Indiecade 2009 Reveals Remaining 10 Finalist Games
These 10 titles offer a unique look at digital art and speak to the fundamentals at the heart of IndieCade, says a representative. Finalists were chosen from hundreds of entries through a range of criteria including aesthetics, creativity, writing, and design.
Hands-on exhibitions of the top 30 finalists’ work will be showcased during the entire run of IndieCade 2009 at three Culver City locations: Wonderful World of Art Gallery, Culver Hotel Mezzanine, and Gregg Fleishman Gallery daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm daily.
The return of the side-scrolling platformer has been a staple of indie game development, and Closure is one of the most inventive of these titles to date. Different areas of the screen are illuminated, creating a "fog of war" effect. The twist: anything not illuminated isn't there. If you jump outside a lit area, you fall to your death. Closure captured attention at the GDC Experimental Game Workshop with its inventive gameplay and simple, black and white hand-drawn style.
The Maw, now playing on Xbox Live Arcade, is a charming buddy movie of a game, a kind of Ratchet and Clank meets Pikmin. The player takes the role of Frank, a benign and affable space alien who partners up with The Maw, a comical purple blob who eats everything in its path. As The Maw grows in size and takes on the characteristics of whatever it consumes, the duo must eat their way through a landscape of wildly imaginative flora and fauna to escape from the bounty hunters who are on hot on their tail. The secret to success lies in getting the Maw to eat the right things to absorb the qualities needed for a given puzzle.
Minor Battle is an immersive 2D multiplayer platform game displayed on four screens forming faces of a cube. Designed by the Peanut Gallery, the configuration of the screens forces players to move through physical space as they navigate their avatars through the virtual play space, and creates opportunities for physical play and conflict alongside the digital play. Minor Battle encourages physical engagement in players, reinforcing the relationship between player and avatar, and between physical and digital space. Minor Battle contains multiple gameplay modes, providing the digital game the flexibility of a physical play space, and encouraging inventive, emergent play.
Not a game in the traditional sense, Modal Kombat is a performance interface for traditional games (often Mortal Kombat) that allows the player to control their avatars by playing real guitars. The interface is a highly effective teaching tool, making practicing your guitar a momentary diversion into your favorite games. A highly entertaining performance, Modal Kombat changes the gameplay and expectations of a game it is used to control, providing insight into how input devices change the way we play our games, and an amusing commentary on the nature of game playing as performance.
Ruben & Lullaby
Ruben & Lullaby makes innovative use of the iPhone's interface dynamics in a story-based application. As a young couple embarks on their first argument, you affect the emotional tenor of the conversation, agitating them by shaking the phone, calming them by stroking the touch screen, etc. Although the game has no dialog, the facial and body language of the characters express their emotional states as you try to literally steer them through a bumpy spot in their romance. Music plays an integral part in the game, whose jazz soundtrack enhances its impact.
In Shadow Physics, you are a two-dimensional character (a shadow character) interacting with a three-dimensional space. The shadows of the 3D objects create varied terrain and obstacles for your character, and manipulating light and objects makes enormous changes to the shadow space, creating many intriguing and entertaining puzzles. With Shadow Physics, Steve Swink and Scott Anderson exploit a highly developed non-gaming technology (shadow maps) to create gameplay scenarios and puzzles. A truly innovative and inventive gameplay experience, Shadow Physics is very simply about a 2D character interacting with a 3D world, and the situations that emerge.
Sowlar is a highly entertaining adventure in farming spanning a galaxy. Designed by Odd Man In, a team at the DigiPen Institute of Technology, Sowlar wears its heart on its sleeve as it explores farming and environmental issues right out front, wrapped in compelling gameplay and entertaining art. Sowlar is designed with an extremely old school aesthetic, ASCII art and levels, and a general look that conjures up Apple II games. The bright, lightly amusing art provides a lovely support for the gameplay, which is deep and engaging. The game never preaches or discusses issues, but simply immerses the player in a struggle which cannot help but make a point. The simplicity of the artistic design plays well with this immersion, and allows graphics to become strong visual symbols within this thesis.
The Deep Sleep Initiative
An Alternate Reality Game aimed at a casual audience, The Deep Sleep Initiative attempts to engage players in an engaging interactive story space without requiring active puppet mastering and handling of players. A game contained within a print publication, with secrets hidden across the web, Deep Sleep Initiative is as charming as it is unassuming, drawing the player in deeper with mysteries and clues, with puzzles that intrigue without intimidating. ARx, a team at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), designed the game for a teen audience. The art and writing style is simple but bold, and reinforces the idea that the game is open and playable by anyone.
You Get Me
Britain's Blast Theory continue to challenge the status quo of games and performance in this mixed reality game that creates a uniquely intimate hybrid of tag and truth or dare, blending the real and the virtual, the immediate with the mediated. Eight players at computer stations in the Royal Opera House connect with runners in a park five miles away, representing a narrow geographical distance, but a cultural chasm. Greeted by the simple description "This is a game where you decide how far to go," each player must select a runner and a question to answer. Players then navigate through a virtual overlay of the park, avoiding all runners except the one they chose. Once a player catches her runner, the two engage in an intimate mediated conversation in which the runner delves deeply into the question, sharing stories about his life. The player's answers determine the distance the runner moves in the park and at the end of the game the player receives a photograph on her cell phone of the real location where the runner ended up. You Get Me is one of the many examples at IndieCade of games that bring the medium to a higher level of emotional depth.
For those weary of the standard fare of Tolkien-inspired fantasy, Zeno Clash provides a disturbingly original alternative. A major accomplishment in mythopoeia, the game takes players through an epic narrative adventure across a landscape of bizarre and surprising worlds and cultures, whose storyline echoes Greek tragedy. The gameplay consists of close and brutal melee encounters with strange characters and wondrously frightening creatures, as well as complex and elaborate environments that enhance the gameplay and propel the story forward. Developed by Chilean studio ACE Team Software, Zeno Clash combines the imagination of an indie team with the production value of a major studio, resulting in an ambitious effort that has won critical acclaim.
For more information on these titles, and for additional information on the International Festival of Independent Games, visit: http://ww.indiecade.org/