If anything ever made me want to stop what I’m doing and change me life, this is one of those things– events like the Independent Games Festival and IndieCade, where friends and colleagues, whom I respect a great deal, put forth their hard work into a digital experience. IndieCade will be in October in the LA area, and I will be there to capture the experience for our blog. I’ve submitted my game, LabBunnies, but, perhaps, this time, no news is bad news. In any case, I want to give a special shoutout to That Dragon, Cancer. I love Josh and Ryan, and their game is no doubt changing the world. Thank you, developers, for being such an inspiration.
Game descriptions take from: http://www.indiecade.com/2013/games_preview/
2013 Games Preview
IndieCade celebrates the best indie games of the year! Jury nominated games are eligible to win top awards at the IndieCade Red Carpet Awards. Official Selections are eligible to win Audience Choice during the festival’s Closing Awards.
by Rambod Kermanizadeh
code is a single player computer game in which players assume the role of “@,” a simple variable in the code for each level. The levels themselves are made up of psuedo-code, and players use hints that are placed in the comments to learn how some computer science principals work. This allows them to manipulate the code of the game, solve puzzles, and eventually call the “NextLevel()” function.
99 Tiny Games
by Hide & Seek Installation
Tiny Games are location-specific games that you play in the real world, using the things around you as a part of the game. We installed 99 Tiny Games on big posters all around London, three in each of the 33 boroughs, and made an app to make Tiny Games available anywhere.
Nominee by Cosmic Games Installation / PC
Constellation is an interactive art installation about creativity, myth, and social collaboration in which players use a motion controller to navigate a projection of our night sky and create constellations.
Cube & Star: A Love Story
Nominee by Doppler Interactive PC, Mac
“Cube and Star: A Love Story is a game about the joy of… aimless but mindful wandering. Day breaks, grass grows, night falls, trees shed their fruit… and with every step you stain the world.
Nominee by Elizabeth Sampat Analog boxed game
Deadbolt is a quiet pen-and-paper game about giving your most honest self to strangers. Players emerge feeling closer to each other, more open to the world, and more accepting of themselves.
Dog Eat Dog
Nominee by Liwanag Press Tabletop roleplaying game
Dog Eat Dog is a game of colonialism and its consequences. As a group, you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, defining the customs of the natives and the mores of the outsiders arriving to claim it. The game begins when the war ends.
Edgar Rice Soirée
Nominee by Adam Henriksson, David Kanaga, Thomas Perl, Douglas Wilson Playstation Move
In Edgar Rice Soirée, four players navigate a jungle of 20 hanging PlayStation Move controllers. Each player is assigned a color. Players need to activate controllers of their color by pressing any button. As long as you have two controllers activated, you’re safe. If no controllers of your color are activated, you’re eliminated immediately. If only one controller of your color is activated, you begin to lose life energy quickly. Grab a second controller, quickly, before all your energy drains. Colous move around the jungle and the pace speeds up as the game progresses. Tarzan your way around the jungle, and use your body to block the others’ paths!
Nominee by Lazy 8 Studios Flash
On its surface, Extrasolar looks like a legitimate scientific expedition — the first to send rovers to a planet beyond our solar system. When you apply to the program, you’re promised a chance to control one of the many rovers that the eXoplanetary Research Institute (XRI) has put down on the surface of an alien world. You volunteer your time to help explore the planet one photo at a time. Before long, the story back on Earth becomes just as compelling as the startling discoveries on the planet as our player finds herself wrapped up at the center of a conspiracy, not sure whom to trust. Extrasolar is pioneering new gameplay and technology. Gorgeous images of the planet’s surface are rendered in the cloud and delivered to the player every few hours, making each player’s experience unique and raising the bar for the appearance and immersion of Web games..
Nominee by SuperChop Games iPad
Ephemerid is a musical adventure game about insects, bugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Help a Mayfly find its destiny in a world made of hand-cut paper, set to an original soundtrack.
Nominee by The Fullbright Company
Explore a house to discover the story of the people who lived there. Go home again.
Nominee by Suspicious Developments Windows
“Gunpoint is a side-scrolling stealth puzzle game about breaking into games in clever or noisily stupid ways: rewiring electronics, or throwing yourself through plate glass windows.
Hermit Crab in Space
Nominee by Golden Ruby Games PS Vita / Playstation Mobile
Take control of a hermit crab who warped herself to the wrong sector. To get her back home, the player will have to fight their way through a galaxy of hostile sectors in an improvised ship that is never more than a few hits away from falling apart.
