Indie Prize London 2018 featured many exciting games that we will enjoy playing. The judging is now complete and Casual Connect Europe is happy to announce the winners and nominees in each category.
The winner of Best Game Audio is Zebrainy ABCs, created by Zebrainy Limited from Ukraine. This is an alphabet learning game for young children that takes them on a journey where they learn to construct each letter and then to know animals, objects and characters that begin with that letter.
Nominees for Best Game Audio were: LUNA the Shadow Dust, developed by Lantern Studio from the United Kingdom, a point-and-click puzzle adventure set in a fantasy world; Nishan Shaman by Next Studio from China, inspired by ancient Chinese Manchu mythology; and Hyperforma by Nord Unit of Russia, an arcade puzzle in a steampunk setting.
The winner of Best Game Design was EnigmBox by Benoit Freslom from France. EnigmBox is a puzzle game that requires you to use all the functionalities of your smartphone to solve the puzzles, including things like the location service, plug-in accessories and much more.
I guess that every single games developer in the world could say that everything started when they were kids and, with gleamy eyes but steady hands, played their first game. But I’d like to finish this post before the year is over, and that’d be a bit cheesy anyway, so let’s fast forward a little bit. In some sense, everything started when I decided to found a small development company. But then I would have to talk of 10 years of hard (but rewarding) work, during which we developed more than 50 products and saw many of our clients succeed – one of them sold his product that we developed for him for 50 million USD to NASDAQ!
So, fast forward again to the moment when we decided that the time had arrived to create our own “baby,” to make a game for us and not for others. The idea had crossed our minds before, but it wasn’t until some random day, having some coffee, when I saw a beautiful demo that Oren Rubin and Alon Simon had created. Back then it was something really tiny, but I instantly saw that it had something special – it was eye-catching, quirky, and funny. So I contacted them and told them that maybe we could make a mobile game out of it. We all agreed that it was worth a try.
And here we are, one year, one nomination to the Google Indie Prize, 20 times featured by Apple and Google (even featured once in the “Today” tab), and 4 million downloads later. It was definitely worth the try, don’t you think? But let’s see how we got here – the path is as important as the destination!
Players who enjoy a good fight will appreciate the entries for Indie Prize from South America. All three are based on various kinds of warfare. But each of these three is completely different, taking place in environments that include a world of avatars and minions, the early British time of King Arthur, or present day multi-vehicle war. Each requires strategic thinking and challenging movement and will challenge players’ abilities.
Game Title:Teratopia Developer:Ravegan Platform: Console, Desktop Win Country: Argentina
Teratopia is an action strategy game with the player controlling avatars who spawn different classes of minions. The minions are completely independent; the player can only decide where, when and which one to throw. Players advance through an open-end world as they defeat bosses to unlock new spawning portals. The game has humor, role playing elements and local multiplayer options.
Teratopia is scheduled for release in October 2018 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe 2018 has attracted many entries from all over Europe, including Italy, France, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, as well as the United Kingdom. And the innovation in these games is remarkable. Competitive games have a variety of new twists that require speed, precision and skill to succeed. Adventure and narrative games pit the player against novel situations and obstacles. Settings range from the historically accurate (or inaccurate) to fantasy or dungeons or even the player’s mind. And a variety of puzzle games challenge players’ thinking in different ways. Whatever kind of gaming you prefer, there are games here you will enjoy. These fantastic games total 38 from Europe. The finalists have been broken up into two parts. To see the other 19, see this article.
Game Title:Falling Sky Developer:Falling Sky Platform: Desktop Win Country: United Kingdom/Norway
Falling Sky is a cinematic 3D mystery game. It was developed at the National Film and Television School and the project leader and sole developer was Jonathan Nielssen. The game uses Unreal Engine and motion capture technology to create immersive, narrative-driven drama. It has a Twin Peaks influence and elements of open world adventure.
The characters of the game are brothers Daniel and Tommy, who are attempting to solve the mystery of their mother’s disappearance. Guided by a series of cryptic messages, the boys set off on a quest to find the truth.
Falling Sky was nominated for Best Student Game at the Game Awards. It has also been receiving attention in the press.
Game Title:Lost Words Developer: Sketchbook Games Platform: Desktop Win Country: United Kingdom
Lost Words is an atmospheric puzzle game that is set between the pages of a diary and a fantasy land. The narrative of the game is tied into the gameplay in an unusual way, having the player running on and solving puzzles by interacting with words.
