You Can Now Start Submitting Your Games to IGF 2016

The Independent Games Festival is now accepting submissions for next year’s awards.

The deadline to get your game submitted is October 26, 2015. Other key dates to pay attention to:

Early January, 2016 Finalists Announced
March 14 – March 18, 2016 Game Developers Conference 2016
March 14 – March 15, 2016 Indie Games Summit @ GDC
March 16 – March 18, 2016 IGF Pavilion @ GDC
March 16, 2016 IGF Awards Ceremony (Winners Announced!)

There are a few changes this year.

Brandon Boyer is stepping down as chairperson of the IGF, and Indie MEGABOOTH’s Kelly Wallick is stepping in.

The cost to entrants has changed in the interest of making the IGF more accessible. Instead of $95, the submission fee is now $75.

Similarly, now that student submissions are eligible for the main prizes as well as for the Best Student Game Prize, their fee is $25 instead of being free.

The other major change is in developer feedback.

Developer feedback has always been an optional part of the judging process and in general, having the game played in detail by multiple judges takes precedence over providing written feedback. While the feedback is well intentioned, without having a clear structure it is often inconsistent or on par with what a normal user playtest would provide.

So we’ll be removing written judge feedback – at least for this year – to concentrate on further optimizing the judging process, getting people playing as many games as possible and formalizing the feedback system.

The judging process had been under question in recent years. With the number of IGF submissions getting almost as popular as a Ludum Dare game jam, it was a lot of work for the judges to cover all of the games in a timely manner. But some developers found that their games weren’t even being played in the first place, and it wasn’t clear if everyone was getting a fair shot, especially after paying a submission fee for the privilege.

A more formal feedback system could only help.

How do you feel about the changes?

Five Nights at Freddy’s Creator Has Constructive Criticism for His Critics

In a post on the Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 Steam page, Scott Cawthon asked his more hateful critics to focus on something more productive.

After previous unsuccessful games, Cawthon has found a cult hit in his series about terrifying animatronics in a kid’s themed restaurant. And when you get some success, there will always be critics.

They’ll tell you that there are problems with the games. They are too simple, or the designs are imperfect. That’s fine. Feedback about games means someone is going to hate what someone else loves, and maybe some of that feedback will give you an idea for how to improve things next time.

But some people get personal, accusing Cawthon of milking his success and they spew plenty of vitriol as they do so. Success unfortunately also comes with people ready to tear you down lest you get too proud or comfortable.

Cawthon patted them on the head and dismissed them while simultaneously imploring them to do something with their lives.

But something more important that I want to convey to all of you, is that you should never listen to people who criticize success simply because it’s success. Being good at something is something to strive for, not something to demonize.

“Haters gonna hate.” –as they say, but I want you to know that focusing on someone else’s failure or success is the wrong way to live. People who make videos bashing other people are like people who run into a public square and scream into a pillow. They’ll get attention, but they won’t change anything. If you strive to be like them, then you’ll spend your life screaming into a pillow as well, and your life won’t mean anything.

He asked people to go out and make their own games, to contribute, rather than to spend their time putting down others.

Now that’s a role model.

You’ve Decided to Make a Game; Enjoy the Process

You made the decision.

You’re going to make a game. You’re going to create a piece of entertainment of your own, whether it’s just something for you and your friends to enjoy or something you intend to publish and make available for a wider audience.

It’s easy to get stressed. Even the simplest games can be a major undertaking.

But you’ve made the decision. It’s going to happen. You are going to finish a game.

And since the end result is known, there’s no point in stressing about it.

In the meantime, enjoy the process of getting there.

You are participating in the powerful act of creation. It won’t necessarily be easy, and there will be a lot of detailed decisions that you’ll make along the way. It might take longer than you expect. You might get sick of it before you’re done. Game development is real work.

But try to have fun with it. You know you’ll get to the end result eventually if you keep moving in the right direction, so makes sure you enjoy the journey.

Then make sure to tell us all about it. B-)

What Do Your Game Designs Say On Your Behalf?

It’s easy to see someone’s writing as representative of his/her views. The words are right there expressing ideas in a very direct way.

Similarly, a movie can have a certain message buried in it. Sometimes the message is a bit more obvious because it hits you over the head.

Games are no different. The verbs inherent in a game tell you what the designers thought were important.

Some games aren’t saying much. It’s hard to get political with Pong or Angry Birds.

But other games say a lot.

Why are women almost always portrayed as damsels in distress? Why are they seen often as rewards for the player? What does it say about the designers’ view of women?

Why are many games about violence? What does it say about the designers’ position on how best to handle conflict?

You could argue, “But they’re just games!”

But I think games are important, and I think they can have a great impact.

I’m not saying that playing games can turn you into a mass murderer.

But I am saying that the message of games can influence someone’s thinking in a subtle way.

Maybe the next time you bump into someone you’ll see it as an act of aggression to be responded to in kind instead of the accident it was. Maybe you’ll be more inclined to scream obscenities at someone when you’re angry instead of discussing your differences. Maybe you’ll be more interested in winning an argument than in finding common ground with your spouse.

Or maybe you’ll be more inclined to cooperate with your coworkers. Maybe you’ll value puzzle-solving over brute-force. Maybe you’ll see people as equals instead of as resources in your quest.

The messages of your game designs can say a lot about your worldviews. Are you being careful with the messages your games send on your behalf?

What Do You Wish You Knew More About?

As a child, I consumed information around me. When I discovered a topic existed, such as the Pacific Theater of World War II or how to create your own pop-up books, I wanted to learn everything about it. I read books, watched the History Channel back when they actually showed history (oh, the History Channel is this generations’ MTV, isn’t it?), asked questions, and pretty much did whatever I could to feed my passion for learning.

As I got older, I found I had to be more selective with my attention. I had more demands on my time. I couldn’t immerse myself in a single topic unless it was for school or work.

Or at least, I felt that way.

I have friends, grown-up friends, who I can say are still passionate about things I used to love. A few of them geek out when NASA or the ESA publicize their latest successful missions. Another loves all things dinosaurs.

And I realize how much I have missed about being passionate about a topic to the point of becoming an amateur scientist or historian.

The cool thing? I can immerse myself in something now, and I’m old enough to understand it a lot more than when I was a child. And we know so much more today than we did just 10 or 20 years ago, so there’s more to learn.

And even cooler, we’re still learning. We now know what Pluto looks like, and soon we’ll know more about the makeup of Jupiter. We found a regaliceratops in Canada last month when we didn’t even know it existed before.

Do you wish you knew more about theatre? About movie-making? About the lives of authors? How to start a business? Weigh-lifting and nutrition? Sustainable gardening? Game design and development?

Did you ever wonder what was in the ocean, whether here on Earth or on Neptune? Or have you ever thought about how thinking actually works?

And did you ignore the curiosity, or did you let it lead you to answers and more questions?

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