Kentucky Route Zero
Nominee by Cardboard Computer PC/Mac/Linux
Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it.
Nominee by Komrade Studios
Kulak is a tabletop dice game of chance and politics in which 4 or 5 players fight and negotiate over land. Set loosely in early 20th century Russia, each round of the game pits 3 to 4 Proletarians against a wealthy Baron. Although the Proletariat starts out united by their common goal of ending economic hardships, the Baron may tempt any of them into betraying their comrades and joining him or her in a quest for wealth and power. We often take fairness and equality in games for granted, but Kulak introduces an asymmetric game mechanic that forces players to make difficult decisions about betrayal and self-sacrifice, competition versus cooperation. As a result players form alliances and rivalries, achieving the designers’ stated goal of creating a game in which “spontaneous and unpredictable social interactions emerge from minimal rules.” Part of a growing trend of asymmetrical games, Kulak thus provides a more accurate picture of real world economics in which the “haves” play by a different set of rules and with significant advantages over the “have nots.”
Nominee by Tale of Tales iPad, Android tablet, OUYA, PC, Mac
Luxuria Superbia is an ode to joy. A playful exploration of pleasure. Pleasure in life, pleasure in existing. A musical journey through stylized flowers. From the sensuous over the rational to the spiritual. Bring color to the temple of love. Bring beauty to the world!
Nominee by MESSHOF PC
Nidhogg is a head to head acrobatic fencing game where players compete for the right to be eaten by a giant flying worm.
Nominee by Quartic Llama iOS – iPhone
Other is an alternate reality sound game played in the real life city of Dundee, made in partnership with National Theatre of Scotland. What appears to be a straightforward audio tour through the City begins to take on a darker tone as your phone picks up strange interference and signals from your surroundings. As you travel further the game begins to glitch and fracture, and the tour guide’s voice becomes more insistent and less friendly. Between the cracks emerging in the game, you catch glimpses of another, darker Dundee- a world of hidden stories and buried secrets. Each interaction seems to make things worse. Things are starting to get out of hand, and then you get the phone call…. Other combines the physical and visual atmosphere of the City and its inhabitants, with the sonic atmosphere and interactions of the game creating a unique, engaging and unsettling new game experience.
Nominee by Peter Lu & Lea Schönfelder Kinect game (Mac,PC)
Perfect Woman is a strategic dancing game for kinect. Depending on how well the player’s life decisions fit together, the performance will be more or less challenging.
Nominee by Digital Dream Quartet Windows/PC, 64bit
Pico’ is a 2D, multi-window puzzle adventure game. Our proof of concept is to take a traditionally annoying experience (the popup), and turn it into a useful, relevant, and fun gameplay mechanic.
Porpentine’s Twine Compilation
Nominee by Porpentine
Compilation of 10-25 minute experimental queer hypertext games made in Twine. Howling dogs is being trapped inside a dark cell with only a virtual reality visor for escape. CYBERQUEEN is a transgressive scifi body horror thriller with real time elements rarely seen in interactive fiction. Cry$tal Warrior Ke$ha is a hypertext music video that weaves pop star Ke$ha’s personal mythology into a heroic battle against transdimensional haters. Naked Shades (collaboration with Andi McClure) is the world’s first networked Twine game, an experimental MMO where players are hungry ghosts scavenging each other’s corpses for scraps of identity. Winners can permanently add to the game. ALL I WANT IS FOR ALL OF MY FRIENDS TO BECOME INSANELY POWERFUL is a secret. Requires sound. Parasite is about trans shit, dream shit. Ultra Business Tycoon III is about playing games as a certain kind of child.
Nominee by Blendo Games
In Quadrilateral Cowboy, navigate through security systems and corporate intrigue in a cyberpunk world. When you have a top-of-the-line hacking deck armed with a 56.6k modem and a staggering 256k RAM, it means only one thing: you only answer to the highest bidder.
Nominee by Abbey Games PC
Reus is a 2D PC God game in which you control 4 giants that shape the surface and ecosystems of a
planet. The goal is to develop human civilizations in harmony with nature, while their greed endangers everything.