Lost Words won Best Indie Game, Best Casual Game and and Most Original Game at Game Connection 2017 in France. It was also nominated for Best Idea at AzPlay 2017 in Spain and won UK Game of the Show from UKE at Gamescom 2017 in Germany. It also received the Special Selection Indie Award at Reboot Develop 2017 in Croatia.
Game Title:Super Chicken Catchers Developer: Game Design : Maxime BODIN, Rafael LOPES Game Art : Benoit RICHARD, Sylvain LACERES, Etienne POV, Marion CHABROL SUPT Game Programming : Alexis COEURDEROY, Yanis HAMEL, Ilyes OUHABI LESURTEL Platform: Desktop Win Country: France
Super Chicken Catchers is a 2v2 game set in a multi-player arena. Each team of two players is made up of the mount, who chases the chickens, and the rider, who must catch the chickens with his yo-yo.
Game Title:Naraa: The Living Book Developer: Game Design : Nicolas DUVAL, David BIRGE-COTTE Game Art : Perrine LOZINGUEZ, Charlotte COUDERC, Julie MIZREH, Violaine BERTHOUMIEU Game Programming : Rémi CARREIRA, Benjamin HADDAD, Matthieu JAGU Platform: Other mobile platform Country: France
Naraa: the Living Book uses augmented reality to explore the landscapes of Mongolia with a real children’s book. In this story Naraa wants to become a shaman but she needs help from the player. The realms of the spirits have been invaded by the villainous Iblis. To win the trust of the spirits, Naraa must have help from the player to free them from the Iblis; only then can the player wake up the Great Bear.
In the Planet’s Revenge, the Nias have escaped from their planet and are invading the universe. Only the player can stop this parasitic invasion. To do it you must clean each planet by creating tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes and unleashing other destructive powers.
Game Title:QUBE 2 Developer:Toxic Games Platform: Desktop Win Country: United Kingdom
Q.U.B.E. 2 is the sequel to the first-person puzzle game Q.U.B.E. As Amelia Cross, a stranded archaeologist, the player mysteriously awakens in the ruins of an ancient alien landscape. Your goal is to find your way home, but to do it you must manipulate and travel through this forgotten world. Your only help comes from another, although distant, survivor, Commander Emma Sutcliffe.
Q.U.B.E. 2 has won the following awards: Outstanding Gameplay – Reboot Develop 2016, Game of the Year – Reboot Develop 2016, Global VR Challenge 2016, Kotaku – Best of British 2018.
Game Title:Mission 1545 Developer: City Quests Media Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac, Web Country: United Kingdom
Mission 1545 is a rescue mission adventure set in Tudor London of the 16th Century. Spies are everywhere and players must stay out of sight, avoiding enemy light comes. They must win the eight themed gate towers in a night-long race along the city wall in order to reach the Tower of London. Then they must find and release the prisoner held there.
Mission 1545 is the first game for City Quests Media. The team is dedicated to making games set in English history, using an outstanding cast and a comic book art style, soundtrack, acting and script.
Game Title:Gaze Developer: Franck Morgand, Clément Mezelle, Grégoire Chamberland, Lothario Areski Peon de Schuyter Platform: Android Country: France
Gaze is a game that combines speed, observation and sculpture. Players must find the anamorphic shapes printed on the sculpture using the camera of their smartphone. Once they find the anamorphosis, they take a picture to validate it and receive a score. And the player with the highest score wins.
Gaze was an official selection at Indiecade Europe 2017. It has been reviewed on a number of websites that include Shake That Button, Factornews, Game Side Story, and The Broadcast Show.
Game Title:Over the Alps Developer: Stave Studios Platform: iOS, Desktop Win Country: United Kingdom
Over the Alps takes players on a race through the Switzerland of 1939 in a text adventure/point-and-click adventure. They explore scenes inspired by vintage travel posters and read postcard written in invisible ink. They must navigate the intrigue of wartime Europe, trying to stay undercover while being chased by a Nazi spycatcher. They must escape the spycatcher, rescue the Watchmaker and unlock the secrets of the past.
Over the Alps has been accepted into the Leftfield Collection and has appeared in Gamesmaster.
Game Title:Ruya Developer: Miracle Tea Platform: Miracle Tea Country: United Kingdom
Players of this game find tranquility as they match the characters of Ruya‘s world. They visit surreal landscapes while decorating themselves in flowers and introspect. Ruya offers a calming experience with interactions and color combinations designed to make players feel at ease. And the dreamlike soundtrack pulls you into the state of peaceful flow.
