14th annual IGF announces winners; Fez gets grand prize, Dear Esther, Spelunky, Antichamber win awards
Montreal-based developer Polytron Corporation proved 2D and 3D environments can get along in Fez, the unique 'perspective-shifting' platformer which earned the Seumas McNally Award for Best Independent Game and the $30,000 grand prize this evening at the 14th Annual Independent Games Festival, hosted by the Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
Fez and its lead developer Phil Fish make headlines again after the game was chosen by a jury of his peers for the win. Fish was most recently thrust into the limelight as the central focus of the hit documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, Indie Game: The Movie, which also screened earlier in the week at GDC.
Elsewhere, developer Daniel Benmergui received the Nuovo Award and a $5,000 prize for his comic strip-based narrative game, Storyteller. The Nuovo Award honors abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which "advances the medium and the way we think about games." Storyteller lets the player drop characters into given story panels, where they react according to their personality traits.
Other IGF award recipients for 2012 include thechineseroom's haunting first-person experiential adventure, Dear Esther, which won the award for Excellence in Visual Art for its stunning environments. Demruth's mind-bending puzzle game Antichamber earned the award for Technical Excellence for its creative distortions of time and space, and Mossmouth's update of 2D platformer Spelunky, which custom creates new levels each time it is played, took the award for Excellence in Design. In addition, Amanita Design's point and click exploration game Botanicula received the award for Excellence in Audio with its original soundtrack and sound effects, created by Czech alternative band DVA.
Rounding out the winners list were the recipients of the award for Best Mobile Game which went to Swedish developer Simogo for its rhythmical puzzle game, Beat Sneak Bandit, Best Student Game award winners, and CMU Entertainment Technology Center/Coco & Co for its game Way. Finally, Mode 7's Audience Award winner Frozen Synapse was chosen from nearly 7,000 votes from the IGF game-playing public.
All of this year's IGF games, including both the winners and the finalists, are playable at the Game Developers Conference at the IGF Pavilion on the GDC Expo Floor, which is open through Friday, March 9th.
"The sheer number of fantastic games submitted to the Festival this year was overwhelming, and selecting winners was as tough for our juries as it's ever been," said IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer. "This year's winning games are incredible achievements that showcase just how diverse and innovative the independent game community can be. Congratulations to them, and to all of our finalists and entrants for continually surprising and delighting us with their efforts."
The IGF awarded the following games as winners of the 14th Annual Awards:
Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000)
Fez, by Polytron
Nuovo Award ($5,000)
Storyteller, by Daniel Benmergui
Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000)
Dear Esther, by thechineseroom
Technical Excellence ($3,000)
Antichamber, by Demruth
Excellence in Design ($3,000)
Spelunky, by Mossmouth
Excellence in Audio ($3,000)
Botanicula, by Amanita Design
Best Mobile Game ($3,000)
Beat Sneak Bandit, by Simogo
Audience Award ($3,000)
Frozen Synapse, by Mode 7 Games
Best Student Game ($3,000)
Way, by CMU Entertainment Technology Center/Coco & Co
The Independent Games Festival - which also included a two-day Independent Games Summit on Monday, March 5th and Tuesday, March 6th as part of GDC - was established in 1998 by UBM TechWeb Game Network to encourage the rise of independent game development and to recognize the best independent game titles, in the same way that the Sundance Film Festival has honored the independent film community.
Organizers would like to thank this year's kind supporters of the IGF, including DigiPen Institute of Technology (Platinum Sponsor), Microsoft Studios (Platinum Sponsor), Research In Motion (Gold Sponsor), ENJMIN (Gold Sponsor), ISART Digital (Gold Sponsor) and OnLive (Gold Sponsor). The IGF offers finalists both global exposure and more than $50,000 in cash prizes to each year's winners.