Nominee by Cellar Door Games PC
“Rogue Legacy is a 2D platforming genealogical rogue-“”LITE”” where anyone can be a hero. Each time you die, your child will succeed you. Every child is unique. One child might be colorblind, another might have tourettes– they could even be a dwarf. That’s OK, because no one is perfect, and you don’t have to be perfect to win this game. But you do have to be pretty darn good because this game is HARD. Fortunately, every time you die all the gold you’ve collected can be used to upgrade you manor, giving your next child a step up in life and another chance at vanquishing evil.
Rollers of the Realm
Nominee by Phantom Compass PC
Combining the skill mastery and physics of pinball with the engagement of role playing games, Rollers of the Realm offers a new yet familiar gaming experience. Collect an ensemble cast of unique up-gradable pinball characters and battle through board after board of an epic fantasy story.
Save the Date
Nominee by Paper Dino Software PC/Mac/Linux
An experiment in metanarrative fiction via unconventional storytelling techniques, or a game about having a relaxing dinner with a good friend? Can’t it be both?
Nominee by vested interest PC/Mac
Designed with gamers of all ages and ability levels in mind, simian.interface has no time limits, no way to lose, and no controls besides the mouse. Inspired by tabletop puzzles, modern art, and cognitive psychology experiments, it presents challenges which must be solved using pattern recognition, intuition, and experimentation, rather than reflexes or memorization.
Nominee by Alan Hazelden & Harry Lee
Sokobond is an elegantly designed puzzle game about chemistry. It’s logical, minimalist, and crafted with love and science.
Nominee by Studio Bean PC, Mac, Web
Soundodger is a game about moving through the music. Each level features hand-crafted choreography of bullet patterns that must be dodged in order to perform for the entirety of a song.
Nominee by Henry Smith Mobile
Spaceteam is a cooperative party game for 2 to 4 players who shout technobabble at each other until their ship explodes. Each player needs a mobile device (phone or tablet).
Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party
Nominee by KnapNok Games & Redgrim Wii U eShop
Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party is a game for 2-8 players. Players sit in a circle around the GamePad and spin a virtual bottle. Two players are randomly paired up each round to do a collaborative physical challenge by using the Wii Remotes and each other to dance, spin, grab, jump, hide, pump, pass and squeeze.
Nominee by Droqen & Ryan Roth PC, Mac, Linux
Starseed Pilgrim is a game about tending a symphonic garden, exploring space, and embracing fate.
SUPER TIME FORCE
Nominee by Capybara Games
Super TIME Force is a high-octane pixel-art thrill-ride with the steering wheel of time in your hands!
That Dragon, Cancer
Nominee by Josh Larson
That Dragon, Cancer takes place in a Children’s Hospital. The players will relive certain moments in the ongoing 3 year long battle that Joel and his family are living through. This Children’s Hospital is a place where the natural meets the eternal; and the real meets the surreal. The player’s surroundings may phase to a cliff-face in the middle of a storm, or a midnight vigil in a home; a playground in the summer, or the bedroom of Joel’s parents with Joel asleep between them. With poetry, spoken word, light puzzle solving, and immersive sound design with a sparse orchestral score we aim to create a poem the player can get lost in emotionally and yet understand from the context of their surroundings. The player will be brought face-to-face with that overwhelmingly powerful dragon called cancer and be asked to choose hope.
Nominee by Matt Makes Games PC, Ouya
An archery combat platformer for up to 4 players. It’s a local party game centering around hilarious, intense versus matches. The core mechanics are simple and accessible, but combat is fast and fierce. TowerFall is best played competitively with friends, crossed-legged on the floor within punching distance of each other.
Nominee by Opertoon iPad, iPhone, & iPod touch
Upgrade Soul is an immersive digital graphic novel that tells the story of Hank and Molly Nonnar, wealthy science buffs who decide to fund a risky, experimental therapy to rejuvenate the human body, with only one condition: that they be first in line to receive it.
Movers and Shakers
Nominee by Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game lab Android Tablet
Movers & Shakers is a two-player tablet serious game created as a research tool to explore how players communicate based on conflicting perspectives within the game. The aim of Movers & Shakers is to create a meaningful conflict between its players and to facilitate a controversy beyond the screens. When players start the game, they are informed that the earth has slowed down and they are in charge of managing lava sprites in the center of the earth to get the planet back on track. They are each tasked with individual goals, met by arranging the lava sprites using a boardgame-like interface, but in real-time like a strategy game. The gameplay experience is unique to each pair of players, as the intention of the game is to explore issues of modern office environments and leadership dynamics through asymmetrical gameplay and subversive elements.
