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PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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The 14th Annual Independent Games Festival Finalists Announced

by Rainier on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 11:55 a.m. PST

The Independent Games Festival juries have announced the Main Competition finalists for the 14th annual presentation of its awards, celebrating the brightest creatives and the most influential game designs to come out of the independent community in the past year. 

This year's finalists for the most prestigious indie game awards, each picked by a discipline-specific set of expert juries after recommendations from almost 200 top independent game experts, are led by multiple nominations for several standout titles.

These include thechineseroom’s experimental first person game Dear Esther — picking up nominations for Visual Art and Audio, as well as the Nuovo Award and Seumas McNally Grand Prize — and Mossmouth’s procedurally generated platformer Spelunky, which was nominated for the Design and Technical Awards on top of a nod for the Grand Prize.

Other multiple-nominated titles include Polytron’s highly anticipated puzzle adventure Fez, Mode 7’s turn based tactical shooter Frozen Synapse and Die Gute Fabrik’s digitally-enabled folk game Johann Sebastian Joust, all of which saw nominations for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize on top of nominations for Technical Excellence, Excellence in Design and the Nuovo Award, respectively.

The Nuovo Award, once again honoring “abstract, shortform and unconventional game development” of all kinds also saw some standout games in addition to some of the above titles among its eight nominees for the $5,000 prize. These include Bennett Foddy's fiendish climbing game GIRP,  Daniel Benmergui's evocative title Storyteller and Terry Cavanagh's two-player puzzle title At A Distance.

Now in its second year fully integrated into the IGF Main Competition, the Best Mobile Game Award saw nominations for Tiger Style’s sci-fi action gardening game Waking Mars — also up for an Excellence in Audio award — Simogo’s rhythm-stealth game Beat Sneak Bandit, Steph Thirion’s constellation-crafter Faraway, Powerhead’s color-puzzler ASYNC Corp and Vlambeer’s fishing/shooter Ridiculous Fishing.

All finalist games will be playable in the IGF Pavilion on the Game Developers Conference 2012 Expo floor from March 7-9, 2012, at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, as part of a week of independent game-related content that also includes the Independent Games Summit (March 5th-6th) and the IGF Awards ceremony itself.

The IGF Awards, where this year's IGF winners will be unveiled, will be held on the evening of March 7, alongside the Game Developers Choice Awards. IGF award recipients will receive $60,000 of prizes in various categories, including the $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

The full list of finalists for the 2012 Independent Games Festival, with jury-picked “honorable mentions” to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, is as follows:

Excellence In Visual Art

  • Botanicula (Amanita Design)
  • Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
  • Lume (State Of Play Games)
  • Mirage (Mario von Rickenbach)
  • Wonderputt (Damp Gnat)
  • Honorable mentions: Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo), Dustforce (Hitbox Team), Fader (Chris Makris), Proun (Joost van Dongen), Toren (Swordtales)

Technical Excellence

  • Antichamber (Demruth)
  • Fez (Polytron)
  • Prom Week (Expressive Intelligence Studio, UC Santa Cruz)
  • Realm of the Mad God (Wild Shadow Studios & Spry Fox)
  • Spelunky (Mossmouth)
  • Honorable mentions: Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games), Nitronic Rush (DigiPen Institute of Technology), Reflow (Xymatic), Super T.I.M.E. Force (Capy), Tiny & Big - Grandpa's Leftovers (Black Pants)

Excellence In Design

  • Atom Zombie Smasher (Blendo Games)
  • English Country Tune (Stephen Lavelle)
  • Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
  • Gunpoint (Tom Francis, John Roberts and Fabian van Dommelen)
  • Spelunky (Mossmouth)
  • Honorable mentions: Faraway (Steph Thirion), FTL (Justin Ma & Matthew Davis), Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik), SpaceChem (Zachtronics Industries), Where Is My Heart? (Die Gute Fabrik)

Excellence In Audio

  • Botanicula (Amanita Design)
  • Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
  • Pugs Luv Beats (Lucky Frame)
  • To The Moon (Freebird Games)
  • Waking Mars (Tiger Style)
  • Honorable mentions: Beatbuddy (Threaks), Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo), Fez (Polytron), Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga), Where Is My Heart? (Die Gute Fabrik)

Best Mobile Game

  • ASYNC Corp (Powerhead Games)
  • Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo)
  • Faraway (Steph Thirion)
  • Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer)
  • Waking Mars (Tiger Style)
  • Honorable mentions: Fingle (Game Oven Studios), Hundreds (SemiSecret & aeiowu), iBlast Moki 2 (Godzilab), Temple Run (Imangi Studios), Tentacles (Press Play)

Nuovo Award

[Designed to honor abstract, shortform and unconventional game development.]

  • At a Distance (Terry Cavanagh)
  • Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
  • Fingle (Game Oven Studios)
  • GIRP (Bennett Foddy)
  • Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga)
  • Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
  • Storyteller (Daniel Benmergui)
  • Way (CoCo & Co.)
  • Honorable mentions: Deep Sea (Wraughk), Four Letter Word (Terry Cavanagh), Glitchhiker (Aardbever), Hundreds (SemiSecret & aeiowu), POP (Rob Lach)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

  • Dear Esther (thechineseroom)
  • Fez (Polytron)
  • Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)
  • Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)
  • Spelunky (Mossmouth)

Honorable mentions: Antichamber (Demruth), FTL (Justin Ma & Matthew Davis), Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga), SpaceChem (Zachtronics Industries ), Where Is My Heart? (Die Gute Fabrik)

In addition, the IGF announced last month that the festival program has entered a new multi-year partnership with Microsoft Studios and its Xbox LIVE Arcade publishing team, to offer a new prize to support notable indies. A standalone jury of independent game creators is working with Microsoft to identify possible choices for the XBLA Prize.

The prize includes a guaranteed first-party publishing deal to release the selected title on Microsoft's LIVE-enabled platforms, including the Xbox LIVE Arcade service, Windows Phone, and Windows and full game funding to complete the title, if desired, and its winner will be announced on stage during the IGF Awards this March.

“While the sheer number of fantastic entries in this year’s festival made whittling down this selection of finalists a difficult task for our judges and juries, that overwhelming show of quality is proof that independents truly are driving the future of games,” said IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer. “I’m tremendously excited to see a wider audience discovering and getting to experience all of the beauty and brilliance showcased this year.”

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