IGF 2009 IGF Student Roundup 1

City Rain

  • Developer: Mother Gaia Studio
  • Institution: Universidade Estadual Paulista
  • Demo available
  • Dev.Mag played

City Rain is a strange experiment in genre fusion – something not uncommon in the IGF. It’s an eco-friendly blend of quick-thinking arcade elements, ala Tetris, together with management and layout planning elements from games such as Sim City, with its own curious foreigner brand of poor grammar (excusable to a degree, considering the developers are Brazilian students without a significant grasp of the language. It results in some amusement too, on occasion). While it’s debateable whether these elements can, in fact, play nice together – considering that the quick pacing of the Tetris elements appears to negate some of the careful planning required for games such as Sim City – its own take works fairly well and it is nevertheless an interesting diversion.

The Color of Doom

  • Developer: Overscope
  • Institution: The Guildhall at SMU, Texas
  • Full version available

This action platformer, a Half-Life 2: Episode 1 mod, brings Ikaruga-like polar colour-changing dynamics to enemies and weaponry in a tongue-in-cheek setting. Like Ikaruga, The Color of Doom uses two sets of colours to determine weaknesses and strengths to enemies, obstacles and weapons. Although it doesn’t appear that the player himself shares this polar-switching ability, he nevertheless wields weapons both red and blue to use against enemies of the same colour. And there are lots of enemies.

Dish Washington

  • Developer: Dish Washington Team
  • Institution: The National Academy of Digital, Interactive Entertainment
  • Full version available

Dish Washington, the second Half-Life 2: Episode 1 modification in the student lineup, has the player controlling the titular crocodile and following the rhythm in order to … well … clean the dishes. The title and the setting hint at the light-hearted nature of the game, which is, for all intents and purposes, rather simple, yet curiously engaging. Engaging enough, after all, to make it among the finalists. And it’s free, assuming you own Half-Life 2.


  • Developer: Filthy Grip
  • Institution: Zurich University of the Arts
  • Under Development

FEIST featured in last month’s Dev.Mag as an IGF Finalist – and as it so happens, the game is actually a student showcase contribution as well. The basic spiel says that it’s a long and perilous journey through mountains and deep forests – promoted features include a game design that steers players towards immersion and exploration rather than specific objectives, and an “autonomous” AI system that apparently involves the player in some sort of unprecedented manner. Details are still a little scarce for us humble onlookers, but given the fact that this game is not only a student showcase finalist but the 2008 Unity Awards winner and an IGF main showcase finalist as well, it looks like it could be an interesting play when it’s finally released. Here’s hoping that it hops along soon.

Kid the World Saver

  • Developer: Silverware Games
  • Institution: University Of Southern California
  • Under development

Kid the World Saver is what happens when you mix Lemmings with 2D physics. As in that old classic, players do not actively control the main character in Kid the World Saver. Rather, one manipulates the physically simulated environment that the character resides in in order to achieve the goal. While little is known of the exact nature of the game, puzzles, or its goals, one can probably expect a game that is not unlike Eets.

Tag: The Power of Paint

  • Developer: Tag Team
  • Institution: DigiPen Institute Of Technology
  • Full version available

This is the game that, initially, appears to be the Portal – coincidently, Narbacular Drop was another Digipen student creation – of this year’s student showcase. Tag is, like that other seminal student gem, a game that lets you create your own path. In Tag, the player paints the world with one of three colours, either causing the player to jump, run, or stick upon contact with it. The clever level design and combination of these three simple abilities lends the game a massive amount of potential for devious puzzles.

The Unfinished Swan

  • Developer: Ian Dallas
  • Institution: University of Southern California
  • Under Development

Right now, this game only exists as a prototype in XNA, but the concept already looks to be startling. Possibly one of the tweakiest entries in this year’s student showcase, The Unfinished Swan is one of two “paint-based” games in the lineup and is set in an entirely white world. No, seriously, solid white. Your only realistic means of navigation is your handy bucket of black paint, which you can use to splatter the surroundings and help you get your bearings. The way that the paint sticks to geometry allows you to discern object outlines and understand more about the environment you’re in. If the pics here don’t outline the concept well enough, go to the Website and check out some more screenshots. You’ll soon understand what’s getting us so worked up.

Where Is My Heart?

  • Developer: Bernhard Schulenburg
  • Institution: Universität Ulm
  • Demo Available
  • Dev.Mag Played

Where Is My Heart? is one of those interesting art games with a central theme that’s aided not only by raw gameplay, but a bunch of cool aesthetics and metaphors that are designed to have the player think about issues that are bigger than the game itself. The basic premise is that players control a family of monsters which are symbolically united by pinked hearts and led astray by bitter, green ones. Although it seems to be a standard puzzle platformer, the view of each level is broken up into several haphazardly arranged windows, making orientation difficult and some movements risky. There’s a lot more to the game than can be described here: but be warned, players will be required to figure out a lot of things for themselves, which is in itself half the intended challenge.

Winds of Orbis

  • Developer: Active Adventure Team
  • Institution: Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center
  • Under Development

Winds of Orbis is touted as the first true “active adventure”: a system which combines a standard Windows PC, Wiimote and a dance mat to have players fight enemies, avoid obstacles and get full-body immersion in a platform adventure which promises to deliver an engaging game experience while offering a good workout at the same time. Will it settle well with audiences and actually help people get fitter? The answer may well be yes – it seems to be rather elegantly avoiding the typical shortfalls of similar fitness titles, and if the game is good enough then it should make for a fantastic play session.


  • Developer: Brightside Games
  • Institution: Technische Universität Berlin
  • Under Development

Zeit² is a classic side-shooter with a twist: time travel. The game allows players to rewind the level and co-operate with their “past selves” to eliminate more enemies, promising exciting gameplay opportunities and (hopefully) an involved system of combination attacks. The time-travel idea has also been explored by main showcase finalist Retro/Grade, but while that eventually worked out to be a rhythm game with a side-shooter mask, this one should be an all-out action title. If the devs play their cards right, this one should turn out to be incredibly fun to play.

About Claudio de Sa

Code cruncher, word wrangler, gamer and hobby designer, Claudio likes to crush zombies, shoot zombies, slash zombies, and otherwise effect the lamentable lynching of the less-than-living legions. When his time isn't dominated by dealing with the deceased, he'll be experimenting with crazy game ideas, or be otherwise crafting things. [Articles]

One thought on “IGF 2009 IGF Student Roundup

  • Quinton

    I won’t lie, The Unfinished Swan looks absolutely brilliant, man, what a concept!

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