreigners got interested when they initially saw the game. After all, Bayani’s aesthetics does help provide a dynamic way of learning about the country’s culture and local heroes.

Art style actually passes, given it’s not developed by a big publisher. It takes cues from popular anime-inspired fighting games today. However, folks looking for very realistic-looking characters won’t find them here. Combat and mechanics also pass, but the “feel” needs work. Combos and techniques don’t respond as desired, which leaves players a bit dissatisfied when flashy effects happen. Still, Bayani does impress, especially since their roster does offer a wide range of heroes with different movesets.

Academia: School Simulator

Ever had a bad day of complaining in class, and had a classmate tell you, “Edi ikaw nalang mag-tayo ng school.” With Academia, you can make the best damn school to slam the face of said classmate with. Squeaky Wheel Studios makes this possible with its interesting take on a school simulator.

If you’ve played Prisoner Architect or other simulators, you’ll easily get the feel of Academia. This time, you’ll have to manage the school as a Principal. You’ll start with a small patch of land that you have to grow into a school. You’ll be in charge of what subjects students take, what rooms they have, and even make sure kids stay happy to go to school. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy more land for more room for the ultimate school.
Who would’ve thought a school could be such an interesting thing to simulate?

Pawikan Patrol.

What’s the most interesting way to introduce environment conservation at a party? Why with cards of course. If you’ve ever encountered The Tabletop Traveler, he’s also the one who made Pawikan Patrol. Mykey Cuento, also known as The Tabletop Traveler, told What’s A Geek! his love for traveling played a huge role in the development of the game.

According to him, the game sprung out of a desire to spread the need for pawikan preservation to a much wider audience. Being a gamer himself, Cuento figured it might be easier to introduce the idea of pawikan preserver through a game. Out came Pawikan Patrol. And interestingly enough, the game’s mechanics themselves do a majority of the explanation.

Players will have to work together in order to save pawikan in the game. They do so through gathering cards with special effects and their roles. Each “role” in the game has a role to play in pawikan preservation – these include ordinary people, the local authorities, and scientists. Likewise, players have to work together to stop other “harmful” cards such as illegal fishermen.

Tales from the Gamemaster: Prologue Waltz

Folks from Vilein bring in quite a unique adventure roleplaying game experience through Tales from the Gamemaster: Prologue Waltz. Players can look at the game and see it as a regular adventure RPG. However, the game unleashes its full potential when you go to combat. Imagine playing a roleplaying game, but with card battles. So when you encounter a slime, you don’t fight it with a stick – you actually battle it with a deck. And the slime, for some reason, battles you with cards as well. Vilein introduces this rather interesting take on RPGs.

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Players take charge of characters and help them grow throughout their journey. The game takes place in a world where a magic tournament takes place every couple of years. However, evil forces want to use the backdrop of this upcoming tournament to unleash a plan this time around. It’s up to you to uncover this conspiracy and duel your way to the finish. Wrong game reference?

Periculum

Puzzle gamers with a penchant for horror might find Periculum to their fancy. Brian (is it Bryan?) explained the game’s core themes, which play around the idea of the player being trapped inside a house. If the mysterious lady lurking about didn’t give any hints, Periculum is an adventure/thriller title. Players need to explore their way out of the house through items and solving puzzles. Brian told What’s A Geek! that Periculum got a lot of cues from Amnesia and Resident Evil 7.

However, their approach to the story did tease an interesting plot. While the game is still in development, Brian did say it might have a full release.

The Yellow Boat

If you’re looking for an interesting VR experience, you might want to stay tuned in to The Yellow Boat. The game puts you in control of a little girl who has to go to school. However, she needs to pass through a series of obstacles before getting through the game’s various levels. Seems simple enough? That might be so, but developers actually caught the attention of gamers because The Yellow Boat is inspired by real events. In fact, the game wants players to look into the Yellow Boat Foundation of Hope, which helps communities through various initiatives.

The Yellow Boat‘s story follows the real-life tale of children in some communities having to go through broken bridges, rivers, and rough roads just to go to school. The Yellow Boat offers an immersive and more personal view of the experiences these kids have.

Street Feud

Despite what some people say, Emile had a massive soft spot for Pinoy street food. Studying in UP Diliman afforded him the wonders of Mang Larry’s isaw, UP College of Architecture siomai, and the ubiquitous fishbolan all along Sunken Garden. It was no surprise that Street Feud, an indie PC game, caught his eye as he walked down Indie Fiesta. This time, though, he was on the other side of the counter.

It was a Simulator game, with an interface HUD akin to Papers Please, where you trade your books and stamps for squidballs and kikiam. Anyone who has played Overcooked should be familiar with what to do: see what the incoming customers want and cook it in your food stall. It starts out fairly simple: get the fishball, cook it in the cooking oil (make sure it doesn’t burn), and serve it to the customer. The challenge came from time pressure. You need to meet the customer demand before their patience meter runs out, which could be slowed down by turning on your rickety electric fan.

There’s room for improvement, of course. Adding some music could add atmosphere and sound effect can aid in giving audio cues for timers. Clearer initial instructions can ease players who are unfamiliar with this style of game. Street Feud is currently just on PC and he thinks this could work fantastic as a mobile game!

Shots Fired

Remember that old tourist saying, “Shoot nothing but pictures?” Shots Fired almost embodies this, asking Emile to shoot pictures… and his human targets. This almost scratched his itch for more engaging, non-violent games, but the premise of this game piqued his interest enough. Made during a game jam emphasizing only single button controls, Shots Fired placed him in the shoes of a investigative journalist by day and a sniper assassin by night.

At the beginning of each dreary game day, Shots Fired gave him a dossier of investigation jobs that players could pick from. Each of them were vaguely described like “illicit affair” or “contraband.” After picking one, players will be treated to a pixel version of the block across the proverbial street. Using my mouse, they had to scan 4 buildings and the streets in between for what they believed is my job. All you get is one shot. Get it right and you’d get paid. If not, you have two more tries for some good, honest money.

Alas, even getting three successful assignments are not enough to get the character through the day. As you settle back into you sofa at dusk, you may receive another folder, full of marks from your mysterious employer. The gameplay loop is similar: pick a job, scan the buildings, and shoot the target…with a bullet.

Shots Fired simple gameplay adds to its charm. The pixel aesthetic adds a layer of challenge as it doesn’t make distinguishing the characters a walk in the park. As players can only try a small portion of the beginning, the developer can hopefully expand on the duality of the character’s jobs and if they have any kind of psychological toll on him. You should look forward to the full release of the game!

About ESGS 2018

ESGS 2018 games highlighted ESGS offerings this year. The event took place between Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. The summit sought to gather various keyplayers in the gaming community to interact and get to know one another in perhaps the biggest gaming convention in the country. This year’s developers and gamers showcased the lasting value of games, and the growth of eSports in today’s market.

 

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Rhenn Taguiam
Rhenn Taguiam
Rhenn Taguiam is a frustrated journalist with a knack for comic books and video games. He likes pizza and pasta, and has an uncontrollable urge to gush over anything Super Sentai, Star Trek or X-Men. He is currently on his way to get his Master's Degree - unless he creates his own video game or graphic novel first.
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Rhenn Taguiam

Rhenn Taguiam

Rhenn Taguiam is a frustrated journalist with a knack for comic books and video games. He likes pizza and pasta, and has an uncontrollable urge to gush over anything Super Sentai, Star Trek or X-Men. He is currently on his way to get his Master's Degree - unless he creates his own video game or graphic novel first.

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