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GDC Day 1 roundup: IGF and GDC Awards, plus being attacked by dogs

GDC 2016 report

We’re half-way through GDC week and on the first day of the expo proper, and there’s an awful lot of news. Developers are giving talks, showing games and networking, networking, networking at the two big award shows. For me that means long days of seeing game after game, while for you it means some great stories and even better games. Here’s the highlights.

Interested in our award-thoughts? Here’s the best PC games ever made.

The big news today is the winners of the IGF and GDC awards. First, the full list for the indie-focused show:

  • Excellence in Design: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • Excellence in Visual Art: Oxenfree
  • Excellence in Audio: Mini Metro
  • Nuovo Award: Cibele
  • Best Student Game: Beglitched
  • Audience Award: Undertale
  • Excellence in Narrative: Her Story
  • Seamus McNally Grand Prize: Her Story

Sam Barlow having a very good day, and enjoying his real-life narrative even if he’s unimpressed by the promises of VR. How about the Game Developers Choice Awards, the less indie-focused series that runs on the same night?

  • Best Audio: Crypt of the Necrodancer
  • Best Debut: Ori and the Blind Forest / Moon Studios
  • Best Visual Art: Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Best Design: Rocket League
  • Audience Winner: Life is Strange
  • Best Handheld/Mobile: Her Story
  • Innovation Award: Her Story
  • Best Narrative: Her Story
  • Best Technology: The Witcher 3
  • Game of the Year: The Witcher 3

A very good day indeed. Witcher 3, as pointed out here by freelance writer Brendan Keogh, proved the only traditionally triple-A game to pick up an award at the show:

That doesn’t tell the whole story, of course. Ori’s double-win was Microsoft-fueled, while Rocket League had Sony and Life is Strange was backed by Square Enix. They’re examples of the big publishers willing to spend less to make something niche and specific, and it paying off in spades, both in quality and sales. But the big news is Her Story, obviously, amassing a horrifying collection of spiky perspex.

What else has happened? The Guacamelee devs told us about their very worst day, when they got attacked by dogs trying to make it to PAX, before giving sleep-deprived interviews and later deciding that it’s worth planning to arrive a day earlier from now on. That was just one of their “10 Biggest F-ups” talk, but the definite highlight.

Microsoft meanwhile are still promising that the Universal Windows Platformis not an attempt at an evil takeover of PC gaming as a whole, and will be usable on plenty of platforms. As you can imagine, the community is not giving them the benefit of the doubt thanks to past, GFWL-style problems.

We also went to see the Firewatch folks chattin’ setting fires and then looking at them for a bit. It involved 4,600 trees, and spending 15 months working on just the first day of the game’s narrative. Worth it.

That’s day 1 of our round-ups – I’ll leave you with the careers advice of the week from Blizzard: