10th Annual IGF Finalists Announced

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: December 3rd, 2007

WHOOT

Congratulations Petri, Joakim, Kyle, Edmund, Phil, Aubrey & Tommy, cactus, and all the finalists! Yer goin’ to IGF!

Seumas McNally Grand Prize:

  • Audiosurf
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • Hammerfall
  • Noitu Love 2: Devolution
  • World of Goo

Best Web Browser Game:

  • Globulos.com
  • Iron Dukes
  • Tri-Achnid

Design Innovation Award:

  • Battleships Forever
  • Fez
  • Fret Nice
  • Snapshot Adventures: Secret Of Bird Island
  • World Of Goo

Excellence in Visual Art:

  • Clean Asia!
  • Fez
  • Hammerfall
  • Synaesthete
  • The Path

Excellence in Audio:

  • Cinnamon Beats
  • Fret Nice
  • Audiosurf
  • Clean Asia!
  • OokiBloks

Technical Excellence:

  • World of Goo
  • Goo!
  • Audiosurf
  • Axiom: Overdrive
  • Gumboy Tournament

[This post was brought to you through a joint collaboration between BMcC and Derek. We love you all.]

UPDATE: Brandon’s thoughts actually in the extended!

Wow, what a great selection of games this year! Lemme break down a few of my thoughts by category:

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

Audiosurf, huh? That’s one I didn’t see coming — matter of fact, I hadn’t even heard of it before IGF! But I think the two biggest contenders for the Big Prize are Crayon Physics Deluxe and World of Goo. I haven’t played either (You listening, Petri and Kyle?), but from what I’ve seen and heard, they seem to be incredibly polished and original. And fun!

Of course, I would also love to see Noitu Love 2 come away with the win. The fact that an oldschool, pixely 2D game could make it to the top spot is a testament to its pure awesomeness. I mean, look at it! Play Chalk! You know it’s gonna be dynamite.

Best Web Browser Game

Tri-Achnid would be great. Iron Dukes looks like good clean fun. Globulos… is certainly browser-based!

I… I don’t know much about web games. :’(

Design Innovation Award

Oh man! This is a big category. I think Fez has the most potential at this point, especially as more and more gameplay elements get woven in to the 2D/3D mechanic… The mind just boggles! It all comes down to gettin’ it done.

The rest are real strong contenders, natch.

Excellence in Visual Art

Heck yes, I’m so happy cactus got a nomination. Let alone two! He is so unapologetically indie… I can’t wait to meet him in person at GDC. (If you’re reading this — save up and practice that English! We’re going to party.)

Fez is still awesome to behold (for enjoy).

And even though they create a bit of ruckus on the forums, you gotta admit The Path looks wonderful. :)

Excellence in Audio

As I understand it, Audiosurf plays to your music. So, like, shouldn’t its audio rating vary depending on the judge’s musical tastes and mood? I guess they all listen to pretty good stuff, huh? :P

I’d personally like to see more “traditional” games in this category. But I can’t honestly be surprised by an audio game taking it.

Technical Excellence

Battle of the Goos! Seriously. Who will emerge victorious? Tommy’s certainly got a whole heck of a lot of technical trickery tied into his game… But I’ve heard tell that World of Goo is remarkably well put together. This is gonna be an interesting decision.

Games That Didn’t Make It This Year

Matt was telling me at Gamma that there are always a number of games that could of made it, but just… didn’t. He said many of the slots keep shuffling even up to the last day. Some games that didn’t make it this year, but are certainly worthy of mention:

Cortex Command! This game is really good, and is gonna be bloody great. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it came away with an award next year… Word is the first commercial version is coming out soon!

Harvest: Massive Encounter! This has already won awards in Sweden (its country of origin), and looks quite impressive. I’m going to cover it real soon, don’t worry. ;)

Gish 2! This was a big contender, and is sure to be a top-tier title once it’s done. Maybe the IGF version was too early? More likely it’s just an example of what Matt was talking about.

Penumbra: Overture! I’m positive this was inches away from a Technical Excellence nod…

The Zoo Race! This game could and should have won every award. Even awards not part of this competition.

