Looking Back: Reactions From IGF 2011's Nominees

Patrick put up a great article this morning sharing the reactions of a few indie developers to the news that they are main competition finalists for the 2012 IGF. Which reminded me: I did the exact same thing last January! I published a series of articles on now-defunct indie games site Bytejacker chronicling the reactions of (damn near) every 2011 IGF nominee. Let's revisit those responses!

Some of these games have already come out, and others have yet to be released. Others still have changed the name of their game or dropped the project entirely. But that mix of incredulity and excitement that indie developers tend to react with is still marvelously fun to read. When folks work their asses off to make something good and receive commendation for it, it's something we can all feel good about.

Oh, also: keep in mind that a year is a long time, so try not to be freaked out when you read Greg Kasavin talking about Bastion in the future tense or Notch telegraphing his excitement for Cobalt.

Anyways, yeah! I've compiled all those micro-interviews into one mega-article. Enjoy!

Notch, Mojang Specifications

Game: Minecraft

Nominated for: Technical Excellence, Excellence In Design, Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“Getting these nominations means a lot to me, and it’s a great to see so many Swedes getting nominated with awesome games like Amnesia and Cobalt! Go Sweden!”

Greg Kasavin, Supergiant Games

Game: Bastion

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art, Excellence in Audio

“It’s an honor to be nominated both for Excellence in Visual Art and Excellence in Audio in the 2011 Independent Games Festival, especially considering the many outstanding games we were up against in those categories. One of our goals with Bastion is to create a deep and original gameworld that players can lose themselves in, so we take care to use narration, artwork, music, and sound effects to create a rich and specific atmosphere. We’re very happy to be recognized for what we’ve managed to accomplish so far.”

Brian Provinciano, Vblank Entertainment

Game: Retro City Rampage

Nominated for: Excellence in Audio

“It’s a great honor to see Retro City Rampage nominated for the IGF. The composers (Freaky DNA, Virt, Norrin Radd) have done an amazing job, I can’t say enough great things about them and their work. I especially hope that the exposure will lead to many opportunities for Matt ‘Norrin Radd’ Creamer. RCR is his first gig in the industry, but you wouldn’t know it from his incredible talent. Hopefully this will mark the start of a long and successful career in the industry for him with contracts shooting at him left and right when he’s not busy at work on future projects with us.”

Nicolai Troshinsky, Plural Games

Game: Loop Raccord

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“What the nomination means to me? Well, taking in account that I am not a game developer, that it’s not even my goal to be one, and that ‘Loop Raccord’ is just my second game, I feel a bit like an intruder. At the same time, I am deeply interested in video games as a way of expression and I think it’s a vastly unexplored medium, so the nomination somehow proves me that I’m right, and encourages me to keep exploring!”

Alexander Bruce, Demruth

Game: Hazard: The Journey Of Life (now known as Antichamber)

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“Getting into the IGF is like finding out that you’ve won a million dollars. You have to check the results a couple of times, walk away, come back, and learn how to breathe again. At least, I THINK that’s what winning a million dollars would be like. Ask Notch… he’d know.

On a more serious note, this nomination is quite important to me. When you’re creating something radically different, there’s a very high risk that it doesn’t work and you’ve wasted your time. Many times I’ve questioned whether what I was doing was working, but now I know for sure.”

Jake Elliott, Cardboard Computer

Game: A House in California

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“I’m totally thrilled to have the game next to some other awesome finalists like The Cat and the Coup, Dinner Date, Nidhogg & some others new to me that I can’t wait to play. I also feel very honored to know that the game was played & appreciated by the Nuovo Award jury, whose roster reads like an art games syllabus.”

Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games

Game: BIT.TRIP RUNNER / BIT.TRIP BEAT

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art / Excellence in Audio

“Gaijin is very excited to have reached the finalist list for the IGF. It’s almost hard to believe; when you work on something so closely, you start to become unaware of its quality, and to be validated like this by the community in which one rolls is such a joy. All of the other finalists are such talented groups of people that we are honored to be considered their peers. I wish every one of us the best of luck!”

Niv Fisher and Sagi Koren, SpikySnail Games

Game: Confetti Carnival (now known as The Splatters)

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“For us – being just 2 guys working on a game out of Israel, this is just phenomenal! We’re thrilled at the opportunity to have so many people come by and play Confetti Carnival with us.
It’s still really early to say what kind of effect it will have (but we’re very optimistic) – for us, it’s always been about putting the best we can out there and we’ll keep doing just that. See you at GDC!”

Niki Smit, Monobanda

Game: Bohm

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“It’s not everyday that you get recognition for such a strange and personal piece of work. We made Bohm as a sort of experimental homage to themes and feelings we love. It’s was more about expressing ourselves than about making ‘the best new game.™’
We get energized by strange new experiments. So to get recognition from other like-minded artists is equally humbling and honouring. Together with Cannibal and Claynote we got the chance to realize an idea that’s very close to our hearts.So this nomination doesn’t necessarily mean we succeeded, but it does mean that other people ‘get’ the idea. And that’s just insanely good news, because it means we are not crazy.”

Rami Ismail / Jan Willem Nijman, Vlambeer

Game: Super Crate Box

Nominated for: Excellence In Design

“Rami from Vlambeer says: ‘Holy poop!’ Jan Willem from Vlambeer says: ‘I hope we get a free phone this year!’
We’re really honored the IGF jury was able to appreciate a small game like Super Crate Box, though. That’d be all.”

Erik Zaring, Cockroach

Game: The Dream Machine

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art

“I called my Father yesterday to tell him that we’d been nominated for the IGF. I was so happy. Ecstatic almost. But he just calmly replied: “Well son, tomorrow’s another day and you should still be looking for a proper job.” Thanks dad. At the age of 35 my parents are still waiting for me to get a proper job. But I know they are happy for me somewhere deep, deep inside of their hearts. I love my parents and thank them! Also, a big thanks to the jury who nominated us! We’ve been working hard on this game for two years now, and boosts like this really help! See you all at GDC hopefully! For anyone attending, please drop by to play our game if you can spare the time. We are friendly people and smell real nice. I’m the tall blonde guy who talks a lot and Anders is the short, shifty looking fellow. Buy him a drink and he’ll tell you all his secrets.”

Calvin Goble, Robot Loves Kitty

Game: Neverdaunt:8Bit

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“Having the game that I poured my life into(no dev was harmed in the making of this game) get nominated for the Technical Excelence Award really gave me this overall “Woot” feeling. It’s suddenly not just me that thinks my game is awesome anymore, and it has really validated all of the deep thought, effort, and struggle (and copious amounts of coffee).-Calvin Goble, That guy that made that game all by himself and stuff.”

Douglas Wilson, Copenhagen Game Collective

Game: B.U.T.T.O.N.

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be at IGF this year! We showed an earlier iteration of B.U.T.T.O.N. at Kokoromi’s GAMMA IV party last year, so it feels both strange and rewarding to be returning to GDC one year later with the same game.
In late 2009, after months of concept work and prototyping, we received a grant to develop a wizard dueling game for the Nintendo Wii. A larger team from the Copenhagen Game Collective – which includes most of the B.U.T.T.O.N. team – spent the first six months of 2010 refining the idea and developing a vertical slice. However, that isn’t the game that was selected for IGF 2011. Instead, the game that we’re showcasing, B.U.T.T.O.N., is a silly “wouldn’t-it-be-funny-if…” side project, initially prototyped in just a weekend or two.
The takeaway lesson here is that the design ideas that look sexiest on paper don’t always translate (at least not immediately) to the games that are catchiest in practice. The corollary lesson is, sometimes the stupidest games are the most memorable ones.
Our experience with B.U.T.T.O.N. shows us that it can be productively refreshing to blow off steam on small side projects while working on a larger production. You never know – a silly side project might unexpectedly turn out to be the real gem.”

