2013 IGF Finalists: Technical Excellence


The IGF has a legacy of showcasing developers that Valve then hires to produce new, interesting titles. First Narbacular Drop became the award-winning Portal, and then Tag: The Power of Paint became a part of Portal 2. If this legacy is any indication, the developers behind Perspective are almost certainly going to get a call from Valve soon. An incredible technical feat and a smart game to boot, Perspective warps the mind while providing one of the best puzzle experiences in a long, long time.

There is no story to Perspective, at least not in the traditional sense. The whole goal of each level is to simply get from the start to the finish. However, your character can only move along walls, is blocked by blue objects, and is instantly killed by red objects. He can also only move a short way before bumping against the edge of the screen and dying. Thankfully, the player can constantly shift the screen and create new paths and – sorry for this – perspectives for the little blue man to move through the level.

This “viewpoints changing the level” concept is not a new one. Fez, Crush, echochrome, and Super Paper Mario have all used it to some extent. However, this is the first time anything quite this complex and robust has been created. You can move around just like a first-person shooter, and then freeze the environment to move the character on the walls towards his goal. Blocking dangerous objects with a pillar makes them completely safe, for example. Connecting two disparate platforms by changing your view angle creates one seamless platform for the 2D character to traverse. It’s impressive and fun and a little bit confusing, but most of all it definitely deserves the nomination in Technical Excellence. Especially considering that there is no middleware; the engine was also created by the developers. You can download Perspective from the developer’s site.


Fighting aliens in an infinitely-generated, completely editable environment would have sounded like a pipe dream ten years ago, but here we are. Starforge is a very, very impressive game, and those familiar with Minecraft might feel twangs of resentment that Starforge is pursuing the same open-world crafting mechanics. It’s hardly a clone, however, and the wide variety of sources that Starforge pulls from guarantees that it will be a very ambitious – and hopefully fun – game.

The basics of Starforge are simple: aliens attack your camp, and you must hold them back by procuring resources and building up your fortifications. Walls, turrets, spotlights, trenches, and structures are your best line of defense against alien intrusion, after all. It smacks of Starship Troopers – especially with the “unstoppable alien swarm” elements – but manages to make you feel powerful instead of a goopy blood-filled sack of sacrificial meat.

More importantly, Starforge is an incredible technical achievement that shows no sign of slowing down. Player ragdoll physics, dynamic terrain deformation, large-scale map generation, networked play, and freeform construction basically guaranteed Starforge’s place among the Technical Excellence finalist. The only other indie game that comes remotely close to this kind of ambition is Minecraft, and even then it’s still a few rungs down the ladder. Starforge is the kind of game I never expected to see this soon, and I’m glad that I am. Killing aliens and building fortifications is its own reward, after all. You can play the demo and pre-purchase Starforge on the developer’s website.

If you ask somebody what they care about most in a game, the answer will most likely be “fun”. And everyone knows fun is all about good design. Tomorrow we cover the Excellence in Design finalists!

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