So… What do you all think? Who’s going to win? What surprised you? What didn’t make it, but deserved to? What made it, but didn’t deserve to? DISCUSS.

  • Jimbob

    Wow, well done peeps, especially Joakim, that’s a great nomination!

  • th15

    WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo

  • Pigbuster

    Congratulations to all of you guys!

  • http://www.getmagi.com TeeGee

    Congratulations guys! Good job. And gratz to you th15 :D. I still remember when BF was just an early WiP on GMC. And now it’s an IGF finalist! Cool!

  • fish

    oh yeah.
    OH YEAH.
    OH YEAAAAAAH!

    what a stellar line-up!
    hardcore.
    its gonna be so great to hang out with all of you fine, fine gentlemen.

    also, WTF am i doing on that pic?
    seriously.

  • Alec

    getting ready for some ass-slappin’

  • haowan

    Congratulations and best of luck to all the finalists!

  • Mathieu

    Congrats to all finalists!

    Too bad our game was only played once by only one member of the jury. I don’t know what the exact review process was, maybe it’s normal…

  • Tim

    Congratulations guys. :)

  • konjak

    !!!!

  • fish

    its like what petri was telling me.
    this is gonna be a BRUTAL party.

    BRUTAL.

  • Tommunism

    I fell down when I read Goo! in Technical Excellence. Seriously, I hit the ground. So happy, this is what it must feel like to be in love……

  • Alan Gordon

    I must say that I am very happy to se Fret Nice in here. That game is way more fun than it has any business being.

  • fartron

    World of Goo, Goo!, Globulos, Gumboy Tournament… You can literally watch the zeitgeist focus on fluid physics.

  • http://2dboy.com Kyle Gabler

    Holy crap woowoOWW!!! Congrats, I can’t wait to meet you guys.

  • cactus

    I hope alcohol is allowed. My english doesn’t hold up well while I’m tense and nervous :)

    Would be quite awesome to get to meet some of you guys. I really did not expect this…

  • http://www.wyrdysm.com th15

    Oh yea cactus, I’ve been trying to contact you. As fellow Game Maker users, what do you say we talk a little about how we can work better with Game Maker.

  • fish

    yeah seriously…can we bring tons of booze to the IGF pavilion?

    seriously.

    i want to.

    lets.

    lets show how em indies to it: drunk.

  • cactus

    @th1: Feel free to send me a pm on yoyogames or my forum or whatever if there’s anything you want to discuss :)

  • Alec

    yeah, better than getting high and putting yourself at the mercy of the owls

  • toastie

    It’s not an acceptance speech until you throw up or pass out.

  • http://www.shotbeakgames.za.net/niche Tr00jg

    Wow! A spectacular line-up! Good luck to all!

    I feel jealous… *Gets back to work*

  • Edmundo

    That’s pretty sweet, though I believe the “best web browser game” category is kind of bogus. All the other categories have nothing to do with platforms, except for this one. As nice as tri-achnid and iron dukes are, they’re just games running on a web page… they could get their chance at other categories as well. Globulos on the other hand is more of a web game because there are some online capabilities.

  • the_dannobot

    Congrats to all the finalists!

  • trunxkam[email protected]

    Audiosurf looks amazing.

    Battleships forever has a bit of a steep learning curve though.

  • http://www.igf.com/ Matthew

    “As nice as tri-achnid and iron dukes are, they’re just games running on a web page… they could get their chance at other categories as well.”

    Just to be clear, web games *are* scored on all categories. A web game could have been a finalist in any of the categories. It’s just that we feel web browser games are also important enough to have their own scoring category.

  • Mazapán

    Ahh fantastic! Special congratulations to Joakim & the Goo-boys! Too bad Harvest didn’t make it :(

  • Seol

    “WARNING! A HUGE BITCHY POST IS APPROACHING FAST”

    I must say I’m fairly dissapointed in some of the judging. In visual excellence, “Clean Asia” is downright ugly, and “Synaesthete” is a bloody neon wireframe lightshow, which is something I recon got old after Tempest 2000. And what pisses me off the most is the technical excellence category, with far too many 2d games. By default any 3d game is several orders of magnitude more complex from a technical point of view than any 2d game, no matter how gimmicky ther 2d physics engine is. It seems that the likes of “Penumbra” are too mainstream and not alternative enough despite them being a display of programming prowess far above their 2d indie artsy counterparts.

