2018 Independent Games Festival announces Main Competition finalists!

The Independent Games Festival (IGF), which honors the most influential, innovative and acclaimed projects in independent game development, revealed the award finalists for its 20th annual awards ceremony.

The IGF Awards take place on March 21, 2018 during the Game Developers Conference, and will be hosted by Trent Kusters, co-founder of League of Geeks, the Melbourne-based development team behind Armello, a captivating digital role-playing strategy board game that has garnered much critical and fan acclaim.

Trent is currently a board member of Australia’s Freeplay Independent Games Festival, and was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for games in 2016.

After an initial review round by over 300 judges, the nearly 600 entries for the 2018 IGF Awards were distributed to a diverse set of expert jurors from across the industry for final consideration. The juries for each individual category then selected the IGF finalists after playing, discussing and meticulously evaluating them.

Among the selection of 34 different nominated games, a few titles received nominations in multiple categories, including Baba is You, a puzzle game created by creator Hempuli that allows players to alter the rules and game logic as a part of solving the puzzles. The game received a total of four nominations – for Excellence in Design, Best Student Game, the Nuovo Award for ‘thinking differently about games as a medium’, and for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Multiple titles are being recognized for their excellence with three nominations apiece. Night in the Woods, an adventure game from creator Infinite Fall that focuses on exploration, story and character development within a lush, vibrant world, received nominations for Excellence in Narrative, Excellence in Visual Arts and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy from developer Bennett Foddy, a sadistic climbing game that rewards players who reach the top of the mountain, was nominated for Excellence in Design, the Nuovo Award, and also received a nomination for the Grand Prize.

The winners of the IGF will be announced at the Independent Games Festival Awards which take place the evening of Wednesday, March 21st at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. The IGF Awards will immediately precede the Game Developers Choice Awards, which recognizes the best games of the year across all sections of video game development.

IGF Award winners will receive more than $50,000 of prizes in various categories, including the $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Both the IGF Awards and the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremonies are available to attend for all GDC 2018 pass-holders and will be livestreamed online once again.

The full list of finalists for each category of the 2018 Independent Games Festival, along with “honorable mentions,” is as follows:

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

West of Loathing (Asymmetric Publications)

Into the Breach (Subset Games)

Heat Signature (Suspicious Developments)

Baba is You (Hempuli)

Honorable Mentions: Tacoma (Fullbright); Rain World (VIDEOCULT); Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (Game Grumps); Cosmic Top Secret (klassefilm); Hollow Knight (Team Cherry); Cuphead (StudioMDHR); Everything Is Going to Be OK (Nathalie Lawhead)

Excellence in Visual Art

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

Cuphead (StudioMDHR)

Echo (ULTRA ULTRA)

Luna (Funomena)

The Gardens Between (The Voxel Agents)

Chuchel (Amanita Design)

Honorable Mentions: Jettomero: Hero of the Universe (Ghost Time Games); Dead Cells (Motion Twin); AER – Memories of Old (Forgotten Key); Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games); Rain World (VIDEOCULT); Shape of the World (Hollow Tree Games); Hollow Knight (Team Cherry)

Excellence in Audio

Tormentor X Punisher (e-studio)

Cuphead (StudioMDHR)

Vignettes (Skeleton Business)

Rain World (VIDEOCULT)

Uurnog Uurnlimited (Nifflas Games)

Celeste (Matt Makes Games)

Honorable Mentions: Tumbleseed (Benedict Fritz, Greg Wohlwend, Joel Corelitz, David Laskey and Jenna Blazevich); Hollow Knight (Team Cherry); Tacoma (Fullbright); Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games); Million Onion Hotel (Onion Games); Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

Excellence in Design

Into the Breach (Subset Games)

Shenzhen I/O (Zachtronics)

Wilmot’s Warehouse (Richard Hogg, Ricky Haggett, Eli Rainsberry)

Baba Is You (Hempuli)

Uurnog Uurnlimited (Nifflas Games)

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)

Honorable Mentions: Heat Signature (Suspicious Developments); Dead Cells (Motion Twin); Factorio (Wube Software); Space Pirate Trainer (I-Illusions); Battle Chef Brigade (Trinket Studios)

Excellence in Narrative

Tacoma (Fullbright)

Attentat 1942 (Charles University and Czech Academy of Sciences)

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (Dim Bulb Games)

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

Butterfly Soup (Brianna Lei)

Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games)

Honorable Mentions: A Mortician’s Tale (Laundry Bear Games); Lost Memories Dot Net (Star Maid Games); Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (Game Grumps); Bury me, my Love (The Pixel Hunt, Figs and ARTE France); Cosmic Top Secret (klassefilm); West of Loathing (Asymmetric Publications); Rakuen (Laura Shigihara)

