Gamescom Online – Bavarian Game Publishers Take Part in a Digital Experiment

By Franziska Schulze

It is hard to imagine gamescom without the huge halls and stands where companies impressively present their latest games and the large number of fans that visit the fair. The Corona crisis has brought the world's largest trade fair for video and computer games exclusively online this year, though companies and visitors will still have the opportunity to present themselves in full. We spoke with publishers from Bavaria about whether they would be willing to take the plunge and partake in this digital experiment.

The Indie Arena Booth has now for several years been part of gamescom. 2020 will be their first time participating completely digitally in the fair. Visitors will be able to create their own avatar online and discover virtual trade fair booths depicted in comic design. Thanks to the online version of the Indie Arena Booth, fans of startups as well as smaller and medium-size games developers can also enjoy this popular part of the fair in 2020 as publishers present their innovations online. This year’s Bavarian novelties include Handygames from Giebelstadt and Pixel Maniacs from Nuremberg.

Townsmen VR by Handygames

Townsmen VR is one of nine games presented by Handygames. Fans of Townsmen VR have been familiar with this green island surrounded by rocks and crystal-clear water since 2018. An early-access version of the strategy game had already been released at the time, which called for villagers to construct buildings on the island while being controlled by an overpowering ruler. Handygames is now working on publishing a comprehensive update. While it will still be some time before the new game can be played on personal computers, its current state of development will be presented in a livestream on the second day of gamescom, Friday, August 28th, 2020 at 10 a.m.

“We have basically rebuilt the game in full. All graphics are new and much more detailed,” Philipp Nägelsbach, Townsmen VR’s Lead Games Designer, has stated. “It was a good start, but there was only one island to play on.” Though this has now changed. “There will be over ten islands. Each island will represent one level. There will also be new tasks, research, and trade.”

Photo: Townsman VR

The VR technology focuses on two controllers that appear in the game as oversized hands of the ruler. However, this approach was not clear from the very beginning. “We experimented with the appearance of a virtual experience for this game,” states Nägelsbach. The option we chose is also meant to prevent the motion sickness (nausea or dizziness) that many people have to deal with when playing VR games.

Even though gamescom 2020 will be different than it usually is, Nägelsbach is hopeful that the digital setup will generate attention around the new Townsmen game so that Handygames can show people what they have created.

Can't Drive This by Pixel Maniacs

Can't Drive This by Pixel Maniacs from Nuremberg is another early-access game that will be presented at gamescom. The small studio has existed since 2004. After a couple of years of mobile app and games development in particular, the developers have been pursuing their true passion since 2015 – game development for computers and game consoles. The first version of Can't Drive This was created in only 72 hours.

The Multiplayer Party Racing Game leads players into furious chaos. As one player controls a speeding monster truck, the other players race to build the track on which it drives. If the builders are too slow, the moving car explodes, or if the track becomes too unsafe and the drivers fall into the abyss, the game is lost. It is the epitome of stress and chaos! – and just what the developers are looking to convey. The headline of the game is “Join the chaos,” after all!

Photo: Can't Drive This

At gamescom 2020, these games will be sure to attract fans by their various digital means. If there is any industry already familiar with online chat, video call, and headsets, it is gaming. It is quite likely that the fair will not only result in a dry exchange, but also in a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.