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GDC 2012:  Fez ,  Spelunky ,  Antichamber , earn IGF honors
GDC 2012: Fez, Spelunky, Antichamber, earn IGF honors
March 7, 2012 | By Staff

March 7, 2012 | By Staff
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    47 comments
More: Indie, GDC, Audio, Design, Programming, Art



Emotions ran high at the 2012 Independent Games Festival Awards on Wednesday night, where games including Alexander Bruce's Antichamber and Polytron's Fez earned industry recognition.

At the event, hosted by Monaco developer and indie game mainstay Andy Schatz, it was Polytron and Phil Fish's Fez that won the top honor, the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. The recognition for the upcoming game comes after a prolonged and -- for Fish -- stressful development cycle.

"Thank you so much," said a bewildered Fish, apparently on the verge of tears. "This means the world to me. Five fucking years. I don't know what to say... Thank you."

Alexander Bruce, a self-described serial award winner, walked away with the technical excellence award. While he's won various awards and nominations in the past, as a dedicated coder and game designer, the technical award in particular was a hard-won honor for Bruce, who also expressed disbelief and teary eyes.

Derek Yu also gave a brief yet heartfelt acceptance speech when he and his team won Excellence in Design for Spelunky, with Yu thanking his parents for their support.

Other notable winners include thechineseroom's haunting Dear Esther for Excellence in Visual Art, Simogo's Beat Sneak Bandit for Best Mobile Game, and Daniel Benmergui's Storyteller for the Nuovo award.

Here's the full list of the 2012 IGF Award Winners:

Best Student Game:
Way (Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center)

Technical Excellence:
Antichamber (Alexander Bruce)

Excellence in Design:
Spelunky (Mossmouth)

Best Mobile Game:
Beat Sneak Bandit (Simogo)

Excellence in Visual Art:
Dear Esther (thechineseroom)

Excellence in Audio:
Botanicula (Amanita Design)

Audience Award:
Frozen Synapse (Mode 7 Games)

Microsoft XBLA Award
Super T.I.M.E. Force (Capy)

Nuovo Award:
Storyteller (Daniel Benmergui)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Fez (Polytron)


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Comments


Michael Lubker
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This year is a joke.

David Holmin
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How so?

Maurício Gomes
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Most recent years are jokes, specially when you consider how inbred the things is... Just take a real look at the judges and winners, and you will notice lots of overlap (and things like judges that judged their own game, or thinks like: The organizer and 5 judges are personal friends of Fish, this year winner... And also winner in 2008... )


And then we have things like a iOS developer that complained that only 5 judges actually played his game, and only 1 actually played it for more than a minute, and the official reply from IGF was something like:

"Judges are busy volunteers, this happen, do not complain."

Kinda sad when you consider you had to pay 95 USD to enter the competition.

David Holmin
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@Maurício

Sounds problematic. Do you have any proposal for how it can be made better?

As long as anyone can enter, you need a shitload of judges, and I imagine finding good judges would be the main problem. Without the fee, though, it would be even worse.

Can you read anywhere about the judging process? I know very little of it.

Joe Wreschnig
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@David,

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/07/the-competition-the-st
ory-behind-the-igfs-critics/ has some information about the judging process (and other rule details) in the context of this year's controversies.

Maurício Gomes
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I know some ex-Judges, and once I talked a bit with the organizers, the problem is clear: There has a general change of direction since it started (causing many old judges to stop being judges because they think the new rules are broken), and also the place where all judges are coming from is the same community (mostly centered TigSource)


So if you take a look, you will see entries of all over the world, but almost all judges are from US, Canada and Scandinavia, you do not see asian judges or latin (from south europe) judges, or latino (from south america) judges, much less african judges.

And cultural perceptions affect a lot of what a person think of each work.

Not only that, the fact judges come from the same community, they tend to like the same things, thus if things remain as they are, we will be forever seeing the same sort of games winning over and over again, it will be always something along the lines of what you see in TigSource and Indiegames.com blog, mostly action games, platformers, retro graphics... I am very sure that Seumas McNally and his strange 3D tank game would never win a today IGF, not because he made a bad game (if it was a bad game he would not win the prize he has won), but because the culture of the judges do not favor that sort of game.


If you look at the early hall of judges, it had half of them being from AAA industry, and lots of clearly "random" people. Now we have mostly 'indie' devs and 'indie'-scene journalists. With 'indie' meaning like a person told me once: What Derek Yu says it is 'indie' (ie: instead of meaning independent developer, it means small team that started without much money and do retroish stuff)

Maurício Gomes
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Extra note: Nothing against TigSource or Derek Yu (or IGF in fact), I am only explaining why IGF is biased toward a certain type of games and certain people (ie: you have some few people that won several times, instead of several winners that won once...)

Michael Lubker
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@David: Part of the issue is that judges are often asked to come back. Several times, people have been asked to judge, and then recuse because they enter something. There's a fine line of conflict of interest.