Ruya has been featured in the Top 10 Charts in the App stores worldwide and was rated 9.1 on App Advice. It won Game of the Show at Game Anglia 2017 and was an Official Selection at Casual Connect Asia 2017. And it was a winner at Trazfuser 2016.
Game Title:Disco Flip Developer:ALL CAPS Platform: Android Country: Denmark
Disco Flip has players navigating obstacles and enemies through a unique twist of music and action in an endless runner game. This game is filled with different characters and the players must traverse a dangerous path while everything, even the trees, moves to the beat of the music.
Disco Flip won the People’s Choice Award at GameScope 2017.
Game Title:Swim Out Developer: Lozange Lab Platform: iOS, Android, Console, Desktop Win, Desktop Mac Country: France
Swim Out is a strategic turn-based puzzle game. It takes place in the refreshing, relaxing atmosphere of a sunny day by the pool, the river or the sea. But you must plan each of your strokes wisely so that you never cross another swimmer’s path in order to enjoy the view from a cozy chaise longue.
Swim Out was a finalist for Best Mobile Game at Ping Awards 2017 and was a finalist for Best Puzzle Game at TIGA Games Industry Awards 2017. It has been receiving very positive reviews and comments, for example, “Swim Out is a gorgeous, stylish pool puzzler” from Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It has been featured in the AppStore, Google Play, itch.io and GameJolt.
Game Title:Kawaii Developer:kickAlive Platform: Android Country: France
Kawaii is a game that lets players, with their friends, breed hundreds of creatures such as cats, dogs, dragons. And you build their world.
Kawaii was soft launched in France. It acquired 100 users and gained 100,000 in return.
Game Title:Too Many Cooks Developer:FINIFUGU && friends Platform: iOS, Android Country: United Kingdom
Too Many Cooks is a local cooperative game for 3 – 6 players. The players join together, each using their own phone, no central screen is needed. In the kitchen where the game is set, each player has different job objects – one might have a crate to gather ingredients, one might have a board for chopping, a rice cooker, perhaps the sink for cleanup. But players can also pass around objects or jobs they would rather not have. Each player can help others finish their jobs.
Too Many Cooks won the Very Big Indie Pitch 2018 in London and was nominated at the SXSW’s Gamers Voice Awards.
Game Title:Still Here Developer: David Smit Platform: iOS, Android Country: Germany
Still Here is 2D flight game set in the near future and focused on a central question: Why did mankind leave the earth? The game takes the player, as the character Pip, on a journey through a dystopian world full of secrets and unique locations. As Pip journeys, he befriends and helps artificial life. Their plight sets the course for the adventure among the remains of the long gone human civilization. But there are rewards to unlock that will help Pip on his journey.
Still Here was featured in Early Access for over eight months. It gained more than 200,000 players and a 4.5 rating from Tip Tap in China and similar players and ratings throughout the world.
Smash Tanks is an augmented reality game with destructive its defining feature. Players take turns to launch their tanks into enemy territory to take out the enemy, grab supply crates or topple the towers. The game continues until only one team is left.
Augmented reality turns Smash Tanks into an ultra-exciting experience. Anywhere can become a battle arena, the living room, kitchen or even outdoors. Soon players are moving around and getting close to line up the trick shots.
SmashTanks was selected by The Guardian as one of the best games of EGX 2017. It was demoed as part of Apples AR Showcase and it was the #1 selling AR and board game app during the Christmas season.
Game Title:Silent Streets: Mockingbird Developer:Funbakers Platform: iOS, Android Country: Ireland
Silent Streets: Mockingbird is a detective adventure game that features augmented reality. The immersive story is set in the Victorian Era and has crime scene investigation with ARKit technology. The game includes beautiful artwork and impressive sound and voice over. It has been localized in French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Silent Streets: Mockingbird has received positive coverage from Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer as well as other media.
Game Title:Castle Cats: Epic Story Quests Developer:PocApp Studios Platform: iOS, Android, Other mobile platform Country: Sweden
Castle Cats: Epic Story Quests is a humorous RPG narrative game blended with cat collecting and hero management. When you play this game, you become the leader of a guild of cat heroes saving the Kingdom of Catania by defeating the evil Pugomancer. You can recruit from over one hundred cat heroes including knights, mages or flying dragon cats, and send them on quests to earn prestige and loot for your guild. You train your cat heroes and send them on dozens of different quests and to fight enemies such as wolves and zombie chihuahuas.
Castle Cats has a rating of 4.8 on both iOS and Play Store and almost 2 million downloads. It was featured on NewsWatch TV and has raised $17000 for animal charities.
To view all of the Indie Prize finalists for Casual Connect Europe, visit indieprize.org.
Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe 2018 has attracted many entries from all over Europe, including Italy, France, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, as well as the United Kingdom. And the innovation in these games is remarkable. Competitive games have a variety of new twists that require speed, precision and skill to succeed. Adventure and narrative games pit the player against novel situations and obstacles. Settings range from the historically accurate (or inaccurate) to fantasy or dungeons or even the player’s mind. And a variety of puzzle games challenge players’ thinking in different ways. Whatever kind of gaming you prefer, there are games here you will enjoy. These fantastic games total 38 from Europe. The finalists have been broken up into two parts. To see the other 17, see this article.
Game Title:Circle of Sumo Developer:Yonder Platform: Desktop Win, Desktop Mac Country: Italy
Circle of Sumo is a fast-paced competitive multi-player game where players alone or in teams fight for supremacy in the ring. This intense challenge requires power, precision, quick reflexes and cunning. Yonder describe the game as “a real mini-games box, a sort of kaleidoscope of playable pills with a joyful and inclusive soul.” But the competitive aspects are always retained. There are dozens of different arenas and the ring could be anywhere a circle could be imagined, even a traffic circle.
The entries from the Middle East for Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe 2018 are five completely different games. However, they share an interesting element – each has an unexpected environment. In one soccer is played in a medieval castle; one takes place in a world of jelly; one is in an ancient world that rotates; one is in a desert filled with hordes of ghastly enemies; and in one the player actually creates the environment, drawing their own path. In all other ways they offer great variety, with new twists on sports, battles, strategic planning and creative thinking.
Dirty Soccer Online is a free multi-player sports and action game. To begin the game you choose a medieval character; each possible character has different powers. The game can be played in up to 3v3 live matches with players worldwide. You fight against your opposing team while trying to score goals in their castle.
Indie Prize London at Casual Connect Europe 2018 has attracted an outstanding variety of games from Eastern Europe. Role playing is featured in many games, and is perhaps taken to new heights in a game where the player literally chooses a role to play on stage. Many also combine role playing with different types of adventure, such as surviving on a sinking island or digging through caves or being lost in a desert. There are games that challenge the brain with puzzles, multiplayer games, beautiful learning games for children, and even games that take players into accurate representations of history. There is something in this group of games that will attract everyone.
Theatre VR is the perfect game for aspiring actors and anyone who would like to experience what it would be like to be on stage. It allows you to choose a play and a role, then act that character. You say the lines while making gestures and moving around the stage. But you are not alone on stage; there are other characters driven by the computer. You can also create your own productions and share them with others and enjoy the play with your friends.
We are SignSine – a two people game studio from Kyiv, Ukraine.
We are developing PROZE, an atmospheric survival adventure game focused on telling a compelling story “about friendship with massive Cold War conspiracy background” and providing an immersive experience in VR.
Where did everything start?
In August 2016, we went to a countryside house (dacha) nearby Kyiv with a company of old friends. After getting lost in the woods we were very inspired telling the story to each other from a different perspective. Some time after we decided to turn our memories of that evening into a game screenplay, that’s how the initial idea came together.
We weren’t sure about genre, setting or technology. It was just a draft story and we kept developing it, collecting ideas and references for everything, drawing early sketches, describing game mechanics and creating puzzles — basically doing what we could.
We knew exactly what kind of experience PROZE should be in the end – a unique story with massive background, characters, which you love, hate and empathize. Cozy and at the same time – scary atmosphere that will be left imprinted in players memories for decades. Our sights of what the perfect game should be and on many other things was uncommon, that’s why we settled as a team and kept progressing on the development.
The decision of making a VR game was not instant. However while putting our design document together we realized that this technology can fully project our idea, thoughts, and emotions that we have put into the screenplay. To embody those moments as it could happen in real life we decided to make a VR game at first place.
Going for technologies that we are using in the game creation is a bigger challenge for us, as we are trying to reach really stunning quality of visuals and audio with no budget.
So pretty much all the things that we are doing, we are doing ourselves, including photogrammetry, motion capture, spatial sound design, 3D modeling.
The hardest part was to combine the development with our day jobs. We have to support financially ourselves and the project. We have to spend tons of time on doing things and learning new as we set this unreachable goal of making an uncompromised game.
There were 4 of us in the very beginning, but only 2 of us left carrying the torch. All of us have motivational, financial, family, time and other problems from time to time, it makes huge impacts on the progress of PROZE development, nevertheless we work as a team and support each other during the hard times.
