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Otto Hantula and Olli Harjola, makers of The Swapper

We caught up with independent game developers from Facepalm Games, Metanet Software, thatgamecompany, Kokoromi and Distractionware to hear what brings them to the IndieCade independent games festival in Culver City, California. Images from the event can be found on our flickr photo set and the IndieCade photostream.

Facepalm Games
Creators of The Swapper

Olli Harjola: IndieCade is awesome because it's so social. You get to chat and it's nice to see how people play your game. That it's open to everyone makes it very different from some trade shows.

This may not be the best environment for playing [The Swapper] because it's very atmospheric. You can create clones and swap your mind between them. It's supposed to be played slowly in your own room, a dark room, with headphones. Still, it's going very well.

Otto Hantula: It feels like we're hanging out. We've only had a few people playtest the current version of the game before, so this is very valuable to see how well it works.

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Robin Hunicke
Producer, thatgamecompany

As I said at the awards ceremony in my remarks, IndieCade has two awesome goals. The first is to create a publicly facing event that is affordable, accessible and celebrates the work of independent game developers in a way that exposes new people to that work.

The reason that I think that's so important is that not only does it give a lot of independent developers the chance to get together and show their work to the public, it can also inspire game designers to participate in our community. It makes it possible for a kid or a parent to envision a future where they are making videogames.

If you share the kind of magical, inventive games that we make in this community with the public, you get that back ten-fold. It's a great way to increase the diversity of participants in the community.

The second goal is to strengthen that community, so that developers can get together, share ideas and form future partnerships. It's a small enough conference that people can talk about things that are intimate. It feels inclusive, which provides a very different vibe from a larger, more commercially focused event.

The version of Hohokum that Ricky Haggett has here is beautiful and free of goals. He said he's not getting complaints from people asking "what do I do" or "where's the score?" Every game here gets similar reactions: people are surprised, sometimes shocked. Last night when Robin Arnott was showing off his musical experience/music/game, a producer for CBS came by and said, "What is this?" He was totally surprised that this "hip, young community" existed.

There's still a lot of people out there that just don't know what indie games are and where they come from. To me, every game here has the potential to reach people in a new way, and that's what makes IndieCade special.

Terry Cavanagh
Creator of At a Distance

I love IndieCade. There really is something special about it. I've been quite busy looking after my own game, but I have had the chance to play a few of the other finalists. I really like The Depths to Which I Sink, Deepak Fights Robots, The Witch, and Hohokum is fantastic, and Proteus... too many games to mention.

My game [At a Distance] is designed to work in this sort of environment. It's hard to describe without spoiling it a bit. I learn a lot every time I see it being played, and I've been making new builds of the game every time I show it, so at this point it's very different from the version I showed at No Quarter.

Heather Kelley
Designer, superHYPERCUBE

superHYPERCUBE meshes well with IndieCade because Kokoromi is a collective, not even a commercial entity, while Polytron is about as indie as it gets as developers. Between our two groups we have all the needed skills to make it happen, and we were also joined by a programmer named Steven Ascher. The production and spirit of it have been very independent.

People have asked if we'll make superHYPERCUBE for 3D TVs, but the intent of it has been a low-tech approach to stereoscopy, using red/cyan glasses. That makes it accessible to anyone with a computer monitor. There's this really high end, expensive technology, but we don't really need that. We wanted to see what we could do with the lowest common denominator stereoscopy. That's why we made our GAMMA 3D event around this old school technology. The game represents a whole bunch of different strands that are about the indie spirit.

I am very interested in the experimental side of game design and experimental interfaces. I like finding the least expected way of interacting as a human being with a system in a computer and some hardware. I like it because it pushes the boundaries of expression, engagement and involvement. We have shown games in the context of museums and long-term exhibitions, and it's always a little harder to get people to pick up the controller and play. Here you have people lining up to play. It's just about that willingness and lack of intimidation that makes it a great environment for experimental games.

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Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard of Metanet Software

Metanet Software
Makers of N+

Mare Sheppard: There's been some criticism of the placards placed by the playable games. It's not as eye-catching as, say, a huge banner over your booth. That makes IndieCade feel less expensive, but that's how indie games are developed. That people have created their own "banners" is kind of cool. At The Depths to Which I Sink they kind of ran out of room while writing "Bigpants." I think that's hilarious.

We hear that there's a Town Hall meeting tomorrow where you can come and give feedback. I think that's a good way for this event to grow. That you can have input makes it feel more indie, too. It's all of us contributing to something. The experience of Gamercamp is similar in that it's a lot of cool people in a small space and you really get the chance to talk to them.

Raigan Burns: I'm not sure how much power the Town Hall spokespeople will have, but that gesture of inclusion alone makes it qualitatively different than other gaming events.

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