2009 IGF Main Competition Finalists!

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: January 7th, 2009

IGF '09, y'all!

‘Tis mighty stupid of me to have ’s Quest: Milestone 2 TIGS post">posted BQ yesterday, completely forgetting the nominations for this year’s Independent Games Festival were coming out today! Oh well, what can ya do:

Seumas McNally Grand Prize:

– Blueberry Garden
– CarneyVale Showtime
– Dyson
– Night Game
– Osmos

Excellence in Visual Art:

– Cletus Clay
– Machinarium
– PixelJunk Eden
– Zeno Clash

Excellence in Audio:

– Blueberry Garden
– BrainPipe
– Musaic Box
– PixelJunk Eden
– Retro/Grade

Excellence in Design:

– Musaic Box
– Night Game
– Osmos
– Retro/Grade
– Snapshot

Innovation Award:

– Between
– Coil
– The Graveyard
– Mightier
– You Have To Burn The Rope

Technical Excellence:

– Cortex Command
– IncrediBots
– The Maw
– Osmos
– PixelJunk Eden

Congrats to the nominees! 30% more entries this year than last year’s huge amount. (Find out more at IGF.com!) Whole lots of awesome, a little bit of WTF?, and my impressions after the jump…

Dyson! An entry from Alex “haowan” May into TIGS’ very own Procedurally Generated Content competition. Extra awesome.
Snapshot! Turns out this one’s actually made by Kyle Pulver, creator of BONESAW and Verge, winner of the recent Commonplace Book Competition.
Cletus Clay! True creator of Platypus Anthony Flack’s clay-mation magnum opus. (Anthony, I haven’t seen you around in a while! This was such a pleasant surprise.)
The Graveyard! Another somber and inventive game from TIGS allies Tale of Tales. (And another IGF nomination!)
Cortex Command! Will this be the year the excellent Cortex Command gets its IGF dues?
Night Game! Nifflas’ most ambitious project yet. (See also: WADF, Knytt, Knytt Stories)
Blueberry Garden! This game looks so lovely I almost can’t stand it.

Congrats again! To all the nominees. (I’m sure I’m missing something.)

PixelJunk Eden? Isn’t that game, like, already out on PSN? I thought that would be against IGF submission rules… or at least the spirit of the competition.
You Have To Burn The Rope? Hahaha — wait, really?
Update: Check out Kian’s response. I found it genuinely touching. Games like YHTBTR getting nominated may be a blessing in disguise — it means you can work from unadulterated creativity, even on a relatively small scale, and still get noticed. That is a good thing! (Thanks, Simon!)
Goo!? Mondo Nation? Solar Plexus? Just a few awesome and likely awesome games without a nomination. (I’d venture to say there are at least a couple spots these games could have filled…)


  • Cas

    Well, technically we’ve got access to external equipment and funds from my contracting work for The Man, but it’s entirely separate to our indie game work. Didn’t help Droid Assault win anything mind :)

  • Flawe

    It’s hard to draw a strict line for who is allowed and who isn’t allowed to enter. I don’t really mind funding and other external resources either, since you can’t really control those too much from an organizer’s point of view. But entering the competition when you have achieved what all other entrants are trying to achieve seems pointless and a bit unfair to me. Just my personal opinion, though.

  • New Game For Judges

    You Have To Get The Joke

  • http://blazingbean.com/ Bean

    They don’t have to draw a strict line for who’s allowed to enter I just think they should give some of the excellent underdogs a chance. Let them enter but maybe give the other games some kind of head start to get into the finals or win.

  • PoV

    > BMcC – You have to– HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!

    ;). Had to be done. :D

  • PHeMoX

    “You have to burn the rope” sort of does deserve it. But it’s not much of a ehh game.

  • Anthony Flack

    I guess my position is that we have nothing to lose from the extra competition. Entering Gears of War 2 into the IGF would be like entering a skyscraper into a pumpkin-growing contest – it just wouldn’t make sense – but a game like PixelJunk Eden doesn’t seem out of place.

    I understand how people feel about the IGF’s role in helping the underdog, but that doesn’t mean it should be a competition for mediocre games. If you feel like you have missed out on a nomination because of a game like PixelJunk Eden taking its slot, then I guess your game wasn’t as good as PixelJunk Eden. If you want that recognition, come back when you’ve hit on something truly exceptional. Every year, somebody does.