7 Grand Steps
Nominee by Mousechief Co Windows
7 Grand Steps begins like a small but unique board game of resource tactics. Efficient use of tokens is critical to the larger strategy game of building your family legacy. The short term goal of the board game mechanic, collecting beads, enables the intermediate goals of great legends. Collect enough beads to earn a legend. One generation is rarely sufficient. So raising of children and guiding their stories come into play: sibling rivalry, rites of passage, romance, tales in the life. These stories bring the generations to life. How will you build your family legacy of discoveries, of adventures, of social advancement even unto ruling the land via narrative mini-games? At the end of an age, each social class offers it’s own challenge to that legacy. Those who made a difference in the world have the advantage. Will your lineage survive into the next age?
Nominee by Travis Chen Flash
BUDLR is a four player bomb blasting bonanza intended to be installed in a busy public place, projected on a wall. Innovative text message controls allows anybody to join in on the bomb blasting fun. Each of the four characters has an associated telephone number. Text message your controls to the corresponding telephone number to move the character and drop bombs. BUDLR aims to present innovative crowd controls and an intriguing game that demands passerby attention.
Nominee by Large Animal Games iPad
Color Zen is a new kind of puzzle game. With simple, intuitive controls, the game invites you to relax and immerse yourself. The game builds a straightforward yet truly unique game mechanic into a complex series of puzzle challenges. Players simply drag a series of colored shapes onto one another, merging those with the same exterior color to flood the background of the screen with that shade, and matching the background to the border of the screen to clear each level. There are no points and no penalties for failure in Color Zen — just minimalist, meditative puzzle-solving set to original music,
Nominee by Deirdra Kiai Windows
Dominique Pamplemousse is an interactive musical comedy in stop motion, in which the titular protagonist is a down-on-their-luck private investigator of ambiguous gender only one rent payment away from homelessness. When the CEO of a major record company shows up asking Dominique to locate a missing pop star, taking the job appears to be the straightforward thing to do. However, as things are never quite as they seem in these kinds of stories, Dominique winds up framed for a crime they didn’t commit, bringing to surface their mysterious past and the events that led them to take up shady detective work in the first place.
Nominee by Psychic Bunny iPhone
FREEQ is an audio adventure game about eavesdropping and meddling with the future.The game turns your handheld device into an antenna that can pick up and hijack radio signals from the distant future. Spy on the last society on Earth, interfere with people’s lives, and try to solve the mystery of what ended the world. FREEQ uses a unique storytelling engine that allows players to influence the events of the future by choosing who speaks to whom, and when. Written and performed in the style of classic radio dramas from the early twentieth century, FREEQ provides the audience an opportunity to lose themselves in a future no one ever imagined.
Nominee by Ivy Games Windows
Gravity Ghost is a game about Iona, a recently deceased 12-year-old, and her friend the ghost fox. Using the force of gravity to navigate a series of unusual planets, she meets strange guardian creatures and even stranger people. Able to fly through space, she must prevent a black hole from consuming the tiny planets where her new friends live – and hopefully find a way back to her own home.
Nominee by Richard Perrin Windows
Journal is a puzzle-less adventure game focusing on character interaction through dialogue. You guide a young girl through the difficulties of child hood and through your decisions shape how she chooses to remember events and how those choices affect her relationships with other people in her life.
Nominee by Mattie Brice Windows
This is an experiment in sharing a personal experience through a game system. It helps communicate daily occurances that happen in my life as a multi-racial transgender woman. It also explores the difficulty in expressing these feelings in words. It is described as an empathy sim, inviting players to understand a situation through its system- not to game it, or succeed in some manner, but to simply bask in it and relate. As well, it stands as a commentary of how we currently use game design for broad strokes of universal experiences instead of the hyper-personal, and often exclude minority voices.
Nominee by Alex Beachum Windows
Outer Wilds is a space exploration game that invites you to embark on a cosmic expedition into a turbulent world driven by forces beyond your control. Let curiosity be your guide as you fly into the heart of a gas giant, meet fellow travelers on quantum moons, and roast marshmallows beneath alien skies. The game is a seamless first-person experience that gives you just 20 minutes to freely explore a miniature solar system as it dynamically evolves over time. After those 20 minutes are up, the Sun goes supernova and the entire Universe ends. Fortunately, the Solar System is stuck in a time loop, and only by exploring over the course of multiple playthroughs will you come to understand the forces and secrets that drive the Universe.
