Awards10th Annual Game Developers Choice AwardsGame of the Year
Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog)Best Game Design
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady Studios)Best Writing
Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog)Best Debut Game
Torchlight (Runic Games)Best Technology
Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog)Best Handheld Game
Scribblenauts (5th Cell)Best Visual Arts
Uncharted 2 (Naugty Dog)Innovation Award
Scribblenauts (5th Cell)Best Audio
Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog)Best Downloadable Game
Special awards:Lifetime Achievement Award
John CarmackPioneer Award
Gabe NewellAmbassador Award
Penny Arcade (Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, Robert Khoo)12th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Monaco (Pocketwatch Games)IGF Nuovo Award
Tuning (Cactus)Excellence in Visual Art
Limbo (PlayDead)Excellence in Audio
Closure (Closure Team)Technical Excellence
Limbo (PlayDead)Excellence in Design
Monaco (Pocketwatch Games)Student Showcase Award
Continuity (Ragtime Games)IGF Mobile Best Game
Spider: The Secret Of Bryce Manor (Tiger Style)Audience Award
Heroes Of Newerth (S2 Games)D2D Vision Award
Max & The Magic Marker (Press Play)
We're seated at the annual Independent Games Festival / Game Developers Choice event in San Francisco, absorbing the din of dedicated developers celebrating their craft. It's about to begin!
Before the Game Developers Choice half begins and proceeds to shower Uncharted 2 with trophies, the Independent Games Festival awards will highlight and reward the year's best indie titles.
"Let's hand out some awards!" Nearly 650 games were submitted to the IGF this year. Devil's Tuning Fork, Boryakuden Rue, Continuity, Dreamside Maroon, Puzzle Bloom, Spectre, Ulitsa Dimittrova, Igneous,Papaer Cakes and Puddle were all nominated this year -- but the winner is Continuity. aside from a nifty award, the developers will receive a $2,500 prize.
Technical Excellence nominees: Closure; Limbo; Heroes of Newerth (the crowd goes wild for this one); Hello Games' Joe Danger; and Vessel. The award goes to Limbo.
A Mega 64 video shows off Indie Man -- who helps indies by sabotaging major publishers. Apparently, it's his fault that Activision got the idea for the Tony Hawk Ride board. He's a powerful man!
Excellence in design nominees are up next -- they include, Cogs, A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, Monaco, Star Guard and Miegakure. Who gets $2,500? Monaco!
Kyle Gabler (World Of Goo) and Erin Robinson (Puzzle Bots) are doing an excellent job of hosting the show -- their self-deprecating humor is hitting the mark. We wish we could pull some more quotes, but they're going pretty fast!
Closure just won for excellence in audio, beating out Rocketbird: revolution, Shatter, Super Meat Boy and Trauma.
"As we've seen tonight, indie games and the people who make them are just adorable." While Erin laments the inability to pick indie devs up and put them in her pocket, she'll settle for some mobile games. How about the IGF Best Mobile Game for 2010, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manner?
Kyle and Erin have donned 3D glasses -- "I think it looks kind of the same but a little bit worse. Oh right, that's because 3D isn't indie at all!" Kyle says. Nominees for Excellence in Visual Art ... and that's 2D art, thankyouverymuch: Shank (which was recently picked up by EA); Limbo, Owlboy, Rocketbird: Revolution! and Trauma. Limbo wins again! It seems to be eternally stuck in a dimension of win.
The Nuovo award is meant to award unclassifiable games that exhibit artistic intentions: You'll recognize titles like Today I Die, Tuning, A Slow Year, Enviro-Bear 2000 and Closure among the nominees. Tuning wins this one.
7:05PM The winner hasn't said anything yet on stage -- he's just staring at the crowd, blinking and coolly sips from his water bottle. Another long pause and ... "I wanna thank Jesus." A few drawn-out seconds later ... "Thank you."
Another Mega 64 clip, this time depicting faux film adaptations of various indie titles. We'd ruin it by trying to describe it to you (these should be online soon), but let's just say Super Meat Boy: The Movie looks pretty raw.
7:12PM Direct2Drive's Vision Award is up next, presented by IGN's Jessica Chobot. Max and the Magic Marker wins. Apparently, this win is "very unexpected"
The Audience Award goes to Heroes of Newerth, which once again draws a good amount of applause and good, old-fashioned hollering. Woo!
Next we have the Seumas McNally Grand Prize: Joe Danger, Monaco, Rocketbirds: Revolution!, Trauma and Super Meat Boy are all in the running for the coveted prize. And the winner is ... Monaco.
That's it for the IGF portion of the show. The Uncharted 2 Awards are next.
7:22PM A message from Aneesh Chopra (a White House representative and also not a Mega 64 video) urges representatives of the game industry to take part in an initiative meant to combat childhood obesity. A little hard to make out over the crunch of this brownie. (Just kidding!)
This year's awards host is Warren Spector, taking a break from working on Disney's Epic Mickey. And ... oh man, he's wearing Mickey ears. "I'm so used to wearing these things now, I don't even notice them," he says, taking them off. Ahh! Now it's a mouse-ears top hat!
"After 27 years in the industry, they have to throw the short, unfunny guy a bone. This is my bone." Let's get started with Best Debut Game.
This year's nominees include Twisted Pixel's The Maw, League of Legends, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Torchlight and Xeno Clash. The award goes to Torchlight.
Best Audio is up next and aims to reward "the unsung heroes" of the industry. Dragon Age: Origins, The Beatles: Rock Band, Brütal Legend, Uncharted 2 and Flower all elicit plenty of applause. The winner is -- GASP -- Uncharted 2.