    Rant over and out.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Ah, ignorance…

  • http://www.shotbeakgames.za.net/niche Tr00jg

    Try doing anything in the technical excellence category and you’ll see its not a piece of cake. I can’t even start to comprehend how I’ll do Goo!’s stuff…

  • http://www.ludoko.com ChrisFranklin

    Technical excellence and technical complexity are two different concepts.

  • Tommunism

    “By default any 3d game is several orders of magnitude more complex from a technical point of view than any 2d game”

    Seol, that statement shows that you really have no clue what you are talking about. Just because you extend a game into a 3rd dimension doesn’t mean that it is instantly more complex. I would go into a whole rant about how accomplishing real time interactive 2D liquid physics is much much MUCH more difficult than setting up a stencil buffer in D3D…but it would be so far over your head you’d have to stand on the stick that’s wedged up your ass to even begin to understand it at it’s level. So…yea..go…fuck off or something and let the Technical Excellence people enjoy their technical excellence. Douche.

  • konjak

    Seol, I wouldn’t say my game is very alternative so I don’t think that is part of judging…

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Haha, dang, that was harsher than I expected! (For the record, I asked Tommy to respond to Seol’s post.)

    Chris makes an excellent point, by the way!

  • Seol

    Ah, plenty of patronizing responses, let’s do this.

    First I must say that I’d rather keep these post civil, I think any personal attacks are unwarranted, as my post was more or less light hearted (by acknowledging it was a rant and making old arcade game references) and it was not my intention to troll.

    “Technical excellence and technical complexity are two different concepts.”

    This I could agree with, since at the IGF website there’s no definition of “technical excellence” so I guess it’s open to interpretation.

    Tommunism, I’m not an ignorant when it comes to programming, and I honestly consider that a 3d engine with per pixel lighting, stencil shadows and skeletally animated characters, all of it integrated with a full blown 3d physics engine is more complex than a low resolution grid 2D fluid simulation. And again, it’s not my intention to offend you.

  • Tommunism

    Well you did offend, and I felt it necessary to retaliate. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so harsh, but I do know how hard and long I worked on this. For the record though, my “low resolution grid 2D fluid simulation” runs over 2000 particles at a capped 60FPS at 1920 x 1080 while doing per pixel lighting and normal map generation…so yea.

  • http://www.shotbeakgames.za.net/niche Tr00jg

    Manhugs anyone?

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Not yet. An internet battle is raging.

  • Tommunism

    Nah, I’ll manhug Seol if he acknowledges that even though he didn’t mean to offend…he did and he obviously he knew he would by posting such nonsense.

  • Tommunism

    ..and he buys me a grape Fanta.

  • xerus

    Indie game drama!

  • Seol

    I guess no cybermanhugs for me then. I ackonowledge I offended you, since that much is quite obvious and for that I’m sorry, but I still stand by my “nonsense”, which wasn’t targeted specifically at your game (and seriously, 2000 particles is lo-res, hardware accelerated particles, be it graphic card, physics card, or even SSE; would get you many more). And if I were to buy drinks it would be beer :P.

  • fish

    3D is one more than 2D!

  • Tommunism

    Ha…again with the low res. Okey dokey, you stand by that.

  • toastie

    Goo does use hardware accelerated particles afaik.

  • Stwelin

    I recognizeify the acknowledgmentity of your offensiveness.

  • Tommunism

    I appreciate your recognizedness and respricatively thank you.

  • NOT Tommunism

    Disregard that, I suck

  • xerus

    HADOKEN.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Oh man, let’s not bring the “NOT” thing back…

  • raigan

    i can’t believe cortex command keeps getting the shaft.. this time there was even a nice tutorial!

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Yes, Cortex Command is awesome, and destined for greatness. It’ll surely get noticed by next year… Surely!

