Brandon Boyer

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This was the surprisingly large, warm and receptive crowd that turned out for my early-morning session at the opening day of GDC Austin’s debut Indie Game Summit, and the reason they’re all smiling will be clear by the time you reach the end of this post.

My task for the session was to give the attendees here a snapshot of the best of what indie gaming’s currently got to offer: some old and unmissable, some never before seen, and some seen, but never before played live. Here’s the run down — for reference and further research and download — of everything I showed off.

1.) Spelunky


By far the most widely played and important indie game of the past several years (even in prelude to its upcoming Xbox Live Arcade port), I found out quickly just how hard it is to play live and talk in front of an audience, in a quasi-Game Center CX series of embarrassing failures.

2.) Glum Buster


Too few people have still taken a trip through Austin-native Justin ‘CosMind’ Leingang’s fantastically surreal world — hopefully playing it live gave everyone an even more compelling reason to.

3.) Alpinist


Even just the tiny shred of a teaser for Craig ‘SUPERBROTHERS’ Adams’ indie debut was enough to impress, with his inimitable graphic style, and the promise of its simulated grueling mountain ascension.

4.) Time Donkey


The inherent charm of Flashbang’s latest made it one of the most popular playthroughs of the session, judging by audience reaction. I very regretfully haven’t had the time yet to do it justice here, but will surely do when GDC Austin madness dies back down.

5.) Captain Forever


As I said before, this will probably end up topping a lot of best-of-2009 lists when word reaches out further, and a round of applause rose as soon as the name was dropped. Creator Farbs was kind enough to drop off a debug build of the game for the session, which meant that I could cheat my way into demonstrating the jaw-dropping muted disco-dance-rain-of-destruction that you’re ultimately fighting to build toward. Expect much more on this game here soon.

6.) Tuning


The first surprise of the show was the latest game from oft-mentioned Offworld favorite Cactus, with a rare sneak preview of his previously blogged and yet to be released “game about killing everything you love”, now titled Tuning. Even with early warnings from Cactus about playing through it ahead of time to be sure I could do it justice live (which I did, I swear, and I got so far), with its constant, progressively more sadistically perception-warping, it was the second time of the morning that proved how embarrassing public play can be.

7.) Fez

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And the session’s biggest surprise: Polytron’s Phil Fish made a guest appearance to give the first live demonstration of what the studio’s been cooking up for the past few years.


The game’s grown even more rich and complex than I’d expected since I last saw its 2007 Indie Games Festival debut, and impressed the crowd enough (see: the photo at top) that we cut well into the planned coffee break to hang on main star Gomez’s every dimensional shift.

Thanks to everyone for coming out and putting up with what I can only imagine was a rambling, too-early, caffeine-addled, ranty awkward set of playthroughs!