IGF 2012 finalists revealed

Fez, Johann Sebastian Joust, Spelunky, Frozen Synapse, Dear Esther nominated for top prize at 14th annual Independent Games Festival.

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While the Game Developer Choice Awards celebrate the best in the world of established, mainstream gaming, the Independent Games Festival honors the AAA industry's upstart counterparts, often titles in need of all the exposure they can get. Today, the group raised the profile of a number of such games, laying out its finalists for the seven main IGF Award categories, including the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Last year's IGF Award grand prize went to Minecraft. Perhaps you've heard of it.

The first-person ghost story Dear Esther led all games with four nominations, including nods for the Grand Prize as well as Excellence in Visual Art, Excellence in Audio, and the Nuovo Award, intended "to honor abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development." Other titles picking up multiple nominations included Mossmouth's arcade-style action game Spelunky (three nominations), Polytron's multidimensional platformer Fez (two nominations), Mode 7's strategy game Frozen Synapse (two nominations), and Die Gute Fabrik's video-less PlayStation Move game Johann Sebastian Joust (two nominations). All of the aforementioned games are also up for the Seumas McNally award.

This year's IGF finalists faced more competition than ever before, as the festival attracted close to 570 entrants. The stakes are also higher this year, as Microsoft has worked with organizers to create an XBLA Prize category in which the winner gets a publishing deal to release the game on the Xbox 360, PC, and Windows Phone 7.

The 2012 Independent Games Festival takes place March 5-9 in San Francisco as part of the annual Game Developers Conference. Recent IGF award-winning titles that have seen commercial releases include Minecraft, Limbo, Machinarium, and more.

Excellence in Visual Art
Botanicula (Amanita Design)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Lume (State of Play Games)
Mirage (Mario von Rickenbach)
Wonderputt (Damp Gnat)
Honorable mentions: Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo); Dustforce (Hitbox Team); Fader(Chris Makris); Proun (Joost van Dongen); Toren (Swordtales)

Technical Excellence
Antichamber (Demruth)
Fez (Polytron)
Prom Week (Expressive Intelligence Studio, UC Santa Cruz)
Realm of the Mad God (Wild Shadow Studios & Spry Fox)
Spelunky (Mossmouth)
Honorable mentions: Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games); Nitronic Rush (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Reflow (Xymatic); Super T.I.M.E Force (Capy); Tiny and Big - Grandpa's Leftovers (Black Pants)

Excellence in Design
Atom Zombie Smasher (Blendo Games)
English Country Tune (Stephen Lavelle)
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
Gunpoint (Tom Francis, John Roberts, and Fabian van Dommelen)
Spelunky (Mossmouth)
Honorable mentions: Faraway (Steph Thirion); FTL (Justin Ma & Matthew Davis); Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik); SpaceChem (Zachtronics Industries); Where Is My Heart (Die Gute Fabrik)

Excellence in Audio
Botanicula (Amanita Design)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Pugs Luv Beats (Lucky Frame)
To The Moon (Freebird Games)
Waking Mars (Tiger Style)
Honorable mentions: Beatbuddy (THREAKS); Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo); Fez(Polytron); Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga); Where Is My Heart (Die Gute Fabrik)

Best Mobile Game
ASYNC Corp (Powerhead Games)
Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo)
Faraway (Steph Thirion)
Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer)
Waking Mars (Tiger Style)
Honorable mentions: Fingle (Game Oven Studios); Hundreds (SemiSecret and aeiowu); iBlast Moki 2 (Godzilab); Temple Run (Imangi Studios); Tentacles (Press Play ApS)

Nuovo Award
(Designed "to honor abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development.")
At a Distance (Terry Cavanagh)
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Fingle (Game Oven Studios)
GIRP (Bennett Foddy)
Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga)
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
Storyteller (Daniel Benmergui)
Way (CoCo & Co.)
Honorable mentions: Deep Sea (WRAUGHK); Four Letter Word (Terry Cavanagh); GlitchHiker (Aardbever); Hundreds (SemiSecret and aeiowu); POP (Rob Lach)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
Fez (Polytron)
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
Spelunky (Mossmouth)
Honorable mentions: Antichamber (Demruth); FTL (Justin Ma & Matthew Davis); Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga); SpaceChem (Zachtronics Industries); Where Is My Heart (Die Gute Fabrik)

Discussion

5 comments
rezagog
rezagog

perfect ! in my opinion all of em are winner

GGCrew_basic
GGCrew_basic

Frozen Synapse is my personal pick for 2011 Game of the Year, and that's from a pool that includes all the major AAA games released last year. No other game induced such tension, surprise, excitement, and satisfaction as one good match of Frozen Synapse. (Even if I lost the match!)

SecularSage
SecularSage

When people say that innovation is dead in the gaming industry, they're clearly not paying attention to indie games like these. Video games have become much like every other entertainment industry - the biggest releases tend to be broad while the really inventive stuff tends to show up among the small developers. I'd much rather try a unique strategy war game like Frozen Synapse than another military FPS, and I'm more amazed by a weird platformer like Where is My Heart than a retread of Mario's adventures.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

I understand these aren't commercial games, but the names on this list mean jack squat without at least a screenshot or link to the owners page. I don't care about a game unless I can play it, or at least see it.