It’s that time of year, [email protected] Game Fest is back and the team is excited to bring you four weeks of some of the best independent games. Each week will focus on a new theme so check back every Tuesday to see what’s new.
Game Fest starts today, May 1, and will run through May 28. To kick things off, the first week will focus on Gaming for Everyone, featuring new and diverse stories, voices, creators, and characters. This is the perfect time to discover new experiences and new ways to game.
To learn more about the creation of these emotional experiences, we talked with a number of [email protected] developers about their creative process in making these games for Xbox One.
I, Hope (20% off) — “As I worked on I, Hope, I realized that my struggles were mirroring that of the character in the game,” explains Game Designer Kenny Roy. “But I was not going to be able to finish it without really immersing myself fully in the process and learning what I could from the amazing people around me. I needed the knowledge of the designers and developers that pitched in all along the way. I needed the strength of the kids battling cancer, who played the game and so generously provided feedback. I needed the courage to believe that I was good enough to make something worthy of the people that I wanted to help.
“I certainly needed the support of the industry who came out in droves to prop me up and keep me from faltering. And most of all, like everyone who is fighting this real battle, I needed hope. You could say that because I struggled so much to make this game, but it was the people around me who taught me these lessons, this is not just a game for everyone, it was a game by everyone.
“Cancer is a disease that the world has united to combat together. Because there are so many people who are fighting this battle, a game like I, Hope represents everyone. It speaks to the power each one of us has within and represents our united front against this awful disease.
“Children and parents, nurses and doctors, developers and designers, all came together to help make a game that gives those in need a way to cope with the disease and treatment. I can’t think of a better example of Gaming for Everyone!”
100% of the proceeds for I, Hope will be donated to Game Changer Charity.
Night in the Woods (30% off) – “We just wrote about and depicted things, places, and people we knew,” says Game Designer, Artist & Writer Scott Benson says. “It was never a concerted effort to accomplish some other goal, we just wanted to be honest and talk about some real things. Except with cartoon animal people. And spooky stuff.”
Night in the Woods follows college dropout Mae Borowski as she returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind.
Firewatch (75% off) — “Firewatch is a game about people living their lives and encountering the unexpected,” explains Game Designer, Writer & Composer Chris Remo says. “We wanted to make a game that’s exciting, beautiful, and suspenseful, without using combat mechanics, traditional adventure game puzzles, or failure states. We hope this opens it up to everyone who sees the game and thinks it might be for them.”
Firewatch puts you in the shoes of Henry, a man who has retreated from his messy life, to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched high on a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe.
Mulaka (10% off) – “Making a game is always challenging, even more so when your subject matter is such an important one, instilled with the cultural heritage of an entire community,” says Writer, Programmer and Video Producer Guillermo Vizcaíno. “When we started this journey, we had a very vague understanding of how game development worked, constantly confronted with opposition from peers, colleagues and investors saying, ‘Whatever it is that you want to do, you may not find a future for it in here.’
“We wanted to be a part of the gaming industry and we wanted to do it on our terms, with a local and very much talented team, at a place where we knew there was no game development scene, at a time when no one expected a game from Mexico to get much recognition.
“There were times where we doubted our vision and thought about letting it go, but we found motivation in the end-goal, in our families, and in all the people that along the way saw something in Mulaka and encouraged us to keep pushing forward.
“This industry of ours is one where anyone can find a place, no matter the background, ethnicity, nationality or any such thing; the only real requirement is passion and a love for creating meaningful experiences. With hard work, we slowly found our way into gaming as developers, and if we could do it, then most certainly anyone here or abroad can do so as well.”
Mulaka is a 3D action-adventure game based on the rich indigenous culture of the Tarahumara. From solving puzzles in environments inspired by real Sierra Tarahumara locations, to heated hand-to-hand combat with creatures pulled from the region’s mythology, find out why the Tarahumara have earned a reputation for being superhumans.
Tacoma (25%) – “Even though Tacoma takes place on a futuristic space station, the experience is really about getting to know this group of people the story focuses on for who they are, what matters to them, and how their humanity shows through as you play,” explains Game Director and Fullbright Founder Steve Gaynor. “We hope you’ll have a spark of recognition and empathy with the characters we’ve created, no matter how similar or different they might be to you as a player.”
Tacoma is a narrative adventure set aboard a high-tech space station in the year 2088. As you go about your mission, you’ll explore every detail of how the station’s crew lived and worked, finding the clues that add up to a gripping story of trust, fear, and resolve in the face of disaster.
Celeste (20% off) — “With Celeste, one of our goals was to make a hardcore platformer that is accessible to anyone who wants to try,” says Game Writer, Director & Designer Matt Thorson. “It’s a game about climbing a mountain and challenging yourself along the way, but we’ve tried our best to let players customize the difficulty for themselves and take on that challenge on their own terms. It’ll be tough, but Celeste is cheering you on every step of the way.”
In Celeste you will help Madeline survive her inner demons on her journey to the top of Celeste Mountain, in this super-tight, hand-crafted platformer from the creators of multiplayer classic TowerFall.
This is just a taste of all the great games included in [email protected] Game Fest. The Gaming for Everyone theme will run from May 1 through to May 7, so take a moment to discover the games behind these exceptional stories before next week’s theme.
To see all titles included in the first week of Game Fest visit Xbox.com and check back every week to see what’s new.