PAX East 2013: Dinosaur’s MechKnight – The Indie Game Takeover

Penny Arcade Expo is one of those events that is fascinatingly overwhelming for a first time attendee. You can barely experience the potential of PAX East in a single day at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, let alone describe it. Every spring the event hosts a slew of nerd culture from free play arcade rooms for any game you might want to play in recent memory ranging on platforms from Wii to PC, to an entire half of the show floor being dedicated to Dungeons and Dragons and Magic card games. All the biggest names in video game developers are in the expo hall all weekend talking to the huge lines of fans, sharing game details and giving out “Swag.” And while seeing panels on what behemoth companies like Blizzard and Bethesda and 343 have up their selves for the next year, I had the most fun talking to the independent developers.

The indie games are where it’s at, and their developers aren’t only open about their opinions of the industry, they love talking to fans as people and not just a potential sales count.

I stopped by the booth for Dinosaur Entertainment on Friday afternoon do demo their upcoming game titled MechKnight Chronicles. A game that is only two and a half months into development, and already looks solid in gameplay. The team mentioned how excited they were to get the project off the ground after having only character models and concept art for the longest time. The game itself harkens back to the classic beat-em-up style of brawler arcade, much like Double Dragon. The play style is most comparative to 2005‘s Castle Crashers, a game published online by Behemoth and then launched to console play in 2008 thanks to Microsoft Game Studio’s acknowledgment of it’s popularity. MechKnight is a four player cooperative, and competitive, arcade style game that will feature over ten different characters, each of which will have a unique style of gameplay, only the ninja variation of which I had the chance to play.

Most of my conversation was with Dinosaur co-founder, Jesse Sosa. He and the other lead developer, Travis Tharrett, have been working in the game industry for a combined 20 years, and the amount of progress on the game in two months time shows their talent and desire to make something new and creative.

Jesse, who has been in the industry since 1998, has previously worked on games such as Ghostbusters: The Video Game and last years infamous Star Wars: Kinect for the Xbox 360. Jesse  wasn’t particularly happy with the direction video games have taken in the last few years, feeling that the gritty environments and over-the-shoulder cover shooters and FPS clones are becoming tired and passionless in comparison to the all the creative potential with independent developers. Jesse specifically shared how disappointed he was with the minimal amount of effort with Star Wars: Kincet, and said “If you’re going to have me work on this game, put me on the Dance section. So I was the one that designed the female character models.”

The male character models, including the now famous segment of  Han Solo dancing to an alternate version of Jason Derulo’s “Flyin’ Solo,” were designed by Bobby St. Aubin. To their credit, the dancing mini game, as absurd as it is to see considered in the same canon as the genius of Empire Strikes Back, was by many as literally the best part of the game.

When mentioning all the potential ideas he had for Star Wars: Kinect that went unused, Jesse talked about how fed up he was with the industry and wanted to make games creative again: “Imagine a game like QWOP where each player is controlling a different part of a body or a Mech armor or something like that, something different.”
Voltron game, anyone? (Just throwing that idea out there for you, Jesse. Would love to see that)

Given that MechKnight’s projected release is being exclusive to PlayStation, I asked Sosa about his opinion of the PS4 and how it might help take the next step that Dinosaur Entertainment is looking for, “I’m looking forward to bringing all the players closer together and to us. The social aspect will be great.” It seems Dinosaur is understanding and receptive to what fans think of a game, which is valuable to such a small team this early on.
Because it is so early in development, Pre-Alpha stage for the time being, MechKnight Chronicles may look completely different upon it’s release over a year from now, but when it does, it will be released for dowload play cross-platform within the next year or so.

Follow Dinosaur Entertainment on to get updates on the game to see the creative process in motion!


Boston, Massachusetts: Evan is a 23 year old college graduate with a degree in English and Journalism. He's had a lifelong passion for film, games and reading things. A living movie quotation machine, and obsessively analytical, Evan will always give an honest and fair opinion with an insertion of wit where appropriate. (Who are you kidding? It’s always appropriate.) Additionally, he is an aficionado of the superhero genre, old video games and (yes, subjectively) awesome movies.
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