Critical Hit’s got that summertime jam-ness

The local indie game incubator unveils fresh new games at a playtest party this weekend.


Shimmy screenshot

Participants in local indie game incubator Critical Hit have been busily developing some truly innovative and outré prototypes these last four weeks at the Technoculture Art and Games (TAG) Centre high atop Concordia’s EV building. They’ll be showing them off to the public at a playtest party this Saturday.

The 16 aspiring game-makers in this summer’s program — picked out of over 100 applicants with diverse, often non-gaming backgrounds — were split into teams and given a week to make their games. Each week, they formed new teams and made entirely new games. Around 12–14 games will be featured on Saturday.

The format was modelled after traditional game jams, although Critical Hitters were given a bit of breathing room — a 9-to-5 schedule as opposed to a 48-hour non-stop cram session.

“We made up the term slow jam,” says co-director Charlotte Fisher. “We like the energy level we get from game jams. When you put limitations on a concept, people have to think more creatively and there’s more problem solving. For creating experimental games, it’s been successful.”

In this case, limitations go beyond time. Each week, participants were given a different theme to use as inspiration. As with most game jams, the themes were open to interpretation.

Some of the subjects include: Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, designing a new sensorium and experimental controllers. For the final week, there was a grab-bag of themes, one of which was the intriguing rhythmic dating sim. Needless to say, some pretty ingenious ideas were devised, from playing soccer across infinite pitches to a daydreaming game you’re supposed to play while lying down and looking skyward.

Fisher says after this weekend, the participants will pick the best four or five games from the bunch and spend the next six weeks polishing them. With any luck, a few of them could receive official releases in the future.

“We have people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds, and it really helped to create a diverse collection of games,” she says.

This Saturday’s event will also serve as the official launch for the PC version of Shattered Planet, developed by Montreal’s own Kitfox Games. We wrote about the interplanetary RPG when it hit iOS and Android earlier this year.

There’s also plenty more happening at the TAG Centre throughout the summer. Critical Hit hosts playtesting 5 a 7’s, and industry veterans often swing by to provide mentorship.

Critical Hit’s Playtest Party happens at the TAG Research Centre (1515 Ste-Catherine W., EV11.725) on Saturday, July 5, 7:30 p.m., free/mandatory RSVP

For more info on Critical Hit and their future events, look here and here