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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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14th Annual Independent Games Festival Award Winners

March 8, 2012 3:16 AM | John Polson

IGF2012.jpgMonaco developer Andy Schatz hosted the 14th annual Independent Games Festival awards show this evening. Over 800 entries filled the student and main competitions.

Until March 11, OnLive users across the U.S. and UK can play 16 of this year's IGF nominees and honorable mentions. Each game is available as a 30-minute free trial on the OnLive Facebook page.

Here are the winners:

Best Student Game: Way, The Way Team
Technical Excellence: Antichamber, Demruth Games
Excellence in Audio: Botanicula, Amanita Design
Excellence in Design: Spelunky, Mossmouth
Excellence in Visual Arts: Dear Esther, thechineseroom
Best Mobile Game: Beat Sneak Bandit, Simogo
Audience Award: Frozen Synapse, Mode 7 Games
XBLA Award: Super Time Force, Capy Games
Nuovo Award: Storyteller, Daniel Benmergui
Seumas McNally Grand Prize: Fez, Polytron Corporation

Congratulations to all those who managed to submit an entry to the IGF and those who won!

Mobile Game Pick: Hang in... Go! (Sylphe Labs)

March 7, 2012 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

App Store newcomer Sylphe Labs is off to a strong start with its debut title, Hang in... Go!, which mixes solid puzzle-platforming with mechanics that play to the strengths of iOS hardware.

Hang in... Go! stars a green blob that is able to attach itself to nearby surfaces, and can stretch, swing, and slingshot itself to reach faraway platforms. In addition to requiring a decent amount of dexterity to keep the blob stretched and held in place, players must also tilt the iOS device itself in order to create momentum and flip gravity. The resulting gameplay is like a mixture of And Yet It Moves and World of Goo -- not a bad combination!

Hang In... Go! is priced at 99 cents.

GDC 2012: 10 indies, 10 ways to think outside the box

March 7, 2012 4:00 PM | John Polson

IGF mwegner.jpg[This article was written by Leigh Alexander and appeared originally on Gamasutra.]

The Indie Soapbox session at GDC is theoretically a "rant session," but "rant" is generally a misleading prompt for some, says host Matthew Wegner (pictured). Instead, he asked 10 indies to share what's on their mind and what their anxieties are.

The result was a fast-paced but fascinating session of condensed ideas on what indies need -- as creators, innovators and as a community -- to transcend current limitations and address common problems. From 10 speakers came 10 pieces of passionate advice.

Innovate Better

Lazy 8's Rob Jagnow made Extrasolar, a game about land rovers -- and is fatigued of being asked about "how rovers kill each other." We've built up assumptions about games over years that tend to box us in, constrain our thoughts and limit our ideas, he says: "We made this box; it's ours. So if we want to, we can think outside this box, we can reshape this box, we can destroy this box. That is our option."

That's not to say there's no innovation going on in the game space: they just aren't quite in the right spots. Innovations occur in promotion, but it focuses on putting applications into top ten lists in a fashion where quality becomes irrelevant. Cloning what works is a rampant strategy, and companies pay to out-promote one another.

"You innovate and you get cloned; you fail to innovate and you get ignored," he says.

So what can indies do? They can innovate in form, in ways that will be protected by copyright and set the games apart from competitors. Aesthetic, story and characters aren't steal-able and make games stand out. Another solution is to take giant risks -- high risk design behaviors tend to set products far apart from the idea-stealers and static market leaders.

Constraint is one way to help engender innovation, Jagnow asserts; for example, in an era with more console buttons than ever, the idea that you can make a game with one button created a hit like Canabalt. Even the idea that there must be a screen is an assumption that, when discarded, results in fascinatingly innovative games, such as IGF nominee Johann Sebastian Joust.

Think Like A Web Developer

Eliss and Faraway creator Steph Thirion has only been in game development for about three years; his background is in web development. He shared the story of 37signals, developer of the Ruby on Rails language whose roots were in the goal not only of productivity, but "to be happy and to enjoy programming." In other words, the co-founders placed their professional future in an obscure language for the sake of their own happiness -- which might seem like a "suicidal" move, but now Ruby on Rails is used by thousands of companies.

GDC 2012: How to get funding on Kickstarter

March 7, 2012 1:00 PM | John Polson

IGF cindyau.jpg[This article was written by Patrick Miller and originally appeared on Gamasutra.]

It's no secret that crowdfunding is big news to independent game developers, especially those who have been following Double Fine's adventure game project amass over $2,430,000 on Kickstarter (at the time of this writing).

But how can a would-be indie game developer maximize her chance for a successful Kickstarter pitch? Julie Coniglio (cofounder, Awkward Hug) and Cindy Au (community manager, Kickstarter) offered GDC 2012 attendees a few tips from the experience of an actual Kickstarter-funded developer and Kickstarter's own behind-the-scenes insights.

"Do your research," Coniglio stressed. "Prepare. Read the blogs. It's changing all the time, it's growing so rapidly, if you don't stay up-to-date, you'll be left behind."

In Awkward Hug's case, they knew they'd need at least $6,000 in funding to have a shot at completing the game, which was $1,000 more than the average video game Kickstarter pitch could make. "We decided to be bold and just ask for the $6,000 anyway, though we did try to cut some game features and restructure our project as well."

Imangi Studios Announces Upcoming Temple Run Android Port

March 7, 2012 12:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Imangi Studios announced that its free-to-play iOS hit Temple Run will be released for Android devices via Google Play (formerly the Android Market) on March 27th.

Developed by a self-funded, three-person team, Temple Run is an autoscrolling platformer that earned a massive following in the wake of its iOS release last year. Temple Run currently ranks among the App Store's highest-grossing titles, and Imangi notes that the game "has been downloaded by 6% of the entire United States population since its release."

"We are excited to finally share the Android release date with our fans who have been so enthusiastic and supportive of Temple Run," said Imangi co-founder Keith Shepherd. "By expanding to more mobile devices, we hope to provide the same addictive and fast-paced gameplay to an entirely new group of players."

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.

GDC Teaser Trailer: The Other Brothers (The 3 Brothers)

March 6, 2012 12:00 PM | John Polson

The Other Brothers has posted its GDC teaser trailer for all those who can't linger around the Unity booth at GDC 2012. Readers seemed rather impressed of The Other Brothers' pixel art, and this trailer shows the pixels look great in motion.

The above trailer confirms PC, Mac, Android, and iOS releases all slated for this fall. I have reached out to The Other Brothers team to see if their "man on the floor" of GDC is available to talk more about their project.

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.

Danmaku Unlimited Creator Bringing Storm Strikers To iOS App Store This Week

March 5, 2012 9:00 PM | Danny Cowan

Doragon, developer of the acclaimed iOS shooter Danmaku Unlimited, is preparing to launch a follow-up title, Storm Strikers, later this week.

Inspired by Japanese shoot-'em-up studio Cave's work on the platform, Storm Strikers boasts touch screen-optimized controls, multiple difficulty levels, and an array of unlockable ships. The visuals are also quite appealing, judging from the footage in the trailer above, and the game includes a soundtrack by Blankfield.

Storm Strikers will premiere in the App Store March 8th.

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