The winners of the 2012 Indiecade Festival were announced this weekend. Thirty-six finalists (see full list here) vied for top honors, with 'Unmanned,' an experimental game about a day in the life of a drone pilot, winning the Grand Jury Award.
The Game Design Award went to Aramada D6 an unpublished board game based on an obscure game-like ritual practice from the 1930s called “Armada Dei Gratia VI” (sixth armada from the grace of god).
Patch had the opportunity to talk to some of the 36 finalists on Friday afternoon, when their games were opened up for media viewing, and the Culver City Fire Station was transformed into a showroom where the designers from around the world could show off their designs and get feedback from gamers.
Among the 36 games that made the final cut was Racing Squirrels, a game that puts its players in charge of buying a racing team of squirrels with a hidden message: lessons on how to manage one’s finances.
“We’re not trying to hit you over the head, we’re trying to let you have fun,” said Matt Patterson, one of the game’s designers. “Part of the art of having fun in the game is not going bankrupt.”
The designers, including London-based Rob Davis, say they have been encouraged by the reaction they have received.
“It’s been really positive,” Davis said. “We have lots of fantastic feedback.”
A few steps away, new designer Adam Spragg said his success was sweeter since he entered his game, Hidden Sight, into the festival on a whim.
“The fact the game has taken off is really like overwhelming,” said Spragg who worked on the game as a hobby. “It’s kind of like hide and seek online.”
During the course of the game, players try to blend in with computer-generated characters in order to reach a specific goal.
“You want to win the game, but you don’t want to look like you’re winning,” Spragg said. “Because then you’ll get eliminated.”
John Derevlany, a Culver City resident and one of this year’s judges, got a kick out of playing the game.
“This is cool,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s so simple.”
Derevlany, who created Culverland, a life-sized board game that was on display in Culver City two years ago, said he has enjoyed every minute of being a judge.
“It’s fun,” Derevlany said. "You get to see games not released yet.”
Another game, Splice, leads players on a quest to take a strand of cells and try to match it against a particular pattern embedded in the game.
“It has the appearance of being scientific,” said Dain Saint, one of the game’s three designers.
It took Saint, Nikkolai Davenport and Andrei Marks, who are all from Philadelphia, four months to develop the “gene-splicing puzzle game,” Saint said.
A couple of members of the team also took a break from showing off their own game to play “Open Source,” which uses traditional pong graphics on a television monitor, which the people playing don’t actually see since they’re standing a few feet away on a small tennis court. Spectators can watch the players move on the screen while the players themselves only rely on noises they hear through headphones to figure out where the virtual ball will land next.
“It’s something different,” said John Meister, technology director for Super Soul, which created the game. “It’s physical but virtual. It’s a great spectator kind of game.”
Alison Waller, who is originally from England and now lives in Shanghai, China, enjoyed watching the game being played. She said all of the games were impressive.
“It’s incredible,” Waller said. “It’s such a wide variety of media games, tabletop games, visual games. It’s really interesting.”
Independent developers from the United States as well as Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Singapore, Sweden and the U.K. were among this year's finalists.