Michael Lubker
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Also I agree with Mauricio. The team I've been working with didn't submit this year because we knew our game wasn't "weird" or pixely enough.

Michael Lubker
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where are titles like Terraria, Dungeons of Dredmor, Cobalt, Universe Sandbox, Miner Wars, Eternal Silence, and Hawken?

Joe Wreschnig
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If they recognized those, they wouldn't be able to talk up Fez for the fifth year in a row.

Ben McGraw
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To be eligible to win, the team must enter in the first place; Sometimes a team chooses just not to enter.

John Mawhorter
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How did Spelunky win when the game has been out for like 4 years? It's a great game, don't get me wrong, but is it eligible because of an XBLA release or some weird techinicality?

David Holmin
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The XBLA version is a new version made from scratch, more of less. And the original game wasn't in the competition, was it?

Huck Terrister
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Theoretical game Fez wins every award ever for eighteenth year in a row. "Finally we have arrived" the IGF state, before adding, "[arrival TBD]"

Alexandre stroukoff
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They're is so much hate for Fez & Phil Fish, Winning the IGF is great sure, but it's not winning that make you finish you're game, it's just a prize after all.
And each year it's like this : either the IGF is some sort of gran prize for big games (More like Oscars if you want) Or, it's given to little games needing some free marketing, but in the end all I can smell is a bunch of jealous people (Sorry for my english ;) )

Joe Wreschnig
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"either the IGF is some sort of gran prize for big games (More like Oscars if you want)"

In which case Fez shouldn't be up because it's not available to the public yet.

"Or, it's given to little games needing some free marketing,"

In which case Fez shouldn't be up because it's already won and got an XBLA distribution contract. Although if Phil wants to be a class act, he could donate the $30k prize to some unfunded indie projects he likes, or an educational grant, or etc.

(Edit after Phil's Twitter response: At this point I'm not sure anything he does can make him a class act, but at least he can avoid being a total ass.)

Eric McQuiggan
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Hey Indie Devs in this thread, trying to tear down FEZ and the IGF won't help make your games better.

Erin MacGillegowie
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That's really not the problem people have. Most people, myself included, take issue with the fact that Fez has been receiving awards and nominations for over four years, in spite of the fact that there's been no actual game release. This isn't just a problem with Fez, it's a problem with any game that gets accolades like this.

Paul Knights
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It may make the IGF better though?

Eric McQuiggan
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@Erin
That's part of it though, IGF is part celebration and part spotlight. I think it works fine in both regards.

Maybe, and this might be a crazy thought, but hear me out, it's a good game, and worthy of those accolades.

It's not like FEZ isn't getting released because Phil and Renaud like winning awards, I'm certain that they thought they fulfilled their vision 3 years ago they would've released it then. Everyone gotts to get paid sometime.

@paul
But things are changing! There are new rules in place, every year since I started paying attention people

Suggesting changes is cool, talking to organizers, who are all known and easily accessible is cool. Being a huge whiner doesn't help, it makes 'you'(royal you) look childish.

Things change, then people complain about the changes. The cycle continues.

Lex Allen
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Everyone is saying that Fez is a good game. It's the IGF that is the problem. I think that Erin has it right.

Something stinks...

Joe Wreschnig
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I don't hate Fez. I think it's going to be a great game, and I'm going to buy it and probably play the crap out of it.

It's not jealously - the only horse I have in this race is wanting good games to play, which requires many developers to succeed, which in turn requires broad developer recognition. What other media industry awards can give the same work an award, 4-5 years apart? Since when can Oscars be given for films you can only see in the director's basement? Can one win a Pulitzer for an unpublished work?

I'm not criticizing Fez, which probably will deserve plenty of awards... when it's out.

Dan Rosenthal
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Apparently Phil figured out the words to say: "I just won the grand prize at IGF tonight. Suck my dick. Choke on it." followed by "I think it was a shameful, corrupt joke until I won it and made it legit. You're welcome."Yeah, somehow I don't think that Seamus would have been proud.

*Source: http://i.imgur.com/yTHS5.jpg

Maurício Gomes
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I thought you were joking, until I searched for that on google...


Please people, check this link: https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/crowtgamer

E Zachary Knight
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That guy is now on my hate list. I cannot stand that kind of attitude and will not support him in any way. Way to go.

Eric McQuiggan
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Developer known for making inflammatory remarks gets provoked and makes inflammatory remarks.

Maurício Gomes
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inflammatory remarks is one thing... (like... Derek Smart), saying to people suck your cock (even with provocation) twice (the second time without provocation) is rude.

Michael Lubker
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Romeroism much

Mike Griffin
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Yes, well, emotions, attitude and conjecture aside -- FEZ is an excellent game.
It wouldn't be the first great game from an inflammatory and controversial game designer, nor was the game developed by one human being.

Amir Barak
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When you purchase a product, ANY product, you not only endorse the product itself but also the culture [business, social, etc] which produced it. Fez comes off as a good game, Fish comes off as mean, condescending and juvenile. While I'd like to play Fez, I don't want to support Fish, it's pretty simple as far as equations go.

