Wondering what's going to be the next big thing in indie games for 2009? Look no further than the finalists for this year's Independent Games Festival awards.
The Independent Games Festival awards, the place where games like Audiosurf and Braid go from indie crowd favorites to genuine mainstream success stories, has announced this year's batch of indie-phenoms-to-be. In the running are a couple of games you may have heard of, including the PlayStation Network's PixelJunk Eden, but many, as far as I know, have yet to carve out a name for themselves. That's the beauty of these awards, though: they put a spotlight on relatively unknown games and put them on display for all the people who don't browse indie game message boards to see.
Competing for the Seamus McNally Grand Prize (which comes with a nice $20,000 check) are five titles: Blueberry Garden, a storybook-esque sandbox game with a dynamic ecosystem, CarneyVale Showtime, an Xbox Live title where you play as an acrobat, Dyson, a real-time strategy game about colonizing asteroids, Night Game, an action-puzzle title promising "ambient gameplay," and Osmos, where you control a mote which enlarges by absorbing other motes, and honestly sounds a lot like fl0w.
Other entries include the aforementioned PixelJunk Eden, which is competing for Excellence in Visual Art, Audio and Technical Excellence, and browser-based joke game You Have To Burn The Rope, which is nominated for the Innovation Award.
This year's competition is certainly more crowded than last year's, with the IGF reporting a record of 226 entries, a 30% increase over last year's pool. Whether you take that as evidence of the IGF's increasing relevance, the growing independent development community or otherwise, the bottom line is: indie games are getting big.
The IGF takes place at the Game Developer's Conference from March 23-27 this year, with award winners announced on the 25th.
Click here for the full list of finalists with info and trailers for the lot of them.