Category «Festivals»

The German Developer Award 2013


Yesterday we were in Düsseldorf to attend the 10th German Developer Award. We were nominated in the category 'Best Learning Game' with TRI. This little nomination made us happy as much as it amused us. For this award you choose the categories by yourself when submitting a game, so we decided to take this category for the lack of a better fitting one. Best Learning Game! Yay.

The award ceremony was held in a super hot location called the Kesselhaus (= boiler) which is an exciting looking old industrial building, but also quite hot, literally. You watch the ceremony sitting on round tables together with members of other studios and enjoy the ceremony while dealing with the melted lebkuchen on your plate.

Four years earlier (flashback!) when we were students we attended our first Developer Award. Still wet behind the ears and full of hope and passion we were lucky to be part of the show as winners of free tickets. Back then Crytek - the most famous and probably most important German developer, won in nearly every category. In that year the organizers started a new category called 'Best Studio' - which also went to Crytek. Who also did the main sponsoring. Well, this is how awards work, I guess.
A new studio appeared there for the first time, the adventure game developer Daedalic ("Edna breaks out"), who made the trailer animation to announce the 'Best Graphics' with their weird hand-drawn 2D Flash style. Ironically Crytek won the award, but I had the feeling Daedalic was the winner of hearts with that rabbit trailer. Foresight?


And the winners are...

In 2013 Daedalic seems to be the Crytek of 2009. They were nominated in nearly every category with three games: Goodbye Deponia, Das Schwarze Auge - Memoria and The Night of the Rabbit. Of course Crytek has an abo on the Developer award, so at least they didn't go home bare-handed.
Between the no-surprises-at-all winners also some Indies were nominated and even won awards. The fresh Studio Fizbin won with their congenial adventure "The Inner World" ('Best Familiy Game'). The nice guys of Threaks won in two categories - Best Serious Game and Best Game Design - for their musical platformer Beatbuddy. Also one of the few developers that answered with an spontaneous and enormous funny reaction of pouring sparkling wine over each other. The price for the best publisher went to Headup Games again, which also seems to be like a good sign of the games industry having a new generation of fresh and interesting players. And, more important, one with a good taste for smaller games and superb boxed editions. One award went to our neighbors from FAKT Software for their Crazy Machines – Golden Gears ('Best Mobile Casual Game').
Our friends from Uniworlds shared their Newcomer award third place for Tristoy with another student team. The first place went to Schein by an Austrian student team, who seem to get a lot of awards and nominations for their upcoming project. An interesting fact about the student works: all of them were 2D platformers. I miss some experiments here, guys!
That the Computer Games Museum was honored with a 'Special Prize' was a nice moment, as well, because this place is worth visiting whenever you are in Berlin!


Strange categories

The award process was extremely weird, by the way. After some categories we realized that only the games were shown in the trailer that didn't win the prize. Which made the winner, with all nominees in mind, no surprise at all. Together with puns and insiders (most likely not everybody got them), the whole award show was a rush through 90s gaming history personalities. Futhermore, the organizers from Aruba decided to change the categories for this year. Instead of having the same developer appearing on stage three times in a row, they batched together two to three categories like 'Best Serious Game' and 'Best Game Design'. Or 'Best Simulation' and 'Best Strategy Game'. Or, in our case: 'Best Family Game', 'Best Children Game', 'Best Teen Game' and 'Best Learning Game' was put together. Who cares! Whatever not-winners trailer will be shown next, one of them will be ours!

We knew we wouldn't win the award, but were thrilled to see TRI at least one second on a big screen. Cameras pulled out I was ready to film the historic second of us being on screen for the very first time at the German Developer Award. Now. Any minute...
Eventually Aruba also decided that family and children games are boring without no explosions and blood sparks, so those were the only categories where no nomination trailers where shown. They quickly announced the winners in every category and our little non-existent moment of glory was over. Meh.
Next time completely leave out all the categories you think are unworthy for the proud German Game Dev Scene right upfront! Instead of asking for submissions, nominations and leaving out trailers we were asked to provide for nothing. Whatever.


This award also showed how useless categories are. 'Best Core Mobile Game' and 'Best Casual Mobile Game' ( they were all pretty casual?!). Best children game, best children mobile game (the winner Fiete is an app for 1-2 yr old children), best teen game, best family game, best learning game (again Fiete, seems to be like the good old Memory game, but with nice graphics). I wish they would handle it like the IGF: developers send in their games and the jury chooses categories that are most fitting.