Ricky Haggett, Honeyslug

Game: Hohokum

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art

“At last year’s GDC in San Francisco, after the Gamma party which was easily the conference highlight, Dick Hogg and I spent three days on the show floor, manning the Gamma stand where our One Button Game, “Poto & Cabenga” was on display. We had a great time at GDC, and met a bunch of people in the indie games scene who have since become good friends of ours.
The setup in 2010 was that the IGF area was over on one side of the conference hall, and almost all the way over at the other side was the Gamma stand: two small islands of indie, adrift in a sea of mainstream industry stands: physics middleware, QA Databases and abrasive publisher booths pushing their latest AAA title or recruiting staff with offers of free beer (well okay, the free beer wasn’t so bad).
It was an honour to be picked for Gamma, and we had loads of fun hanging out at the stand, watching people stray into our orbit and play the games, but it was hard to escape the level of buzz over at the IGF stand, with crowds of people gathered around what turned out to be some of the games of the year. We spent the last few hours before the Pavillion shut on the final day over there, playing and chatting, and afterwards Dick said to me – in a joking kind of way – “next year we’re gonna be over here”. At the time I would never have imagined we would be, but last year turned out to be a good one for Hohokum – although we’ve been working on the game intermittently for 3 years, 2010 was the year we finally figured out what the game actually is, and we’re now really glad that we persevered, and delighted to be selected for the IGF of course!
It’s especially cool that a bunch of our fellow Gammapals from ’09 have made it to the finals with us this year – the Copenhagen Game Collective with BUTTON, Mikengreg with Solipskier and Steph Thirion with Faraway. Gonna be a fun week!”

Greg Wohlwend, Mikengreg

Game: Solipskier

Nominated for: Best Mobile Game

“It’s just nuts. In past years I would stay up and refresh web pages to read the nominations ASAP, but this year I had pretty much decided there was no chance we’d make it in. I woke up Monday to twitter beeping at me about it and my heart hasn’t stopped pumping since. It’s likely I’m still dreaming.”

Marc ten Bosch

Game: Miegakure

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“I think the jury system the IGF implemented this year was a very good thing. I was especially looking forward to the nominees in the Technical Excellence category as it is difficult for non-programmers to judge the technical merits of a game.”

Jeroen D. Stout, Stout Games

Game: Dinner Date

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“It is a very promising thing to find Dinner Date nominated for the IGF. I am acutely aware of how Dinner Date takes quite a different angle compared to most games and it is after the time I spent developing it very heart-warming to see it is finding such an audience! Knowing that the Nuovo Award is specifically for the advancement of the medium it is quite an exhilarating thing to realize one is part of such advancements. I look forward to presenting it at the GDC tremendously and have equal anticipation for meeting interesting people there. It will be rather dashing, I am sure.”

Zach Gage and Kurt Bieg, stfj

Game: Halcyon

Nominated for: Best Mobile Game

Zach: “I’ve been making niche artistic apps and games for a few years now and although they have all been critically acclaimed, I’ve never had anything close to mainstream success. Getting a nomination for Halcyon is incredibly exciting for me because it means that the audience of gamers who enjoy abstract artistic and experimental games is growing. And its not just Halcyon, each of the games that was nominated for Best Mobile Game are innovative, unique, and beautiful.”
Kurt: “Working with Zach was a really fantastic opportunity. Halcyon was a chance to really try some new ideas and try to mesh sounds and music with a simple and elegant mechanic. Looking back, it was really a lot of fun developing. Being nominated really came as a surprise and I am super honored to be nominated along side the best mobile indie games of 2010.”

Messhof

Game: Nidhogg

Nominated for: Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“i cannot wait to beat everyone mercilessly at nidhogg.”

Frictional Games

Game: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Nominated for: Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“IGF? We cannot seem to remember applying for that…”

Man, it was fun reading through these again. Particularly Erik's story about his dad's reaction to his nomination. Bittersweet, I guess!

