People’s Choice and The Mighty Burchatta (also the name of our new band) are two of three “prize money awards” Indie Speed Run 2.0 will be doling out this year. Aside from an immediate cash award ($1000 and $500 respectively), both will be joining the Judge 15 in going to Yahtzee to be eligible for the $3,500. And before you ask, yes, it’s possible to win both one of these titles AND the grand prize. So, here we go!

PEOPLE’S CHOICE

People’s Choice was determined by an algorithm taking four things into account, weighted in the following order:

  • Average rating (1-5 stars)
  • Number of plays
  • Frequency of votes (multiple votes from the same IP, while allowed once per 24 hours, are weighed less with each occurrence)
  • Referring links

Anyone caught giving multiple mid to low ratings in rapid succession was quietly disqualified, and any actions of any other IP the tech monkeys deemed to be “gaming the system” were also removed during final calculations. We’ve striven to make this process as fair as we can, while removing as much “popularity contest” from it as is possible in a People’s-Choice-style award. It was an extremely tight race, but in the end, People’s Choice and $1,000 goes to:

The Chains of Poverty by Team Abstrakt Games

Sort of hilarious, considering the game is about crowds of people incessantly booing you, but there you have it.

 

THE MIGHTY BURCHATTA

We almost regret bringing this award back and adding some prize dollars to it. I suppose we’d forgotten how ridiculously difficult it was to make these sort of judgement calls ourselves. Though we didn’t help make any of these games, we play each and every one of them. We see screenshots, talk to teams, chat back and forth on Twitter, read coverage, and see how ridiculously excited people are to talk about their games and share them with others. Trying to distill that down into a “favorite” is not only difficult, but slightly heart breaking. Announcing winners means announcing losers–a fact of which we’re acutely aware–and though it may sound like the same thing you’d hear from anyone running an event, we say with full honesty that it’s been our absolute privilege to be even a small part of your creative process, and endlessly appreciate even the most “under-developed” game entered into the jam. That being said, here are just some of our many thoughts about this year’s games.

Before coming to a decision, we reduced our list down to the following:

Reincarn8

This game was ridiculously well-made. While I personally found some of the aesthetic a bit too clean, the carefully-planned mechanics shine through. It’s easy to understand, contextualized instantly by a containable narrative, and an actual challenge to get through.

Shep Hard

I was never able to reach the ending (something I will soon remedy) but the time I spent with it before being trounced by giant wolves was a blast. Who thought someone would be able to make a high-energy action upgrade pseudo tower defense game about sheep? Not this guy. Glad to be wrong.

Laser Command

Looking at Laser Command, it’s easy to see a game that might have been better suited to the bygone age of arcade gaming … until you play it. The simple inclusion of adding color mixing to a simple Missile Command type of game almost seems like a no brainer once you get into it. It actually made me wonder why no one thought of this when this style of game was king. It is hard, though … perhaps too hard. And when you lose colors, there’s seemingly no way to really continue. Regardless, this game is a lot of high-pressure fun for as long as you can survive it.

The Chains of Poverty

We were really curious what last year’s winners were going to come up with for ISR 2.0, and while we would never have assumed the answer was “dystopian economic allegory starring thespian power tools”, we’re glad that it was. Like last year’s Protein Pirates, the game shines as an example of what’s coming to be known as Abstrakt Games’ signature style: awesome artwork, and gameplay that feels well thought out and complete. There is one big downside, though: You will never stop being haunted by the word “Water-mel-own.”

A Salty Lass

How cool is this game? Seriously, just go play it. I don’t know if Team Wren Pirates doesn’t know how to “do” traditional game development, or just doesn’t care, but this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style YouTube game is well-made, funny, and clever. I had a lot of fun punching through it. And the druid is awesome.

Gentlemen Dispute

A great game from a great studio, Gentlemen Dispute is simple, but wonderful. It’s one of the few “fighter” games we saw this year, but stands out more for it’s wonderful art style, the bizarre mechanic at its core, and the hilarity inherent to its very concept. Good show, old boys!

Data Dog

I have to be honest and admit a small bias. I love me some corgis. Having a corgi in your game is +1 point. Having a corgi star in your game is +2 points. Having that corgi be a secret hacker spy pooch and it’s +4 points. Unfortunately, these games are not rated by us on a points system, so that’s not going to help. But fortunately, the game is great anyway! Data Dog is a very smooth, well thought out Roguelike puzzler with some neat ideas. Definitely worth a play or two.

And that brings us to our winner:

Harvest Escape by Team Neverpants

This game is deceptively great. It starts off pretty slow and, admittedly, has a premise that might not scream “PLAY THIS NAO!”, but give it a chance and things get will crazypants. In a good way. You play as a farmer on the run from what we can only assume are demonically-possessed harvesting equipment on egg timers. After a few seconds of reaching a new area, you’ll need to calculate a safe spot to stand before your machinery comes to life and tries to plow you. Eventually, you’ll need to find safe spots for your lost animals, too, lowering your safe options while simultaneously increasing the number of things you’re responsible for in a short amount of time. Needless to say, this double difficulty jump catches up quickly, making things extremely hectic by the later levels. Marked by a wonderful art style, cute sound effects, and a ton of content for such a short development time, Harvest Escape is Indie Speed Run’s pick for our favorite game this year. Great job, guys!

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