  • Zaphos

    re Seol vs Tommunism round 1 fight: Some of the neatest technical achievements are also the most elegant and have the easiest implementations, so all this “This guy worked harder than that guy!” stuff seems just really besides the point. I don’t think the award should just go to whoever spent the most time re-implementing some laundry list of well-known technical features; it should go to someone who really did something interesting and successful in the technical arena. Stuff like shadows, skeletal animation, typical rigid body physics, etc, does mean that the team involved probably spent a lot of man-hours implementing stuff, but there’s nothing really surprising or impressive to those things beyond the time investment.

    Going to 2D (and focusing on different problems than just realism) is one way to skip some of that rote stuff and focus instead on more interesting technical achievements, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see a lot of 2D games getting recognized for technical excellence, I think.

  • Zaphos

    re Seol randomly hates on neon lines, or something: That’s just like, your opinion, man.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Eight-year-olds, Dude.

  • Dom

    Wow – Noitu Love 2 was completely off my radar.

  • Amorphia

    No Aquaria?

    but seriously, Hammerfall?

  • fish

    where are those thoughts, B?

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Haha, I’m writing them now. Just got around to it. (Honest!)

  • BeamSplashX

    Dude… like, man, dude. Totally… man.

    Too bad we all know the winner will be Cave Story Prototype.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Okay! I’ve put up my thoughts. Should warrant some discussion. Still need to add, like, a hundred links, though…

    Maybe tomorrow. :)

  • Gravious

    Audiosurf looks interesting, but i want to see it playing, see how it hooks into your music..

    World of Goo looks great, so does fez, but the whole game hinges on how well that rotating perspective /actually/ works, and wether it makes the game a pain or joy to play.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    It works. :)

  • Zach Aikman

    Visual excellence was the last category we expected to make it into =X The majority of Synaesthete’s art was done by four programmers, so…we were shocked, to say the least. Apologies for the excessive light show! Still, it’s an honor to be included among the list of finalists, and I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at IGF!

  • konjak

    Thanks, BMcC! :)

    Although I am pretty sure I won’t win because of the reasons you listed it as being. But damn if the nomination isn’t great…

    It’s all I need, and I get to show my stuff at the show floor! And not just my penis.

    World of Goo is definitely winning over me. So much more of the expected caliber.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Ah, cool! Congrats. :)

    You should register for the forum, make yourself comfortable around here.

  • http://aaaa NOT BMcC

    please bring back the NOT thing!

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Okay, I’ll admit… Rz. just owned me.

  • Lorne Whiting.

    I’m routin’ for Hammerfall personally.
    You gotta love it, man, like Jimmy Buffett.

  • Eponymouse

    Hammerfall, fantastic!

  • Tommunism

    Today by far has been the best day of my life. I am seriously honored to be among all of these games and am looking forward to meeting their creators next year. This just fuckin rocks socks right the fuck off FUCK yes!

  • Lorne Whiting.

    Actually, to add on to my previous post, I’m surprised Hammerfall isn’t in the audio category.
    The arena levels are DELICIOUS, with the background noises and what not.

  • Ymmit

    Why not just create world of fezcrayon-y goo? Thats the Grand Prize right there

  • Joseph

    Noitu Love 2 looks reeeeall badass. I’m intrigued by the cursor, what is it for…
    Oh and lol @ HADOKEN

  • Petri Purho

    Shit… This is great. Congrats to everyone. This is the best finalists line up ever. Can’t wait to meet all of you guys.

    @cactus: I understand that you’re little nervous of speaking English, but you don’t have to be. Just do what I’m planning of doing and what Jon Mak did. Just make Phil do all your PR :)

  • Alec

    haha, good ol’ phil

  • Skaldicpoet9

    Wow, mad props to everyone, now I just wish I could attend IGF damnit.

  • http://www.BestGameEver.com Dylan

    I’m still all buzzed from seeing the announcement this morning!

    YEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

    See you at IGF!

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Hey! Congrats!

    Please tell us more about Audiosurf. :)

  • Seol

    Zaphos said:

    “Seol randomly hates on neon lines, or something: That’s just like, your opinion, man.”

    Sure it is, as are the rest of my posts, for that matter.