Nominee by Whitaker Trebella iPhone
Pivvot is a thrilling game of strategic avoidance. As players progress through the game, their reaction time and logic process will be increasingly tested. It is a two-button game with minimalistic art and gameplay that will challenge players at every turn.
Potatoman Seeks the Troof
Nominee by Pixeljam Windows
Potatoman Seeks the Troof is a short-form, story-driven, surreal and challenging adventure for Mac, PC and Linux. In a world where the Troof is always out of grasp, Potatoman quests through the riddle. Across desert wastelands, thick forests, and dystopian cities, nothing is what it seems. With only his wits, his jump, and a question, Potatoman must die a thousand deaths to find the ultimate answer!
Nominee by Holodeck Interactive, Inc. Windows
Project Holodeck is a fully embodied VR gaming platform combining the peripheral vision of Oculus Rift with motion tracking hardware. We’ve created a virtual reality playspace for two players over a network, including a virtual game world called “Wild Skies” that players interact within. The 15’x15’ physical space is matched by the virtual space within the games. The act of feeling strongly present in the virtual world can be a shock to many new players, but looking down and seeing your avatar moving in tandem with the body, as well as the avatar of your fellow player, is a powerful experience that is uniquely surreal. Our goal is to stretch the limitations of what can be experienced in this emerging medium of VR gaming. With the hardware platform we have pieced together, it is possible to explore fascinating new gameplay mechanics, narrative techniques, and virtual spaces on a single system.
Nominee by Enemy Airship Windows
Scale is an first person puzzle that allows players to freely manipulate spatial relationships between objects and environments in an inviting, dreamlike world.
Nominee by Strange Loop Games Android Tablet
Explore and interact with the insides of a living cell to achieve your goals. SimCell puts you in control of a nanobot injected into a human cell, and you must use the cell’s organelles to help strengthen it against a virus attack. Control characters at multiple levels of zoom, from the cellular level to the DNA level, creating interactions between the two.
Nominee by Robin Arnott Windows
SoundSelf is a sensual exploration game about the intrinsic pleasure of playing instead of the rewards of winning. You use your voice to explore a hypnotic world of sounds and visuals that feel like they are emerging directly from your body. Each tone will navigate you through strobing tunnels-of-light, impossible shapes, and into a meditative trance. The result is an elegant symmetry of image, sound and body that takes advantage of loopholes in the way you perceive to facilitate a new experience of yourself and your world. There is no right way to play SoundSelf: Play with different sounds and the game will dance with you, or sustain long tones and SoundSelf will take you deep into your own sonic universe. Play alone, or share the experience with friends – no two players will have the same journey, and no one player will experience what many will together.
Tenya Wanya Teens
Nominee by Venus Patrol Flash
Tenya Wanya Teens is a party game for two players armed with 16 buttons each, laid out in a gorgeous custom controller. It’s a game about the awkward transition from childhood to adulthood, with each player controlling a boy who is trying desperately not to say or do the wrong thing at the wrong time and maintain a façade of normality. However, as the game progresses and the buttons become more and more recalcitrant, mistakes are inevitable – and very funny. It’s a game that’s great fun to play, but also great to watch, charming and ridiculous and very endearing.
Tower No Tumble
Nominee by Sifteo Sifteo
Tower No Tumble is a physical Sifteo game for 1 to 4 players. Stack, blast, and bobble a tower of cubes – just don’t knock it down! Players take turns flicking one cube at a wall or tower built out of the other cubes. The harder you jostle the tower, the more points you earn. But careful, you gain no points if you topple the tower! Play in a variety of ways, including Competitive, Co-op, and Silly modes. Tower No Tumble features graphics by Nils Deneken, and sound by Alessandro Coronas.
Valdis Story: Abyssal City
Nominee by Endless Fluff Windows
Valdis Story: Abyssal City is a 2D side scrolling exploration platformer for PC, with an emphasis on intricate and rewarding combat as well as deep play style customization. The player will assume the role of one of 4 characters caught in a war between demons and angels. Explore the ruins of fallen city and discover the truth behind the war between the Dark Goddess Myrgato and her twin sister the Light Goddess Alagath.
Nominee by Asymmetric Windows
Word Realms is word-puzzle game that rewards creative play with in-game success and sarcastic one-liners. We embraced the RPG format as a framework that allowed us to deeply explore the kinds of systems and mechanics that could arise out of a game based on arranging letter tiles into words. Combined with thousands and thousands of lines of written banter, gameplay is challenging and funny in equal proportions.