There are two ways to approach Game of the Year awards.
Either you create awards meant to be used as a sort of buying guide, a consumer-centric list that tells people who own a certain console which games they absolutely must buy for that year. That's what we did last year with our Goaties.
This year we're trying the other approach: Creating a set of awards that reward the artistry of creation. You won't go wrong if you run out to buy these games. But this year's Goaties are meant to serve as a sort of carrot, albeit an incredibly tiny one, that reward what we think is important in game development.
We decided to dispense with awards broken down by console. The best game of the year, the argument goes, is the best, no matter what console it appears on. I realise this flies directly in the face of my rant last year about these awards, but I feel it is justified if you're trying to create a set of awards geared more at the developers than the gamers.
Instead, we came up with a list of the things we think are important in a game. Well, most important and our categories are meant to reflect that. What that leaves us with is:
Game of the Year: Best overall game of the year. We don't care if it's a sequel or what platform it's on, just whether it was the single, hands-down best game of 2008.
Art: This isn't just about graphics, we're talking scenery, art direction, animation, set design, character design, costume design and, yes, graphics too.
Sound: Best music, sound effects, songs in a single game.
Story: Which game had the best story and dialog.
Innovation: Most innovative title of the year. This could be because of a single innovative twist or the overall experience.
Multiplay: Best multiplayer experience in a game.
Indie: The single best title created by an independent studio and self-published.
Everyone nominated three games for each category, I plan to take those nominations and come up with the finalists for each category tomorrow. Until then, here are the raw nominations:
Brian Crecente: Mushroom Men: Spore Wars, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mirror's Edge
Brian Ashcraft: Captain Rainbow, Valkyria Chronicles, Lord of Vermilion
Mike McWhertor: Metal Gear Solid 4, Mirror's Edge, Bionic Commando Rearmed
Mike Fahey: LittleBigPlanet, Prince of Persia, Valkria Chronicles
Luke Plunkett: Prince of Persia, Mirror's Edge, Metal Gear Solid 4
Owen Good: Okami, Gears of War 2, Fallout 3
AJ Glasser: Valkyria Chronicles, Fallout 3, Tales of Vesperia
Brian Crecente: LittleBig Planet, Mushroom Men: Spore Wars, Dead Space
Brian Ashcraft: Echochrome, Rhythm Heaven, Metal Gear Solid 4
Mike McWhertor: Rock Band 2, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead
Mike Fahey: Person 4, Prince Of Persia, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Luke Plunkett: Prince of Persia, LittleBigPlanet, Left 4 Dead
Owen Good: Bionic Commando: Rearmed, Dead Space, Grand Theft Auto IV
AJ Glasser: Fallout 3, Guitar Hero World Tour, Rock Band 2 (same)
Brian Crecente: Gears of War 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, Left 4 Dead
Brian Ashcraft: Fable 2, Inazuma Eleven, Grand Theft Auto IV
Mike McWhertor: Grand Theft Auto IV, Yakuza 2, Metal Gear Solid 4
Mike Fahey: Prince of Persia, Persona 4, Fallout 3
Luke Plunkett: Lost Odyssey, Fable II, GTA IV
Owen Good: Grand Theft Auto IV, Gears of War 2, Fallout 3
AJ Glasser: Tales of Vesperia, Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3
Brian Crecente: Left 4 Dead, LittleBigPlanet, Braid
Brian Ashcraft: PixelJunk Eden, Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, Inazuma Eleven
Mike McWhertor: Cursor*10, LittleBigPlanet, Forumwarz
Mike Fahey: LittleBigPlanet, Braid, WiiFit
Luke Plunkett: Prince of Persia, LittleBigPlanet, Mirror's Edge
Owen Good: LittleBigPlanet, Braid, Patapon
AJ Glasser: Prince of Persia, Valkyria Chronicles, Mirror's Edge
Brian Crecente: Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty: World at War, Gears of War 2
Brian Ashcraft: Metal Gear Online, GTAIV, Mario Kart Wii
Mike McWhertor: Left 4 Dead, PixelJunk Eden, Gears of War 2
Mike Fahey: Left 4 Dead, Resistance 2, LittleBigPlanet
Luke Plunkett: Left 4 Dead, Gears of War 2, FIFA 09
Owen Good: Left 4 Dead, Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: World at War
AJ Glasser: LittleBigPlanet, Gears of War 2, Left4Dead
Brian Crecente: Braid, Cortex Command, Cursor*10
Brian Ashcraft: World of Goo, Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, Super Obama World
Mike McWhertor: World of Goo, Cursor*10, Braid
Mike Fahey: World of Goo, Braid, Audiosurf
Luke Plunkett: Castle Crashers, World of Goo, Pixeljunk Eden
Owen Good: Braid, Castle Crashers, World of Goo
AJ Glasser: Mount&Blade, De Blob, Braid
Game of the Year:
Brian Crecente: Gears of War 2, LittleBigPlanet, Grand Theft Auto IV
Brian Ashcraft: Do-Don-Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu ver 1.5, Bangai-O Spirits, Grand Theft Auto IV
Mike McWhertor: Grand Theft Auto IV, Braid, Left 4 Dead
Mike Fahey: Fallout 3, Fable 2, Grand Theft Auto 4
Luke Plunkett: Gears of War 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, Far Cry 2 (PC)
Owen Good: Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Grand Theft Auto IV
AJ Glasser: LittleBigPlanet, Valkyria Chronicles, Fallout 3