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Indies the Biggest Stars At Game Developers Conference 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the everyone-loves-an-underdog dept.
RougeFemme writes "Indies beat out mainstream studios for most of the Game Developers Choice Awards. FTL: Faster Than Light, an independent game financed by a Kickstarter campaign, won the award for Best Debut. Because of the growing success of the indies, Eric Zimmerman, game designer and instructor at the NYU Game Center, is canceling the Game Design Challenge that he's held at the conference for the last 10 years. 'The idea of doing strange, bizarre, experimental games is no longer strange, bizarre or experimental.'"
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Indies the Biggest Stars At Game Developers Conference

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  • Or children of Indiana Jones? :-)
  • Welcome... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gabereiser (1662967) on Monday April 01, 2013 @02:17AM (#43328775)
    ...to the death of indie games. I've released an indie game on xbl and was pretty proud of it. I didn't get rich, I didn't win awards, I did it to make something fun. Indie games now are a rebirth of the games industry and really are no longer "indie" but rather small game development shops. The idea of being indie for me was to be against the regular establishment of publishing, development houses, big budget games. It seems the evolution of indie games will eventually prove that they are, by definition, no longer indie.
    • Re:Welcome... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ikaruga (2725453) on Monday April 01, 2013 @02:52AM (#43328847)
      Don't worry as real "indie" games aren't going away. The only thing dying is the original meaning of the world "indie", something that is unavoidable in the human society. But I do thing stupid using the same terminology to refer to companies/studios that self publish and people who just develop/publish games as a hobby.
      • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday April 01, 2013 @06:55AM (#43329345) Homepage Journal

        But I do thing stupid using the same terminology to refer to companies/studios that self publish and people who just develop/publish games as a hobby.

        After CronoCloud pointed out this confusion to me [slashdot.org] several months ago, I have started using two different words for these groups: "startups" and "amateurs"/"hobbyists" respectively. Amateurs develop games as a hobby; startups develop games with the aim of recouping the budget. In fact, one could make an argument that there's a huge divide between a startup of people who have worked game industry for years and a startup of developers switching from some other field to games (like Stardock). This makes three identifiable groups: amateurs, inexperienced startups, and industry alumni startups. Console makers have traditionally catered only to experienced startups.

    • What are you opposed to, big budgets, publishing, teams of people working on things? Cloying corporate culture restricts creativity and focuses on profitability/reliable income streams, but there's no reason why small or medium companies need to focus on profit as a primary goal, unless they're publicly traded.

      • I don't know what grandparent is opposed to, but I'm opposed to the fact that every platform that ships with a gamepad appears to require a digital signature before a game will run, and qualifying to get your game signed requires experience in the commercial video game industry. The indie-friendly stationary gaming platform (PC) ships with a mouse and keyboard, and the indie-friendly handheld platform (mobile phones) ships with a flat sheet of glass. These stock controllers work well for some genres but not [pineight.com]
        • a second PC for the TV room, or a clip-on Bluetooth gamepad for a phone

          A bluetooth gamepad makes sense for the PC too, rather than buying a whole new PC.

          • a second PC for the TV room, or a clip-on Bluetooth gamepad for a phone

            A bluetooth gamepad makes sense for the PC too, rather than buying a whole new PC.

            Not if the PC and TV are in separate rooms. To quote adolf [slashdot.org]: "I'm not lugging my desktop between rooms or stringing destructive ground-loop-ridden HDMI cables around the house so I can play a game on my PC on my [big TV] in my living room."

            • That's why I just had my PC in the living room at my last place :p Though at my new place I'm thinking I might actually get one of those desk thingies.

    • Re:Welcome... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nyder (754090) on Monday April 01, 2013 @03:21AM (#43328871) Journal

      ...to the death of indie games. I've released an indie game on xbl and was pretty proud of it. I didn't get rich, I didn't win awards, I did it to make something fun. Indie games now are a rebirth of the games industry and really are no longer "indie" but rather small game development shops. The idea of being indie for me was to be against the regular establishment of publishing, development houses, big budget games. It seems the evolution of indie games will eventually prove that they are, by definition, no longer indie.

