Meet the best and the brightest from Paraguay, China, Brazil, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Colombia and USA. Indie Prize, an international scholarship program created by Computer Games Association for independent game developers, announced the winners of the 19th Indie Prize Awards during Indie Prize Seattle at Casual Connect USA 2017 – representing the best of the best in independent game design and innovation:
Painted Black Games is a young Ukrainian mini-studio. There are five of them, and they’re making their first game – a philosophic sci-fi thriller-adventure, The Long Reach. The team has changed many times since 2015 when it all started. It didn’t mess up the process – on the contrary, everyone who has contributed to the game, brought their unique view and made it better.
As the developers were writing the story, the lights at their office went out. “We’re in pitch darkness and – I’m not sure, but I think something is scratching at our door”, says Roman Tomilin, the producer and programmer, as he shares the game development story.
I wake up after a night of binge coding to a dawn awash in the song of the muezzin. I am on the 27th floor of a glass tower in the midst of a modernist mountain range that is Bangsar South. Below me is all of Kuala Lumpur incredible in the fading night.
Three weeks ago, I received a message asking if I was interested in applying to GameFounders. I said, “Of course.” To my mind, GameFounders is the modern equivalent of the Sculpture Garden of the Medicis. Sculpture not involving marble, chisel and hammer, but interactivity, pixels and code. GameFounders calls digital talent from all over the world to come to Kuala Lumpur to build the future; accelerating the process by providing investment, a first-rate workspace and a three-month mentorship by masters of the various disciplines that comprise game development.
Over the Holidays, I faced a series of interviews. The first was with Christina Begerska, GameFounders Program Manager, sharp as an adamantium blade and kept fresh – no doubt – by the tears of failed applicants. Next was Reinaldo Normand, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor and author. And finally, Kadri Ugand herself, Co-Founder and CEO of GameFounders.
I was sleepwalking throughout the long wait for The Decision. Then I was told, matter-of-factly, that we were in. It took a lot of staring into space before it finally sunk in – our studio, Moocho Brain Interactive, would be in GameFounders Spring 2017!
This cycle is made of nine teams selected from a growing pool of more than a thousand applicants. Three teams are from South America, two are from Europe and four from Asia. Meet the teams of GameFounders Spring 2017:
One game from Bulgaria and from Republic of Moldova, three games from Romania and from Serbia, six games from Russia and nine games from Ukraine were selected by judges among 470 submission to represent their countries as the finalists at the international Indie Prize showcase in Berlin during Casual Connect Europe 2017! Among these, six games were nominated by Game Nation Nomination Partners: Game Factory Jam Winner which was in Republic of Moldova, DevPlay in Romania, DevGAMM in Belarus, White Nights in Russian Federation, Games Gathering Conference and GetIT! in Ukraine.
Cells Games is a small indie team of professionals that got together a few years ago. But it was just in the beginning of this year that they found time to focus on a project. The team got even more tight-knit when they started preparing for the Game Jam Kanobu 2016 contest where they eventually won the Unity Special Award there.
“We work remotely, everyone being in different parts of the world: I’m in Kyiv, our programmer Sasha is in Krasnoyarsk, another programmer Misha and artist Andriy are in Dnipro, and sound designer Anton is in St. Petersburg. So yes, it’s all remote, but this doesn’t get in our way to communicate and have good workflow”, says the studio’s CEO Eugene Lavrinenko as he shares the story of Madness Road, a mobile racing game inspired by post-apocalyptic movies about total destruction.
A wise man once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Concept artists understand this sentiment better than most. With full creative license, concept artists have the unique and enviable ability to make the game world match their vision of what it should be. If this concept hasn’t been fully fleshed out or has mistakes, then that’s all going to end up in the game – rendering useless the work of 3D artists, animation artists, and all those other talented professionals who worked to bring this concept to gaming life. Plarium concept artist Andrey Ivanov has been successfully tackling these challenges on a daily basis over the past four years. Let’s follow along as he takes us through a day in his shoes.
By Andrey Ivanov, Concept Artist at Plarium
Bla Bla Games is a small yet proud indie team of two people: Vlad Kryvoborodov and Sergey Smirnov, who met each other while working at Wargaming.net. Now, separated by more than 2.000 kilometers, guys are on their way of shipping The Shattering globally. Vlad is happy to share their story below.
Bla bla bla, yeah we are!
I believe that miracles happen in kitchens. Why, you will ask? Well, my wife Nushka started one of the biggest fire festivals in the world (Kiev Fire Fest) just chatting with friends and drinking tea in her kitchen 10 years ago. Same happened to me and Sergey. We were talking and going mad with some game ideas just on a lunch break at the kitchen, and a month later we had our prototype up and running. We called it The Shattering and people enjoyed it.
The international Indie Prize showcase for independent developers will take place on Nov 1-3, 2016 in Tel Aviv. Sixty games from 21 countries were provided with Indie Prize scholarship by Casual Connect and will be showcased at Habima Square during three days from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Eight games from Ukrainian developers were selected and provided with a scholarship to attend Casual Connect and showcase their games at the international Indie Prize showcase in Tel Aviv.
By Igor Pospishny
We want to congratulate the winner of the first GTP Indie Cup: The Uncertain. We were thrilled to be able to work with the guys from ComonGames make their dream come true. It was one of outstanding projects among other applied games. Here’s how we made the GTP Indie Cup happen and chose our winner.
Making the Decision
While there have been a few small game events in Ukraine, there have been a few bigger or significant events that will attract the indie game developers and studios who operate in the region. There are lots of developers and studios based here, many of whom are not aware of one another, simply because they have no functioning, thriving community like the ones many other areas of the world have. Particularly, there is no way for small developers to get in touc with big studios and publishers. This is why we decided to start our first GTP Indie Cup this spring.
We were surprised, when director of Indie Prize scholarship Yuliya Moshkaryova gave us a partnership opportunity with Indie Prize at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2016. Getting that partnership was pure magic and it went a long way to making sure we could make this idea a reality.
The Ukrainian team of Pinokl Games team was working on a huge ambitious project of Mecha Titans and some other casual and family-friendly games… and then got tired of that all. They unleashed their darkest thoughts and participated in Kanobu Game Jam with Party Hard, a game of a bloody massacre at a noisy neighbors’ party at 3AM, or “third-person urban conflict simulator” as they describe their creation.
The bloodthirsty theme found a response in the hearts of Casual Connect Europe 2015 critics, having brought the team the Critics Choice award in Indie Prize. The team recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Party Hard launch, having scored numerous other awards and gaining a massive creative fan base. Pinokl Games’ marketing manager and producer Alina Husevyk shares the most noticeable learnings of the year.