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About The IGF is presented by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, which runs the Independent Games Festival & Summit every year at Game Developers Conference. The company (producer of the Game Developers Conference series, and Game Developer magazine) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

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GDC 2012: Game devs find lessons in their failures

March 7, 2012 10:00 AM | John Polson

IGF shadowphysics.jpg[This article was written by Kris Graft and originally appeared on Gamasutra.]

For the second year at GDC, game developers got together not to talk about their best practices or their successes, but instead about their failures.

The session, "Failure Workshop," was hampered by technical issues that caused various delays, and the irony of that wasn't lost on the amused speakers and audience. But eventually those problems were (mostly) ironed out.

Ron Carmel of World of Goo house 2D Boy hosted the panel, and opened by stressing the importance of sharing experiences of failure. If people don't talk about and share their failures, "We're missing out on 90 percent of our learning opportunities," Carmel said.

He talked about dispelling the "success myth," explaining that "the successes that you see usually come after a long string of failure." Even Carmel's 2D Boy was not an overnight success.

Jamie Cheng of Eets and Shank developer Klei Entertainment talked about his studio's failure -- an online game called Sugar Rush. The studio worked on it for three years, did the art style for the game five different times, held three closed betas, and was only two weeks away from a full ship. But it never shipped.

DrinkBox Studios Double Shot: Guacamelee and Tales from Space Updates

March 7, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

The second highest-rated Vita game currently available, DrinkBox's physics-based Katamari-like puzzle platformer Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!!, is now coming to Windows and Mac (and Steam).

According to Joystiq, the PC port of the game trades touchscreen support for mouse control with the "telekinesis" ability. Those who don't have a Vita but at least have a PlayStation 3 can catch up by playing the awesome first PSN title in the series, Tales from Space: About a Blob.

At last night's Sony Pub Fund Pub Crawl, DrinkBox told me that lucha libre metroidvania game Guacamelee will be playable at the upcoming PAX East convention next month. I imagine that when (not if, I am predicting) Tales from Space succeeds on Windows and Mac, Guacamelee won't be far behind if it is not released on PC and consoles simultaneously.

GDC 2012: Trimming down Atom Zombie Smasher's 'tumorous' design

March 6, 2012 10:30 AM | John Polson

IGF brendonchung.jpg[This article originally appeared on Gamasutra, written by Tom Curtis.]

When the indie strategy title Atom Zombie Smasher debuted last year, critics and audiences alike lauded it for its streamlined design and well-realized mechanics. According to creator and Blendo Games head Brendon Chung, however, bloated design almost proved to be the game's greatest shortcoming.

In a recent postmortem session at GDC 2012, Chung explained that he hoped to use Atom Zombie Smasher to further explore some ideas introduced in his 2010 space combat game Flotilla -- namely, the semi-random story events that powered the game's campaign.

Chung hoped that a similarly dynamic system would make Atom Zombie Smasher more exiting, and would ensure that it remain unpredictable the whole way through.

Thus, Chung gave Atom Zombie Smasher a complex over-world system that tasked players with analyzing and managing district populations, building defenses, and more. Even early on, Chung knew it was a lot for players to handle.

"A friend described it as 'analysis paralysis,' where you look at it and your mind explodes," he said.

GDC 2012: Sword & Sworcery's Vella warns against making an iOS game for everyone

March 6, 2012 5:00 AM | John Polson

nathanvella IGF.jpg[This article originally appeared on Gamasutra, written by Simon Parkin.]

"One of the scariest parts of the massive success of the iOS platform is that it has taught people that they should focus on making games for everybody."

So claimed Nathan Vella, co-founder and president of Toronto, Canada-based independent developer Capy Games (Sword & Sworcery) at the Inependent Games Summit at GDC indie summit today.

"At first glance the logic makes sense," he continued. "Super mainstream games such as Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds and Cut the Rope have each sold tens of millions of copies. Attempting to replicate that success is natural. But in reality, if you are making a game for everyone you are actually making a game for no-one. The hit based mentality takes you away from making a game that has soul or is fresh."

"Internally at Capy we talk a lot about playing the iPhone lottery," he explained. "That's what happens when you are competing with everyone. You are walking up to a slot machine, putting the budget of your game into the machine and praying that you'll get three cherries. In reality it rarely pays out."

GDC 2012: Die Gute Fabrik's Wilson on how simple tech enhances folk play

March 6, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

IGF joust.jpg[This article originally appeared on Gamasutra, written by Leigh Alexander.]

For the past three years, Die Gute Fabrik's Doug Wilson has been researching and working on a PhD dissertation about folk games, even while developing games like Johann Sebastian Joust and B.U.T.T.O.N. with his Copenhagen-based colleagues. His passion is "doing ridiculous shit with technology" – now coincidentally that's the rejected title for his Indie Games Summit lecture at GDC 2012.

Along with friend David Kanaga (composer of fellow IGF nominee Proteus), Wilson has been developing a PlayStation Move-enabled game concept -- Dog the Wag -- where players attach controllers to their butts and wag like dogs. He'd been inspired by a friend's pictures and stories from a trip to Sweden, where she played a number of quirky outdoor folk games.

What's a "folk game," exactly? Wilson cites a Denmark researcher's description of "traditional, ethnic or indigenous sports and games… it can also include new activities based on traditional practices," he says.

Folk games are play activities that are easy to understand, to play and to teach, requiring a minimum of equipment -- they're simple games that are easy to understand for spectators and easy to learn for the players; they require common equipment that most people have around or can make, like balls and bats, if they require equipment at all.

Folk games travel as a form of cultural language, as well; players, cultures or families frequently tailor the "house rules" to how they like to play, which is why they evolve organically through time and across cultures.

Wilson is specifically interested in very physical games, particularly silly ones. The designer has spoken in the past on finding fun in frustrating his players (a theme QWOP and GIRP creator Bennett Foddy, who spoke just prior to Wilson, also endorsed). According to Wilson, he finds joy in subversion.

Get a job: Playdead and others hiring now on the Gamasutra jobs board

March 2, 2012 3:00 AM | Eric Caoili

In the latest postings over the last seven days, Gamasutra's jobs board plays host to roles in every major discipline, including opportunities at Kojima Productions, Demiurge Studios, Respawn Entertainment, and others.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across Gamasutra's network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

Demiurge Studios, Inc.: Senior UI Artist:
"Demiurge Studios is an independent, bootstrapped video game development house. We've shipped games on all current-gen consoles and worked with some of the most notable developers in the industry on titles like Bioshock, Borderlands, Mass Effect, and Rock Band. From AAA console titles to iOS apps - we've done it. We even have our own game in the works. Shoot Many Robots is a quirky, 4-player run-n-gun labor of love, built from the ground up on our own tech."

Playdead Aps: Platform Programmer:
"Playdead is an independent game studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded by Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti in 2006. Limbo is Playdead’s first production with Arnt Jensen as Game Director. Playdead is currently in production of a new IP."

Redesigning the Shmup with Velocity (Futurlab)

March 2, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

Futurlab's PlayStation Mini Velocity wants to add some teleportation to the shmup genre, and the trailer suggests it makes for an exciting experience. With so much of the thrill of modern shmups being dodging, fitting teleportation into the typical shmup design seems challenging.

Futurlab's James Marsden tells IndieGames that it was tough to balance the gameplay around the teleport mechanic. "I don't think it's hype to say we've had to redesign what a shootemup is. We've changed the emphasis from being able to get through a level at all, to being able to perfect a level, and the inclusion of the scroll-speed control acts like a Flow-State pedal."

The game becomes more challenging when moving faster, so players can learn a level without using much of their scroll boost, and then the better they get at it, and the closer they get to the perfect medal, the more they use the scroll boost. "The game at its most impressive sees a player masterfully pumping the gas at the right times to fling bombs at targets at just the right moment, teleporting into the middle of alien waves to get the best bullet coverage and bomb fling accuracy," Marsden shares.