    “there’s nothing really surprising or impressive to those things beyond the time investment”

    This is a fine example of my main gripe about the judging. The fact that fancy 3d features are being done to death on a regular basis in mainstream games leads people with no programming background (including management in some game companies :P) to take them for granted, and to think that just having some code monkeys hacking away at a keyboard enough time will get you a next-gen engine. This is not the case, the technichal knowledge and talent required are enormous and (boy I’m gonna get flamed for this) I’d argue that out of reach for most indie teams, who can’t afford to specialize enough. The lack of indie games with good 3D engines supports this theory. And that’s why I find it impressive that an indie team managed to make a game with a technical quality like “Penumbra” and it ticks me off that such achievement goes unrecognized by the judges.

  • haowan

    there are loads of affordable engines out there that support all this stuff that any indie team could pick up and use without having to specialise for the knowledge.

    BOOM HEADSHOT

  • Seol

    Haowan, not really. Probably the only decent low cost/free 3D engine is Ogre3D, and its features are not on par with mainstream engines. Besides, even when using 3rd party graphic engines they will have to know enough algebra, quaternions, prolly shader programming, etc…, and that’s just on the programming side. On the art side: making rigged meshes, animating them, UV unwrapping them, and creating the specular/normal/diffuse maps is more technically demanding than making 2d sprites.

  • Derek

    Seol, it sounds like you are mainly peeved that Penumbra didn’t get nominated for technical. To be honest, I’m surprised about that also… but that’s just the way it goes. It probably got damn close, though.

    I’d say if that’s your main gripe, try not to extend that to an “all indies are 3d-hating artists with no technical background,” because it’s fairly groundless. There’s also no need to bash the games that did make it, because they are all good games and I don’t think they have earned your scorn just by being successful. :)

  • Derek

    Also, I’d argue that just because something is technically more demanding does not mean it will be technically more excellent. Someone could have submitted a rocketship to IGF and if all it did was explode on the tarmac, it would not deserve to be nominated.

    Which isn’t to say Penumbra is like that at all, mind you… my point is just that I don’t think anyone’s arguing that a 3d game requires less math than a 2d one.

  • Seol

    Derek, not only Penumbra, there were other decent looking 3d games, I’m using it as an example because I see it as the best entry from a technical point of view.

    I’m not saying “all indies are 3d-hating artists with no technical background”, probably many of the judges were though :P.

    And well, I only bashed games in my first post, which wasn’t completely serious, and I did it mostly on technichal grounds (well, a couple on visual, but as Zaphos said that’s fairly subjective). I’ve never said they are bad games.

    “I’d argue because something is technically more demanding does not mean it will be technically more excellent”

    Yeah, I agreed that the definition of excellence is not too clear. Me being a programmer, I pretty much equate both.

    And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m full of hate or anything like that. I was just expressing my disagreement with some judging choices, I don’t want to piss on no one’s parade.

  • Pyongyang

    *waves*

  • haowan

    I wouldn’t say it took more skill to create 3D art assets, it’s just a different skill set, and it’s more technical. I don’t think that devalues 2D art at all.

    Point taken about the engines – I can’t list any off the top of my head that are suitable next-gen (there are a number of cheap ones that are probably not bang up to date with all the modern techniques, but I don’t keep up with this stuff). Torque has shader support but I’m not in a position to comment on its suitability for games, really. I think if these things are out of reach to most indies then it should be rewarded if people have accomplished it, but I’m sure the resources are there if people want to get something like that going. I guess the whole point is that penumbra didn’t get a nomination, which is a fair enough complaint; I’ve got my own issues with the way the nominations went but I don’t want to detract from the achievements of people who were nominated.

    Anyway sorry for my silly earlier comment, but I still think it’s wrong to think that 3D is inherently more technically excellent than 2D.

  • -B-

    I have to agree with Seol. IGF probably support 2D over 3D, just to say: “Hey, indies ARE different”.

    I personally prefer 2D games, but there is a point what Seol tries to say.

  • PHeMoX

    I think it’s a shame Cortex Command isn’t nominated, but I hope it’ll get through next year. It had a strong competition, but there seems to be a lot of focus on physics-based gameplay these days.