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by Babylonian

Patrick put up a great article this morning sharing the reactions of a few indie developers to the news that they are main competition finalists for the 2012 IGF. Which reminded me: I did the exact same thing last January! I published a series of articles on now-defunct indie games site Bytejacker chronicling the reactions of (damn near) every 2011 IGF nominee. Let's revisit those responses!

Some of these games have already come out, and others have yet to be released. Others still have changed the name of their game or dropped the project entirely. But that mix of incredulity and excitement that indie developers tend to react with is still marvelously fun to read. When folks work their asses off to make something good and receive commendation for it, it's something we can all feel good about.

Oh, also: keep in mind that a year is a long time, so try not to be freaked out when you read Greg Kasavin talking about Bastion in the future tense or Notch telegraphing his excitement for Cobalt.

Anyways, yeah! I've compiled all those micro-interviews into one mega-article. Enjoy!

Notch, Mojang Specifications

Game: Minecraft

Nominated for: Technical Excellence, Excellence In Design, Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“Getting these nominations means a lot to me, and it’s a great to see so many Swedes getting nominated with awesome games like Amnesia and Cobalt! Go Sweden!”

Greg Kasavin, Supergiant Games

Game: Bastion

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art, Excellence in Audio

“It’s an honor to be nominated both for Excellence in Visual Art and Excellence in Audio in the 2011 Independent Games Festival, especially considering the many outstanding games we were up against in those categories. One of our goals with Bastion is to create a deep and original gameworld that players can lose themselves in, so we take care to use narration, artwork, music, and sound effects to create a rich and specific atmosphere. We’re very happy to be recognized for what we’ve managed to accomplish so far.”

Brian Provinciano, Vblank Entertainment

Game: Retro City Rampage

Nominated for: Excellence in Audio

“It’s a great honor to see Retro City Rampage nominated for the IGF. The composers (Freaky DNA, Virt, Norrin Radd) have done an amazing job, I can’t say enough great things about them and their work. I especially hope that the exposure will lead to many opportunities for Matt ‘Norrin Radd’ Creamer. RCR is his first gig in the industry, but you wouldn’t know it from his incredible talent. Hopefully this will mark the start of a long and successful career in the industry for him with contracts shooting at him left and right when he’s not busy at work on future projects with us.”

Nicolai Troshinsky, Plural Games

Game: Loop Raccord

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“What the nomination means to me? Well, taking in account that I am not a game developer, that it’s not even my goal to be one, and that ‘Loop Raccord’ is just my second game, I feel a bit like an intruder. At the same time, I am deeply interested in video games as a way of expression and I think it’s a vastly unexplored medium, so the nomination somehow proves me that I’m right, and encourages me to keep exploring!”

Alexander Bruce, Demruth

Game: Hazard: The Journey Of Life (now known as Antichamber)

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“Getting into the IGF is like finding out that you’ve won a million dollars. You have to check the results a couple of times, walk away, come back, and learn how to breathe again. At least, I THINK that’s what winning a million dollars would be like. Ask Notch… he’d know.

On a more serious note, this nomination is quite important to me. When you’re creating something radically different, there’s a very high risk that it doesn’t work and you’ve wasted your time. Many times I’ve questioned whether what I was doing was working, but now I know for sure.”

Jake Elliott, Cardboard Computer

Game: A House in California

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“I’m totally thrilled to have the game next to some other awesome finalists like The Cat and the Coup, Dinner Date, Nidhogg & some others new to me that I can’t wait to play. I also feel very honored to know that the game was played & appreciated by the Nuovo Award jury, whose roster reads like an art games syllabus.”

Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games

Game: BIT.TRIP RUNNER / BIT.TRIP BEAT

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art / Excellence in Audio

“Gaijin is very excited to have reached the finalist list for the IGF. It’s almost hard to believe; when you work on something so closely, you start to become unaware of its quality, and to be validated like this by the community in which one rolls is such a joy. All of the other finalists are such talented groups of people that we are honored to be considered their peers. I wish every one of us the best of luck!”

