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GDC Preview: GDC 2007 Gets Special Indie Focus

With this year’s GDC is going further still into the burgeoning indie game arena, Simon Carless gives a run-down of the first-ever Independent Games Summit, including a keynote by industry veteran Jeff Minter (Space Giraffe) and a Small Arms
As part of Gamasutra's preview of this year's Game Development Conference, Game Developer Magazine and Gamasutra editor Simon Carless highlights this year's special focus on the state of independent gaming with the addition of the Independent Games Summit: "This year’s GDC, while fully supporting the mainstream, high-budget PC and console game scene, is going further still into the burgeoning indie game arena, both with the latest installment of the Independent Games Festival, now in its ninth year, as well as the first-ever Independent Games Summit (IGS). The IGS (March 5 and 6), alongside a few traditional events, like the Casual Games Summit and GDC Mobile, is dedicated to the art and science of development practices, distribution strategies, and innovative ideas in the independent gaming community, and includes lectures from major indie figures from Three Rings, Reflexive Entertainment, Telltale Games, The Behemoth, Introversion, Valve, NinjaBee, Gamelab, and many more. The keynote speaker for the first IGS is 25-year indie veteran and Llamasoft founder Jeff Minter (Tempest 2000, Attack of the Mutant Camels). In this extremely rare North American appearance, Minter will discuss his personal history in the business, design philosophy, and current projects, including Space Giraffe for Xbox 360 Live Arcade. Other notable panels and lectures include “Innovation in Indie Games,” an exploration of creativity by the developers of the Experimental Gameplay Project at Carnegie Mellon University and a postmortem of Gastronaut Studios’ Small Arms—an experiential study of the frenetic Xbox Live Arcade multiplayer shooter—giving insight into indie games on consoles. The Summit is designed to help support the Independent Games Festival itself, which has its IGF Pavilion in the North Hall and will showcase 32 fully playable games. In addition, the IGF Awards, which dole out over $50,000 to deserving indie gamemakers, will take place on the evening of Wednesday, March 7, and will be presented by Andy Schatz of Pocketwatch Games. In the IGF Main Competition, nominees were led by Bit Blot’s dreamlike, innovatively controlled 2D underwater adventure Aquaria, which garnered four nominations, including one for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Queasy Games’ cleverly designed abstract shoot ’em up, Everyday Shooter, grabbed three nominations. The Student Showcase winners also have multiple standouts worth playtesting while you’re in IGF territory. Try Stanford University’s touchscreen and voice-controlled romp Euclidean Crisis, Hogeschool van de Kunsten, Utrecht’s Katamari-ish The Blob, and DigiPen’s clever 3D block-manipulating shooter Toblo. One of the 10 finalists featured in the student showcase will win a first-ever Best Student Game award. Also, in the IGF Modding Competition, four winners in various categories were recently announced; each will now compete at GDC 07 for the IGF Best Mod award. In the main GDC sessions, there will be two IGF-specific talks, one discussing the Main Competition and the state of indie games, and the other focusing on the Student Showcase and the state of student indie gaming." [This story originally appeared in the February 2007 GDC preview issue of Game Developer magazine.]

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