SO... IGMC 2015


Sir Redd of Novus: He who made Prayer of the Faithless that one time, and that was pretty dang rad! :D
It's like fishing. A distinct visual style and/or interesting selling points is the hook, and the content of the game is the line. If the content of the game is weak, the line will break easily and you'll lose the fish. But even if you had a solid, unbreakable line, if there's no hook at the end, you'll never be able to catch the fish.

Which is why contests like the IGMC are awesome. Looooots of fish in the pool. You're bound to hook something.
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
Which is why contests like the IGMC are awesome. Looooots of fish in the pool. You're bound to hook something.

You've also got fish whose job it is to bite the hook and get themselves caught, rate how well you caught them, and give you thousands of dollars if you caught them the best.
Sir Redd of Novus: He who made Prayer of the Faithless that one time, and that was pretty dang rad! :D
You've also got fish whose job it is to bite the hook and get themselves caught, rate how well you caught them, and give you thousands of dollars if you caught them the best.

All the more reason to get a strong hook. After being impaled about 700 times, there's gonna be a pretty big hole in their head. A weak, tiny little hook isn't gonna grab on as well.

Unfortunately, it's how good the hook looks that's often most important to the average gamer =/

Then it's the tackle that's making up for the lack of a hook. Dropping a jumpscare lure into the water will net you a fair amount of fish, but without a hook, they'll slip right off and swim away.

Unless the fish are dumb enough to keep sucking on the tackle while being hoisted up out of the water. In which case there's not much you can do.
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
Unless the fish are dumb enough to keep sucking on the tackle while being hoisted up out of the water. In which case there's not much you can do.

True, and maybe that's the kind of fish you don't want to catch. There's plenty Magikarps in the sea but only one Gyarados, and if your job is to "catch 'em all", you better have a Master Ball at hand.
I can assure you that a lot of great looking games got cut because all they did was look good. It's the whole package that counts.

And sure there is! You just cut the line~
After all, there are rules about fishing - if it's too small you have to throw it back~
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
I played Corinne Cross's Dead & Breakfast, and I enjoyed it more than the only other game in the top 10 that I completed, Salim, not that Salim is necessarily a game designed to be enjoyed, but that even if it wasn't enjoyable, CC's D&B was more adroitly executed and implemented than Salim was.

Engine: VXA
How long it took me to play through it: ~1hr30min
The game starts off with the main character Corinne Cross, a purple-haired heroine, waiting at a bus stop at night with a bouquet of flowers, receiving a call from her mother wishing her luck, and not to mention a person called Gale who has recently passed away. The windowskin is polished, looking like chalk on a blackboard. The character sets and maps are gorgeous, and the portraits well-drawn. The portraits themselves have several poses to indicate different emotions. The heroine is to look after the house of a sick woman named Julia Styron for 7 days while she is not at home. Corinne is studying a writing degree to look after the house. It just so happens that it used to be a Bed & Breakfast, but now it's just a family home. Hermina the ex-funeral director gives you the keys to the B&B, being a firm friend and neighbour of Julia and the Styron family. The dialogue is articulate and well-spoken. It's also easy to read.

You have an energy bar, day number, and $ amount. It is a linear adventure game with simulation game mechanics - the kind of game I'm interested in. One of the gameplay features is growing flowers by watering them, and the other is cooking certain foods for the guests of the B&B. Beyond that, I won't spoil the story, suffice to say the concept is an original one and the characters are fun to meet, each having their own personalities and substories.

The interaction with objects is well-streamlined. They are set to either Player Touch or Action Button depending on which is relevant. The game starts off with many locked doors, which proceed to open as time goes on. There is a feature to toggle arrows for interactive objects. This makes it easier to know what objects in the environment to interact with, even though not all objects are marked. Although it would have been more subtle to have a subtle glow or other more subtle visual cue to represent interactible objects, than a waving arrow. An object glowing when you pass it is a good option.

Neighbour Hermina is a constantly appearing platitude-spitting morbid-yet-kind ex-funeral director with greying hair and properly traditional demeanour. Hermina refuses to call Corinne by her first name, instead opting for Miss Cross, probably because she's so hoity toity she can only call people by their surnames preceded by appropriate honorifics, thank you very much. You set up your laptop in the guest room where you are staying, where you can check for daily updates on "Instaface" about the situation you are in. Again, I won't spoil anything.

Cool points for being able to use a scooter named the "Bumblebee" to hop around shopping and visiting Julia in hospital. There are a few maps which don't seem to have any other purpose than just being a bathroom, but most rooms will become useful in time.