      I don't agree. What is going on is that developers are understanding that Triple AAA titles and spending big money to make games is a waste. And it's funny because that is how video games were for computers since someone started selling the first video game. You didn't need a big budget to program for your computer. Problem has been the cost of programming on consoles was high, and the big publishers have all gone "hollywood" and think that spending $100's of millions of dollars on video games is smart business.

      I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not paying the $40-$50 they want for some of the current games that are seriously outdated graphics and the PC versions are ports that don't get any love at all. I haven't seen a release in the last year that has been worth any money paid ('cept Guild Wars 2), and as a smart consumer, I did NOT pay for any of them. (I paid for GW2 if you get confused). But some of these indie games? $10? Sure, no problem.

      • by Zarhan (415465)

        I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not paying the $40-$50 they want for some of the current games that are seriously outdated graphics and the PC versions are ports that don't get any love at all.

        I agree. I just shelled out $65 for Tides of Numenera on Kickstarter, and I earlier put in $30 for Star Citizen. And they are not even going to be ready for quite some time! I didn't put any money, but I think I'll probably end up buying Hero-U (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1878147873/hero-u-rogue-to-re [kickstarter.com]

      • You didn't need a big budget to program for your computer. Problem has been the cost of programming on consoles was high

        Ideally, indies would just program for PCs and phones and leave the consoles and their restrictions behind. But it appears that console owners are the only market of people who actually buy games in some genres. I gather that apart from the geek demographic that frequents Reddit, Slashdot, and AVS Forum, not very many people are willing to connect a PC to a big enough monitor for two to four people to fit around. I haven't even seen anybody using a Bluetooth gamepad to play a game on a phone.

      • by Gravatron (716477)
        You don't need a lot of money to program. But you do need money to higher staff like musicians, artists, game designers, sound techs, actors, mocap, marketing, etc and so forth. Games rose in complexity, and thus, so did budgets. Most indie games don't approach the size, scope, or complexity of such games, so naturally they have a reduced budget.
        • No, I published my game on xbl for under $500 including hiring a composer and sound guy for the music/sfx. Granted I did the art and programming myself. But I know guys in the local IGDA who do art for art's sake and don't require $80/hr artist pay. The trick is to find someone who is as excited about the project as you are.
        • by Creepy (93888)

          What really killed us (indies in the old days - I was a shareware author) was lack of publishers. Shareware was perhaps before its time, and I think the Id model was good (ala Doom), where you download the game and get a disk for the levels, but the way I distributed - network only, was killed by lack of high speed downloading and a lot of piracy. The studio I worked for after I used my shareware to get my foot in the door developed tier-2 games (budget ala Deer Hunter), but that market largely was absorbed

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I always thought of indie games as "games that are developed by very few people and with very limited budget". But that's a blunt definition.

      Let's make our new definition "loner games"! My games in particular would be filed under "shitty games", but that's a different story..

      • by manwargi (1361031)

        Perhaps "homebrew" is the word you're looking for.

        • I thought "homebrew" referred to "freeware executed through a jailbreak". Wii homebrew, for example, has used any of several jailbreaks to execute, such as Twilight Hack (LoZ:TP savegame exploit), Bannerbomb/LetterBomb (Wii Menu exploit), and Smash Stack (Brawl savegame exploit). Given the ease of patching the exploits that enable jailbreaks (remember PSP cat and mouse?) and of suing sellers of products that rely on jailbreaks (remember Lik Sang?), I don't see how any game developed with the expectation of
          • Homebrew covers that, but AFAIK the term originated with the 1980s micros like the Spectrum/Amstrad/Commodore et al, which had built in programming languages. These allowed allowed amateur developers to make their own games and distribute them on inexpensive media (mostly cassettes) via word of mouth or magazine/fanzine classifieds.

            Of course having read the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] now I'm doubting myself, but I'll stick by this and cross my fingers no one decides to rain down righteous fury upon me.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Indie games now are a rebirth of the games industry and really are no longer "indie" but rather small game development shops.