Niv Fisher and Sagi Koren, SpikySnail Games

Game: Confetti Carnival (now known as The Splatters)

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“For us – being just 2 guys working on a game out of Israel, this is just phenomenal! We’re thrilled at the opportunity to have so many people come by and play Confetti Carnival with us.
It’s still really early to say what kind of effect it will have (but we’re very optimistic) – for us, it’s always been about putting the best we can out there and we’ll keep doing just that. See you at GDC!”

Niki Smit, Monobanda

Game: Bohm

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“It’s not everyday that you get recognition for such a strange and personal piece of work. We made Bohm as a sort of experimental homage to themes and feelings we love. It’s was more about expressing ourselves than about making ‘the best new game.™’
We get energized by strange new experiments. So to get recognition from other like-minded artists is equally humbling and honouring. Together with Cannibal and Claynote we got the chance to realize an idea that’s very close to our hearts.So this nomination doesn’t necessarily mean we succeeded, but it does mean that other people ‘get’ the idea. And that’s just insanely good news, because it means we are not crazy.”

Rami Ismail / Jan Willem Nijman, Vlambeer

Game: Super Crate Box

Nominated for: Excellence In Design

“Rami from Vlambeer says: ‘Holy poop!’ Jan Willem from Vlambeer says: ‘I hope we get a free phone this year!’
We’re really honored the IGF jury was able to appreciate a small game like Super Crate Box, though. That’d be all.”

Erik Zaring, Cockroach

Game: The Dream Machine

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art

“I called my Father yesterday to tell him that we’d been nominated for the IGF. I was so happy. Ecstatic almost. But he just calmly replied: “Well son, tomorrow’s another day and you should still be looking for a proper job.” Thanks dad. At the age of 35 my parents are still waiting for me to get a proper job. But I know they are happy for me somewhere deep, deep inside of their hearts. I love my parents and thank them! Also, a big thanks to the jury who nominated us! We’ve been working hard on this game for two years now, and boosts like this really help! See you all at GDC hopefully! For anyone attending, please drop by to play our game if you can spare the time. We are friendly people and smell real nice. I’m the tall blonde guy who talks a lot and Anders is the short, shifty looking fellow. Buy him a drink and he’ll tell you all his secrets.”

Calvin Goble, Robot Loves Kitty

Game: Neverdaunt:8Bit

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“Having the game that I poured my life into(no dev was harmed in the making of this game) get nominated for the Technical Excelence Award really gave me this overall “Woot” feeling. It’s suddenly not just me that thinks my game is awesome anymore, and it has really validated all of the deep thought, effort, and struggle (and copious amounts of coffee).-Calvin Goble, That guy that made that game all by himself and stuff.”

Douglas Wilson, Copenhagen Game Collective

Game: B.U.T.T.O.N.

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be at IGF this year! We showed an earlier iteration of B.U.T.T.O.N. at Kokoromi’s GAMMA IV party last year, so it feels both strange and rewarding to be returning to GDC one year later with the same game.
In late 2009, after months of concept work and prototyping, we received a grant to develop a wizard dueling game for the Nintendo Wii. A larger team from the Copenhagen Game Collective – which includes most of the B.U.T.T.O.N. team – spent the first six months of 2010 refining the idea and developing a vertical slice. However, that isn’t the game that was selected for IGF 2011. Instead, the game that we’re showcasing, B.U.T.T.O.N., is a silly “wouldn’t-it-be-funny-if…” side project, initially prototyped in just a weekend or two.
The takeaway lesson here is that the design ideas that look sexiest on paper don’t always translate (at least not immediately) to the games that are catchiest in practice. The corollary lesson is, sometimes the stupidest games are the most memorable ones.
Our experience with B.U.T.T.O.N. shows us that it can be productively refreshing to blow off steam on small side projects while working on a larger production. You never know – a silly side project might unexpectedly turn out to be the real gem.”

