Friday, 13 November 2009

Best of the Independent Games Festival

Machinarium Concept Art
Machinarium concept art (2009), courtesy Amanita Design

Following the success of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Best of the Independent Games Festival, The Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI) is proud to present the Best of the Independent Games Festival 2009, a selection of the most innovative and exciting new computer games from this year's 'Sundance Festival for Games' which will open in Gallery 2 on December 8.

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) is the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide. It was formed 12 years ago in San Francisco when organisers - noticing the valuable recognition and commercial exposure that the Sundance Film Festival provided to independent filmmakers - decided to create a similar event for independent game developers.

Helen Stuckey, former ACMI Games Curator, first approached IGF in 2004 when she had the idea of curating the best of the IGF in a mini festival at ACMI and was invited as a judge at the IGF in 2005. The first of many successful Best of the Independent Games Festival events was staged in ACMI's former Games Lab space in 2005 and it has since grown to become a must-see event for both casual and serious gamers alike.

"The importance of the Independent Games Festival grows each year as more recognition is given to the need for videogames to have a vibrant and creative independent periphery to challenge the mainstream and our understanding of the medium," Stuckey said.

"These games offer players a diversity of experiences from the magic beauty of Machinarium's puzzle-based storytelling to immersion into the strange mediative spaces of Osmos and Brainpipe."

Among the ten games that will be showcased and playable in the Best of the Independent Games Festival is the IGF grand prize, Seumus Mcnally award winner, Blueberry Garden, a charming and quirky 2D exploration game set in an ever-changing ecosystem.

The success of Blueberry Garden, where players take on the role of a creature investigating a mysterious garden that is slowly filling with water from an out-of-reach tap, is an example of a quirky and independently developed game finding its audience through using the rapidly growing avenue of digital distribution, such as Steam.

Direct-to-customer Digital Distribution services like Steam (a content delivery service, described as the games equivalent of iTunes) or X-Box Live Arcade significantly cuts back the massive publication costs required to get a new game to market. This arena gives independents an opportunity to market and distribute their products in the same global arena as the multinationals.

This year's Best of the Independent Games Festival event will showcase many prize winners and Award nominees from IGF 2009 including the winner of the Excellence in Design Musaic Box which is a puzzle where instead of making a picture you make a piece of music - like Tetris for audiophiles. The visually stunning Machinarium, a 2D WALL-E-esque point and click pure adventure game involves a little robot who has been unjustly thrown out to the scrap yard. Winner of Excellence in Audio the addictive Brainpipe hearkens back to classic arcade games of yesteryear with a psychedelic twist, the objective is to transcend humanity by navigating the tunnels of your mind. Innovation award nominee The Graveyard, is part explorable painting and part philosophical journey and turns the notion of "game" on its head.  Night Sky, a physics-based 2D platformer where the player must manoeuvre a ball to advance through increasingly challenging picturesque worlds.

The exhibition runs from Tuesday 8 December 2009 to Sunday 14 February 2010.

Exhibition Overview

Blueberry Garden
Eric Svendang, Sweden. IGF Award : Winner, Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

A fairytale made out of play, set in an ever-changing ecosystem. Fly away through the clouds, explore a strange world and uncover the mysteries of Blueberry Garden - your presence could make all the difference.

Amanita Design, Czech Republic. IGF Award : Winner, Excellence in Visual Art

Machinarium is full-scale point and click award-winning independent puzzle/adventure game developed by the makers of web-games Samorost and Samorost2.

Digital Eel, USA. IGF Award : Winner, Excellence in Audio

Brainpipe is an easy to pick up first person perspective game of real time spatial navigation and quick reflexes. Supported by hypnotic graphics, ear tickling sound effects and immersive dreamscape music, its free floating forward moving intensity gradually increases from serene to frenetic as you play.

Musaic Box
KranX Productions, Ukraine. IGF Award : Winner, Excellence in Design and Nominee, Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Design

Musaic Box is a prototype of the unique music genre where you have to solve the puzzles using your ears. Your task is to collect music puzzle from original melody. If you got stuck you can try to solve it geometrically.

Cortex Command
Data Realms, USA. IGF Award : Winner, Technical Excellence

In Cortex Command, you play as a prospector and explorer in a time where complete cybernetics and whole-body amputations are common practice. Your severed brain is able to control many different types of bodies remotely from its underground bunker: clones, robots, spaceships, defensive turrets, and so on.

Hemisphere Games, Canada. IGF Award : Winner, D2D Vision Award and Nominee, Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Excellence in Design and Technical Excellence.

Enter the ambient world of Osmos. Experience elegant, physics-based gameplay, dreamlike visuals, and a minimalist, electro-acoustic soundtrack. Your objective is to grow by absorbing other motes. Propel yourself by ejecting matter behind you. But be wise: ejecting matter also shrinks you. Relax... good things come to those who wait.

PixelJunk Eden
Pixel Junk, Japan. IGF Award: Nominee, Excellence in Visual Art, Excellence in Audio and Technical Exellence

A game where you leap and swing among organic physically simulated alien plantlife, smashing things and growing more plants as you go.

The Graveyard
Tale of Tales, Belgium. IGF Award: Nominee, Innovation (Nuovu) Award

The Graveyard is a very short computer game designed by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn. You play an old lady who visits a graveyard. You walk around, sit on a bench and listen to a song. It's more like an explorable painting than an actual game. An experiment with realtime poetry, with storytelling without words.

Night Sky
Nicalis, USA. IGF Award: Nominee, Seumus McNally Grand Prize and Excellence in Design

Designed by Nicklas Nygren, Night Sky is an action-puzzle game that focuses on providing players with an ambient gameplay experience, challenging the mind with increasingly challenging picturesque worlds. There are no enemies, per se, and no violence in Night Sky.

Alex May & Rudolf Kremmers, UK.

Eufloria is an ambient game of space exploration and conquest that employs surprising themes of plant growth and bio mechanical evolution. Eufloria's aesthetics are reminiscent of children's books like "the little prince" and the gameplay is supported by an original ambient soundtrack by Brian Grainger.


Further information

Samatha Chater
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
Facebook icon   Twitter icon   Contact Us Terms of Use Privacy Site Map   Share and Print   Victorian Government Website