      Welcome to 1980, this is exactly what happened when the PC started taking off. but other platforms like Commodore and Apple were popular. Used to be the small guys would release games for nothing or next to nothing in magazines, and provide you the basic or whatever else so you could copy, and run it right on your computer. I've still got cassettes for my old man's vic20. It was the indie shops of the day that came the big name shops in the late 80's and 90's.

      People weren't decrying the "death of the in

      • No, there's no chip. I say the death of indie in the sense that they are no longer, by my definition, indie. I wish them all the success in the world as I loved FTL and the like. I think we need this jolt to the games industry to show the big players that people want to buy games to play them and not watch a 30 minute cinematic. I'm grateful for what they are doing but when I started working on indie games back in 2006 the term "indie" was to describe a hobbyist who wanted to make a game and bypass the
    • Re:Welcome... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday April 01, 2013 @07:00AM (#43329357)
      Well, "indie" comes from "independent" (as far as I know). Yes, it does have a number of more or less vaguely defined additional connotations depending on who you ask but the most basic definition is "a game released by a person or company not affiliated with a traditional publisher". Currently, self-publishing is a rather popular thing and we will see a number of new game development companies arise from this (cf. Mojang), some of which will subsequently be acquired by big publishers. Later, the current indie wave will come to an end.

      That doesn't mean that independent game development will come to a screeching halt, possession of a 3D engine will be outlawed for noncorporate entities and someone will burn all copies of "The C++ Programming Language" out of fear of the language being used for unsanctioned game development. It just means that starting your own video game company will be less attractive for a while until the next indie wave starts. There will always be hobbyist game developers. There will always be people writing and selling their own games. There just won't be a big deluge of them for a while.


      I think, however, that you're conflating indie games with freeware games and are critical of anyone who sells their games and dares call them "indie", similar to how a music band is either "underground" or "a sellout" according to some people. However, not everyone agrees that "indie" automatically implies "freeware"; to many it just means "without a traditional publisher" - or "independent", if you will.
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      But that begs the question, where really is the line for what's "indie"?

      I mean, if you have a pile of money (say you inherited it) to do the development, is that therefore no longer 'indie' even if you're working alone and self-publishing?
      What if you're working alone, poor, and distribute through Steam? Is that "indie" enough? Or is Steam too corporate now? Or just convenient?

      Of COURSE once something becomes trendy and cool (and financially successful...blame Notch), companies are going to try to exploit

    • The same thing happens in every art medium. Look at Rock and Roll, that was supposed to be indicative of it's "strangeness" but after a few decades it was mainstream. The music industry got hold of it. Then came along "Alternative Rock" which was a more direct reference to it's "otherness" from normal rock. But of course, it got so popular, my friends and I joked back in the 90's "Alternative to what? It's the only thing on the radio!" And now we have "Indie Rock" which has already peaked and is pretty regu

      • and this is what I was referring to. It's mainstream now. I applaud them for their success but I can't really call minecraft, terraria, FTL, Journey, "indie" anymore. They are small budget, small team (even loner team) games sure but once you reach that level of success, drop the "indie" label and just call a game, a game. I remember a time, back in 2000-2004 when "indie" meant to game dev's that they were "indie" because they can't afford marketing negotiations with publishing studios or they thought t
    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      I was into the indie scene back before it was cool, man. We'd sit on the front stoop smoking american spirits with a bunch of PBRs and playing Basilica (don't ask, you haven't heard about it) on a 13" black and white television way back in '04.
  • I wonder if it had to do with all the big dev's firing CEOs due to idiotic plans to make a product that they can milk for money, rather than a game they can sell to people for that same money
    • by Anonymous Coward

      One aspect I suspect has influenced this trend is the decline of focus on current gen consoles. 4 years ago, the market was directing production towards making console games and then porting them. The industry was emphasizing the bigger budgets of AAA titles for streamlined console development. I won't get into why they consumers had rewarded producers for going that direction, just understand that it happened.

