Indie Developer of the Year Nominees – Indie Haven Game of the Year Awards 2013 Laura Kate December 29, 2013 Features The week between Christmas and New Year, it’s always a pretty slow time of the year when it comes to interesting news for gamers. With that in mind, we at Indie Haven thought that the last 6 days of the year would be the perfect time to share our nominations and winners for all of our end of the year award categories. Starting on December 26th we will reveal our nominees for each of our five award categories daily, with our winners being announced on December 31st for all the world to see. Today we continue the festivities by announcing our nominees for the Indie Developer of the Year category. These nominations all came from writers at Indie Haven and were then voted on in our huge voting extravaganza to come to a majority vote award winner. I’ve said enough, let’s get on with the show. The Fullbright Company Gone Home was one of this years biggest successes in the Indie scene, gaining international attention in the wider gaming space and even in wider media for the beauty with which it told its story. The environment, soundtrack, world design and voice acting all came together to tell a story that resonated with many and taught a lot to many more, a huge success story for a studio working on it’s first game. Started by a wonderful and talented group of people who once worked together on the Minerva’s Den DLC for Bioshock 2, another game that succeeds and thrives based on how well it handles world building and environmental atmospheric storytelling, The Fullbright Company took a risk by leaving AAA game development to work on a non combat game with themes rarely explored in gaming and it really paid off. Gone home was a success that will take some work to outdo in the future and was a great way for a new studio to make a name for themselves. Dan Marshall Dan Marshall didn’t put out the most popular game this year, but he definitely put in the extra effort trying to get it there. Gun Monkeys was received well by critics and fans, but there was one issue: not enough people had the game to keep the online community constantly buzzing. It was obvious that pending some miracle Gun Monkeys wasn’t going to be a big seller at this point, but Marshall put in the extra work anyway. He started offering free gift copies of Gun Monkeys to players who sat online looking for a match, and continued to patch it to make the experience better. Marshall didn’t have to keep working on Gun Monkeys, but his work ethic earned our respect. This in many ways highlights what we at Indie Haven love about Mr Dan Marshall. He puts the work in because it’s not enough for him to just release a game, he wants it to be the best game it can be and for the community to enjoy it as much as they can. He has a fantastic attitude toward his playerbase and is just a generally lovely guy. The Tall Trees The Tall Trees somewhat came out of nowhere this year and hit me and every other games writer I know in a single storm of consciousness. Through some mix of skill and luck they managed to successfully get their unique little bed time story platformer discussed by everyone at once, gaining this huge wave of visibility that helped their game get some very much deserved notability. Their first game, Castles in the Sky, is a short, easy to complete, beautifully directed story book platformer about a young boy jumping up through the clouds while a beautiful poem comes up on screen with your progress. The soundtrack is gorgeous, the art is simplistic and colourful and it’s just a delight to play with small children just before bed time. It’s super cheap and the studio behind it managed to make their little passion project really stand out amongst the crowd like no other game this year. The appear out of left field and demanded gamers and press keep their eyes on them for the future. Saleem Dabbous and KO-OP Mode Saleem Dabbous and KO-OP Mode made this years list by one simple act, they provided a beautiful relaxing safe haven of calm and tranquility in the midst of the chaos that was the Eurogamer Expo this year with his game Skipping Stones. Skipping Stones is a wonderful and laid back game about sitting in front of a lake, throwing stones, listening to them make music as they bounce on the surface of the water and watching the colour of the sky and your surroundings change. It’s simple, that it’s without a doubt a game that I consider an interactive work of art. Saleem and KO-OP Mode have created something undeniably artistic, for that they earn a spot on our Indie Developer of the Year nomination shortlist. Mike Bithell Mike Bithell, best known as the guy who make that game about rectangles jumping on other rectangles and becoming friends (Thomas Was Alone) has had a rather busy year. Sure he announced his new upcoming game Volume in a castle and got the hugely popular Charlie McDonnell to do the voice for the main character, but that’s not the biggest reason he made our list. While designing, creating and orchestrating the much hyped reveal of this super anticipated new game, Mike Bithell somehow still found time to be one of the most relevant and important voices on Twitter when it comes to the games industry. Every time something is happening in the gaming or Indie scene Mike Bithell is there with fascinating and insightful thoughts on it. Every time an Indie asks him for help he’s there giving advice. He’s super active and always on the mark. He has managed to use the platform to keep us all up to date on progress with Volume, but he’s also my most recommended follow on Twitter. Go follow him, his insights on the industry are invaluable. And there we have it, that’s our nominees. Head back here on December 31st when the full list of award winners will be announced for all 5 of our awards categories. We still have Game of the Year nominees to announce tomorrow, so be sure to come back every day for the rest of the year.