Today we went for full time development, rented a small office, upgraded some gear.
That’s not fine when we can’t afford buying food everyday, but we truly believe that things will change and PROZE will be a blast when it’s done.
We have spend a lot of time on crafting the cinematic story trailer, which is not completed yet today. It still lacks of visual effects and expensive 3D character models.
Perhaps it was a mistake starting from such complex footage that required all states of technology and art in itself ignoring the actual gameplay.
However we’ve learned a lot and gained big experience with
The new game engine.
Motion capture, which we were recording with 2 soldiered Kinects in the rotten basement of the 18 story building. Where we were disturbed all the time by the tenants that were looking at us as on aliens trying to steal their gigabytes of internet.
Crawling through the dungeons and caught cold standing on the windy highways and fields and lakes to record authentic ambiances and sound effects.
But wrong moves were made right. Using the experience and groundwork we started from scratch creating a playable game episode in VR. Not much time has passed and we are showcasing PROZE pre-Aplha at our first conference. So many gamers that have never played anything like that before were extremeley excited.
After 2 months and huge update we are getting 2 main prizes during our second in life conference.
We’ve been awarded the Audience Choice Award and the Best Indie Game Award. Now as winners from GameDev Lviv (an Indie Prize Partner event), we are Indie Prize London finalist at Casual Connect Europe and the game looks and feels like never before.
The mistake that we won’t regret if you can call it a mistake is that we are not following the trends.
The development of such complex project takes a lot of time and the industry changes every now and then. PROZE is not social, it is not a multiplayer. It doesn’t have loot boxes or similar things.
It may sound strange, but it is designed mostly for introverts that want to relax after a busy day, spend a few hours alone and take part in the breathtaking story, experience the situations that might be related to them, but in an extraordinary way and get the emotional connection with the characters.
Hopefully we will connect with our audience and together we will prove that there are no such thing as unreachable goals. And the higher you aim the more you gain. That probably would be the main tip for other developers trying hard to bring their worlds to life.
It might be early to judge if our approach repays.
Panelists Alex Mendelev (Advisor with DoubleJump Games), Dave Rohrl (CEO & Founder of Mobile Game Doctor), Konrad Stanczak (Promotions Specialist at Power Up Game Studio) discussed finding balance between gameplay and monetization at Casual Connect Kyiv 2017. The panel Designing for Revenue – It’s Not All Fun and Games was moderated by Tapdaq’s VP of Business Development Chris Lefebvre. Together, they shared their experience which varied from industry veterans to newly published indies.
Almost every entrepreneur will at some point need funding. This is especially true in the game industry. If you are in this situation, you need to know there are many tools to raise funds. Don’t be in a hurry to assume raising venture capital is your road to success; despite glorification from the tech publications, too often it can be the wrong instrument for the job.
Casual Connect USA 2018 brought together a panel of experts to help you understand what your options really are. The panelists included founders and investors whose perspectives from both sides brought valuable information on why, when and how to think about funding your business for the best results.
The panelists were:
Cesar Mufarej, Co-Founder and CFO at Fanatee, a company focused on casual mobile games. Fanatee has had more than 25 million downloads and is responsible for successful word games CodyCross and Stop. Cesar is responsible for monetization strategies, developing distribution and monetization partnerships and taking care of financial and legal matters.
Kamran Ansari is Venture Partner at Greycroft Partners. Kamran has been a venture investor and operator at Pinterest, Facebook, Venmo, Braintree, MyYearbook/MeetMe, Boxed Wholesale, Vungle and more. He served as Head of Corporate Development at Pinterest from early 2015, where he led nine acquisitions, including Jelly, Instapaper, URX, The Hunt and Highlight.
Mike DeLaet, Co-Founder and CEO of DOD Media Group, a full-service consulting firm focused on publishing, including BD and other digital distribution of mobile apps and games on the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon and more. Mike has also served as SVP of Global BD and Licensing at Kabam and SVP of Global Publishing at Glu Mobile.
The moderator of the panel was Mark Loranger, a serial entrepreneur with experience in a variety of technology startups. Mark is now Co-Founder of Braavo Capital. He has raised money from angel investors, banks and venture capital, but have also spent time on the other side of the table. Prior to Braavo, Mark was the founder of GraniteMade Ventures.
To learn more about options for funding your business, watch this video of Casual Connect session The Right Tool for the Job – Fundraising Strategy and Tactics for Building a Successful Gaming Business.