TL;DR: I guess awards are mostly about rewarding a community and in some places great games as well. Moreover, The German Developer Award is no place for innovation. It's hard to remember this, especially as indie developer, because this is the only way to succeed, in my opinion. But if they really want to reward certain developers, they should do it without categories! Or at least decide them AFTER developers sent in their games.

After all, this was a nice journey into the lap of the big old German industry giants. The event seems to give us a nice overview about the core game industry, which is still not the place where we totally feel home. So I believe the talks with our fellow indie developers (who we mostly only meet in real life at occasions like this) after the show were the most rewarding event here. Nice to see you guys, again and good to meet also some new people in Düsseldorf!

If you want to vote for us in a different place - why not help us to get into the Top10 games of 2013? :D

Indie of the Year Awards

Artgame Weekend #4 in Lille

I've never been to France before. Home is where my desktop is and I like to stay at home, to work on my games. The only things that are luring me out of the cave are festivals, exhibitions or game jams. Last weekend I got my reason to visit Lille, France. I was invited to be in the jury for a game jam.

TL,DR: It was amazing! Scroll down to see all the jam results immediately.

The theme of the Artgame Weekend 4 already sounded awesome: Instead of selecting a theme the organizers chose to let the participants think up new ways to interact with a game. “Think art, Use controllers, Make a game, Play with us!” is the claim of their event. So here is my blog post to everybody who missed it or didn't realize the amazing French indie scene.

The first moment of an ongoing chain of enthusiasm about the Artgame Weekend was made by the building the jam took place at. The former textile manufactory was rebuilt to an inspiring, modern work space with an amazing area to work, enjoy and to display projects (in the form of a huge Gameboy!).


Seventy people worked together in twelve groups. When we arrived the attendees already teamed up after pitching their ideas. With this method no ideas or controllers were used twice!
The second moment of excitement took me when I arrived in this room full of creative energy. There were guitars to control characters, pianos to create objects, buttons attached to human bodies, chalk for blackboards to draw on or even ten mice attached for one game. A group of people was building a bomb. Someone was wearing an Oculus Rift. Two participants connected their smartphones to the laptop to control their game ... Breath in, breath out. Wow!

If you want great games to be made, bring together talented people from different backgrounds in the right place.

The whole event was assembled by Marc Lavigne (game industry north) and Simon Bachelier (One Life Remains). All the people they brought together for technology, exhibition, cooking and organization worked together so well! If I learned one thing in Lille it is how to really make the perfect game jam. If you want great games to be made, bring together talented people from different backgrounds in the right place. I'm not sure if I could copy this event easily. But I think I should care more about the participants well-being next time I organize a jam.

So did the organizers of this jam: To make sure everybody can face technical issues they engaged talents to help out, like Armel Gibson, one of the coaches for design and technique, who was helping with getting the PS Move controllers working in Unity. While Sosowski was whirling around to help a team whose game was called 'Yetis with machetes' (made with the UDK), I met Nicolas Tilly (Ecriture Videoludique Magazine), who was the third coach in this mad mayhem of handicraft work.

photo by Leon Denise,
photo by Leon Denise,

And they engaged us, a jury to judge the jam's work. A fact that puzzled me, but I guess with competing against each other and a jury to show their stuff to, you get these kind of excellent projects and getting really motivated.
After a while the jury was complete, consisting of Jon Bro (Lucky Frame, GB), Chris Priestman (Indiestatik, GB), Cara Ellison (Rockpaper,etc. GB), Thorsten Storno (Amaze Festival, D) and me (Rat King, D). In the end I was glad we didn't really judge the projects, especially because people could switch between groups. So we grouped up, checked out the projects, talked to people, asked critical questions, got impressed and ate delicious freshly-made food they served at the jam.

And instead of working the night through we did have a party with DJ and nice Belgian beer. And a party after the jam, with J.S. Jousting and a couple of other multiplayer games.

The biggest shame: I didn't bring my laptop, because I feared to have too much package for the flight. Next year I want to take part in game-making myself. Bring my own Arduino and build awesome stuff! Be part of this creative madness.