  • Edmund

    if the way the judging was setup in a more democratic way then, the argument that if your game isnt as good as pixel junk eden then it shouldn’t get in would be more valid.

    but the fact is the games that got in are only the opinions of 2-6 people and not a combined score of all, or even a majority of judges. I think the only real valid issue with every bitch and moan people have about the igf can be traced back to the fact that their judging system is extremely and obviously flawed.

    when only a few people are judging a game often times your running into very polarized opinions and personal taste of the people involved.

    if you have 3 people judging your turn based strategy game, and 2 of those judges arnt fans of that genre.. then your fucked. Judging something by its average score is only valid when its a consensus of all involved.

    now i realize that having 200+ games and only 20 judges working on them is a big reach.. but it doesn’t mean keeping the way its setup now is the best.. because its very obviously not.

  • MikeK

    Cortex Command!!! i’m excited!

  • BlademasterBobo

    On the whole YHTBTR thing:
    Have you all looked at the other games in that category? I think it fits in with them very well.. that category seems like it was made just for games like YHTBTR, so it’s not like it stole the spot from some other game or anything.

  • Karies

    YHTBTR? innovation! c’mon.. what kind of innovative idea it has? I understand other games on this category are stranges but the difference is that YHTBTR is BAD!
    It’s no minimalist, it’s no an experiment, it’s just a little idea with good graphics.

  • Hoor’ah

    What is with that F-uck-in Hat???

  • Edmund

    BlademasterBobo: YHTBTR was a funny piece of commentary on video games.. but if you look through that entrients there are TONS more very very innovative games that didn’t make it in (im looking at you IWIWTM!).

    Do you really think if every judge judged YHTBTR it would have made it to the finals?

    I know for a fact that if all the judges judged Coil it wouldn’t have made it for sure.

    again this is the fault of the judging process.. not the games that made it.

  • just curious

    what is the actual judging process for the igf, exactly?

  • Sargon

    I am confued about you have to burn the rope.
    Because I have played a different game called you have to burn the rope. With a little green guy. Then I also played the one with the pink guy.

    Anyway, the innovation about you have to burn the rope is not that its a joke.

    In my opinion its about making a short and easy game that is also fun.
    Thats a combination that is lacking in most of today’s games(including indie) in the quest for making the best most unique/pretty/whatever game.

  • PHeMoX

    *the igf can be traced back to the fact that their judging system is extremely and obviously flawed.*

    Yeah, but in a way it’s sad. I mean, take for example Goo! It’s a great game that deserves more, and it gets snowed under by obviously less interesting or technically advanced games. Not that tech should be any kind of requirement to end up on IGF, but lack of the basics should be. I don’t know, I agree it’s flawed the way it currently is.

  • Guy

    What lack of basics are you talking about?
    Some time ago we were told the good graphics were not required for a fun game.
    But slowly I see that indie games are becoming more established. And suddnely, some small silly little game, is not as worthy as the bigger game, with more time and resources invested in.
    It seems that some indies are starting to imitate the big games industry. Wihtout even noticing they are doing that.
    Now, I have nothing against that.
    I think everyone can start as an indie, but once you get more established, you are not really indie anymore.
    But don’t say that your high production value games, are more worthy than the little games.
    Because that would be very ironic, compared to how indie games have begun.

  • Raigan

    I really think Droid Assault should have made it in :(

  • Edmund

    what is the actual judging process for the igf, exactly?:

    now i havent been a judge for a year or so, so forgive me if some of my details are a bit off but this is the jist of what goes on.

    currently each judge will judge 10 games that are pre selected for them. each judge has to play each game they are selected for and give them a score from 0-100 for Audio, Graphics, Design, Tech, Innovation and Over all. all the scores are added up and they pick the top 5 games that scored the highest for each section.

    Judges can judge more games but dont have to, from what i hear most dont judge more then 15.

    so the way it stands with 10 games to judge and 20 judges and over 200+ games submitted, at the very least your game can be judged by 2 people.. but from what i hear there is an average of about 3-5 judges per game when it was all said and done.

    its pretty easy to see where the flaws are here.

    what if your the kind of judge who never gives out perfect scores for things? what if youre the kinda person who throws out 100s to things you like, and 0s to things you dont. if you had 3 judges, 2 of them gave you 90s and the other gave you a 0 because they didn’t like the genre of game then your pretty much fucked.

    again opinions only really matter if its a consensus of all involved.. if the finals were really the average of every judge involved then we couldn’t really bitch could we? because that’s how democracy works.