      So what does that mean? Well, development on these standardized streamlined console environments i

  • Hmm, interesting concept for FTL. Sounds awfully like Psi 5 Trading for the C64.
    • by bug_hunter (32923)

      Yay, somebody else who played Psi 5! They're somewhat similar but far from "awfully like".
      FTL has a bit of story and changing scenarios and a far different mood. Psi 5 still had awesome crew personalities and a hectic pace when things got rough.

  • Expo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Niris (1443675) on Monday April 01, 2013 @02:30AM (#43328813)
    I was actually lucky enough to have been there on Friday for the expo portion with a student pass, and I have to say the big companies didn't really show up for that portion. Sony and Microsoft had very light presence at the expo, despite having larger booths. Intel and AMD, along with various smaller vendors for something cloud based or app marketing based (that's about all there was in the small business area, apart from marmalade and corona). However, aside from there not being a big large business presence, the indie games were pretty awesome. I'm definitely going to buy Starforge this week because it was a mix of Halo and Minecraft, and I loved it.
    • by frinsore (153020)

      I think you're missing some context, the reason that the booths were light was because the booths are there as an introduction to the company or a quick faq. There were meeting rooms set aside to do real business across the street (in the room that held the expo floor last year) not to mention all the hotel conference room meetings that traditionally happen. Hitting up a big platform owner's booth and striking up a deal is pretty rare, generally your business people call their business people and schedule

    • by tgd (2822)

      I was actually lucky enough to have been there on Friday for the expo portion with a student pass, and I have to say the big companies didn't really show up for that portion. Sony and Microsoft had very light presence at the expo, despite having larger booths. Intel and AMD, along with various smaller vendors for something cloud based or app marketing based (that's about all there was in the small business area, apart from marmalade and corona). However, aside from there not being a big large business presence, the indie games were pretty awesome. I'm definitely going to buy Starforge this week because it was a mix of Halo and Minecraft, and I loved it.

      PAX East was the same way -- I think the problem is most of the big game studios (and the 1st party companies) are mid-cycle developing games for systems that aren't public or public enough to give details on, so everything they're showing are either games that are already released or ho-hum filler. The "indie" shops (although I dislike the term) don't have access to the new kits yet, so they're still innovating on the current platforms.

  • So, aside from this being a likely April Fools' article...

    The best dissertation on the "indie" phenomon I've yet seen:
    http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail203.html [homestarrunner.com]

    I do like a fair number of indie games, of course...but there's something to be said for the established mores of "professionalism."

    • Indy in the context of computer games just means done outside of the publishing industry. Most games, particularly big budget games, are financed and controlled through publishers. A company like EA, MS, 2K, etc puts up the money, either to a studio they own or another studio, to make a game. They then own all the rights and distribution for it.

      Indy games are when a company, or maybe just a programmer, goes and makes their own game, no publishers involved. The size and budget can really vary. For example on

      • The main difference though is assets and homogeneity.

        That and the fact that consoles have traditionally been the only hardware on which people expect to play certain genres, such as fighting games and other genres that rely on same-screen multiplayer.

  • Oculus VR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ralph Barbagallo (2881145) on Monday April 01, 2013 @05:55AM (#43329159)
    The biggest thing there was Oculus Rift by a longshot. 2.5 hour wait to try it for a few minutes. Granted, GDC is not a consumer focused show, but I've never seen a crowd like that for something at GDC before.
  • - IF YOU'RE NOT INDIE... [youtube.com]
    - Indie Man [youtube.com]

    ...so this has been going on for some years.

  • ... are crap. While I enjoyed FTL and thought it was one of the few indie games worth anything. Most indie games are worse then NES/SNES/PC games from 20 years ago.

    The reality is the middle market for game development is coming back via kickstarter and indie games were really mostly smaller developers attempt to push mostly crapware on a gullible consumer base that will eat garbage if they propagandize properly via popular gaming sites.

    The internet is a bizarre echochamber of gullible morons when it come

  • Thnaks. Soccer Team Uniforms [allsocceruniforms.net]

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