To make sure you understand why the results of this jam where so inspiring that I really missed taking part myself, here is the complete list:


1. Chirac If we would have to judge this game would have gotten the WTF?!-Award! I knew some of the team from Bokida before, which is a clean, well-designed sand-box game I first saw at the Notgames Fest. It seems too much artsyness needed to be destroyed with a mad story about people dressing like horses and horses dressing like men. And only six-legged Chirac is able to save the world. Color. Penis-tentacle action. Shooting. Button-smashing. Music! artgame_location_03

photo by Leon Denise,
photo by Leon Denise,

2. Adsono This game caught my interest from the beginning. The team crafted with Arduino, physical buttons, Xbox-controller and Kinder eggs. The idea: Two people attach the buttons to their body. When one button is pressed, the other player feels a vibration. Both create a sequence dance with pushing the buttons in turns. Although they couldn't finish the game like intended, this game was the perfect essence of a good jamming: Try hard, find new stuff that wasn't made before and learn. I hope you guys finish it! artgame_bomb_02 artgame_bomb 3. Prepare to meet thy god When the last Ludum Dare asked for games themed “10 seconds” how many bomb defusing games did we see? This team had the same idea for the controller, but believe me: Defusing a bomb on a screen and actually sitting fully dressed with glasses, gas mask and suit in front of a box with cables, bottles and blinking lights alone in a room with just a tool to cut these cables: such a difference! From outside we could watch the contestants via webcam, which added an extra creepy real-life level to the game. Guys, your game was a blast! artgame_piano artgame_piano_02 4. Keyboard Mandala In this two-player game you start in an empty, lifeless desert. One player has a controller to move around, while the other does magic with a keyboard. With every key played you can create a huge variety of objects from huge buildings, bridges, fountains to tiny groups of ants. And stones, stones, stones to irritate the other player. I could have played this one for hours! Either you play it to create worlds with your songs or to find out what the creators did hide behind every key. This game is pure magic! artgame_demon 5. Necronomicon Forget Harry Potter! You can be a witch (or witcher ;)) in this game yourself! Just take the Necronomicon and draw the ancient ritual signs on the black board to summon powerful creatures that fight against the other player's demons. What made this game especially atmospheric was the dark cellar vault where it took place at. One of the team members sat in the corner, dressed black with red-stained hands (of course it was blood!). Red lights and the foul-smelling sponge added an extra dark flavour.

6. Space Ship
Imagine combining Space Team with the scenario of FTL. Imagine people running around to find the right computers. Imagine people getting mad to fulfill the right procedure to stop the alien invasion on the space ship. And imagine that all the people that tried to watch you playing to run with you in order to find out what this game is about. Ahh, people should run more often in games!


7. Holy Shit
Holy Shit is just like the name implicates: a game about shit and not getting hugged by it with holy-awesome looking characters. Play it with ten players that click ten mice at once and try to find out what your character is. It's as silly as it is fun.

photo by Pierre Corbinouze,
photo by Pierre Corbinouze,

8. Live
In this Kinect game you are the conductor of an orchestra of light and kaleidoscope colours. Just raise your hand and be creative: Dance, jump, draw.


9. Cerebro
In X-Men Cerebro is used by Professor Xavier to detect mutants by amplifying the brain waves of the user. In this game I didn't detect mutants, but felt as bad ass by controlling a game with my brain by relaxing and stressing behavior. What I saw were beautifully composed spaces with weird structures that I could manipulate with pure mind control. Not only the game was interesting, but especially the technology they used and improved by building their own devices.


10. Monkey vs. Cake
In this multiplayer game every contestant gets a smartphone to tap the enemy to death. Cute muffins and cute monkeys! But you don't really know where exactly the buttons lies, so you have find out while tapping. Funny and fast game.

11. Rock'n'Dolls
One player is getting a bass to move the bike with two girls forward. The other player is moving the guitar in front of a camera and so is the weapon of one of the girls on the bike. By playing the guitar you shoot a thunderbolt. You don't really know how to play a guitar, but I felt more bad ass than with guitar hero. Cool idea!


12. Shooting yetis with machetes
Why didn't anybody come up with that scenario before: You walk through Doom-like corridors to kill undead yetis with a rocket-empowered machete sling-shot gun. Also, this game brought light effects to the test. Mad.

Okay, ladies and gentleman. Lille did rock! Great people, great conversations, great games. Make sure to follow these guys to get a notification for the next Artgame Weekend! I think you already realized it, by reading this article, but woohoo, Viva la Lille, I highly enjoyed this!

Gamescom – Day 2 – The mess(e)


After getting in touch with little game booths and crowded places at the Notgames Fest on Tuesday, we felt ready to check out the gamescom. Luckily Wednesday is Trade Visitors Day, so everything is just half-crowded, but totally set-up for the big mayhem to start.


