Half an hour after winning three IGF awards, including the $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Cart Life developer Richard Hofmeier stepped backstage, stripped off his suspenders and over-the-shoulder gun holster, and said he wished his game would drop dead.
"I want it to die, frankly," Hofmeier told Joystiq. "I can't wait for it to die. People keep resuscitating it."
Don't get it wrong – Hofmeier was cripplingly humbled by the praise from the IGF, but he wasn't convinced he deserved any of it. After a big win, passionate creators usually speak of the post-awards high, of feeling unreservedly ecstatic. After picking up the IGF's grand prize, Hofmeier rode a different wave.
"Highs and lows I guess," Hofmeier said. "I had high opinions of the other nominees and I kind of want to share this with them. I feel like I've already overstayed my welcome with this game and I'd like it if maybe some of this esteem and elevation could go to some games that deserve it more. I already got so much more out of this game than I ever thought I would. I thought it would just be my friends and me playing this thing. The other games are so well-made."
Hofmeier called out Kentucky Route Zero, Dys4ia, Thirty Flights of Loving, and a few others, some of which weren't even submitted to the IGF, as examples of games attaining a higher caliber than Cart Life. Even after his win(s), Hofmeier didn't know exactly where he fit in among these games.
"It's strange," he said. "I still feel like a trespasser. I'll try to get used to it. I'll try."
Cart Life is a simulation game about the surprising morbidity in the twisted lives of street vendors. In the past, the IGF has gotten flak for handing out awards to already-high-profile independent games, such as Fez or Minecraft, and a Cart Life win should put some grumbling to bed. It's a small game, made by one man with big ideas about society's views on money, fortune and food.
His win, incidentally, means Hofmeier now has to deal with a large amount of money directly. He took home $38,000 in just one night, though even in his most disgusting fantasies of IGF grandeur, he didn't think he'd actually win. The best course of action that Hofmeier sees is to give the money to a related charity.
"Way, deep, gross, down, I thought in my gross, disgusting, insupressable fantasies that I'd win this shit, I thought that's probably the best way to do it," he said. "I gave it a little forethought but I didn't dare presume to really give it some pragmatic analysis because I wanted the other nominees to win.
"The only honorable thing to do, I think, would be to donate this money to a vendor organization, maybe a non-profit. There are good ones in New York City: The New York Street Vendor Project is excellent; they'd be good candidates to receive this money. StreetWise in Chicago is a great vendor organization; those guys are fantastic. My favorite street vendor in the world – his name's Roark Moody, he died last year – he used to write poetry for StreetWise magazine. Vendors push this thing and try to make money on their own."
Cart Life has a home on Steam for PC, though Hofmeier may consider working with a group that made a fan port for Mac, to streamline that and get it out in a playable build. Playing Cart Life on mobile devices or consoles would be "impossible," Hofmeier said, since the game's mechanic lies in the physical switches between keyboard and mouse, the parallels of folding newspapers or pulling shots of espresso.
"Typing on an Ouya, or a PlayStation or an Xbox is a huge pain in the ass. It'd be impossible to play the game."
Hofmeier's follow-up to Cart Life, The Blood of the Ortolan, is due out on PC in a few weeks. Until then, there's always more work to be done on Cart Life.
"I don't want to be a bad sport," Hofmeier said. "People who are experiencing the game for the first time now, I want to facilitate them. But there's a lot of bugs; there's so many bugs. I've still got a lot of work to do."