Bob Stevens
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Am I understanding correctly that an unreleased game won an award?

Maurício Gomes
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Yes.

Joe Wreschnig
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Several unreleased games won awards.

One unreleased game won an award for the second time.

Bob Stevens
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How are we supposed to take the competition seriously, in that case?Especially when judges just straight up don't play all of the entries.

Pres N
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Wow, sure is a bunch of whining in here about Fez. The game won the Visual Art award the year it was announced. It was never a finalist again until this year, where it took the grand prize just a month or two before its expected release. To hear you guys talk, it's won tons of awards every year, instead of disappearing for years because Fish wasn't happy with it.

Yeah, Fez won this year before it was released. Minecraft won last year while in perpetual beta, Monaco won the year before that prior to release, as did Blueberry Garden the year before that, Crayon Physics Deluxe in 08, Aquaria in 07... see the pattern?

Bob Stevens
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I've only heard of one of those games (Minecraft) and it's always been released, playable, and buyable despite keeping an "Alpha" or "Beta" tag for PR reasons.

Certainly there are shades of grey when it comes to releasing an indie game, but I don't understand why a competition would be content to award games that may never be publicly available.

I don't know anything about Fez. If it won a visual art award in years past, has the visual art changed significantly in the intervening years? If it eventually releases with significantly different visual art than it had when it won the award, did it still deserve to win that award?

Maybe it's a difference in mindset, but even if you can get past that it's pretty damning that judges don't even play the games. How many competitors were better than the winners and just didn't get a fair shake? We'll never be able to know.

Pres N
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I'd wholeheartedly recommend Aquaria (PC/Mac/Linux/iPad) - amusingly enough, Derek Yu did the art. All of those winners were released, usually within a few months of the competition, but I'd agree that it'd make a lot more sense for the IGF to only look at finished works, just like every other awards show in existence. But they don't, and they never have, so reading all these posts of people accusing the judges of cheating in favor or Fez is really annoying.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

zed zeek
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In defense of Fez, at least its not as bad as 'spore'

gamecriticawards
Best of Show
2005: Spore (for PC and Mac)
Best Original Game
2006: Spore (for PC)
2005: Spore (for PC)
Best PC Game
2008: Spore
2007: Crysis
2006: Spore
2005: Spore

Solution is easy, only judge released material
do films/music etc awards judge upcoming films/albums? So why should videogames be treated differently

But then again, Perhaps hitchcock can finally win a best directors academy award

Guerric Hache
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Oh, Spore! That was a disappointment.

Not that it was a bad game in and of itself, but all the hype... You'd have thought players would be playing glorious gods, tweaking biology and technology in all their intimate little details.

Duong Nguyen
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Weren't there rules to the entries like can't enter 2x and your game has to be released? Oh i guess those go out the window when you got the "inside" connections.. Hahah. Only reason I'm even commenting is the whole Fez fiasco.. What a black eye for every indie to even be associated with that, this might go viral.

E McNeill
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There are so many misconceptions here... this is absolutely ridiculous.

James Margaris
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Seems like people are waking up to the fact that these awards highly suspect (to put it mildly). For the most part it's the same narrow slice of people awarding each other and scratching each other's backs. The fact that you have the same people winning for the same games (that have never been released!) years apart is just ridiculous.

And that's before you look at the the list of super judges and the incredible lack of diversity represented there. It's 70% guys with scarves and ironic hats. The whole affair appears intensely cliquish, where games that conform to a narrow sensibility and whose creators are friends with the judges, blog with them, hang out with them at events and websites and such take home the awards.

I see a lot of high quality indie games but I see the same dozen or so names everywhere - handing out awards at IGF, winning awards at IGF, starring in movies and Gamespot videos, speaking at GDC, deciding who gets to speak at GDC...it really does appear that there are a small number of indie gatekeeper illuminati.

And that's before you get into the dirt-digging stuff where judges don't even bother playing the games of unhyped entrants.

Joe Wreschnig
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"And that's before you get into the dirt-digging stuff where judges don't even bother playing the games of unhyped entrants."

I think you should probably bring up things like a broken judging process before you bring up things like scarves. In fact I'd venture you shouldn't bring up the scarves at all.

David Phan
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Why did this piece get taken off or de-listed from the news threads on the main page? I had to search for it to find it. I understand the IGF is part of Gamasutra's network of properties, but it looks suspect when something not in your favor gets de-listed like this imo.

Joe Wreschnig
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Gamasutra only keeps a small number of articles on the front page; this number is tuned for normal news posting rate, not GDC news posting rate.

I do think Gamasutra needs something to keep articles with active discussions in a more public place, and a better search indexer. With its current structure discussion absolutely stops after the article falls off the front page. (On the other hand, they still seem to not even be able to handle newlines in comment edits or get the background color on their front page right. So I think we're a ways from real features.)

Never attribute to malice, etc.


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