The gameplay itself. Watering plants is calming and zen even if it is rather simplistic and ho-hum. The game gives you choices about what to grow and what to cook, but in general the planting and cooking minigames are straightforward, and most of your time will be spent walking between rooms examining things than engaging in any real test of skill regarding the simulation. The simulation mechanics feel quite shallow though, especially when all you can do is grow plants. One of the things I highly value in a game is to have gameplay match up to the slick dressings, and Corinne attempts to do that but, whether it be because of scope of the nature of the game's structure, the mechanics don't have time to mature and provide interesting decisions. Gameplay is fairly linear and simple. You just buy as many pots as, as much dirt and as many seeds as you need and water them whenever they need watering. There's little complexity to the simulation that requires the execution of interesting decisions. It's all very linear - the simulation is quite simplistic. Nevertheless the feel of play is polished and the pacing has very few issues - there are interesting things to find from start to finish, mostly story-related rather than gameplay-related.

There's a lot of actions that actually pad out how long this game is as compared to how long it could have been (a lot shorter without all the walking and repeating actions). I don't dock points for this, though, because the repetition of the simple actions is zen and hypnotic instead of frustrating.

By the end, you will find you have met characters that you end up loving, even if some of them annoy you for food at times. It's easy to feel emotions when you come to the climax of the game, and you are given a decision that, while it is not hard to see which is the correct path, it is still a meaningful and deep decision to make.

The writing in this game is solid, the characters are interesting, and the game has a good overall concept. The graphics are gorgeous, and the game is polished lots - a smooth experience. The story is captivating and emotional, and the gameplay ideas are interesting, even if they weren't explored as much as they could have been. Pacing can drag on because there's such a long distance to walk while repeating tasks over and over again, but the repetition of the tasks could be seen as zen.

Overall, a good game, not a fantastic or excellent one, but a good one. I'd give this a 4/5.
Got me my shiny new MZ
The judges really didn't pay any attention to what was going on in the forums and topics in relation to the games

Hey first of all I must say you guys did a phenomenal job judging all those games in such a short time. And I do agree avoiding all chatter is the most objective way of handling the judging. However, I would like to point out that buzz isn't 100% marketing. I think it still says something about the quality of the game if there are many players who like it. Ah, but then we get into the murky realm of real/fake reviews and all that. Is there a better way to do this? No idea. So continue with the current system I say. This isn't that important.

The more important thing:
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! IT HURT LIKE HE** I didn't make the top 10! Dam***! Fudge freakin' darn son of a ********** ****!!!
<Beats breast! Spaz on flooooor!!!!! Runs streakin nak...ok...ahem...>

Whew, glad to get that outta my system. XD

I tantrum cause I have passion for my game and the contest, as I am sure is the same for many others. Hey like they say:
Indifference = no love.

Seriously, I think this contest has been good growth for me. It made me finish a game in crunch time and I learned so much valuable feedback from people who played my game and pointed out my mistakes. Criticism and Failure are harsh teachers, but they have made me a better dev. So while I did not win any prizes, this contest was invaluable and most excellent.

Will I be back next year? You betcha! I have not yet given up! Next year my goal's to get in the Top 3!

And I hope all of you come back next year too. It'll again be an insane amount of work. But it's a good contest and it'll be good fun.
We got the go-ahead to share the top 20 list, though no further. And it's 21, since there was a draw at one point.

If you think a game on the 11-21 side of the list is better than a game in the top 10, keep in mind that some judges had a lot better games than others to go through and thus they marked accordingly, while other judges might have scored some games higher than ones they didn't get to play until the end of the judging - it's very hard to see just how good games are from the start when you start with a worse group than other judges. Some got lucky and started with some top games, others not-so-much, who started with not-as-great games. This is the reason we have 8 judges, to balance that kind of thing out.

That said, we're very proud of the top 21 list! Here they are in alphabetical order!

Corinne Cross's Dead and Breakfast
Feed Your Beast
Free Spirits
Grist of Flies
Ink Travellers
Mechanical Mansion
Oh! I'm Getting Taller!
Once Upon a Beanstalk
Pandora's Box
Red Syndrome
Ruin Frontier 0
Soil and Rubble
Wizards of the Pale
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
I played through ZIZ and these are my thoughts.

ZIZ review
Engine: VXA
How long it took me to play through it: <30mins
The game takes place aboard a spaceship whose rogue AI has caused a mutiny by decreasing oxygen levels. Luckily, just in time, a member in the cockpit awakens a programmer from the cryogenic chambers, as a last hope for the ship to perform a hard reset on the AI and allow peaceful travel.

I didn't enjoy this game that much. The sound design starts off as captivating, the introduction cinematic and engrossing. But what follows is a series of various minigames and puzzles, mostly rising from a mechanic whereby you can control two players, switching between them at will. As the developer of a multi-character puzzle game, I feel like so much more could have been done with this concept to make puzzles feel more streamlined and logically ordered, by exhibiting a puzzle alphabet of rules that build up slowly on top of each other in interesting ways. Instead, the puzzles are so disengaged from each other that it is just like a series of disembodied challenges with no arc. There are themes riffing off the central premise of controlling two characters - the combination of light one in particular being the only unique one I saw - but there is no room to expand on these ideas and provide an actual entertaining puzzle game.

