IGF 2020 Inspiration: Grand Prize winner Return of the Obra Dinn

Get inspired, and then get moving: GDC organizers still accepting submissions for the 2020 Independent Games Festival, but you've gotta get your game in before September 30th!

Hey indies, don't delay: Game Developers Conference organizers are still accepting submissions for the 22nd annual Independent Games Festivalnow through September 30th!

That means you've got just over two weeks to submit your game for award consideration by a diverse group of industry experts who hail from game companies of all sizes and shapes, as well as the press and the independent games community.

Being a part of the IGF is a great way to bring some attention to your work, build camaraderie with your fellow indie devs, and partake in a major celebration of the best in indie games. 

Don't be nervous about putting yourself out there, either; even if you don't end up taking an award home, you'll be participating in one of the industry's largest and most diverse celebrations of indie games. And you'll be standing alongside indie devs of all skill levels and backgrounds, each of whom has submitted something only they could have made.

Think about Return of the Obra Dinn3909's remarkable monochromatic puzzle game about an insurance investigator solving the mystery of a 17th-century merchant ship which returns to port with all hands missing. 

Developed by Lucas Pope after the success of his (IGF award-winning) 2013 hit Papers, PleaseReturn of the Obra Dinn is a good example of how putting time and work into an idea that captivates you can pay off in a big way, even if your dream doesn't seem like something that meshes well with traditional games.

Born out of a fascination with the sort of monochromatic "1-bit" visual aesthetics found in early Macintosh games, the game that became Return of the Obra Dinn took roughly 5 years to create and wound up featuring a host of unique plot elements and game mechanics, not least of which is an in-game watch which affords players the room to move between scenes of death that took place on the doomed Obra Dinn.

It's an inspired game that wound up taking home both the Excellence in Narrative award and the Seamus McNally Grand Prize during the 2019 IGF Awards. When Pope stepped onstage to accept the Grand Prize for Obra Dinn, he made a point of thanking fellow indies for their inspiring work -- and encouraging them to continue. 

"My first GDC was 21 years ago, which is a long time," said Pope. "My first IGF submission was 11 years ago, which is also, I think, a long time. The whole time, independent games are the thing that inspire me and influence me to keep creating. Minute, Hypnospace Outlaw, Opus Magnum, Noita, and Do Not Feed the Monkeys...those games, and all the games nominated tonight, and all the winners, are incredible works of art. And it's an honor for me to have Obra Dinn listed among those games."

So don't be nervous about submitting your own game -- it could be you on that stage, or your game inspiring others! 

To get a sense of what the awards are like you can go back and watch them for yourself on Twitch, where the livestreamed 2019 IGF and Game Developers Choice Awards ceremonies (as well as those from past years) are archived.

The IGF is part of the Game Developers Conference 2020, which will take place from March 16th through the 20th at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. Now that submissions are officially open for IGF 2020, you can refer to our official rules for the IGF Competition in much greater detail.

Gamasutra, GDC and the IGF are sister organizations under parent company Informa

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