The Independent Games Festival has released its list of finalists for its 2011 awards, with Mojang's world-building Minecraft and Frictional's Amnesia: The Dark Descent duking it out with three other competitors for the $US20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
It's a testament to the growing power and prestige of the independent development scene that this year's IGF finalist list is populated by games that are well-known by more than just the gaming press. Titles like Notch's wildly popular Minecraft and the astoundingly atmospheric first-person horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent are on the mouths and minds of gamers everywhere, gaining the recognition they so richly deserve.
"From scrappy single person start-ups to more robust indies, and from surprising debuts to surprise successes, this year's finalist line-up is a perfect showcase of the breadth and diversity of what it means to be 'independent'," said IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer. "I'm excited to see all the developers represented gaining more recognition from a wider audience for what they've worked so hard to create, as the importance of the independent games community grows even further."
Minecraft is up for three awards, including the grand prize, Technical Excellence, and Excellence in Design. Amnesia is competing with it for the grand prize and Technical Excellence, while receiving a nod for Excellence in Audio as well.
Other big names making a showing include the WiiWare version of Nicalis' Cave Story for Excellence in Visual Art, and Gaijin Games' Bit.Trip series, which has two different titles up for awards: Bit.Trip Beat for Excellence in Audio and Bit.Trip Runner for Excellence in Visual Art.
If you're new to the indie gaming scene, don't think of the following as a list of nominations. Think of it as a list of games you absolutely have to experience. Then you'll know which to root for when the awards are held at the 25th annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco late next month.
Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Bit.Trip Runner (Gaijin Games); Neptune's Pride (Iron Helmet Games); Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (Carpe Fulgur); Retro City Rampage (Vblank Entertainment); Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)
Excellence In Visual Art
Cobalt (Oxeye Game Studio); Faraway (Steph Thirion); Flotilla (Blendo Games); Helsing's Fire (Ratloop); Retro City Rampage (Vblank Entertainment)
Achron (Hazardous Software); Cobalt (Oxeye Game Studio); Hazard: The Journey Of Life (Demruth); Overgrowth (Wolfire Games); Swimming Under Clouds (Piece of Pie Studios)
Excellence In Design
Bo (Mahdi Bahrami); Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now [B.U.T.T.O.N.](Copenhagen Game Collective); Flotilla (Blendo Games); Helsing's Fire (Ratloop); Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (Carpe Fulgur)
Excellence In Audio
Bit.Trip Runner (Gaijin Games); Cave Story (2010 Edition) (Nicalis); Jamestown (Final Form Games); NightSky (Nicalis); Planck (Shadegrown Games)
Best Mobile Game
Flick Kick Football (PikPok); Shibuya (Nevercenter); Spirits (Spaces Of Play); Tentacles (Press Play); Trainyard (Matt Rix)