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November 17, 2010

Independent Games Festival, Babycastles Announce New York IGF Exhibit

Hello, all! So, as you can see below, we've teamed up with NYC-based indie arcade collective Babycastles to run an Independent Games Festival 2010 exhibit at their Manhattan show-space.

The limited-time exhibition is opening this Thursday - November 18th, nightly through Saturday, November 27th, with special musical guests on the opening and closing nights.


I tried to bring together a wide-ranging group of both finalists and winners across all categories that -- most importantly -- would "show well" in a space where noise (and, for its opening and closing parties, sobriety) levels weren't guaranteed.

We think it turned out to be a nice mix that might introduce new people to games that are already out in the marketplace, as well as games that even many tried and true indie fans might not have had much of a chance to play, especially in public.

To that end, we've got last year's Grand Prize winner Monaco available for full-multiplayer testing, as well as a special build of Cactus's Nuovo winner Tuning, which -- if all goes according to plan -- will be projected across one of the show-space walls.

Babycastles has also put together a stellar lineup of chiptune artists for the opening and closing parties, the latter of which I'll be flying in from London on November 27th to attend, and hopefully get a chance to play some of the selections with you all!

You'll find more details on Thursday's free opening night show -- taking place at 217 E 42nd St -- via Babycastle's Facebook page.

Alternatively, you can also click the flyer image above for a slightly higher-res version perfect for printing and framing -- a huge thanks to friend of IGF Cory Schmitz for working up a truly beautiful show poster!

November 11, 2010

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Audio Award Jury

Organizers of the 2011 Independent Games Festival are pleased to announce the jury panel that will determine the finalists and winner of its Excellence in Audio award, a category which seeks to highlight the best musical & sound innovation, quality, and impressiveness in independent gaming.

Prior finalists and winners of the IGF Excellence in Audio award, which will be given out at Game Developers Conference 2011 next March, earned recognition for games that took an entirely new and unique to approach to sound in games or otherwise excelled at their craft.

These have included Queasy Games' abstract acoustic guitar shooter and 2007 award winner Everyday Shooter, 2008 finalist guitar-controller platformer Fret Nice, 2009's ultra-stylized finalist PixelJunk Eden from Q-Games and Osaka musician/DJ Baiyon, and the atmospheric 2010 award winning Closure (pictured).

This year, the jury will receive recommendations from the wider body of over 150 IGF Main Competition judges (itself including notable former IGF winners, finalists and indie game notables including Ron Carmel, Andy Schatz, Ramiro Corbetta, Kellee Santiago, and Olivier Lejade) as they consider the merits of each of the five finalists and eventual award winner.

The 2011 IGF Excellence in Audio award jury consists of the following:

- Danny Baranowsky (Founder of dB soundworks and musician behind games like Canabalt & 2010 Excellence in Audio finalist Super Meat Boy.)
- Vincent Diamante (Composer and sound designer behind PS3 indie hit Flower, audio & game design teacher at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.)
- Jordan Fehr (Sound designer/editor/mixer with credits on Super Meat Boy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, SteamBirds, Realm of the Mad God, & Spewer.)
- Dylan Fitterer (Creator of music-puzzle racer and 2008 IGF Excellence in Audio winner Audiosurf.)
- David Lloyd & Larry Oji (Respectively, musician and founder of game music site OverClocked ReMix; OCR head and soundtrack director on Capcom's Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.)
- Matt Piersall (Founder of GL33K, the indie audio studio behind games like Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, Epic Mickey & Donkey Kong Country Returns.)
- Emily Ridgway (Music director and audio designer on games like BioShock, Brutal Legend & Costume Quest.)
- William Stallwood & Dain Saint (Respectively, creative director & technical director of Cipher Prime Studios, creator of ambient music puzzler Auditorium.)
- Rich Vreeland (Composer, sound designer, netlabel curator, and chiptune musician performing as Disasterpeace.)
- Josh Whelchel (Independent composer behind The Spirit Engine 2 & Bonesaw: The Game and works for UbiSoft, MTV and Zynga.)

"Independent games are at the forefront of recognizing the true potential of music and sound in games," said festival chairman Brandon Boyer.

"Beyond simple soundtracks and scores, the indie gaming community has been crucial in exploring the space where mechanics and audio can play together, and for veering radically from traditional musical expectations to create fantastically unique ambience. We're all excited to hear what this year's entrants have created!"

The announcement is the second in a series revealing specific juries for each IGF Award, following the debut of the Nuovo Award jury, including notables like Jason Rohrer, Clint Hocking, Rod Humble and Ian Bogost.

All entries in the 2011 Independent Games Festival are currently browsable at the IGF's official site, where more complete biographical information on the Audio Award jury is now available.

The five Excellence in Audio Award finalists will be announced -- along with a jury statement detailing the thought process behind selecting its lineup -- in early January 2011. All finalists will be playable at the IGF Pavilion on the show floor during Game Developers Conference 2011, with the winner announced on the evening of March 2, 2011 at the IGF Awards.

November 5, 2010

2011 Independent Games Festival Debuts Record Student Entry Numbers

The organizers of the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide -- are proud to announce another year of record entry numbers for IGF 2011's Student Competition, following its submission deadline this week.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in more than 280 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the most prestigious universities and games programs from around the world.