Nuovo Award

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)

Tarotica Voo Doo (TPM.CO SOFT WORKS)

10 Mississippi (Karina Popp)

A Mortician’s Tale (Laundry Bear Games)

Cosmic Top Secret (klassefilm)

Everything Is Going to Be OK (Nathalie Lawhead)

Baba Is You (Hempuli)

Kids (Playables)

Honorable Mentions: Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (Dim Bulb Games); IO Interloper (DANG!); The Norwood Suite (Cosmo D Studios); Cheap Golf (Pixeljam); Witchball (S.L.Clark); Million Onion Hotel (Onion Games)

Best Student Game

IO Interloper (DANG!)

Don’t Make Love (Maggese)

Penny Blue Finds a Clue (DigiPen Team Cactus Curse)

We Were Here (Total Mayhem Games)

Baba Is You (Hempuli)

Guardian of the Gears (DigiPen Team Studio 76)

Honorable Mentions: Crewsaders (Titan Squad); A.L.F.R.E.D. (Hugo Lefevre, Joseph Reichenbach, Romain Jaohar-Gaillard, Garance Royere Lebigre, Nicolas Tham, Marion Speiser, Delphine Migeot de Baran, Song Huang); MOLOCH (Seemingly Pointless); Kyklos Code (Cube Factory); Membrane (Perfect Hat / Seth S. Scott); That Blooming Feeling (The Tots Team); Tell Me What You See (Pesky Bees)

The alt.ctrl.GDC award is also returning to the IGF Awards for a second year, to honor the most creative and unique video game controller, with a prize of $3,000 given out to the winning game.

Finalists for this category will be announced from the 20 alt.ctrl.GDC 2018 picks during the week of the Game Developers Conference, and all of this year’s honorees will be shown at the alt.ctrl.GDC exhibit onsite, which showcases a diverse collection of indie-centric one-of-a-kind game peripherals, contraptions and novelties that enhance game experiences and challenge traditional forms of input.

The public will also be able to take part in awarding the winner of the IGF Audience Award from all the finalists for the IGF; online voting for the Audience Award begins in late January.

The IGF Pavilion, located on the Expo Floor of the Game Developers Conference will give attendees the chance to play the nominated titles and meet the game creators.

Along with the IGF Pavilion, developers can also take part in the Independent Games Summit (March 19th-20th), which highlights the best and brightest of indie development, featuring valuable discussions and networking opportunities. The Game Developers Conference takes place Monday, March 19 to Friday, March 23, 2018 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Since its debut in 1999, the Independent Games Festival remains a platform that recognizes the efforts and artistic craft of some of the most beloved independent games in history, including revolutionary and memorable titles such as Quadrilateral Cowboy, Her Story, Papers, Please, Fez and Minecraft among many others.

For more information on the Independent Games Festival, please visit the official IGF website at www.igf.com. For those interested in registering for GDC 2018, which includes the Independent Games Summit, the IGF Pavilion and the IGF Awards Ceremony, please visit www.gdconf.com. For the latest updates on GDC, follow the official Twitter account @Official_GDC.

Come get an under-the-hood look at how Riot handles eSports

It’s a new year, and that means the 2018 Game Developers Conference is right around the corner! Today, organizers want to make sure you know about a great talk taking place at the March event from the folks at League of Legends dev Riot Games.

If there’s one thing Riot has had to get good at since League of Legends took off, it’s working at scale. Thus, you won’t want to miss Riot engineering lead Steve Martin’s GDC 2018 talk on “The Engineering Journey of Riot eSports“, because it digs into how Riot has spent the last 5+ years scaling the game to match the passion shown by their players, resulting in an ecosystem of global leagues, teams, and events with a worldwide fan-base.

It’s part of GDC 2018’s Business & Marketing track of talks, and will walk you through the evolution of Riot eSports from inception to present day from a product and engineering perspective.

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PSA: Unity Student Scholarship for GDC 2018 submissions close this Sunday

Just a quick reminder that the Game Developers Conference and Unity have launched the Unity Student Scholarship, which aims to give 50 students with outstanding Unity projects All Access passes to GDC 2018.

Don’t forget that the deadline to submit your project is this Sunday, December 31, 2017! There is no application cost and students can enter here

Of course, the Unity Student Scholarship was created to provide learning and networking opportunities for up and coming developers. Those selected for the scholarship will receive an all-access pass for GDC 2018, which also includes access to a pre-show kickoff, hosted by GDC on-site before the week begins.

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Come and level up your VFX coding skills

Looking to learn learn alternative approaches to emitting particles from game environment elements, characters and various other renderable objects utilizing shaders and compute and textures to drive and animate particle emission for GPU-based particle systems?

