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  •   Indie Games

    1/06/11 - 17:39

    As well as spending my free time writing games, I do spend a lot of a time actually playing them. Recently I have noticed 90% of the games I have been playing have been indie games – mainstream ones don’t really seem to hold much appeal anymore. Sure they tend to look fantastic, but they just seem lacking. Maybe the freedom indie folks have without publishers means that can actually mix things up a bit. Maybe focusing more on game play than looks makes the difference. Maybe I’m getting old and indie games seem more acceptable than the stuff the young ‘uns play :)

    Anyway, the mainstream games I have played lately have all seemed to be very similar in nature – even those that have the occasional new game mechanic, it just all feels the same. Indie games, on the other hand, seem very different. They tend to hook me with one specific feature and/or story line element and then get me addicted by the rest of the offering. Sometimes not even that, Revenge of the Titans hooked me purely with their fantastic art direction :)

    I’m quite happy to see an increase in mainstream acceptance of indie games.  Minecraft, I think, has been the major game changer in this. It is the one the media has picked upon most, and the one even non-gamers have heard of. Selling millions of copies while still in beta probably had a large part to do this. On a shallow level, graphically, you can’t compare it to any main stream game – its seems generations behind what is available in any modern mainstream title – no splashy reflective water effects, no models with more polygons in it than I would dare to count, no textures which are bigger than my screen. It has simple, clean, retro looks. The look isn’t important here ( though I will admit during sunrise/sunset standing at a high vantage point there is a certain beauty about an organic world made of cubes ) – the game play is what counts. No need for a story. You aren’t a brainwashed government trained killer, or a survivor of a plane crash or even a gangster trying to prove your name. You are there. You exist. You are given a world, and left at it. What you decide to create or do is your choice. Just a quick youtube of the word Minecraft will show you some quite simply amazing things people have created with it. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. I can’t imagine trying to sell a game concept like this to a big company – ‘Well its made of cubes, and you can build stuff’ would seem like quite a large risk to any one. No story or flashy hooks, just simple clean fun.

    I applaud Valve for their obvious love of indie games – steam as an awesome platform for game distribution and has such a huge audience that it allows a large spotlight to fall upon indie games that otherwise might never be seen. Hell, even their pretty epic Portal 2 release was quite literally powered by indie games :) Another big advantage of steam for indie developers is the nervousness of people buying things online. I know that the internet is meant to be becoming safer for online transactions, and if anything does go wrong I can always contact my bank – but still seeing a webpage for an indie game asking for my credit card details ( personally ) is a bit a turn off. At least when I am buying through steam, I know that the trust between Valve ( who lets face it, are huge ) and the indie developer ( who lets face it, tend to be tiny ) must be pretty good – therefore it encourages me to buy. That and the convenience of steam generally is a huge motivator. I do worry about the day steam closes down and I loose all my games, but I’m hoping that never happens. Maybe burying my head in the ground a bit there, heh.

    Anyway, this random little discourse was just meant to be ‘In between development posts I am going to post some indie game reviews’ but, alas, it seems to grown somewhat :)

     

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