February 9, 2014 7:07 PM | Staff
In the wake of the IGF 2014 Main Competition finalists announcement, we've been working to shed some light on the selection process and highlight some of the games that didn't garner enough critical mass to be nominated as a finalist.
Here's how it works: the main IGF competition has a diverse panel of judges that includes representatives from the mainstream game industry, previous IGF winners and finalists, other independent game developers, and a smattering of indie-friendly game journalists.
In addition, every IGF award has its own jury staffed by experts in the contexts and disciplines that define the award. The main IGF jury recommend individual titles to these award-specific juries, who then cast votes on which games should be nominated to compete for the award.
Those well-deserved nominations shine a spotlight on a select number of IGF entrants, but there are so many great games competing for a spot on the field -- over 650 were submitted to the IGF this year -- that plenty of good entries garner meaningful praise from judges but don't reach the critical mass of votes to become a finalist.
With that in mind, we'd like to take time to highlight some IGF 2014 entrants that received at least one vote of nomination for the Excellence in Visual Art award, but fell just short of making it to the list of finalists and honorable mentions. While they may not have made it past that round of voting, each of these games earned praise from one or more members of the IGF Visual Art Jury for excellence in visual artistic design.
Lumino City is a puzzle adventure game made entirely out of paper, cardboard, miniature lights and electric motors. Developer State of Play worked with artists, model-makers and architects to create a full-blown eight-foot interactive city, then coded an adventure game within the city that plays out via stop-motion animation, photography and video.
State of Play nearly made it into the ranks of the IGF 2014 finalists on sheer visual design and audacity alone. At least one IGF juror praised the game for its sweeping stop-motion scene transitions and use of seemingly hand-painted models to tell its story.
Martin Jonasson's rymdkapsel isn't a typical RTS -- games play out at a relatively sedate pace, the player-built maps often come to resemble sheets of ironed-together tetrominoes floating in space, and the units themselves are just faceless geometric constructs. IGF jurors praised rymdkapsel for this minimalist aesthetic, going so far as to suggest that the game's vibrant colors, geometrically precise architecture and simple sound design evoked a nearly meditative state as the player continually builds, defends and rebuilds a lonely space station.
Sparpweed's ibb & obb is a game designed around cooperative play -- two players guide titular heroes ibb & obb through a vibrant side-scrolling adventure in a surreal world where gravity reverses when you cross a line that horizontally bisects the screen.
The puzzles are all about cooperation, while the art design is all about bright colors and spritely, otherworldly creatures. It's striking enough to earn nods from members of the IGF Visual Art jury, who felt that the game's brilliant art design, coupled with the simple platforming, made ibb & obb feel almost like an inverse of Limbo.
Apotheon is a visually striking side-scrolling action RPG from Alien Trap in which players traverse a massive Mount Olympus pulled from the page of Greek mythology.
The characters themselves look like someone breathed life into the paintings that adorn ancient Greek pottery. While speaking to Gamasutra the developers shared some of the creative ways they got around the limitations of Black Figure artwork -- which was chiefly composed of black and red hues and rarely featured backgrounds -- to craft a game that looks flat-out gorgeous, earning it a nod from at least one member of the IGF Visual Art jury.
Other notable jury picks in the Visual Art category include Papers, Please, Potatoman Seeks the Troof, and Jazzpunk. These games didn't make it into the final round of Visual Art award nominations and honorable mentions, but were nominated in other categories. More details on these games and other excellent entrants can be found on the IGF 2014 website.
[Alex Wawro wrote this article for sister site Gamasutra]