Then you need to come to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March because it’s going to be packed with practical, informative sessions, including a talk by veteran game dev Christina Coffin on just this subject.

In her Programming track talk “Beyond Emitters: Shader and Surface Driven GPU Particle FX Techniques” Coffin will share details on how particle emitting surfaces and shaders can transfer material attributes and other properties to various spawned particle types. Critically, her talk will cover technical implementation details, various optimizations, and workflow approaches.

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Parents, make sure to register for GDC 2018 childcare!

Game Developers Conference organizers are proud to continue their partnership with leading childcare provider KiddieCorp and offer GDC 2018 attendees access to an on-site children’s program.

So if you’re planning to bring kids with you when you attend GDC 2018 in San Francisco next March, please note that the advance deadline to register for the program is February 20th, 2018 — less than two months away!

You want to register early, because registration is handled on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s also possible to register on-site, but there is no guarantee KiddieCorp will be able to accommodate on-site registrations and doing so is not recommended.

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Reminder: Submit your game to the Unity 3D Game Art Challenge at GDC 2018

Hey devs, just a quick reminder: the Game Developers Conference and Unity Technologies have partnered to curate/host a 3D art contest for games using Unity, and the winners will be showcased at GDC 2018!

The contest is free to enter (you can do so via the Unity Game Art Challenge website) and the deadline to enter is this Sunday, December 31st

Judges will be rating the submitted games – which can be created for any game platform – based on the modeling, animation, and special effects of the 3D environments displayed in the videos, screenshots, and playable demos submitted.

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Make like a tree and leave time at GDC 2018 for this talk on UE4 foliage rendering

The 2018 Game Developers Conference is just a few months away, and it’s shaping up to be a smorgasbord of game industry insight — including a very cool talk from the folks at Epic Games about all the great foliage in Unreal Engine 4.

So make like a tree and leave time in your GDC 2018 schedule to see Epic’s Ryan Brucks deliver a talk (part of the Visual Arts track!) on “Realistic Foliage Imposter and Forest Rendering in UE4.”

Come learn how efficient and accurate imposters can be used to render vast forest scenes in UE4. Brucks will explain how a hybrid combination of techniques can be employed to get high quality with high performance.

Advanced features such as pixel depth offset will be shown to match shadowing and geometry intersections. In addition, this lecture will be looking at a higher quality control version that uses a more expensive ray marching approach. You won’t want to skip it!

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Learn to better critique game projects!

The end of the year is nearly here, and today Game Developers Conference organizers want to quickly let you know about one of the great talks taking place at GDC 2018 in March!

This session, part of the GDC 2018 Educators Summit, will see Carnegie Mellon’s Jessica Hammer and Broken Rules’ Martin Pichlmair explaining how you can more effectively critique games and game projects.

Their talk “Improving Critique of Game Projects with Expert and Peer Feedback” presents best practices, common challenges, and successful formats around providing critique. In addition to providing material on expert-led critique, Jessica Hammer and Martin Pichlmair will share two experimental approaches for improving peer feedback on game projects.

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Bungie to reveal the tools it uses to tell meaningful stories in Destiny 2

The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is shaping up to be a fantastic show, and today organizers want to make sure you know about a great talk from Bungie about the storytelling in its 2017 hit Destiny 2.

The talk is about how the Destiny 2 team told stories in the game, but it’s on the Programming track of talks so you know it’s going to be both technical and unconventional.

The talk, “Walking, Talking, and Projectiles: Storytelling Tools in ‘Destiny 2‘”, will see Bungie senior tools engineer Evan Moran going in-depth into Bungie’s new visual scripting tool called the Scene Editor that builds stories by coordinating AI movement and behavior.

This technique for non-cinematic stories keeps players in the heart of the action; Moran plans to showcase several examples from the beginning of Destiny 2 and explore the ways this new visual language supports complex coordinated interactions while chronicling surprises and pitfalls the team encountered along the way.

Plus, we have lots more GDC 2018 announcements to make in the coming months. For more information about GDC 2018 visit the show’s official website, and subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.

Speaker Q&A: Prasert Prasertvithyakarn discusses character AI in Final Fantasy XV

Prasert Prasertvithyakarn is lead game designer at Square Enix Co. Ltd. and will be at GDC 2018 to present Walk Tall, My Friends: Giving Life to Ai-Buddies in ‘Final Fantasy XV’.

His Programming and Design talk will discuss the power of using characters in in-game storytelling and experience design and how to design AI structure that can support them. Here, Prasertvithyakarn gives us information about himself and what he does.

Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like Prasert’s. For more visit the show’s official website.

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