IndieCade 2011: Award winners and inventive cooperation

By Jeff Mattas, Oct 09, 2011 10:00am PDT

One of the best things about this year's IndieCade is the particularly wide assortment of incredibly innovative cooperative experiences. Given that all those in attendance love videogames--or at the very least, have a healthy curiosity--an enthusiastic collaborator is always in within arm's reach.

It's indicative of the natural bonds that can develop when bringing so many talented game-makers together. "There's a really unique community of developers that come from around the world, sharing ideas," IndieCade CEO and founder Stephanie Barish explained. She told me that oftentimes, new development teams manifest as the result of the relationships that form at IndieCade. "It's just very, very exciting to be here and be part of this community," she said, "and to have the opportunity to show your work to each other, and to the broader public."

I was not entirely surprised to find a healthy selection of co-operative games on display. The innovation of three co-op games in particular, however, really left a lasting positive impression.

Incredible Ape's 2D shooter, PewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewPew, is one co-op example, suited perfectly to a festival crowd. In it, two players use microphones to control a spaceman in a jetpack through a side-scrolling shooter. Hence, its onomatopoetic title. It's funny to watch, and fun (if a bit embarrassing) to play.

Way, by CoCo & Co, shares some spiritual DNA with Journey, in that it's a co-op puzzle-adventure game played by two strangers. In Way, the players communicate solely through a suite of gestures their avatars can perform. The common ground between the games makes sense, given that Way developer Chris Bell works with thatgamecompany. I'll save the details for the upcoming preview, but it was an experience that compelled me to walk across the gallery and shake the hand of the (until then, unseen) other player.

The co-op offering that most deliciously cooked my brain--and that of my impromptu partner in crime, artist Richard Hogg (Hohokum)--was Terry Cavanagh's asymmetric puzzle-adventure, At a Distance. Two players stand side by side, each with their own screen displaying a different world rendered with striking minimalist visuals from a first-person perspective. Exploration is key, and the moment the two players realize that their experiences are inexorably linked is when things get really interesting. Some games encourage players to converse. At a Distance demands it.

We'll have an in-depth preview--including our interview with Mr. Cavanagh himself--and much more from IndieCade 2011, soon.

IndieCade is a celebration of independent games, and in addition to the playable demos, a key aspect is the donning of awards. Most of the IndieCade 2011 award-winners have been announced--and are all playable for free at the event--but there are still a couple of more awards to come during a special ceremony to be held this evening. Here are the winners so far:

  • Best in Show – Fez (Polytron)

  • Best Story/World Design – Fez (Polytron)

  • Best Technology – Johann Sebastian Joust (Copenhagen Game Collective/Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren)

  • Best Gameplay Design – Deepak Fights Robots (Tom Sennett)

  • Best Visuals – Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Superbrothers/Capybara Games/Jim Guthrie)

  • Best Sound – Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga)

  • Best Interaction – Ordnungswissenschaft (Till Wittwer, Marek Plichta, and Jakob Penca)

  • "Impacting the Community" – Johann Sebastin Joust (Copenhagen Game Collective/Nicklas "Nifflas" Nygren)

  • Special Recognition – The Swapper (Facepalm Games)

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