    Aside from the number of judges judging, i also think the IGF should toss out the scoring system all together and save that for the 2nd round of judging. If the first round consisted of each judge getting to vote yes on 10 games in the finals they thought were the best, for whatever reason and then the top 20 games that got the most votes then made it to the finals.. we would have 20 of the best indie games entered.

    then everyone’s in the same boat.

    theres a lot more to how i think they could fix things. alex and i are working on a basic proposal to submit to simon to see what he thinks, ill probably post it in the forums today to see what you guys think.


  • Wait’a’Schmo


    I don’t understand what you’re jabbering about??? Goo got all kinds of great PR and is still getting all kinds of great recognition from various sources around the world, plus, they did very well at the last IGF… That is, I’m assuming we’re both talking about World of Goo, unless of course you’re talking about the stuff between your fingernails.


    Good point and I’d have to agree.

    Take Iji (by Daniel Remar) for example. That’s a game that deserves more attention. I’m sure a fair amount of people enjoy it but probably won’t get as much exposure as it deserves because it’s FREE and because it doesn’t conform to any standard of action game nor is it extremely innovative. It just happens to be different and extremely fun. It contains everything a game needs and should be made of, but it will probably stay a little known (but well liked) game simply because of the way the entire gaming scene is.

    As a side note, I’m really enjoying Spelunky as well. Another FUN game. I think the whole “Games are Art” thing has gotten carried away. Games are supposed to be fun first, and artistic second cuz if the game isn’t fun it’s just Bad Art.

    God I’m good. I’m gonna make T-Shirts outta that one.

  • simonc

    Edmund, we will welcome proposals, of course. I think letting judges (there are >40, by the way, not >20) just nominate their 10 favorite games means they have to play all 250+, though, which is definitely unrealistic, right? Many of them are busy professionals or working on their own games.

  • Wait’a’Schmo

    simonc, then shouldn’t the judges be for next years IGF already be selected so they can start playing games as they’re nominated instead of getting the judges to try and play a handful of games within a compressed amount of time??? I think Edmund was just pointing out how the judging system is flawed. Obviously getting a judge to play some 250+ titles within a compressed amount of time is unrealistic, but shouldn’t the planning for IGF get better and better each year so that the system for judging becomes better and more fluid? How long does it take for a title to become nominated? How long is the submission process? Perhaps working on these will help with the judging process… perhaps not, I’m not trying to be facetious but it seems to me that more sense could be made of the judging process with a little more work.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m just making too much sense (now I am being facetious). Anyway, hopefully the process will improve with time and allow more exposure for even more great indie games along the way.

    There are far too many good, even decent, indie games that have little to no exposure and far too many Mainstream games that are complete and utter shit with far too much exposure. When all is said and done the festivals usually come down to a “bean count” but I certainly wouldn’t be offended by a role reversal in this area of the gaming scene.

  • simonc

    Like I said, concrete suggestions welcome – chairman at igf dot com. We want to do right by the indie community.

  • Raigan

    One problem with “judging all year long”, aside from it would still be a huge task for each judge, is that most entrants don’t submit anything until the very last minute, literally..

    I definitely agree with Edmunds concerns, especially “judges that never give high scores”; I’ve often apprehensive about handing out extremely low or high scores simply because I was aware that it could really skew things.

    In hindsight, I wish I had gone with my gut and given Edan all 0s for entering the IGF in the first place :(

  • simonc

    And IGF judges understand this and don’t deliberately give extreme scores to skew the results, because they’re more mature than that. But if they’re going to start, then I guess we’ll have to try something else. Maybe an all-Cactus finalist list? :)

  • http://www.bigpants.ca Jim McGinley

    Having entered (and failed) both the IGF 2004 and 2006 competitions, let me say that indie wise things have never looked better at the IGF (check out the finalists – not just the winners from previous IGFs).

    The list of 2009 finalists is pretty damn good – maybe the best ever. There’s a trend away from the casual indie games to the weird & edgie indie games. Innovation was rewarded as much as production value and effort, which is a hard thing to judge. All of the games listed deserve more attention, and represent the best that indie gaming has to offer.

    While the visitors of http://www.jayisgames.com might disagree (rightfully), I would hesitate to change the judging process that determined these selections.