GDC 07: Aquaria swims off with IGF top honors

Bit Blot's 2D aquatic game takes the top prize, but Everyday Shooter and Bang! Howdy cause a right ruckus at indie gaming's top annual event.

At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the Game Developers Conference held a so-called "recruitment booth crawl" in the West Hall of the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. While its title was benign-sounding enough, the reality was several thousand would-be developers, designers, and programmers milling between numerous developer and publishers' booths in various states of inebriation at an old-fashioned dorm-room-style progressive party. Between free beers, each hoped their resume and/or clip reel would let them vault ahead of the competition and land the proverbial holy grail of the game world--a job making games.

After several hours sampling a kaleidoscope of international fermented hops products, many of the attendees made their way to Moscone's South Hall, where two prestigious ceremonies were being held. First up was the Independent Games Festival, the annual appetizer to the Game Developers Choice Awards, the primary honors handed out at GDC.

Castle Crashers took home the Excellence in Digital Art award.

To present the awards, GameTap and Telltale Media's loveable cartoon duo Sam & Max appeared on the screen to level a series of charmingly disparaging remarks about the IGF. Then, CMP Media's Simon Carless and Jamil Moledina took the stage to introduce the nominees before yielding the stage to Andy Schatz, director of the 2006 IGF Seamus McNally Grand Prize finalist Wildlife Tycoon. Guildhall's Weekday Warrior took home the best mod prize, followed by Toblo for Best Student Game. One of the winners took the opportunity to ask his fiancée if she'd marry him; she leaped to the stage and accepted with a passionate kiss. The thunderous applause had Schatz nonplussed. "I had a joke about that guy, but I don't think I can tell it now," he said, dryly.

Excellence in Digital Art was the next prize handed out to The Behemoth's Castle Crashers, followed by the Design Innovation trophy which went to...(wait for it)...Everyday Shooter. The Bang! Howdy posse had a rootin' tootin' time at the event, winning the Technical Excellence Award, while the French-produced Samorost 2 downloaded best Web browser game honors.

The Audience Choice Awards, which were awarded by an online poll on GameSpot, went to Castle Crashers. Then it was time for the designers of the 2006 IGF Game of the Year winner Darwinia, the UK-based Introversion, to take the stage. One had this chestnut of advice: "Don't take any money from publishers, urged one--they will only mess up your game." Thunderous applause ensued.

Last but certainly not least was the 2007 Game of the Year prize, which went to Aquaria, the previously unhonored 2D fantasy game from indie shop Bit Blot. After stumbling verbally, one of its designers admitted, "This is a terrible speech." But the massive applause proved the audience didn't really care.

For a full rundown on the winners and nominees, check out the official Independent Game Festival Web site.

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Discussion

17 comments
javierkatana
javierkatana

Absolutely brilliant, this is the first game ever that I buy, for one simple reason, it´s OKAMI for the the PC. 2 guys and girl with sexy voice made me believe again in basement dreams. 2000+ mate painting highres backgrounds, to help you calculate, I´m a pro painter and I charge 250 for a 1024x768, this guys with no money made a $500,000+ visual adventure plus development plus voice acting plus animations. admin@bit-blot.com devs mail, send them cheers, and buy the game.

barret232hxc
barret232hxc

As I was watching the awards ceremony I was crossing my fingers every time Aquaria didn't win, but finally they won the grand prize and I couldn't be more happy for Alec and Derek. I got the chance to hang out with these guys and they are definitely awesome not only in the sense of making an awesome game but just really chill guys. When you attend something like this and you see the people involved you really can see the effort they put into these games. I myself as an independent developer know the struggles and know that when the only thing you have keeping you to make your game is that passion that comes from within, you just can't be anymore excited when you see these awards being given out. I got to see alot of stuff in the game that you can't tell from the trailers and the game is huge and has such a great flow. It's not even finished yet but when it is you will all be loving it. Support your independent developers. These are the people who are fighting to make games that are fun , that are unique , that don't follow that same cookie cutter format. There is so much more out there then what you can get at Walmart or Eb games or Gamestop. With the new downloadable services on both the ps3 and the xbox 360 , indie developer's are having more of a chance to show their games to the world. If you want to use your money to contribute to a huge corporation, then buy games from Ea , if you want to use your money to support those who care about the future of gaming then seek out the talent and passion of these Independent developers and give them their credit. They do not ask for much, they just want to be able to continue making great games for us all to enjoy. Making something that can delight other's is what it's all about. There is no other feeling greater then seeing someone play your game for the first time and just having a blast and smiling. I know alot of people don't know what goes on behind the scenes when making these games , but it's not easy, it's alot of hard work and many man hours. These guys do this b/c they love it and they aren't even making a paycheck for the past year that they have been making this game. I'm done with my rant. I hope that you all can find something new and unique that you like within the independent gaming community. We just want to give back to you what made games fun in the first place.

sacredBed
sacredBed

wow dude that everyday shooter guy either wasn't really that funny or he needs to stop drinking at awards shows cuz when he gets a multi thousand dollar award and stands up there for 3 seconds its pretty cruel to the IGF. Also, the host guy should've made less jokes, or at least ones that were on par with the GDC host.

Gooper_Blooper
Gooper_Blooper

Bang! Howdy surely would have won more awards if it didn't shoot first and introduce itself later.

senjutsu
senjutsu

aquaria looks AWESOME, check the trailer if you missed it! It a castlevania merging a bit with elcho the dolphin and the snes metroid! :D

Kriact
Kriact

where's the page to all the games again? i only got to play 2, they were both good, armada rules

CommanderShiro
CommanderShiro

Some of those Mega64 clips were hillarious, especially that very last one.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

wow that castle crusher game has a interesting art style. I really like it.

blackace
blackace

Good awards for all. Now when do we get to play these games?

multaman415
multaman415

OOOO YEAAAA!!!!!!!!! I knew this game would get some good ratings and i can't wait till it comes out.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

A good reason to bypass publishers is so you don't have to get ruled on by the ESRB or Government legislation concerning the sale of games.

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

looks good, hope it rocks

XxAK47xX
XxAK47xX

this game looks top notch