This is How The Indie Do

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The rise of the indie game. The indie game rennaisance. Indie love. The track of the indie beast from beyond the 18th dimension. Okay, so I made that last one up. Regardless, these are terms we've used to describe the surge of incredible independent games released in the last few years.

What happened? Where did all of these amazing people and their awesome games come from? Weren't video games the sole domain huge studios with massive budgets and manpower? 

Some have said that indie games have come into this success because their content is often more tied to individual expression than the average large studio game.The same can be said of the indie film movement some years earlier. A focused effort from a few individuals to convey a message or express an emotion as opposed to a product made by hundreds of people, with a heavier focus on flash and entertainment value. But I think there is more to it than that. 
Make no mistake. I do find many indie games capacity for expression compelling. I've mentioned before that Thomas Was Alone made me cry over squares and rectangles. This ability does make them easily some of the most affecting games in recent memory.   

Indie games remind us of video games humble beginnings. The history of some of the largest developers started with a garage and a couple friends. If you'll forgive me for using a Pixar metaphor; indie games show us that great games can come from almost anywhere.  

One thing we can be certain of; indie games aren't just a flash in the pan. The tools needed to make games are getting easier and easier to acquire. Programs like Articy Draft help tie game worlds together, creating cohesive visions for locations and story from what may have otherwise been a jumbled stack of notes. The Unity Engine give developers a solid and flexible engine, compatible with a wide range of platforms. 

Indie games are wonderful things. Naysayers bemoan bloated marketplaces, terrible games and gimmick-ware clogging every corner and making it difficult for the really good games to get the recognition they need to thrive. That hasn't been the case as far as I've seen.

What interests me the most is the advent of community made indie games. Through Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, a number of games still considered under development are able to let their fans pay for and play the game in it's alpha and beta stages, reporting on bugs and helping speed development of the finished product. Among the more notable of these collaborative games are Kerbal Space Program, Star Citizen and Prison Architect

I expect many future titles to follow this model. Almost anyone to take an active role in the development of the games they want to play through this development structure. And really, what better way to solidify a fan base and foster future game makers than to let them start now. If you are at all interested in games and how they are made, buy one of the indie titles still in development. You won't regret it.