Ricky Haggett, Honeyslug

Game: Hohokum

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art

“At last year’s GDC in San Francisco, after the Gamma party which was easily the conference highlight, Dick Hogg and I spent three days on the show floor, manning the Gamma stand where our One Button Game, “Poto & Cabenga” was on display. We had a great time at GDC, and met a bunch of people in the indie games scene who have since become good friends of ours.
The setup in 2010 was that the IGF area was over on one side of the conference hall, and almost all the way over at the other side was the Gamma stand: two small islands of indie, adrift in a sea of mainstream industry stands: physics middleware, QA Databases and abrasive publisher booths pushing their latest AAA title or recruiting staff with offers of free beer (well okay, the free beer wasn’t so bad).
It was an honour to be picked for Gamma, and we had loads of fun hanging out at the stand, watching people stray into our orbit and play the games, but it was hard to escape the level of buzz over at the IGF stand, with crowds of people gathered around what turned out to be some of the games of the year. We spent the last few hours before the Pavillion shut on the final day over there, playing and chatting, and afterwards Dick said to me – in a joking kind of way – “next year we’re gonna be over here”. At the time I would never have imagined we would be, but last year turned out to be a good one for Hohokum – although we’ve been working on the game intermittently for 3 years, 2010 was the year we finally figured out what the game actually is, and we’re now really glad that we persevered, and delighted to be selected for the IGF of course!
It’s especially cool that a bunch of our fellow Gammapals from ’09 have made it to the finals with us this year – the Copenhagen Game Collective with BUTTON, Mikengreg with Solipskier and Steph Thirion with Faraway. Gonna be a fun week!”

Greg Wohlwend, Mikengreg

Game: Solipskier

Nominated for: Best Mobile Game

“It’s just nuts. In past years I would stay up and refresh web pages to read the nominations ASAP, but this year I had pretty much decided there was no chance we’d make it in. I woke up Monday to twitter beeping at me about it and my heart hasn’t stopped pumping since. It’s likely I’m still dreaming.”

Marc ten Bosch

Game: Miegakure

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“I think the jury system the IGF implemented this year was a very good thing. I was especially looking forward to the nominees in the Technical Excellence category as it is difficult for non-programmers to judge the technical merits of a game.”

Jeroen D. Stout, Stout Games

Game: Dinner Date

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“It is a very promising thing to find Dinner Date nominated for the IGF. I am acutely aware of how Dinner Date takes quite a different angle compared to most games and it is after the time I spent developing it very heart-warming to see it is finding such an audience! Knowing that the Nuovo Award is specifically for the advancement of the medium it is quite an exhilarating thing to realize one is part of such advancements. I look forward to presenting it at the GDC tremendously and have equal anticipation for meeting interesting people there. It will be rather dashing, I am sure.”

Zach Gage and Kurt Bieg, stfj

Game: Halcyon

Nominated for: Best Mobile Game

Zach: “I’ve been making niche artistic apps and games for a few years now and although they have all been critically acclaimed, I’ve never had anything close to mainstream success. Getting a nomination for Halcyon is incredibly exciting for me because it means that the audience of gamers who enjoy abstract artistic and experimental games is growing. And its not just Halcyon, each of the games that was nominated for Best Mobile Game are innovative, unique, and beautiful.”
Kurt: “Working with Zach was a really fantastic opportunity. Halcyon was a chance to really try some new ideas and try to mesh sounds and music with a simple and elegant mechanic. Looking back, it was really a lot of fun developing. Being nominated really came as a surprise and I am super honored to be nominated along side the best mobile indie games of 2010.”

Messhof

Game: Nidhogg

Nominated for: Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“i cannot wait to beat everyone mercilessly at nidhogg.”

Frictional Games

Game: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Nominated for: Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“IGF? We cannot seem to remember applying for that…”

Man, it was fun reading through these again. Particularly Erik's story about his dad's reaction to his nomination. Bittersweet, I guess!

Posted by Claude

I thought the last one was the best. 
 
IGF?
 
Now I know.