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Mark Essen and Mark DeNardo of Cream Wolf fame

On the final day of IndieCade 2011, we spent time with independent game developers from LoadComplete, the Copenhagen Game Collective, Pixeljam and Haunted Temple Studios to hear what they will take away from the festival in Culver City, California. Images from the event can be found on our flickr photo set and the IndieCade photostream.

Mark DeNardo
Musician, Pixeljam

I've come to IndieCade for Pixeljam Games, having done music composition for Dino Run, along with some level design and marketing for games. I am here to see friends I've made at other conventions. It's also really awesome that it's happenstance that Pixeljam is currently #1 on Bandcamp with the bundle of Dino Run SE and Space Rubbish.

We have two games coming out. Glorkian Warrior is a collaboration with James Kochalka. I met James at an 8-bit event a little while ago and got us going in the direction of our working together on a game with Rich Grillotti's illustrations. Having been here, I may return to Brooklyn to talk with Miles Tilmann about my insights on how to make it a better game.

Some of my ideas have come from hanging out in the IndieCade firehouse and looking at games, while others have come from just talking with people at Venice Beach. It may be that many expected Glorkian Warrior or Dino Run iPhone to come out sooner, but I always think about the Shigeru Miyamoto quote: "A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time." We're looking to make good games until the end of time.

I also have game designs I'm working on myself, but I'm sworn to secrecy outside the Foshay Masonic Lodge.

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Donghee Sung, Woondal Jeong, Soo Jeong Bae and Michael K. Lee of LoadComplete

Soo Jeong Bae
Art Director & Musician, LoadComplete

I've been to GDC and PAX, and IndieCade feels like a good home for indie developers because there's an emphasis on personal contact. We are a studio of 14 people located in South Korea, just ten minutes south of Seoul. Our titles include Play Kalei, a finalist for IndieCade, and Bumping Bears, a social mobile game that uses Facebook Connect, where you are a bear guardian taking care of your bear cubs on a donut planet.

As in many startups, often I find I'm switching roles within a given project, suddenly wearing the hat of a musician or artist. So far I've written music for Trino, Play Kalei and Bumping Bears, while for Play Kalei, Blue Heart and Bumping Bears I've served as art director.

I think the IndieCade organizers felt Play Kalei was a good example of a family oriented indie game. There's not an emphasis on violence in our titles, and there's cute art and sound design. It's been nice to see kids brought here to this festival by the older generation, playing Play Kalei and focusing really hard to get the right answers. They asked me to join a panel today at IndieCade Village about the family friendly nature of the game.

Zach Gage
Designer, Halcyon

This is my third year here and has been the most exciting for me because I got to both speak and have a game, Halcyon, in the festival. IndieCade was my first experience with the indie game community. I came on a lark, looking for a plane ticket only days before, and found a $250 roundtrip airline ticket from New York. It felt like fate.

Brandon Boyer and Steph Thirion were the first two people I met, and this was right after I had been both floored by Eliss and become obsessed with Offworld, so it was extra exciting. When I go to something like E3 and GDC they are fun because I know people already, but here if you don't know someone you can get to meet them. That's why I come back here each year, because there are great games, amazing talks and you actually get to meet people.

The talk that I did this year was on Form + Code. I got to be on a panel with Robert Hodgin, Casey Reas, and Daniel Shiffman, who are all large figures in the digital, generative art scene, which is where I come from. It was pretty hilarious to be on a panel with people who are really, really famous... even though here, only a few people knew them, and a bunch of people knew me, which was a weird flip.

They spoke about how code can generate aesthetic forms and my role was to connect that to making games. Code is an amazing thing because, on the one hand, it's this tool we use to make games, but on the other hand it's a tangible manifestation of abstract rules that govern the systems we're building. I tried to connect code not just to aesthetic form, but to systemic form, emotional form and everything that comes out of a game for a player.

I think that the community of people engaging with games here during the GameWalk is really good and really different than other festivals. There are a lot of children, which is not something that you see at GDC. I got lucky and Halcyon was picked by Tracy Fullerton to do a Well Played session, which was really cool and would not have happened were I not in the festival. Being able to sit on stage and watch someone so talented really dive into my game was the greatest honor.

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Ben Vance of Haunted Temple Studios

Ben Vance
Programmer / Designer, Skulls of the Shogun

Skulls of the Shogun is a finalist in the competition this year at IndieCade. This event has a lot of diversity, but the people share a lot of things in common in terms of passionate concern for the craft. You have many amazing conversations and great moments over the course of the three days. I always try to go and see the panels, and Adam Saltsman's this year on reaching toward the sublime in games was really good. The ability to sit down and talk with people is much easier than at other events.

We're honored to be here with so many amazing indie games. Trying to do something different with an established genre may feel a little less experimental, but we want to take the form forward. Turn-based strategy is a very inclusive genre, like a board game, because it's not about reflexes or reaction time but about strategy and interesting choices.

A lot of our design decisions have been based on making the game as fast as possible and making it fun for multiplayer. Local multiplayer especially has taken a back seat lately, but what about getting together with your friends and having a good time? Skulls of the Shogun is looking to bring back the excitement of that old school gaming experience.

Douglas Wilson
Developer, Johann Sebastian Joust!

This is my fourth IndieCade. Basically I'm the main developer on Johann Sebastian Joust!, so I'm here alone. In 2008 I was here with the Copenhagen Game Collective showing Dark Room Sex Game, which was more of a big, collaborative project. My day job is as a researcher and when I get my PhD, I'm going to go full-time indie, which is really exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I have to say, my favorite IndieCade was 2008. It was in a small room in a venue in Seattle the first year. It was such an intimate feel, because all of the developers were together in the same room. I do think it's good that IndieCade has grown though, because now there is a greater diversity to the audience. Cutting business deals and crazy blog coverage is not the point of this festival. You get to spend a lot of time meeting other game developers, and it can be super motivating and energizing to meet all these cool people.

Nick Fortugno and I did a Well Played session on Joust!, which was a lot of fun. Also, on the Project Next panel, I spoke on this new project Nils [Deneken] is doing with his studio, Die Gute Fabrik. This is kind of a dream project that he's been concepting for years. He calls it a "character-driven swamp opera," an adventure game platformer set in a strange tropical town full of friendly mutants. It's a story-rich, episodic game that involves helping these mutants out and becoming part of their town. I'm a huge fan of Nils' artwork, so I see my role as coming in as a programmer and producer to help realize his vision.

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Douglas Wilson, center, playing Johann Sebastian Joust! with festivalgoers

[For further information on the festival, see the IndieCade website. More images are available on our flickr photo set. Photos by Jeriaska.]