2010deadlinecal.jpg[As the 2011 Independent Games Festival deadlines rapidly approach, IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer presents both a reminder to submit your game and a brief look at some of the most-asked questions for indies looking to make it big in this year's contest, festival and showcase.]

If your calendars aren't ringing at you already, consider this your first alert: there's just a smidge over one month left until the October 18th deadline for the 2011 Independent Games Festival Main Competition (add two more weeks if you're planning to submit to the Student IGF), and all of us here are quite excited to see what you're submitting!

To mark the occasion, I thought I'd offer the answers to a handful more frequently asked questions than covered on our submission page, and reiterate some questions that are answered there but perhaps not strongly enough, starting with:

Q: Can I enter a game if it's already available for sale?

A: Of course! While a large part of the IGF's mission is to shine the first light on works that will redefine how we think about games in the future, there is no mandate that a game be released to the public only after it takes part in the Festival. We love, and will always encourage, developers making their debut through it, but welcome anyone whose schedules demanded release before the deadline.

Q: Can I enter if I've already entered in previous years, or am thinking about expanding my game and entering IGF 2012?

A: Absolutely. Especially as more games become longer-term undertakings that evolve as a service or in response to player feedback, there is no rule against re-entering the Festival. That also includes games that were shown at very early stages in previous years that are now in more finalized form.

Q: Can I enter both the Main and the Student IGF?

So long as you or your team are in keeping with the Student IGF rules (that is, "were full or part-time college or high school students during the Spring 2010 semester"), you are free to enter both competitions. And that also goes for the following:

Q: Can I enter the Student IGF if someone on our team wasn't enrolled in school with us?

This question has occasionally come up in the past -- typically when utilizing outside/freelance audio work -- but so long as the principles behind the team are in keeping with the Student rules, this is allowed.

Q: Can I modify my game after I submit?

While the October 18th deadline is a firm one, all entrants are encouraged to continue to upload newer builds of their game to the IGF FTP server throughout the judging period (which comes to a close just before the end of the year).

All judges and jurists are strongly encouraged throughout that period to continue to update to the latest build before making their final call. We cannot, however, guarantee that all judges have anything beyond your first uploaded build, so bear this in mind on submitting your entry.

Q: Am I indie?

A: As I briefly touched on in an earlier blog post, what does or doesn't constitute indie relies on a fairly nebulous set of criteria that won't necessarily be agreed on from one person to the next.

It's a business question as much as an aesthetic question as much as a community question, the answers to which could well be in conflict with one another. I'll say this much: some of the entries we've already received are from small studios which have worked with publishers in the past, but which are quite clearly created in the spirit, community and aesthetic of what we refer to when we say "indie".

I can best answer this simply by reiterating what I said before: it's my hope that the 2011 IGF can bring together everyone from true beginners making their first foray into the medium, to seasoned veterans leaving the larger industry to express and create something more personal, to the underground rogues with zero commercial aspirations who simply want to test the boundaries of the medium.

And if you even need to ask the question of yourself, the answer is probably "yes". As you'll soon see, the IGF submission form includes the question as printed below with a mandatory tickbox, to be clear:

"Do you think that your game correctly conveys 'the indie spirit'? There are any number of titles which might be technically eligible for the competition, but that are completed with access to corporate financing or with a massive, privately donated budget, and these have occasionally entered in the IGF in the past. Please think carefully about whether you are, by any definition of the word, 'indie' - you probably are, but it never hurts to ask."

That should do it for now, and we'll continue to ring the alarms as the submission deadline nears. Good luck to everyone and looking forward to you submitting your game!