The Game Developers Choice Awards posted 3/7 at 3:13:22 AM PST by Gaiiden
First let me start out by saying that this year's Game Developer's Choice Awards was definetly a step up from last year. And that's not to say that last year's awards ceremony was bad - just that this one was better. And the fact that it's only in its 3rd year makes it all the more impressive. This year, the GDCA was sponsored in part by G4 Media, who provided network event coverage and was there to tape the GDCA. Thanks to them the look of the awards ceremony definetly turned more professional. A new addition to the ceremony were developer interviews that played beweteen awards. So for the Excellence in Game Design award, for example, they would play a short clip of various developers speaking about game design. While the idea was great and definetly added some professionalism to the ceremony, severly things irked me. One was the fact that they didn't display any names for the various developers. Sure, it may have seemed main stream but even though I could put a name to almost all the faces, those I couldn't ID left me wondering just who they were to be speaking about such topics. Not only that, but most of the clips had background street noise in them, the developers didn't have any sort of makeup on do tone down the glare from their skin oils, and for some reason the camera would sometimes start out too close to the developer's face and have to pull out. At times like that it seemed rather unprofessional. But all told it was definelty a step forward for the awards ceremony itself. One more thing I wanted to mention was the speech given by one of the Spotlight recipients. He held up the GDCA plaque and told the crowd how he had just come from the D.I.C.E. summit and received a similar award, except then distinguished the two by saying "those awards were gievn out by publishers, this award comes from you" and pointing at the audience. It was great to see such realization of the awards for what they really are - Game Developers Choice Awards. Now then - on to the awards!
The Indipendant Games Festival
The GDCA alwaya opens with the IGF, and this year was no exception. Alex Dunne (Gamasutra.com) once again stepped up to the podium to announce the award recipients. After praising the various entrants for their ingenuity and recognizing the independant gaming community for the creative strength that it is, He began to present the awards.
Innovation in Visual Arts
This award went to Wild Earth, and I agree that the visuals in that game are stunning. The animals move very realistically, the modeling and texturing is superb and the whole environment just seems alive. James Thrush, sole developer for Wild Earth, stepped up to take the award.
Innovation in Audio
This award went to Terraformers. This was kind of a given since their game enabled players to play blind by listening to the sounds the game emitted.
Innovation in Game Design
Wild Earth nabbed its second award by scoring in this category. As Alex described it in his opening speech, "a FPS game where the 'S' stands for 'snapshot". A game that has you going around shooting pictures of animals in the Serengetti and making it fun definetly deserves this award.
This award went to Reiner Knizia's Samurai. If you look at the screen shot over on the IGF coverage page, you can see that it's the most visually complex game in the lineup.
Audience Choice Award
The battle was probably close - Shizmoo Games' Word Ninja was the other easily accessible game in the line-up, but it still got beat out by Pontifex II, the bridge simulator game.
Seumas McNally Award for Independant Game of the Year
A hush fell over the crowd as Alex ripped open the red envelope and pulled out the card inside. Would it be one of the other games that have not yet won an award? Generally, however, this award is presented to a game that has already one at least one other award. This was indeed the case, as the Game of the Year award and $15,000 went to one man: James Thrush and Wild Earth!
The Game Developers Choice Awards
After James had exited stage right, the Game Developers Choice Awards proper began with a clip that featured varuious developers discussing the industry - what it is today, where it has come, and where they came from. It was a good 5 minutes long and certainly not just some sort of content filler. This and other shorter clips like it made the GDCA a more entertaining event this year. After the clip had finished, Martin de Ronde from Lost Boys stepped out to present the first award.
Rookie Studio of the Year
The Rookie Studio Awards recognizes the outstanding achievement of a “rookie” game development studio that released its first publicly available game in the year 2002. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Martin de Ronde
Recipient: Retro Studios
Game Innovation Splotlight Awards
The Game Innovation Spotlights recognize games that demonstrate true innovation, advance the state of the art, and push the boundaries of games as an expressive medium. In essence, these are the games that are leading the way as the medium continues to evolve. Up to five Game Innovation Spotlights may be bestowed on games that contain such outstanding contributions. The worldwide game development community makes nominations for these awards.
Presenters: Trent Oster (BioWare), Kathy Schoback (Sega)
Animal Crossing by Nintendo
Battlefield 1942 by Digital Illusions
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault by 2015 Inc.
