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…)


  • Phasma Felis

    Waitasec, how is You Have To Burn The Rope innovative? I mean, it was amusing and cool and I liked it, but it’s basically a one-note joke, and not even an original joke (there’s at least one earlier browser “game” about completing one extremely simple task in exchange for an epic theme song and extensive credit roll, though I can’t remember the name).

    I’m not knocking the game at all, I’m just not sure why it’s up for an award…

  • MisterX

    I thought the same. I guess they might see the innovation in how well it worked as the joke and such, but even so that’s a really weird choice.

    I don’t yet know all of the games, but I got the impression that this is a relatively “weak” year in comparison to the previous ones, only judging from the nominations.

    Well, it’s good to see Cortex Command became a finalist after all :)

  • Kinten

    BMcC! Where’s the analysis?

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Haha, sorry, just posted it!

  • xerus

    Congrats to all the finalists. Cortex Command, finally you are where you belong! I’m sad that there’s no Goo, Cactus, or Konjak though.

  • Parthon

    Didn’t World of Goo win it last year?

    *checks* Yup it did.

    I think it would be unfair for them to win it twice. ;)

  • http://0xdeadc0de.org/ Eclipse

    so you have to burn the rope got a nomination?

    WTF with IGF judges this year?

  • xerus

    Yeah I don’t know, I’m going to have to disagree strongly with Burn the Rope as well.

    Also: don’t confuse Goo! with World of Goo — two completely different games… and Goo! was submitted again this year since it didn’t win anything last year.

  • Adamski

    *starts powering up*

  • Zeno

    Ugh, can we drop this You Have To Burn the Rope thing already? Sure it was good for a laugh, but seriously, it doesn’t need to be a finalist in ANY category of the IGF, least of all innovation.

    I mean, just think of the ACTUALLY innovative games that got pushed out because some judge thought it’d be funny to put YHTBTR in there.

    Poor form, IGF, poor form.

  • chris

    you have to burn the rope is going to become the rickroll of indie games.

  • The IGF

    Hi. I am the benevolent and sometimes confusing god known as “IGF”.

    What are judges?

  • dcalogue

    I’m one of the developers of Zeno Clash

  • FISH

    somebody on a mailing list im part of said about YHTBTR’s nomination:

    “isnt that like giving an emmy to dick in a box?”

    and i agree completely.

    lots of weird picks in there.

  • Petri Purho

    Congrats to all the finalists! It looks like it’s going to be an awesome IGF again :)

  • cactus

    Where’s the messhof? Glad Blueberry Garden and Night Game got nominated, though. Looks like there’s a 40% chance for a Swedish grandprize this time around…

  • dcalogue

    And congrats to everyone who made it! see ya at GDC!

  • Widget

    Great to see Night Game there, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on Blueberry Garden now I’ve heard about it.
    Also, Dyson. Awesomesauce. Reminds I’ve not checked in for updates there for far too long aswell.

    Congrats too all the finalists although, once more and with feeling You Have To Burn The Rope?! what the hell?

  • Valter

    Really, if YHTBTR made it in, I figure some of the other one-liner satires should get in too. Things like Achievement Unlocked and such. Besides, I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to innovate YHTBTR.

    “So, you know how most games are really hard? WE should make one that’s REALLY EASY!”

    “Oh man, that’s an awesome idea. You get the design doc ready, I’ll go code it up. See you in 4 hours!”

    And so YHTBTR was born.

    Extra points for the curly mustache, though.

  • Kovski

    Pha, burn the rope, burn the rope…
    I demand community project awards!
    Balding’s Quest! Indie Brawl! Then we shall see who’s the real hot dog on the block!

  • xerus

    Shit’s so pringles! Where your curleh mustache at?

  • simonc

    FWIW, here is Kian’s commentary on being nominated:


    I think it’s an interesting response.

    As for why it was nominated – hey, it was empirically voted one of the most innovative titles by the judges. It’s as simple as that.

    But it’s a cheeky innovation of concept, rather than gameplay innovation, and I can understand why that rubs some people the wrong way.

    I stand by it, just as we and the other organizers stand by the IGF. It’s what the judges thought, after all.

    And congrats to all TIGSource readers and regulars who are finalists this year!

    [IGF Chairman.]

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Hehe, Simon, TIGSource regulars _and_ readers? That’s everyone, right? :)

    …Right? :

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    **Also:** I find Kian’s post very reassuring. (Touching, even!)

    It actually seems like a good, progressive thing for the IGF, in light of this.

  • LuckyWanderDude

    I wanted Calamity Annie to be nominated but I’m happy to see Coil!

