[Time to announce the Independent Games Festival again for 2010. Here's the major submission dates -- and if you click on the new IGF 'signature image' (Blueberry Garden creator Erik Svedang) in this post, you'll even get a 'variant version'.]

Think Services, organizer of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference (GDC) events, is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the 2010 Independent Games Festival. Entries to the 12th annual festival are due in both Main and Student Showcase categories by November 2009, with Main Competition finalists to be announced January 4, 2010.

Games selected as finalists will be available in playable form on the GDC show floor and will compete for nearly $50,000 in prizes, including awards for Excellence in Design, Art, the Audience Award and the coveted $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Winners will be announced on stage at the prestigious Independent Games Festival Awards on Thursday, March 11, 2010, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The Independent Games Festival Awards are held alongside the Game Developers Choice Awards and both award shows are part of the 2010 Game Developers Conference. GDC 2010 also includes the 2010 Independent Games Summit, which is entering its fourth year and offers two days of inspiration and practical lectures and rants from the top minds in the independent games world.

Over the years, the Independent Games Festival has recognized the best and brightest indie game developers and their games. As the indie game mindshare continues to grow, thanks to the rise of digital distribution and a compelling aesthetic, the Independent Games Festival has played a key role in putting a well-deserved spotlight on these games. Notable former IGF winners include Everyday Shooter, Audiosurf, World of Goo, Blueberry Garden, Darwinia, Castle Crashers, and many more.

Notable evolutions to this year's Festival include a substantial increase in the number of hand-picked IGF judges - chosen, as always, from notables practicing both mainstream and indie game development, as well as discerning indie-minded games journalists.

The judging pool has more than doubled over last year's event, allowing each individual game entry to be played in much greater depth. The IGF is also adding compulsory (previously optional) written judge feedback alongside scores, an important part of deriving value and takeaway from entering the Festival, even for non-finalists.

Simon Carless, Chairman of the IGF, commented of this year's event: "We're delighted to return for our twelfth year of the Independent Games Festival, and we're really looking forward to see what the independent game community comes up with this time around. Good luck to all entrants!"

Submissions to the competition are now open to all independent game developers; important dates for IGF 2010 are as follows:

July 1st, 2009 - Submissions are Open
November 1st, 2009 - Submission Deadline, Main Competition
November 15th, 2009 - Submission Deadline, Student Competition
January 4th, 2010 - Finalists Announced, Main Competition
January 11th, 2010 - Finalists Announced, Student Competition
March 9th-13th, 2010 - Game Developer's Conference 2010
March 9th-10th, 2010 - Indie Games Summit @ GDC
March 11-13th, 2010 - IGF Pavilion @ GDC
March 11th, 2010 - IGF Awards Ceremony (Winners Announced!)

Sponsors already confirmed for the 2010 Independent Games Festival include Official Download Partner Direct2Drive and Platinum Student Showcase sponsor DigiPen Institute Of Technology. For a complete list of IGF 2010 event information, please visit the official IGF website.