Some clips are shown from Assassin's Creed II, the first nominee tonight for Game of the Year. Immediately after, Warren Spector explains the role game designers play in the production of a title, and how those roles can be difficult to define. "We all know them when we see them," however, and we'll know the best ones (and their games) after a winner is picked out of these nominees: Uncharted 2; Plants vs. Zombies; Batman: Arkham Asylum; Flower; and Assassin's Creed 2.
Best Game Design award goes to Unch... wait! Batman: Arkham Asylum swoops in to snatch it.
"The power of great writing" is set to be recognized next -- Best Writing nominees are Dragon Age: Origins, Halo 3: ODST, Brutal Legend, Uncharted 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Spoiler: It's Uncharted 2. Amy Hennig is on stage to accept: "We have so much writing these games," she says. "Hard fun," though!7:50PM
Best New Social/Online game is next -- "it's a whole new ball game worthy of recognition," Warren says. Nominees include: Dungeon Fighter Online (Neople); Restaurant City (Playfish); Bejeweled Blitz (PopCap), Free Realms (SOE); and Farmville (Zynga). Farmville harvests the award. (Really? Harvests? That's the best we could do?)
Warren claims that he's played all the games in the next category -- and not for research, but for fun. This year's Best Handheld Game nominees are Scribblenauts (5th Cell), Flight Control (Firemint), Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo), Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (Rockstar Leeds) and Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (Tiger Style). The award will now be held in the hand of Jeremiah Slaczka for Scribblenauts.
Second nominee for Game of the Year, Uncharted 2, gets a clip on stage, shortly before a Mega 64 Batman: Arkham Asylum parody video. You can imagine what that entails ...
The next award is for Best Technology: Killzone 2 (Guerrilla Games); Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward); Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog); Assassin's Creed 2 (Ubisoft Montreal); Red Faction: Guerrilla (Volition). The award goes to Uncharted 2. Will the Red Faction team go out and get smashed now?
"I don't know about you, but I'm a guy who likes to own stuff," Warren says. But it's starting to overwhelm him, which is why he's excited about downloadable games. The best ones this year include: Shadow Complex (Chair Entertainment); Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap); PixelJunk Shooter (Q-Games); Trials HD (RedLynx); Flower (Thatgamecompany). The winner goes to Flower.
"Let's take a moment and be in awe together" as we look at the Best Visual Arts Award nominees: Borderlands (Gearbox), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward); Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog); Flower (ThatGameCompany); Assassin's Creed 2 (Ubisoft Montreal). Prettiest game of the year? Uncharted 2.
Scribblenauts (5th Cell), Demon's Souls (From Software), Uncharted 2 (Naughty Dog), Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap) and Flower (ThatGameCompany) are all up for the Innovation Award. The winner is Scribblenauts (oddly accompanied by Uncharted music).
Third nominee for Game of the Year: Demon's Souls. John Smedley from Sony appears next, here to present this year's Ambassador Award. The recipients are Penny Arcade's Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik and Robert Khoo.
"Thanks for not giving it to Uncharted 2."
Also: The fourth nominee for Game of the Year, Dragon Age: Origins, gets a short video on screen.
The Mega 64 crew is on stage next, introducing a Beatles Rock Band skit -- with special appearance by Gabe Newell. Who is NOT a Beatle.
Chris Hecker is up next to award the Pioneer Award to Valve's Gabe Newell.
Hecker offers praise for Newell, who opposed Sierra's push to release the original Half-Life before it was ready. At personal and financial risk, Newell ensured that the final game was ready -- and capable of jolting the entire industry. Newell appears on stage to accept the award, and elaborates on Valve's current position and outlook on the future (via impromptu presentation slides).
8:35PM Newell highlights entertainment as a service and cross-media properties as things that will become important in the future (that's certainly in line with Steam's evolution). He mentions the Portal 2 announcement ARG, and promises to answer all of the fans' questions: Who is the Rat Man? What happened to Gordon Freeman? Who is the G-Man? Just as he's about to load the revelatory slide ... Blue Screen of Death. You got us, Gabe!
Final Game of the Year nominee: Batman: Arkham Asylum. But before the evening's biggest award is handed out, it's time for Will Wright to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to id Software's John Carmack.
8:38PM "We can all recognize John as the godfather as the first-person shooter," Wright says. He's delivering a mini-presentation, "Why John Carmack Rocks." Carmack's work has influenced things like online play, machinima, user-generated content and, you know, rockets.
John Carmack appears on stage and elicits a standing ovation from a significant part of the audience.
8:43PM Carmack delves briefly into his huge history, and says, "I am more excited about being in the game industry right now than I've been in my entire career." He graciously thanks everyone and gives the floor back to Warren Spector.
8:45PM It's the last award of the show: Uncharted 2 is Game of the Year. Christoph Balestra accepts the award, and Evan Wells keeps it short and sweet. "Thanks, everyone!"
8:47PM Warren Spector delivers his parting remarks, and is "beyond pleased" to announce the latest teaser for Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
8:50PM "Who we are is but a stepping stone to what we can become..." We see a man rise from the dead, bursting through a crowd as he hurtles to the sky upon a pair of glowing wings. "I never asked for this." It cuts to a futuristic city, and the same man is seen lighting a cigarette. He then gains a pair of shades and a blade in his arm -- seemingly thanks to cybernetics -- before the "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" title appears.
8:50PM That's it for the show. Thank you for reading!