The Fifth Annual Independent Games Festival
A weeklong look at the ten finalists chosen to vie for the coveted Seumas McNally Award in the final round of IGF competition.
By Tricia "Kazi_Wren" Harris | Jan. 13-17, 2003

The Independent Games Festival was established in 1998 by the Gama Network to recognize independent game developers and encourage more people to get into the business. Several winners of past IGF competitions have gone on to have their games published by some of the larger publishing houses.

These 10 finalists were announced in early December and culled from 73 entries. Awards will be presented at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, CA, on March 6. Categories include:
  • Innovation in Visual Arts ($1,000 prize)
  • Innovation in Audio ($1,000 prize)
  • Innovation in Game Design ($1,000 prize)
  • Technical Excellence ($1,000 prize)
  • Audience Award ($1,000 prize)
  • Seumas McNally Award for Independent Game of the Year ($15,000 grand prize)
We get detailed descriptions of the games and talk to the teams behind them. And we wish all the finalists the best of luck!

The Finalists

Monday: January 13, 2003

Game Description

If there are two sports that define summer fun for many Americans, they are baseball and golf. BaseGolf, by Alitius, brings both together for an interesting mix.

Mr. Bigshot
Game Description

For some, playing a stock market game would seem about as interesting as studying a 10-K filing at the SEC. If you have a bear mentality, Mr. Bigshot will set you straight.

Tuesday: January 14, 2003

Pontifex 2
Game Description

Your goals are simple: design and build bridges. The real fun begins after completion. If you designed it well, great. If not, watch in horror as vehicles fall from the bridge.

Word Ninja
Game Description

Word Ninja is like Scrabble on crack. You score points by making connected words on the crossword board with your letters. The person with the most points wins!

Wednesday: January 15, 2003

Teenage Lawnmower
Game Description

Your mother is an alcoholic. Her boyfriend is bad news. You're 17 years old and ready to turn your family around. Can you do it mowing lawns?

Game Description

Take the form of an animal in this MMOG based in a fantasy-like world. Here you'll role-play with others and can even create dream worlds via the Furcadia toolset.

Thursday: January 16, 2003

Reiner Knizia's Samurai
Game Description

A game based on balance and conquest, your objective is to "secure your influence within three feudal casts." Spread your influence in a pre-unified Japan and fend off foes.

Strange Adventures In Infinite Space
Game Description

Take the role of a starship commander, trading, battling unfriendly aliens, and returning home with your loot intact in this turn-based, real-time combat game.

Friday: January 17, 2003

Wild Earth
Game Description

Stalk animals as a photojournalist in Africa examining and exploring their natural habitats. "When you're done, your photos are woven into an personalized web article."

Game Description

Touted as a first of its kind, this 3D real-time adventure game will allow sight-impaired people play via a special audio-based feedback interface. Sound cool? It is.