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UBM TechWeb (producer of Game Developer magazine,, and the Game Developers Conference) established the Independent Games Festival (IGF) in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

The 2012 IGF Awards took place on the evening of the third day of Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, USA, and they were a major celebration of the best in Indie gaming, with thousands watching the award presentation before the Game Developer’s Choice Awards were presented. The 2011 IGF Awards, including custom interstitials from Mega64, are available for online viewing.  And the 2012 IGF winners are…

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Picture from colourful, dimension-bending puzzler Fez from Polytron Corporation has taken home the grand prize of $30,000 (£19,000). (Wired.UK)

Nominally, Fez is a platformer in which Gomez, a two-dimensional character, explores a world that has become three-dimensional. Much like the classic novel Flatland, Fez delves into the nature of dimension, space and geometry in such a way that games have rarely done in the past. FEZ is a game for XBOX LIVE ARCADE set to release in Q1 2012.

The Excellence In Design award went to procedurally-generated dungeon exploration titled Spelunky, from Mossmouth.

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As described in their Web site, Spelunky is a platformer with lots of monsters, items, traps, and secrets. Dying in Spelunky can be quick and painful. But each time you restart, you’ll play a new, randomly-generated set of levels! It will feel fresh and exciting, and you’ll have to think on your feet. The original game was released on PC in 2008 and is available to play for free. The new version for Xbox Live Arcade is much more than a port of the original game, and it has new graphics, music, zones, monsters, items, traps, and secrets. The controls are much smoother too, and designed specifically for the gamepad.

The Technical Excellence prize went to psychological exploration game Antichamber made by Demruth

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Alexander Bruce’s unique first-person puzzle game, Antichamber, formerly known as Hazard, differs from anything else in a couple of important ways. It is captivating, yet, simple visual style uses elegant geometry and bright splashes of color to help keep players focused on its thought-provoking puzzles (from Shack News).

For Excellence In Visual Art, the spooky but beautiful Dear Esther took the prize. 

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Dear Esther, the sombre Half Life 2 mod where you steer a tortured man around an abandoned island, listening to his internal monologues, diary entries, or whatever that constant talking is, has been quietly polished up by Robert Briscoe. He is released a ton of screens and a little walk-about trailer, showcasing his rendition subterranean world where you spend a significant portion in the middle of the game. It’s gorgeous. (PC GAMER)

Point-and-click adventure Botanicula from Amanita Design won the prize for Excellence In Audio.

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Botanicula is point’n’click exploration game created by Jára Plachý and Amanita Design. It is about a bunch of five friends – little tree creatures who set out for a journey to save the last seed from their home tree which is infested by evil parasites. The original soundtrack and sound effects are created by Botanicula. It is a point’n’click exploration game created by Jára Plachý and Amanita Design. It’s about a bunch of five friends – little tree creatures who set out for a journey to save the last seed from their home tree which is infested by evil parasites. The original soundtrack and sound effects are created by Czech alternative band DVA. Release of Botanicula is planned for early 2012. (Amanita Design)

Rhythmic puzzler Beat Sneak Bandit From Simogo won the Best Mobile Game award.

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You won’t need to play Beat Sneak Bandit for long to realise its creators are every bit as nimble as their protagonist. Swedish duo Simon Flesser and Magnus Gardebäck have crafted a bright, angular comic-book world that distances itself from the pastel-hued melancholia of the pair’s earlier Bumpy Road with every bass squelch and synth stab.(EDGE)

The Nuovo Award, which rewards experimentation and weirder titles, went to Storyteller by Daniel Benmergui.

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Storyteller has a simple interface: you drag actors into panels to give form to a story, but you don’t directly control how each character behaves. Each actor reacts according to his nature, of which there are several: villain, lover, hero, amnesiac, etc. All living characters have a common behavior: they all suffer when someone they care about dies or dumps them, and other common-sense rules. The challenge of each “story” (or level) is to figure out how to make actors do what you want, how to fit that in 3 or 4 panels AND somehow match what the story goals. (Ludomancy)

Finally, WAY was named as the best student game.

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WAY is a free, non-profit game for PC & Mac where two anonymous players communicate through gestures to solve puzzles designed by Chris Bell.

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