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Road to the IGF Part 1: The Stories Behind 2022's Top Indie Games

The Independent Games Festival Awards are coming up, and Game Developer is highlighting every nominee in the annual "Road to the IGF" series. Here is the first batch of interviews—including Overboard!, Tux and Fanny, and Fuzz Dungeon

Organizers of the 2022 Game Developers Conference are gearing up for the 24th annual IGF Awards—part of the longest-running festival, summit, and showcase celebrating independent games and their creators. Be sure to check out these interviews with the folks behind this year's amazing crop of games.

Capturing imperfect ideas in Jeremy Couillard's surreal Fuzz Dungeon

"Fuzz Dungeon is a journey through an absurd vision of human history, all so you can find a "sasquatch sex amulet." And recreate a society where you might not have to go to work. It's a surreal vision of existence, but one that captures the imperfect ways our good ideas tend to take shape when we bring them into the world..."

Surviving a dying alien world in The Eternal Cylinder

"The Eternal Cylinder asks you to guide a herd of strange animals across a dying world, working together as a massive, crushing object slowly destroys their homeworld behind them. If players can get the creatures to work together and shape their abilities in helpful ways, they may stand a chance of finally getting out of this path of devastation..."

Rewarding curiosity in charming explorer Tux and Fanny

"Tux and Fanny is, technically, about inflating a soccer ball. Players will quickly find themselves in an ever-changing world that rewards curiosity, being filled with all manner of things to play with, sights to see, and hidden games to play. It's a celebration of the wonder that lies all around us, if we only take the time to look..."

Hacking for answers in tactical narrative game Midnight Protocol

"Midnight Protocol draws the player into the world of hacking, having them collect data and sneak their way into secret archives as they work to figure out why they were doxxed. As to how players get there—finding information to use for blackmail, helping agencies track rogue hackers, and more—they'll have many available roads to their goal, depending on the information they manage to pry out using their skills..."

Exploring tragedy in interactive fiction tale Closed Hands

"Closed Hands is centralized around a terror attack on a fictional city, but its story spins out into past and future to fully explore the event's meanings. What lead up to cause this to happen? What effects did these events have on people? Through five different perspectives, players examine the complexities around these tragedies..."

Connecting the words in puzzle game Letter Lattice

"Word puzzle game Letter Lattice, which was nominated for Best Student Game at this year's IGF Awards, has players changing a single letter at a time in order to move between two connected words..."

Experiencing the creative process in Memory Card

"Memory Card is a collection of development builds, small creations, pictures, works in progress, and worlds in the process of coming together, captured as-is by their developer and laid out for the player to experience. It's an open look into the developer's creative process, offering everything they had worked on over a period..."

Honoring the banned art of Brazilian balloons in Cai Cai Balão

"Cai Cai Balão, which was nominated for Best Student Game at this year's IGF Awards, gives players a glimpse into the dangerous world of Brazilian balloon artists. Once a proud tradition, this art style has been criminalized by the government, pushing these artists underground and forcing them to take great risks to preserve their art and culture..."

Experiencing a story of survival in Last Call

"Last Call is an autobiographical game about leaving a violent relationship, packing up boxes and responding to poetic memories as you prepare to move out. Players are asked to respond, with their actual voices, to these memories and thoughts, calling up a physical reaction of understanding as you prepare to leave..."

Turning road noise into music in Mini Motorways

"Mini Motorways is a game of designing roads to keep traffic flowing in a busy, bustling city. Through managing roads, roundabouts, and traffic lights, you can hopefully get everyone where they need to go with a minimum of irritation. The people of this world will happily let you know if don't..."

How to get away with murder in Overboard!

"Instead of unraveling a murder mystery and finding the killer, in Overboard!, you most definitely ARE the killer. And now you need to throw suspicion off of you if you're going to get away with it. To that end, you'll need to lie, trick, seduce, and cast doubt on other people, doing whatever you can to be sure you don't end up in handcuffs in this narrative adventure..."

Celebrating winning, losing, and community in puzzle game Sparkles & Gems

"Sparkles & Gems, which was nominated for the IGF Nuovo Award, has two characters going head-to-head in a mixture of Breakout and Match-3 puzzle games. Winning isn't everything in this game's world, though, as, win or lose, you'll steadily continue the story of your relationship with some surreal, yet lovable characters..."

Turning personal art into The Wild at Heart

"The Wild at Heart follows a pair of runaways into a world of forgotten and lost things. Thankfully, the kids find some allies in the form of a whole crew of friendly forest creatures who are willing to help them out..."

Swinging and skateboarding as an adorable spider in Webbed

"Webbed sends players out into the wilderness as a helpful spider, spinning webs and swinging through the forest to rescue a loved one. As a crafty spider, you can do quite a few neat tricks with your web, from using it to swoop around to creating webs to carry you across pits, giving players all kinds of means to deal with the game's puzzles..."

Stay tuned for more, and bookmark the "Road to the IGF 2022" tag on Game Developer for the latest interviews. 

Winners will be announced during the IGF Awards ceremony, taking place at the Game Developers Conference on Wednesday, March 23 at 6:30pm PT (with a simultaneous broadcast on GDC Twitch). The IGF Awards will immediately precede the Game Developers Choice Awards, which recognizes the best games of the year across all sections of game development. Both the GDCA and IGF ceremonies are available to watch for all GDC 2022 pass-holders.

GDC returns in-person to San Francisco, March 21-25—registration is now open! For more information on GDC 2022, including our virtual options, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC22 hashtag on social media.

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