    That’s awesome and I can’t wait for some of these games to be released, but basically the competition turned out to be too strong for some other very original games. Too bad they can’t all be winners… ;)

  • rinkuhero

    I think this 3D being more technical may be right, but I personally don’t feel there should be a technical excellence award in an indie games contest at all — it seems to be judging indie games by the standards of mainstream games, rather than the standards we apply to ourselves. I feel the IGF does too much of that already, since a lot of its organizers and judges are mainstream games industry people rather than people in the independent games community.

  • Lopin

    Why didnt Dwarf Fortress made it in???

  • Bezzy

    Congrats all!

    And I can tell you that I’ve witnessed Tommy’s technical ability first hand. I know that makes me biased, but I really feel like he earned this. I lost count of the amount of epic-banging-heads-into-walls problems which he eventually found novel – possibly completely original – solutions for.

    For God-knows how long, we were battling against precision vs. capping on the heightmap generation (precision would give us good looking normals, but “cap out” very quickly; low detail would give us un-capped undulating heightmaps, but crummy detail). If we wanted both at the same time, we got a huge frame hit. But tommy fixed that… I’m not even sure how, so I’m guessing “witchcraft”. We used to work with 100′s of blobs, but now it’s in the 1000′s. That makes the desired feel technically possible… one of the rare times when technology really IS a foundation for a specific desired gameplay mechanic (by this I mean that Liquid War and Ichor [which I only found out after thinking up Goo] didn’t feel how I wanted, so we had to take a different approach to them, only made possible by the work Tommy has done).

    Whatever happens from now, he’s still squirted his technical achievement into my book… and stuck the pages together, forever.

  • raigan

    Seol: I agree that Penumbra is a great example of technical excellence in indie games.

    Having said that, I think what other people were trying to argue wasn’t necessarily that skinned skeletal animation, etc. are easy technologies to implement, but that all of that sort of 3D engine technology is a known, solved problem — it’s not interesting, they are the sort of problems that you learn how to solve in school. Your list of features actually reads like an “intro to graphics programming” course. Getting all of that working is NO MORE INTERESTING than moving some sprites across the screen — it’s more involved and time-consuming, but it’s just the 3D equivalent of that simple 2D technology.

    There are plenty of existing implementations (irrlicht, ogre3D), moddable engines, books, etc. This means that it’s not really interesting or “awesome” when someone wastes time developing yet another implementation of bog-standard technology.

    There _are_ 3D technologies which I do consider interesting, such as parametric/procedural animation, real-time ambient occlusion — these are active areas of research and “interesting” or worthy of spending time on or using as the basis for a game.

    I personally think 3D is a really stupid waste of time for any small team, literally — it increases the complexity of many basic technologies like collision detection exponentially (compare testing 4 axes for a 2D box-box test vs 27 axes for the analogous 3D test), and limits the gameplay possibilities — in 3D camera and control become huge problems, and make it necessary to simplify many aspects of the game.

    Luis Barriga gave a really interesting presentation at GDC2004 about how 2d/3d is a game design decision and not a technical or graphics decision, and personally I find 2D to have WAY more potential for fun gaming than 3D. Just imagine how awkward Umihara Kawase would be in 3D!

    I agree that having a “technical” award at the IGF is a bit weird, but no more weird than judging the graphics award based on “excellence” rather than “uniqueness” or “innovation”.

  • Bezzy

    Thanks Raigan! I think you’ve said what I wanted to say, really.

    IGF has always (atleast in part) been about rewarding people for striking out in weird territory. Of course, it also depends on one doing it successfully!

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Also: There’s no vast conspiracy here. There is a huge cross section of judges, all voting independently. If something wins Technical Excellence, it’s because the judges voted it the most technically excellent. Plain as that. There’s no _hidden IGF agenda_ or whatever.

    (This is mainly directed at -B-.)

  • Seol

    raigan, 3d programming is nowhere near as cut and dry nor as solved as you are making it out to be.

    Books and free engines will always be one or several steps behind, and don’t get me started on university courses :).