So on the puzzle front, things are lacking. The UI looks quite good and makes you feel immersed, despite being slightly sluggish.

The story is about the awakening of a maintenance android named MA7, a.k.a Seven, and deals with the sentience of this android, its method of learning, and its questioning whether or not it has social feelings like a human. Seven is a robot that is supposedly gaining "sentience". It's real Turing Test stuff. Conversations between the programmer and Seven are well-written, albeit riddled with typos such as the use of "you're" instead of "your". Your conversations with an AI feel realistic.

There are 2 endings, both of which are very similar in effect. They represent a moral dilemma that you have to provide your personal response to.

By the end, I felt like it wasn't meaty enough, and didn't bring across its story in a very impactful way. It was short and it made sense, but I didn't feel anything other than "Oh, that was slightly interesting". As soon as it came, it was gone, and it didn't leave much of an impact.

Perhaps this is because the nature of AI in media is such an explored concept that exploring simple topics about AI just isn't going to cut it. Teaching an AI how to behave socially isn't considered sci-fi anymore, because it's not new. Science fiction should bring new ideas to the table, and make a person really think about new ideas, not just about whether an AI is human or not and is able to make human choices, because if that was the case you can watch Blade Runner and remember what it's like to hear those themes in popular mainstream visual media for the first time in the 80s. I think I just longed for something more complex than this.

I rate ZIZ a 2.5/5.
Oh man, we're in the top 21?! And here I thought our game fell off the edge of the earth! We're happy and grateful to hear that you enjoyed Ruin Frontier 0 to this extent, and would love to hear your thoughts on our game. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the 21 :3
Interesting... I haven't played most of these games D:
I'll have to check some...
I'm so glad to see Ruin Frontier 0 and Red Syndrome there! Wizards of the Pale was good too but I had a bad time playing it because i played it solo . It's obviously the kinda game made to be played with 4 pepples.
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
Free Spirits review
Engine: VXA
How long it took me to play through it: About 1 hour maybe

Free Spirits is set in 1923, and it's about a couple of exorcists putting ghosts to rest by conversing with them and making them realize how they should be at peace. As such, there's no traditional combat, although the conversations themselves approximate combat in a strange sort of way, except with minimal stats. The only stats you have in battle are WP (a stat pretty much exactly like HP) and a number of "stars" that represent the number of actions you can take per turn.

The graphical style is extremely unique, utilizing mostly monochromatic black-and-white colours, except for accentuated objects that are coloured vibrantly, usually indicating something that is to be interacted with. I found the graphics to be somewhat consistent with the gaiety and camp vibe of the time period that the game attempts to emulate, even if at times this vibe became irritating to me. This was mostly because of a personal dislike of the "ab-so-lute-ly, pos-it-tute-ly!" type of language that was used, especially nearer to the beginning of the game.

Both Lana and Kozmin (who are sisters, by the way) can talk ghosts out of certain predicaments in their own particular ways. There are various statuses that you can inflict on the ghosts, including fear, nostalgia, and sadness, that give you different responses depending on which period during the conversation you are in. Conversations are scripted via a tree of nodes with special conditions having to met in order to activate the next node in the tree, so that when you are finished, the ghost can be at rest.

I liked the concept of resolving conflict through conversation (as has been recently explored with Undertale and its ilk), because the mechanics involved seem innovative and at least the developers are trying something new. I also felt like this game had a lot of presentational polish from the graphics down to the animations. I think the 3 chapter structure of the game works really well to allow players to measure their progress and to chop the story into separate portions. So when you finish a chapter it's a satisfying feeling.

The first half of the game was quite unnecessarily difficult and I felt like the gameplay wasn't conveyed very well. The player is thrust into the game with only rudimentary instructions, and if they haven't played this type of game before, they're going to have a lot of trouble wondering what on earth is going on. On top of that, the mannerisms that the characters use in order to be a part of the time period, were quite obnoxious in my opinion and at times prevented me from connecting with or caring about the characters. I understand that for those who have an absolute love and passion for silent films and the 40s will adore the aesthetic, but for those who don't, they're grappling for a human connection. I can only take so many "ab-so-lute-ly, pos-it-tute-ly!"s, and "don't worry, everything's jake"s. At times it was like someone googling "words of the 40s" and trying to find ways to put them into sentences. It was like all the language of the time was getting in the way of me actually understanding who the characters are and connecting with them on a deeper level.

I think that the writing improved a lot in the second half, by using less of the affectations that they were so obsessed with near the start, with lines like "Beckett. We need to be having words." and "I will thank you to watch my language in front of my sister" convincing me that the writer was showing off his/her chops for the sake of it. "Thanks a bunchski, you're a real darb fella" tipped me off the edge.