The Thing by Computer Artworks
Excellence in Writing
The Excellence in Writing Award recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of writing in an interactive medium - including, but not limited to, plot construction, dialogue, character development, etc. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Jason Kingsley (Rebellion Developments)
Recipient: Clint Hocking and JT Petty
Excellence in Level Design
The Excellence in Level Design Award recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of level design - including, but not limited to, architecture, map layout, object placement, etc. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Stevie Case (Monkeystone Games)
Recipient: Metroid Team
Excellence in Game Design
The Excellence in Game Design Award recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of game design - including, but not limited to, gameplay mechanics, puzzles, play balancing, etc. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Harvey Smith (Ion Storm) (and I can't help but say that Yoot Saito was supposed to present too and wasn't there - which sucks :P)
Recipient: Romain de Waubert de Genlis and Team
Excellence in Audio
The Excellence in Audio Award recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of game audio - including, but not limited to, sound effects, musical composition, sound design, etc. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Marty O'Donnell (Bungie Studios)
Recipient: Jack Grillo, Rebecca Hanck, Erik Kraber and Yuan Liu
First Penguin Award
The First Penguin Award recognizes the courage and bravery of a developer who tested the proverbial "waters", uncertain of success or failure. A "first penguin" serves as a lesson, and inspiration, to the rest of the community. The Awards Advisory Board selects the recipient of this award. Read up on the origin and background of the First Penguin Award.
Presenter: Chris Trottier (Maxis)
Recipients: David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Jim Levy, Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead - Founders of Activision
David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Jim Levy, Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead were honored for establishing the first third-party developer of video game software. In an industry challenged by consolidations, buyouts and complex relationships between publishers and developers, the Activision pioneers were the first to model a solution which has become a business standard -- the independent development house.
Activision was founded when Crane, Kaplan, Miller and Whitehead left Atari and joined former music industry executive Levy to form a new company in Mountain View, California. The startup's first game was Dragster, the first game independently released for the Atari VCS, in 1980. Between 1980 and 1988, the company launched 52 games with the designers' identities prominently featured in all packaging and advertising.
Excellence in Visual Arts
The Excellence in Visual Arts Award recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of visual arts - including, but not limited to, animation, modeling, art direction, etc. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Samantha Ryan (Monolith Productions)
Recipient: Tetsuya Nomura
Original Game Character of the Year
The Original Game Character of the Year Award recognizes excellence in creating an original character for games. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Bob Rafei (Naughty Dog)
Recipient: Sly Cooper
IGDA Award for Community Contribution
The IGDA Award for Community Contribution embodies the goals of the IGDA and recognizes the significant contributions that an individual developer has made in building community, sharing knowledge, speaking on behalf of developers and/or contributing to the art form of game development. The Awards Advisory Board selects the recipient of this award.
Presenters: Jason Della Rocca (IGDA), Jeff Lander (Darwin 3D)
Recipient: Doug Church
Doug Church, technical director, Eidos, was be acknowledged for his team focus, his efforts to build community and to improve the industry over the past 12 years. An inspiration for both veteran and aspiring developers, Church has been instrumental in developing relationships between industry and academia by serving as co-chair of the IGDA Education Committee and helping develop curricula to train the next generation of game developers. He has been an advocate of developing a common language of game design and improving design methods. Church has also written articles, delivered talks at the GDC and served on the GDC advisory board.
A veteran of Looking Glass Studios, Church is emblematic of the Game Developers Choice Awards' call this year to honor the talent "behind the game." The widely respected video game creator is credited with programming, production and design on such games as Deus Ex, Flight Unlimited, Flight Unlimited II, Frequency, System Shock, Thief: The Dark Project, Thief II, Ultima Underworld, and Ultima Underworld 2.
Excellence in Programming
The Excellence in Programming Award recognizes outstanding contribution to the field of game programming - including, but not limited to, graphics programming, artificial intelligence, networking, physics, etc. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Seamus Blackley (CEG Games)
Recipients: Mark Brockington, Scott Greig, Jason Knipe, Don Moar and Don Yakielashek for network programming
Lifetime Acheivement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole. The Awards Advisory Board selects the recipient of this award.
Presenter: Yuji Naka (SONICTEAM, Sega) - last year's recipient
Recipient: Gunpei Yokoi (posthumous) - accepted by the Yokoi family
In a career spanning nearly three decades, Yokoi is best known as the creator of the Nintendo Game Boy. Overwhelmingly popular since its launch, the Game Boy and its successors have sold more than 142 million units worldwide.
During his early years at Nintendo, Yokoi led the company's entry into the video game space, creating the Game & Watch -- a credit card-sized video game that introduced the cross-shaped directional pad. He went on to collaborate with Shigeru Miyamoto to design arcade classics such as "Donkey Kong," "Mario Brothers" and "Metroid."
In 1996, Yokoi founded Koto Laboratory, while continuing to consult for Nintendo. Tragically, Yokoi was killed in a traffic accident the following year.
Game of the Year
The Game of the Year Award recognizes the overall best – as interpreted by developers - game released during the year 2002. The worldwide game development community nominates and votes on this award.
Presenter: Graeme Devine (id Software/IGDA)
Recipient: Metroid Prime
After the Game of the Year was announced and the recipients had exited stage right, everyone started getting up to leave. I was even starting to pack up until I saw that the TV screen holding the speech cues said
Alan Yu, Jason Della Rocca
Whoops. Hey! Where are you all going? It's not over yet! Ah well, I think next year the awards ceremony will need to announce the closing speech right after the Game of the Year award so that by the time Alan and Jason come on stage the auditorium isn't half empty like it was tonight :P Because of that they basically just thanked everyone for coming and told them all to go party. Party! Yea!