    I’m going to get quite technical and throw a lot of fancy names and acronyms around, so bear with me. You say that the features I listed are bog-standard and read like an“intro to graphics programming. I say that each of them have enough variations in the form of different algorithms, each with pros and cons, better suited to certain situations and with different caveats that impose different limitations in the rest of the engine; to give room to the programmer implementing them to show off quite a bit of “technical excellence” (BTW all this talk about excellence awards is getting funny, I keep thinking of that Simpsons episode). Specific examples: for perpixel lighting is not the same doing a basic DOT3 bump mapping than doing PRT, using BRDFs, parallax occlusion mapping, or the ambient occlusion you mention. For skeletal animation is not the same doing matrix palette skinning through the fixed function pipeline, than doing dual quaternion vertex blending in a vertex shader with the bone transforms uploaded through constants, or even having the animation data in textures and running the whole animation blending on the GPU (and I could also go into the huge amount of different ways of interpolationg between animations and between animation frames). Real time shadows is a huge field of research, with the whole gamut of solutions that go from projected shadows to stencil shadows to shadowmaps with VSM + LiSPSM + PSSM. And i could go on and on (water waves from perlin noise based to FFT to a Navier-Stokes solver, etc…). And all of this have to be neatly tied together in an engine with it’s spatial databases, it’s hidden surface removal and LOD algorithms, it’s choice of forward or deferred rendering. etc…, and engine design is also a somewhat complex affair that wades into software engineering territory.

    I completely agree that making a 3d game is far more complex than a 2d game (that’s the first point I made), and I think that as such they should be better represented in the technical excellence category. And with this I’m not saying that 3d games are better than 2d games, only that they are more “technically excellent”.

  • NOT Seol

    Hi. X is different than Y.

    Did I mention I’m missing the point?

  • Bezzy

    Maybe it’s a case of the categories being a bit open to interpretation? Maybe some of the judges are coming from “how does this technology benefit the game/enable this gameplay?”,
    rather than simply “is this technology cutting edge?”.

    I guess that might explain the difference in opinion.

  • Adam Atomic

    But…does that stuff serve the game? I mean, in a basic game design hierarchy it goes something like this:

    Hardware
    Gameplay
    Presentation
    Implementation

    My point being, Implementation (and technical excellence implicitly) is the most important part of a game, its the required foundation. However, the best implementations SERVE presentation, gameplay, and hardware. Does an implementation really serve hardware if it only runs on high-end PCs? Does it serve gameplay if the shadows are just for looks?

    Just some thoughts, not trying to stir up MORE drama.

    I don’t believe I’ve actually typed it here yet, but congratulations to all of the finalists! I can’t wait to play your games :D You guys all kick ass!!

  • Seol

    Meh, maybe it’s that I have a too simplistic view of the minor IGF categories (besides the weirdly placed Best Web Browser Game), but I just see them as evaluating the individual apportations from each gamedev profession to the game, as in:

    Best design (most original).
    Best graphics (prettiest).
    Best sound (most pleasant/athmospheric/fitting).
    Best code (most features/ best performance).

    But anyway, I’ve made my point and I’ve probably beaten the horse to death and further, so I don’t think I’ll be hitting you guys with another wall of text on the subject :P.

  • -B-

    BMcC #95: What if there is? :)

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Well, then, that would be extra scary!

  • BeamSplashX

    Ah well, Penumbra has gotten more press than a lot of these games, and that’s really one of the big advantages of being a finalist.

    I didn’t know that some folks behind Fiend worked on Penumbra… awesome.

  • http://www.igf.com/ Matthew

    I have my own personal opinions on the matter, but I’ll save that discussion for some other time. As a representative of the IGF, though, I do want to point something out:

    If a game isn’t a finalist it doesn’t mean that the judges totally snubbed it. It just means it didn’t rank in the top 5 for a category. This *isn’t* tantamount to saying it sucks, or that it isn’t great in a particular category, or whatever. I can say that Penumbra was in the top 10 for technical.

    Please just keep that in mind. Some of the games brought up as examples of the judging process’ failings may have even landed in #6…

  • Fishy Boy

    Maybe I’m being hasty in my judgement, but I have no idea what Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island is doing on the design innovation list. I went and saw what it was about, and it seems to consist of going to random places and clicking on birds. Hrm.