While 2010's content saw an impressive 193 entries, this year sees that number increase another 47% to 283 total games, making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

Together with the record Main Competition entries, this year's IGF has taken in roughly 650 total entries -- the largest number in the festival's history across the Main and Student competitions.

This year's Student Competition includes a number of entries from students tackling intimate personal issues through the medium of games, including Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab's Elude, a game which mirrors "the rising tide of depression, and the search for a path to happiness".

Also in this vein is the University of Portsmouth team's self-reflective portrait of a single man in Dinner Date, which looks at "his desires and doubts to reflections on his friends and his place in the world" as he waits alone for a would-be romantic evening.

Other titles entered include Kunsthochschule Kassel university student Lea Schonfelder's Ute, a frank, tongue-in-cheek game of sexual self-discovery from the creator of IGF 2010 Student Showcase finalist Ulitsa Dimitrova; the Myst-like adventure game Fract, from the University of Montreal, which takes place in "an abstract world built on sound and structures inspired by electronic music"; and Q.U.B.E., an austere first-person puzzle game from the University of Newport which is already garnering positive press and comparisons to Valve's Portal.

Finally, this year's Student IGF competition includes two games -- Bo and Everything Can Draw -- from Shahid Ejei High School student Mahdi Bahrami, who has recently been gaining international attention through venues like Tokyo Game Show 2010's Sense of Wonder Night for his struggles to gain a foothold in the games community despite the political and economic difficulties of doing business from Iran.

The above are just a small selection of the games now available for browsing via, where you'll find more information, screenshots and video for each of the IGF Student Competition entries.

Now in its ninth year as a part of the larger Independent Games Festival, the Student Showcase highlights up-and-coming talent from worldwide university programs, and has served as the venue which first premiered numerous now-widely-recognized names including DigiPen's Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint, which would evolve first into Valve's acclaimed Portal, with the latter brought on-board for the upcoming Portal 2.

Others include USC's The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom (later released by 2K Games for XBLA); Hogeschool van de Kunsten's The Blob (later becoming one of THQ's flagship mobile/console franchises as De Blob); and early USC/ThatGameCompany title Cloud, from the studio that would go on to develop PlayStation 3 arthouse mainstays like Flow, Flower, and their forthcoming Journey.

"With each successive year, the IGF's Student Competition has steadily become an ever-more important part of highlighting ideas and talent you don't find elsewhere in the industry at large," said festival chairman Brandon Boyer.

"The submissions we get from students around the world are anything but 'amateur', and represent some of the strongest and most original voices you'll find in games. I'm happy to see the IGF showcase become an important milestone in student life, and look forward to playing through this year's record number entries!"

This year's Student IGF entries will be checked and distributed to a host of notable industry judges for evaluation, before finalists are announced in January 2011, and winners awarded at the IGF ceremony during the Game Developers Conference 2011 -- part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website -- in San Francisco next February/March.

November 3, 2010

2010 Independent Games Festival China Announces Finalists

Organizers of the second annual Independent Games Festival China have revealed finalists for both the Main and Student competitions, including over 10 stand-out indie games from across Asia.

High-quality submissions for the second iteration of the event -- a newly formed sister competition to the main yearly Independent Games Festival in San Francisco -- were received from multiple Chinese provinces, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Iran, India and beyond.

Finalists were chosen by a panel of distinguished local judges, including representatives from Shanda Games, Tencent, IGDA Shanghai, TipCat Interactive and more.

IGF China finalists are invited to Shanghai for the Game Developers Conference China event from December 5th to 7th, where they will be showing their games at a special Pavilion on the Expo Floor, open to all GDC China attendees.

In addition, finalists are eligible to win up to RMB61,000 ($9,100) in cash prizes, as well as specially created awards and All Access Passes to GDC San Francisco 2011 worth thousands of dollars.

The Main Competition finalists for the 2010 Independent Games Festival China are:

Sugar Cube (Turtle Cream, South Korea)
Hazard: The Journey Of Life (Alexander Bruce, Australia)
Train Conductor 2 (The Voxel Agents, Australia)
Cut & Paste (Turtle Cream, South Korea)
Skillz: The DJ Game (Playpen Studios, Hong Kong)
ButaVX: Justice Fighter (Nekomura Games, Singapore)
Crossout (Coconut Island Studio, China)

The Student Competition finalists for this year's IGF China event are as follows:

Zonelink (Huazhong University Of Science And Technology, China)
Dead Steel (Media Design School, Auckland, New Zealand)
Afterland (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, Singapore)
The White Laboratory (Huazhong University of Science & Technology, China)
Ponlai (National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan)

The winners of IGF China in categories including Best Game, Mobile Best Game, Excellence in Art Direction, Excellence in Visual Arts, Technical Excellence, and Student awards will be announced during the 2010 Game Developers Conference China at a special IGF Awards ceremony.

The Independent Games Festival's outreach into Asia is part of GDC China -- part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website. GDC China returns to the Shanghai International Convention Center on December 5-7th, and early registration is open until November 5th. Further information on IGF China can be found at the event's official website.