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Bytten Ernie Awards 2005

Best Game Character
Awarded to 'Aquatic' from Realore's Aquawords

Of all the things you look for in an indie game, a decent game character is probably somewhere down below playability, fun factor and graphics in the list, after all, a character really doesn't change the game. Normally I wouldn't disagree but then I discovered Aquatic, the chilled-out host from Aquawords.

Aquatic Lux

Aquawords was a fairly basic puzzle game asking the player to make strings of words to progress. It would have been a fairly ordinary game, except for the inclusion of a cute, semi-transparent, water blob called Aquatic. Aquatic's main goal is to guide you through the menus, but he is best used during gameplay where he'll stand in his corner, sporting a leaf skirt, turning off the sun and making infectious noises.

The quality of animation and obvious thought that has gone into the character is second only to the likes of Mario and Sonic, and for an independent studio, that is quite an achievement.

Best AI
Awarded to Lux by Sillysoft Games

As a games player, you often don't appreciate the level of coding required to bring a game to life. In most games, game objects are usually just told to obey a limited number of rules, but in a small percentage of games, usually puzzle and strategy games, you can see that the developer has had to come up with something special to challenge the player.

In the Risk-like Lux, developer Sillysoft has created a game that really shows some intelligence in the computer opponents. A standard installation starts you off with 11 types of computer player, all with differing strategies, but the real draw is the ability to create your own computer players!

Lux could easily fool you into thinking you were playing a real human opponent, which is the best possible measure of well coded AI.

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