  • Lars Doucet

    Hey Derek – you were an IGF judge this year, right? Do you know if there was supposed to be a browser game category? Also, the Gleemie awards seem to be missing again. I know the Gleemies were a third-party sponsored thing, so maybe that company didn’t put the prize money forward this year? Do you know anything about this? Just wondering.

  • simonc

    Lars, I’m going to pretend I’m Derek and answer those questions.

    Firstly, the browser game category isn’t included this year, mainly because Flash games are so good nowadays that they can compete perfectly well with non-web games. (As evidenced by a fair amount of web games being finalists.)

    Secondly, there is/will be a Direct2Drive Award instead of the Gleemie Award this year, because Direct2Drive is the main award sponsor thus far. It should be more $ for indies, though.

  • Lars Doucet

    Oh, hey Mr. Carless!

    Thanks for the response. The Gleemies as I understand were for Strategy games. What are the Direct2Drive awards for?

  • Valkyrie

    I don’t think I heard anything about Zeno Clash since that trailer earlier in the year. I love me some Source games/mods.

    Anywho, there are some pretty contended categories this year, and there’ll be plenty of surprises for sure.

    As for YHTBTR… if that had been removed from the nominees for being a simple one-liner, would that constitute the removal of The Graveyard as well?
    I think both games were trying to ‘do something’ rather than ‘be something’, both succeeded in different ways, and I wonder if what each game did was something the judges thought innovative, rather than ‘ROFL! THE GAME IS THE ANSWER! GENIUS!’. The biggest difference is that The Graveyard uses shock and sympathy to do something whereas YHTBTR uses humor.

    So… yeah. My two cents.

  • Borsato

    I am obviously quite biased at the moment since we got nominated for Dyson. o/

    I realy like Kian’s post tbh because it touches on a central advantage and power of indie games, which is that they are all about personal and creative freedom. I have been working on games professionaly fo nearly ten years, but I have never been as happy as now since I have gone indie. Dyson is a perfect example, I always wanted to design a procedural game for love of the the subject and the design implications, and not for commercial reasons. Haowan and myself worked together well in the past and are good friends anyway and this just happened to be a shared interest, so why not go for it? It turned out to be one of the best and most fun game dev experiences I have had (And am having) and it all started out due to pure fun and a little tigsource competition :-D

    Regardless of what happens commercially, this is the way I want to make games.

  • simonc

    Lars: good question, I think Direct2Drive is still deciding what its award will, uh, award. All finalists are eligible, and I imagine there will be an announcement soonish.

  • Jink

    yo were be dat derek yoo foo? i aint seen his as in daiz he owe me llike fitty tree dollas

  • them


    Zero Gear! No!

    Well, it’ll be a fun game anyway, IGF or not.

  • http://www.distractionware.com Terry

    I just noticed: it’s about time Cortex Command got something! Congrats data!

  • Anthony Flack

    >(Anthony, I haven’t seen you around in a while! This was such a pleasant surprise.)

    For me too! I can’t say I’m too confident about taking the prize (up against the likes of Machinarium) but it is going to be a blast to attend. Now I guess we have a WHOLE HEAP of work to do between now and then…

    As for YHTBTR, well, it didn’t really strike me as being a contender for the innovation award I must say, but I did really like the author response. Working on a commercial game, I have actually begun to crave that sense of futility in my work. It’s only when I’m pursuing something completely worthless and pointless that I feel like I’m truly following my muse and I do miss that. I actually think I might need to make some little freeware games at some point just to see what would happen if I dropped the commercial imperative entirely.

    It can be quite an imposing question to ask of yourself: if you didn’t care a damn what anyone else thinks, what form would your creativity take? It’s easy enough to impress other people with your skills and tricks, but you’re not going to impress YOURSELF that way.

  • namuol

    YHTBTR is an in-joke among the indie-gaming community and nothing more.

    i feel like i would be taking the bait if i acted outraged by the nomination.

  • PoV

    How do I win YHTBTR?

  • Sparky

    Congrats to all the winners! There are a lot of really great games in the running this year.

  • Sparky

    Oh, I almost forgot…

    I really like Kian, and despite my own criticism of the soon to be infamous ropegate scandal, he’s a developer worthy of respect.

    Check out Metro Rules of Conduct if you haven’t already! http://www.mazapan.se/index.php

  • RayRayTea

    Surely the weirdest nomination is The Graveyard? Pretty sad if such a badly done game gets nominated just because the protagonist is not a Hero. Maybe the reason it’s considered innovative is something that I’m not aware of?

    I also don’t see a problem with YHTBTR – it’s well executed, witty and gets the message across. Maybe it’s not really on par with Picasso’s “Bull’s Head” but that’s the direction.

  • corpus

    A handful of people have made good arguments for YHTBTR’s inclusion being inappropriate, but most of your arguments have been fairly idiotic.

    Valter, you seem to be insinuating a direct relation between time to completion and innovation. This disturbs me greatly.

    Also, Achievement Unlocked came out after the IGF submission deadline, and the fact that other, similar games exist does not negate YHTBTR’s right to nomination. The whole idea is that only the best games – i.e. not all games entered – are nominated. It’s fairly basic.

    I was a little stunned by its inclusion, initially, but on further consideration it does kinda make sense. I could see it being included for innovation in the use of computer games as a medium for parody and satire, for example.

    It may not have been the first game of its kind, but it was certainly one of the most high-profile of them; what’s more, the other similar games might not even have been submitted.

    In conclusion, quit yer yabberin’.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    **@Anthony:** Yeah! Congrats. I can’t wait to see you there! (Aah, gotta find out about getting a press pass ASAP…)

    That’s about how I feel about that nomination, too, after reading Kian’s post.

    **@namuol:** You Have To Take the Bait :P

    **@PoV:** You have to– HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!

  • Flawe

    I liked the YHTBTR joke and enjoyed the experience. At the same time I understand the people that don’t see how it got nominated. The game is a fun joke, it’s no innovation unfortunately.

    And really, PixelJunk Eden? Didn’t the company know what IGF was all about? It’s not like they need to up their publicity. Sinking kinda low in my opinion.

  • http://www.dyson-game.com Borsato

    Dylan Cuthbert replies to the pixeljunk inclusion here in the Gamasutra comments section (comment 6)


  • http://www.dyson-game.com Borsato

    I tried to link to the gamasutra IGF artcicle as the comments feature a reply from Dylan Cuthbert re this issue, but I can’t use URLS in these comments.

    So here is a copy and paste:

    “We are truly chuffed at getting three nominations for Eden!

    To address Benjamin’s concern – “Indie” has nothing to do with whether you are working from a garage or not (same goes for indie music), the definition is closer to describing non-publisher or non-externally controlled creativity. The PixelJunk series has been an enormous financial risk for us here at Q and is fully self-funded – it really embodies our independence from publishers because we saved and scrimped for 5 years in order to be able to strike out by ourselves with PixelJunk.

    I agree a category could be added for “best student game” perhaps, which can only accept titles submitted by people who don’t have jobs in the games industry yet.

  • Anthony Flack

    I don’t see why. It’s not as if they’re in a league above the competition, is it? It’s a fair fight.

  • Marc

    I have only played the demo, so someone please enlighten me, but what is technically excellent about Osmos? It’s just a bunch of sphere colliding around…

    I guess YHTBTR is a parody, and that’s original, but I was shocked at first. It was funny the first time, but aren’t people reading a little bit too much into it?

    Dyson seems a little too simple for me, but the graphics style is fine. I was surprised it won.

    FEIST was obviously going to get an Excellence in Visual Art award.

    I don’t get Coil at all. Just a bunch of minigames with an artsy description in between.

    IGF feels so random… I wonder how much variance there is in the scores? i.e. do most games get around the same score, or are these the clear winners?

  • Anthony Flack

    Oops, my response was to #42, I should have indicated.

  • bateleur

    I was surprised to see Pixeljunk Eden entered in the competition, but given that it was allowed to enter I think it deserves its nominations.

    The difficulty which Dylan Cuthbert’s comments don’t address is that whilst the development was self-funded the company also handles externally funded projects and so have access to equipment, tech, staff and profits from those projects to help with their indie work.

    Still, I think the IGF are right not to disqualify them. After all, Jonathan Blow was able to self-fund Braid by using a large stack of his own cash. Surely we don’t want to disqualify Pixeljunk because their self-funding source happened to be gaming-related?

    I predict we’re yet to see the really controversial cases. For example, what would happen if an employee of (say) Valve wrote an indie game in their spare time using (with Valve’s permission) a large amount of non-publically-available Valve tech? In some ways that’s very Indie because it’s the developer’s private project on their own time. In other ways it’s the antithesis of Indie because it’s only made possible by a close relationship with a large commercial group.

    We’ll just have to deal with such cases if and when they come up.

  • Flawe

    Anthony, I got the impression the IGF’s intentions were to promote good games made by talented people which they themselves don’t have the means to do. Sure, Eden is a good game and a lot of other games entered are at least as good. But what’s the point in winning with Eden when it’s already been out on PSN? Yeah, they get the prizes but I doubt it will help them reach new audiences. So it seems pointless and unfair towards the other contestants that also made good games but not have them published on PSN yet.