Experimental Gameplay Sessions return for 10-year anniversary at GDC 2012

March 2, 2012 1:00 AM | John Polson

egs.jpgWith just days remaining before the Game Developers Conference 2012, show organizers have chosen to detail a special workshop dubbed "Experimental Gameplay Sessions," which returns to GDC for its 10-year anniversary.

This jam-packed, two-hour session -- which takes place Friday, March 9 at 2.30pm in Room 3014 of West Hall -- will showcase an eclectic mix of unusual game prototypes that defy convention and explore new ideas and genres.

Led by Robin Hunicke (Journey) and Daniel Benmergui (Storyteller), it's an exciting opportunity for presenters and attendees alike to explore some brand new territory in game design.

In fact, a number of 'experimental' titles that debuted in previous years have gone on to become some of the most well regarded in the industry. Some of these standout games include Katamari Damacy, flOw, Braid, Portal, World of Goo and Today I Die.

This year, the session aims to recapture that innovative spirit with 11 titles from some of the industry's most creative developers.

Among the presenters this year are Douglas Wilson (Johann Sebastian Joust) and Bennett Foddy (QWOP), who will demonstrate a special enhanced version of one of Foddy's acclaimed physics titles. WallFour's John Sear, meanwhile, will show off a particularly unusual large-scale cooperative game.

In addition, developers such as Vlambeer's Rami Ismail will take a moment to go over some seemingly broken game ideas in GlitchHiker, and Kurt Bieg from Simple Machine will detail his studio's new Twitter-powered golf game.

The session will even highlight a number of more well known titles, including Jenova Chen and Nick Clark showing thatgamecompany's much-anticipated Journey, and Daniel Benmergui showcasing his IGF Nuovo Award finalist Storyteller.

Other participants including Shadow Physics co-creator Steve Swink showing a new title, Pietro Righi Riva and Nicolo Tedeschi showcasing Mirror Moon, Alex Kerfoot, Anna Anthropy, and Mars Jokela displaying Keep Me Occupied, part of the OAK-U-TRON 201X, Mathias Nordvall showing Sightlence, and Robin Arnott exhibiting the claustrophobic Deep Sea.

Nintendo Rejects Proposed 3DS The Binding Of Isaac Port

February 29, 2012 10:00 PM | Danny Cowan


In the aftermath of "a long internal debate" between Nintendo and an unnamed publisher, Team Meat's Edmund McMillen revealed that Nintendo will not allow a downloadable 3DS eShop release for his action-roguelike The Binding of Isaac.

McMillen cites "questionable religious content" as the official reason for the game's rejection. The Binding of Isaac's storyline involves a young child fleeing from his murderous mother after the voice of God commands her to kill her children. Religious references pepper the gory gameplay that follows.

The news is disappointing, but on the other hand, it's difficult to imagine a game about disfigured fetuses joining Nintendo's mostly-cheery downloadable lineup (save for a handful of M-rated outliers, none of which come close to approaching Isaac's over-the-top offensiveness). I was really looking forward to a version with official d-pad support, too!

[via Joystiq]

Video: IGF 2012 Preview

February 29, 2012 6:00 PM | jeriaska

In this video filmed during the 2011 Independent Games Festival, two finalists in the excellence in audio category relate their experiences attending the Game Developers Conference.

Danny Baranowsky was nominated for his music score for Super Meat Boy, and has since published the soundtrack to The Binding of Isaac. He will be joining a panel this year titled "The Indie Composer Speaks." Mattias Häggström Gerdt was selected as an IGF Awards finalist for the music of Cobalt, and has previously scored the Xbox Live Indie Game Kaleidoscope.

This year several indie summit talks on audio are scheduled to take place. They include The Dynamic Audio of Vessel" by Leonard J. Paul, "Build That Wall" by Darren Korb and "Music is Storytelling" by Austin Wintory. Further details can be found on the GDC schedule builder.

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