The first thing we headed for was the CD Project Red booth in the business area. Most business booths are super boring, have food and drinks for the press, no booth babes and are seldomly crowded. The CDPR's booth was full of people that were interested in their upcoming projects.'s Trevor Longino was there handing out t-shirts with a raising fist claiming the DRM-free revolution. And there was a Witcher boardgame, that looked quite nice. But no game to play, nope.


Another booth we visited with great interest was the Indie Megabooth booth. Kelly Wallick talked about their epic project to make Indie games more visible and to bring them to tradeshows like PAX or gamescom. We met Zoii (Global Game Jam, Playful Arts Festival, Women in Games NL), Jonatan Van Hove brought his suitcase arcade with the multiplayer WTF-game 'Go Nuts!' and Sos Sosowski arranged his hairspray and Achtung! Arcade. When you have a game or any interest in indie games, go there. I bet you will meet someone interesting.






The Iran was there, too. And brought us games where you have to chase your nose! Or MMO cockfight games. But seriously, I regret that we didn't have much time to check out this booth more closely.

After leaving the business area we went straight to the German IndieArena Booth, assembled by Oliver Eberlei from Hammerlabs Games. In a short amount of time he achieved to get contacts, indies, material, computers and all the stuff necessary to present a great collection of games.


Thomas Schulze, whose game I'm currently playing, showed us his monitor with the special foliage he needed to keep his game Splatter (word!) from the eyes of children.


You can also play Beatbuddy by Threaks there. An underwater platformer where you play in the rhythm of the music with a fantastic art style and a cute character. They even have a human sized mascot!


Talk to Sebastian Mittag and Mareike Ottrand from Studio Fizbin about their adventure The Inner World.


Or meet Thomas Bedenk and his team Brightside Games, who work on a game with many indie characters you might know.

If you want to see the ten ambassadors of the German Indie scene, go to Hall 9, Booth A-045 and feel the bright, fresh wind of German indie spirit.


A picture of a nice dog. I asked the booth babe to step aside for the image. She didn't look pleased.


Yes, we had press material.

After getting deaf through the booth next to the IndieArena we seek a more peaceful place and found it in Hall 10. Our friends from Leipzig prepared together with a lot of other retro enthusiasts a huge area of exhibitions, retro consoles, games, relaxing spaces and more interesting stuff than you will ever find it in any other booth.


The yellow wall is a German 80s kid's room. OMG, look at this stuff!


Some steps further you can play the analog version of Pacman – the Whacky Wit boardgame. Norman Sommer created this beautiful-looking, wooden boardgame. It even sounds awesome when you reset the pills! We played one session and talked about the process of making such a game. Norman made this game for an computer-enthusiastic friend in hospital, so they could play things together there. Now he got quite famous with this luxury boardgame for collectors.

s_retro_cover_05 s_retro_cover_04 s_retro_cover_02 s_retro_cover_01


Thomas Köhre from the Haus der Computerspiele (House of Computergames) introduced us to the most ugly, strange, shitty game covers exhibition. We should make a jam just from these packages.


In the same area we found game schools, cosplayers, the German Bundeswehr (if you like head shots, you should get hired there!) and case modders (the theme is 'Steam Punk').


That the OUYA is only one of many companies starting to be a competitor on the console market was something we recognized even more at the gamescom. There is the Pandora (you may find the creators in the retro area), UNU (by a German company) and the BOYO. The UNU was most interesting, because of its access to the Google Play store. The docking station will be delivered with a remote (quite similar to the Wii remote, but without the Gyro) and in the game version a controller is added as well. The UNU company is planning an own shop as well.


Another trend that was very visible at the gamescom are games that enable the player to be more creative. At Microsoft's booth you can see presentations and playable versions of Project Spark. With this tool you can create a 3D-world by adding and removing material, like working with clay. Afterwards you can paint the stuff with prepared grass, rock, ice or desert textures and add props like trees, rocks, plants and enemies. This is just the edit mode. In play mode you can add a character and walk through your newly built level. With a very basic and easy programming tool you can add behavior to your character. The whole tool looks like a polished and more user-friendly successor of Kodu.



And for those who already have the boob pads, check out for the brain wave controlled cat ears. Hooray for technology!

Alright gamescom. We leave now. See you next year, probably with more to TRI.