Indies, why?

I spent most of the day trying to figure out what would be the best thing to write about as the first article of the new blog and despite my mind rolling around the thought of writing about indies I had to write some news articles for IGN Greece and the thought kept getting suppressed constantly. But making time to write about an indie game is something special in the end of the day.

But then again, isn’t that the beauty of the indie scene?

An indie game is supposed to be something like a well written book. Something that even though underground, makes you feel like you found a diamond worth keeping for days to come and cherish like nothing else. Indies started off just because big companies wouldn’t go with the ideas of small game developers because they figured they wouldn’t make enough money out of those. Yes, that is true, as much as it hurts us to admit it, indie games are a niche market and a place of constant struggles between committing your funds to art or promotion.

Thankfully, indie studios have it better lately due to the recent years’ hype going on in the indie scene after some titles managed to make it big on platforms like Steam or Xbox LIVE’s shop. Titles like Super Meat Boy, Faster Than Light, Braid and others basically gave the scene that little fame boost it needed to actually get everything started. From there on, indie companies just started sprouting in ever increasing numbers every year all around the world. We’ve seen some great works by many new studios get the attention they deserve and even more with the lately more and more growing audience of Kickstarter, things have gone crazy in the indie scene.

But has it gone too far? Are there too many indie games?

Limbo

As with all things in life, moderation is key and so goes with the indie scene as well. To provide proof for that argument, just go on google and search “roguelike” or “pixel art game” and look at the results. It’s scary how many there are and despite the fact that at least the good ones get the attention they deserve, it seems like there are not that many studios that stick to the principles of indie producing, which is basically making something totally new and interesting. If you are just about to make another pixelated version of Call Of Duty then please save yourself some time and don’t, because there are more than enough out there.

What the gaming audience needs right now is some more games like Awesomenauts, or Race The Sun, or even McPixel. We need to see originality bloom again like it did when this all started. It feels like developers are taking the “safe” road when building games under an indie label just to make sure their game gets at least a bit of attention. Well, honestly, you think the guy that made Limbo thought his game would get attention? No, of course he didn’t, he just made what he thought would be amazing in his mind and it eventually became something very much loved by people all over the world too.

If you don’t know or haven’t played the games that are mentioned here by the way, you should because they are really worth your time. I will dedicate some articles to some of those in the future for sure.

Hyper Light Drifter

Another good argument to this topic would also be to mention that games like Dark Souls 2 got more attention that one would expect for a game of that difficulty. You would say that veteran gamers love to see new challenging titles, but it was nonetheless a calculated risk by the company “From Software,Inc.” to make such a game. People love to see “funky” concepts, weird control methods and all kinds of new gameplay features in any kind of game, so why wouldn’t they love something that would have them spend 1 hour just to kill one boss in a game. Beats me, because I never liked that game, but others do, so I’ll cut them some slack.

All in all, indie game developing started as something like a form of underground art that only a handful of people would enjoy but later accelerated into somewhat a worldwide phenomenon that everyone knows about, just not that well. So I’d say that we need to see more of that glory restored by having developers explore their boundaries more, instead of focusing on what “will work.”

-Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis