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Indiecade 2011 preview: Ten games to watch for


IndieCade 2011 kicks off this weekend in Los Angeles' Culver City, shining a spotlight on some of the biggest and best games the indie gaming community has to offer. The full list of finalists was announced a while ago, and all of those developers are expected to be live in person during the event, with demo units of each game available for the public to play all weekend long.

The event really gets into gear this evening at the IndieCade awards, where developers and their games will be chosen for a series of categories like Fun/Compelling, and the Jury and Audience Choice awards. We'll have more on the results of those later on this evening, but before the festival begins, here's a look at ten of the biggest finalists, including some you can load up and play right now.

Phil Fish's 2D-into-3D platformer has gotten plenty of press already, but IndieCade might (hopefully) be the last time we see it in preview form before its release. The game should be pretty much content-complete by now, so we'll likely just see a full version running, with Fish getting as much feedback as he can for the final polish.

Skulls of the Shogun
Haunted Temple's turn-based strategy title turned heads at E3, and has been picked up by Microsoft to get a release on XBLA since then. The game isn't due out until next year, but all we've seen so far has been the multiplayer component, so IndieCade may find the three-man team finally showing off some of the single-player story.

Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure
You don't need to wait to play the point-and-click adventure game made by five-year-old Cassie and her dad at a game jam -- it's available online right now, and on a few mobile app stores as well. Little Cassie's game shows off some real creativity, high quality gameplay, and that with the tools and technology available today, almost anyone can jump in and make a hilarious, really enjoyable game.

Desktop Dungeons
Developer Rodain Joubert and a three-man team from South Africa are behind this twist on the roguelike dungeon crawler genre, which originally squeezed a randomly generated role-playing game into just about ten minutes. The game has been updated a lot since its initial freeware release, however, and has now been ported over to Unity for a release on Steam, iPhone, and Android.

Hero Generations
Hero Generations is a social Facebook game that plays with the concepts of age and legacy. You play as a hero exploring an 8x8 grid of squares, and each time you move (or lose a battle), you age, with your attributes affected accordingly. The game shows that even with the constraints of casual game design and the social Facebook platform, developers can create a compelling experience. It's currently in a public beta.

Kiss Controller
Control a bowling game by kissing -- that's the idea of Kiss Controller, an experimental art project by a Georgia Tech Ph.D. student named Hye Yoon Nam. It's like Kinect, but for your lips and tongue. While they happen to be touching someone else's, of course.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
You have played this iOS-based collaboration between artist Superbrothers and game developers Capy, right? (Especially since it's been on sale for cheap already.) This half game/half art and music experience has won critical acclaim all over the place, and though we've already played through it here at Joystiq, we'll probably seek out Capy to find out what it's up to next.

The Bridge
The Bridge is a gravity-defying 2D sketch art game which features an MC Escher lookalike wandering through black-and-white optical illusions. Not much is known about this platformer from HyperCube Games (made up of students from Case Western University), but we'll hopefully get a chance to play it at the show. It's set for a PC and Xbox Live Indie Games release in the future.

StarDrone is a trippy PSN physics title that has you flinging a ship around a series of grapple points. It's not easy, requiring split-second timing and repeated runs to move through the levels just right, but developers Beatshapers will be showing it off in Culver City to anyone willing to try.

Finally, IndieCade is always sure to add a few non-video games to the mix, and this year, Ordnungswissenschaft serves in that category. It's a physical game from Germany that has players stacking boxes and moving around according to a certain set of rules, essentially highlighting physical interactions governed in a machine-like way.

Obviously, a game like that probably isn't set for a mass market release, but if you're interested in playing it or any of the other games on the list at IndieCade, the public is welcome all weekend down in Culver City to stop by and see all of the games on display. Even if you're not around Los Angeles, stay tuned, as we'll have coverage all weekend long from both these games and their developers.

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