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Thoughts on entering the Independent Games Festival

Entering the IGF - a chance for great publicity, but losing sucks.


[Reposted from my website forum]

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) is an annual competition for indie games. There's a lot of competitions like this, but the IGF is the biggest one. I'm considering (re)entering Salvation Prophecy in it. But I'm not sure yet - I'm weighing the pros and cons.

I entered Salvation Prophecy in the IGF once already, a few years ago. Yes, I've been working on the game for over 4 years now. ;) That was much nearer the beginning of the project. That time through, Salvation Prophecy wasn't nominated for any awards at all.

On one hand, this could mean that Salvation Prophecy just isn't the kind of game that does well at the IGF. It's a lot different than games which have won in the past, nifty games like Crayon Physics Deluxe, World of Goo, Blueberry Garden, Aquaria, and Minecraft. Those are all very unusual, unique, quirky games that all feel really "indie". Salvation Prophecy has a more traditional, "mainstream" feel to it. I suspect this doesn't jive well with the judges, which I can totally respect - they're trying to recognize non-mainstream games.

Plus, Salvation Prophecy is a pretty complicated game, especially compared to other indie games. There's no way you could play Salvation Prophecy for like 20 minutes and have any real feel for it. You don't even get a space ship until about an hour into the game. But the IGF judges need to judge hundreds of games. So realistically, they can only play each one for minutes, not hours.

On the other hand, the game really sucked back then, compared to what it is today. Really, I shouldn't have entered it back then. It was way too unfinished. So I guess it might have a better chance this time around.

The big reason for entering is publicity. If Salvation Prophecy won, or even was nominated, there would be a lot of people who would check out the website, and maybe buy it when it is released. This kind of publicity is really important, especially for indies like me who don't have money to spend on marketing the game.

So why not enter it? Well, it's kind of a drag to lose I guess. If your game isn't nominated at all, it's tough not to take it a bit personally. Quitting your job, starting a company, and making an independent game is a crazy, stressful experience. Jumping on emotional roller-coasters like the IGF doesn't help, especially when you think the odds might be stacked against you.

Anyway, I need to decide soon. The submission deadline is Oct 17th.

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