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| The Indie 500- Why Independent Games Are Important To All Gamers (9 comments )|
by: chentsen (41) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Indie Games. Most of us have heard of them, but what are they really, and of what consequence do they have on Hardcore gamers? As it turns out, more than you might think. If you think that the current batch of Indie games may not hold your interest as a gamer for long, you may be right. However, it is a mistake to believe that these games don't affect you just because you don't play them. Indie Games deserve more thought than most of us give them. They have the potential to change to face of the gaming scene.
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Now Infamous programmer John Carmack, hard at work programming
The method in which Doom was developed bears many resemblences to how current Indie Games are made
Freedom Force, a more recent Indie Game recieved high marks from the gaming community
So, what are Indie Games, and who are Indie developers? Most of you have probably heard of the term before, but for those of you that haven't, here's a quick refresher. An Indie developer is a developer that creates games without the influence of an outside producer or publisher. One byproduct of creating a game independently is that Indie developers are able to utilize different development methodologies. That is to say that almost every independent developer develops his game in a different way. Why, you ask, are there so many different ways to develop an Indie game? That's because within the category of Indie developer there are also many subcategories. On one end of the spectrum you have those creating games during their spare time, individually or in small partnerships. These developers can only afford to devote two to four hours a day to their games. Positioned on the opposite end are the full-time Indie developers. These developers are typically set up to be a close knit group of programmers, writers, and designers working in small focused groups. There is no way the former can create a game in the same way the latter can. As a result, even within the genre of Indie Games, a vast amount of differentiation exists. Regardless of which kind of Indie Developer you are talking about, the fruit of their labor is known as an Indie Game.
The differences between traditional game development and Indie game development are numerous, but one stands out from the rest. Indie developers are Independent. That means for better or worse the development process features a distinct lack of focus groups, researchers, and high level corporate decisions that typically influence the development of a large publisher backed game. Game Developers that fall into the Indie category are thus able to direct their games the way they wish to, using their artistic and creative drive to create a game that they themselves are proud of. As Derek Yu of The Independent Gaming Source says, “Independence - whether it's about games, films, music, or anything else - should be about creating something personally satisfying” Independent developers strive to create a game that they themselves would enjoy, rather than what others would rather play.
Wait a minute. These developers are creating games that they themselves would play rather than catering to a mass-market audience? Are their last names Wright or Miyamoto? No, but they are just as important to gaming innovation as any of the big name developers out there. It is imperative to realize that Indie developers are an important piece of the gaming lifestyle, even if you are not a fan of them. This is the last front of game development in which developers are free to innovate. There may not be as much monetary potential in it, but developers cite a myriad of reasons for why they stay in the Indie Gaming business. These reasons range from the ability to design using their own creativity, to just being tired of the way things were being run at the corporate level in their old game design firms. In the end though, for every developer, the allure of Indie game development comes down to the ability to create something new and innovative, set apart from the masses.
It should be immediately recognizable, then, the importance of Indie games. They are to gaming what independent and experimental movies are to film. Indie games do operate on smaller budgets, but this also allows them to focus on creativity rather than capturing every segment of the market. While big publishing firms rush to recreate the last great hit, Indie developers are hard at work making the next big thing. It is therefor important to at least notice these small developers and firms, as one of them is most likely cooking up the next important advance in gameplay. Is there any proof that just because developers are independent, that they will produce unique and innovative games? Read on, friend.
The genre of Indie Games has only appeared in the latter part of gaming history. In the past, all games were created in a way that can be likened to how Indie games these days are being designed. When you think about the early days of gaming you think of games like Commander Keen, Doom, and even more ancient, simple games like Pong. You also think of industry vets such as Carmack, and Romero. It is important to recognize that many of these games were distributed by publishers, but that the business model for game publishing was no where near the bloated mess that it is today. All of these games were developed by a few programmers and developers that shared a passion for the platform rather than the money. Today, they would be likened to Indie developers, yet back in the seventies, they were pioneering not only new ways to play games, but entirely new genres. Imagine if you will, if starting from Pong, large publishers began backing the game and the developers. In this alternate reality, pretend also that there are no independent developers out there. Going on the business model of current publishers, is it so hard to imagine that today we'd be playing a game very much like Pong, except with better graphics? Indie games aren't simply a statement directed against the large monopolized publishing firms. They are a whole separate identity within gaming. While making comparisons between the two development ideologies are likely to occur, it is important to note how completely different independent game development is. Indie developers have been around since the advent of computer games, proving time and time again that at the heart of a game, at the core, lies not visuals, but gameplay.
With huge project budgets publishers no longer have the desire to create something fresh and innovative. The risk is just too great. During the transition from small independent productions to large publisher funded projects, something has been lost. While there is no doubt that incredible surprises await us with new technologies on the horizon, we should not forget what made games popular in the first place. In a world where games are quickly saturating the market, and mediocrity has taken precedent over innovation, Independent games are a beacon of hope for those of us that look on the horizon waiting for the next big thing.
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