This post is from the now defunct website “A GameDev Plays…”, copied here for posterity
Time for the first (hopefully, annual) end of year awards for the A Gamedev Plays… website and YouTube channel.
These are going to be a little different from other awards as they are not going to be for games released in 2016. Instead any game played and reviewed on this website in 2016 will be eligible. So click on the Full Archives link to see what was considered. Not so many this year, but then I haven’t played many games this year. Next year will be better, as will every year thereafter!
Best Reimagining of an Existing Game Mechanic: Atomic Zombie Smasher
A very competitive category. This year I played many great games that took an earlier idea and improved upon it. 80 Days almost won with its additions to my favourite Interactive Fiction. TASTEE: Lethal Tactics is an honourable mention with its slight, but slick reworking of well-worn Turn-Based tactics standards. However, in the end Atomic Zombie Smasher just edges the competition with its clever and addictive Tower Defense crossed with Orbital Shooter gameplay.
Best New Game Mechanic: Tharsis
It is always much harder (and more risky) to create new ideas than improve existing successful examples. This year two games stood out as innovative to me, but Tharsis is the clear winner here. Those rolling dice inspired by board-games and the dedication to theme encourages me to try out fresh ideas. Congratulations also go to the developer of Gladiabots, with its build your own AI system scratching an itch I previously did not know existed - despite being just an alpha version! I look forward to playing it again nearer completion.
Most Polished Game: 80 Days
80 Days, it has to 80 Days. The subtle animations, the well written and engaging text - this game is near perfectly implemented.
Most Addictive Gameplay: Defense Grid
Another competitive category. Most decent Puzzle games qualify for a start. While considering the contenders, a few kept returning to mind. These games are still installed on my desktop weeks and sometimes months after first playing them. Games like: Atomic Zombie Smasher; 80 Days; Gladiabots; and TASTEE: Lethal Tactics. Although one game has both been on my HDD for an extended period and has been played repeatedly over that time. Well done Defense Grid!
Glorious Failure: AI War: Fleet Command
I struggled a little over the naming of this category. Ultimately, the term used occasionally on the 3MA podcast felt right. To be a glorious failure is not an insult. It is a mark of bravery. These games tried something new, something strange. They pushed back the boundaries of game design. Although, ultimately there is something lacking in the game that means it can not be called an unqualified success. Tharsis is a good example. It might be a good well-designed game, but it is also unremittingly dark and thus not greatly enjoyable to play repeatedly. The winner is AI War: Fleet Command for its clever and deep reworking of RTS tropes, combined with an awful player interface and murderously steep learning curve.
Most Enjoyable: 80 Days
This was a choice between 80 Days and Atomic Zombie Smasher. 80 is the winner, such an excellent game. It also gets bonus points for being the only game this year that my girlfriend enjoyed too. Well done, an incredible achievement overall!
And that is it. Join me again this time next year for the 2nd annual awards!