Thankfully, I continued with the game, because after the first couple of extremely frustrating battles made more frustrating due to the lack of conveyance -- I was spamming various attacks with no strategy for nearly half an hour -- it surprisingly became more enjoyable. Once the way that you tackle battles became clear to me, it became less of a trial-and-error affair and more of a strategic game, where each encounter, especially up til the last, got me more and more invested in the game. The maps were quite immersive and the stories themselves, from the magician's chapter onwards, were increasingly captivating.

Certain mechanics made me get stuck for a very long time though, for instance there are a couple of occasions where you must show an item to the enemy, however on one occasion I didn't have this in my possession nor did I know where this item would be acquired, so I had to ask online for the answer. In a sense, something as vital as a key item required to continue should not be missable at all, in my opinion.

The arc at the end of the game is very satisfying, and it ends on a high note. It's a shame that the game almost failed to launch near the start due to a lack of conveyance of the rules and principles of the game, and that certain mechanics in the game could let players fall in the cracks and never get out so to speak, I think that the game, whilst it could use some improvement, was decent on most accounts. The battle system, whilst interesting, could probably only be extended for a short time before it would require something else interesting to spice it up, however for the short time period that the game takes place in, the mechanics stood up to scrutiny and it provided a good experience in the latter half.

I rate Free Spirits 3.5/5, for being a decent game with a few flaws, that could be fixed in a later version. It's a nice concept game that is worth being tried out.


Nanuleu review
Engine: Unity
How long it took me to play through it: About 15 minutes for one playthrough, but I kept replaying the game over several days due to how addictive it was

Nanuleu is a real-time strategy game viewed from an isometric perspective with gameplay focussing on resource management and growth of territory and infrastructure. It is almost entirely gameplay-based. Graphics are clean, crisp and minimal. Animations are smooth and unobtrusive yet noticeable. The player's mission is to grow a network of trees connected by roots, to mine two major resources - water and minerals. Initially these are the only resources the player has to worry about, except that when they start planting more trees, it becomes evident that seeds, which serve as the equivalent to "houses" in most RTSes, are also required to plant these trees.

Once the balance between the 3 resources - water, minerals and seeds - is established, neighbouring Invader tree structures threaten to destroy the player's establishment by encamping in close proximity to the player's site. Each blackened "corrupted" enemy tree spawns a creep enemy to move to the player's site and attack the first buildings that come within its line of sight. The player can plant Protectors to shoot nearby enemies, which adds further requirements to the resource management juggle. Correctly managing resources and placement of trees is how one thrives. Each game map is randomized at the start of a game.

Starting off with gameplay - this game is addictive! The game's mechanics and randomization of the game map each time lend a sense of strategy to each new map, the randomization also adding to replayability. This is the most replayable of the games I have played for IGMC. Gameplay is well-balanced for the most part. The simplistic nature of collecting these resources and growing your territory from the base tree outwards is therapeutic and soothing. Sometimes I wished I could enjoy a "peaceful" mode where invaders didn't exist and I could just expand my tree structure as far as the eye could see.

Some enemies I found to be extremely strong and it was hard for me to fend them off, so much so that I wasn't sure if it was even possible to do so. But this just made me more determined to get it right the next time. The game is addictive, I tell you!

The music is soothing and the sound effects used are unobtrusive and add to the peaceful atmosphere.

If I were to point out what I believe to be the negative aspects of Nanuleu, I would say that the simple structure of the game does not currently lend itself to more complex strategies. I think that a lot of interesting functionality could be added if this game were to be expanded. Right now it is fairly minimal, with the balance of water, minerals, seeds and protection being the major resources that are needed to be balanced, however, water and minerals are functionally the same and it'd be nice to see gameplay expanded to cover more unique uses of resources. At the moment there is enough strategy to be able to make mistakes, but if you are clever I believe you can still have a fairly good strategy and lose. I think that at the moment a fair portion of it does boil down to luck of the draw of the map that has been randomized at the start of the game, however with more complexity added, strategy could become more in the hands of the player and less in the hands of the dice roller.

But despite the simplicity of the game's resource management, I found myself returning to this game sporadically again and again, if I were in need of a quick coffee break arcade experience. If this were to be expanded further, I could see this being a fantastic commercial venture, due to its replayability and open modular nature of what could be added. Technically, there could be an aspect of creation that allows users to modify functionality of the game to create mods, and the such like. I love that this prototype has a ton of possibilities for expansion, and that is the aspect of growth in this game that inspires me the most. I hope that the developers expand this game even more, and I would certainly keep tabs on it and maybe purchase it if a commercial version were to be released.

I give the fantastic Nanuleu a 4.25/5.