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More Devs Going Indie, To Gamers' Benefit 137

Wired is running a feature about how a growing number of game developers are abandoning jobs at major publishers and studios and taking their experience to the indie scene instead. Quoting: "They’re veterans of the triple-A game biz with decades of experience behind them. They’ve worked for the biggest companies and had a hand in some of the industry’s biggest blockbusters. They could work on anything, but they’ve found creative fulfillment splitting off into a tiny crew and doing their own thing. They’re using everything they’ve learned working on big-budget epics and applying it to small, downloadable games. The good news for gamers is that, as the industry’s top talents depart the big studios and go into business for themselves, players are being treated to a new class of indie game. They’re smaller and carry cheaper price tags, but they’re produced by industry veterans instead of thrown together by B teams and interns. Most importantly, unlike big-budget games that need to appeal to the lowest common denominator to turn a profit, these indie gems reveal the undiluted creative vision of their makers."
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More Devs Going Indie, To Gamers' Benefit

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  • Quite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @02:31AM (#33366274)
    Some indie games are the best I've ever played. The Penumbra series springs to mind. Bungie made their best stuff prior to being assimilated by Microsoft. However, indie doesn't always mean good. I remember hearing about "Darkness Within" and it was truly awful. Intriguing, rather Lovecraftian story, but godawful gameplay.
    • Re:Quite (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @03:31AM (#33366472)

      If you read the article, the indie game "shank" they're talking about is released by EA. I wonder if they know that indie means something else than slightly "different" games?

    • When Bungie was Bungie, they weren't an "indie" game company. Their Myth series was mainstream (and excellent). They were a smaller company that let themselves be purchased by Microsoft.

      Being "indie" does free up some creative license, usually at the expense of profit. I prefer good over profitable, but most businesses don't.

      • "Indie" means independent and not a massive powerhouse. Bungie was definitely indie. Myth was mainstream, sure, but was never a huge hit. They were their own company and made their own games. They even published Abuse for another company toward the end, but I'd think of them as indie prior to the buyout.
  • by Zeussy ( 868062 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @02:36AM (#33366292) Homepage
    Is the reason I am going indie, It is my ultimate dream to make a living from games I love making. I know a few indie devs here in Melbourne, for some it is their day job, for others they still need a stable part time job to support themselves, and for most its not the money (although) that is nice. It is about the quality of life. Typed on phone so apologies for bad grammar.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Jedi Alec ( 258881 )

      Checked out your website, looks like a potentially fun game.

      If I'm allowed to make a recommendation though, pay a little more attention to the use of language, both in the game and on the website itself. Speaking for myself I find less than top-notch quality graphics / voice acting etc. perfectly acceptable in an indie game, but mangled english is an instant turnoff.

    • You guys should have submitted to freeplay (http://www.freeplay.net.au/) it was on at the state library in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago.

      Keep an eye out for it next year.

    • I remember earlier on when you made a post about your game on GRM forums. The graphics in your game look really good for an indie effort, almost up to par with the "top title" releases. The engine designer looks awesome too, I could see a lot of car geeks wasting a lot of time on that :)

    • It is my ultimate dream to make a living from games...

      If you have the skills, the imagination, and the ability to keep your finger on the consumer's pulse, that shouldn't be a problem, especially as you'll be operating without the parasitical overhead of the MBAs...

      You know: The CEO, the CFO, and the rest of the "executive team"...and, of course, without the need to generate "shareholder value" even if that means selling vaporware.

  • by lanner ( 107308 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @02:44AM (#33366324)

    Pay for the work wasn't worth it.

    Pay in the gaming industry sucks. I left and immediately made about 15% more, the job was more stable, and less stressful. Went on to make much more later.

    The second issue that really got to me was the stupid endless "crunch time". It was ALWAYS crunch time. Project management sucked so it was just some fat-ass bigwigs always just moving up the powerpoint milestones, while adding requirements at the same time. I got tired of the 50-to-60-hour work weeks.

    More pay for less work. Only idiot noobs straight out of high-school could think much good of that industry. "I wanna make video games for a living!" says the dork who played video games for the last 15-years of his life (at 20).

    Sometimes I think about the fun, and I might join some startup again some day, but I'd never work for any of the big guys again.

    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:31AM (#33366686) Homepage

      Ditto to all of the above.

      The industry relies on grinding up graduates who don't know any better, paying them chicken feed until they've proved themselves by getting their name on a published title (or everyone above them has quit). You're always working to someone else's vision, to someone else's requirements, and to someone else's standards of quality - which may be higher or lower than your own.

      My epiphany came when driving home after "only" putting in 7 hours one Saturday, I felt like I'd had a day off, and I suddenly thought: "Wait... what if I didn't have to work at all at the weekend?"

      Don't get me wrong, it's a great first job, if only to teach you how not to develop software.

      • paying them chicken feed until they've proved themselves by getting their name on a published title

        A lot of that is the fault of the console makers, who won't deal with an indie developer who starts his own studio until the developer has "relevant video game industry experience". Nintendo spells it out [warioworld.com].

        • paying them chicken feed until they've proved themselves by getting their name on a published title

          A lot of that is the fault of the console makers, who won't deal with an indie developer who starts his own studio until the developer has "relevant video game industry experience". Nintendo spells it out.

          Not surprisingly, the most indie-friendly console is Microsoft's Xbox 360.

          Why not surprisingly? Because of their roots in the PC world, where anyone can write anything and release it.

          Anyway, MS has (among ot

          • Well, to be fair to MS it's one of the things they've always done well is opening up the platform to developers. Sure they've never been perfect, but at pretty much any stage they've been better than most of the competition. It's one of the reasons why Macs aren't the dominant platform.
            • by tepples ( 727027 )
              If you'll compare Microsoft to Apple, consider that the XNA Creators Club pricing structure ($99 per year plus 30% of all sales) is probably what inspired the iPhone developer program pricing structure ($99 per year plus 30% of all sales). But I agree with you and VGPowerlord that Microsoft offers the sweetest deal to indies among the console makers. I just have to find about $1,500 for a newer PC, Windows, a 360, some games to justify owning a 360, and two years of XNA Creators Club once I decide to turn m
    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:50AM (#33366760)

      This is what inevitably drove me away from entering the games industry and towards plain old business software development in the end, despite being a game developer having been my lifelong dream up until the point I entered work.

      There's just little point being in the games industry working those hours for that wage, on someone elses vision and project when I can work 8:30 - 4:30pm (or 4pm on Fridays) without having had to work a single minute of overtime and have every weekend free and 30 days leave on top of bank holidays, and when I can work at home when I need to and so on on business software which may not be games, but which I'm at least running the projects for and can hence choose the technology and direction and get paid more to boot. The best part? I still have time to both study and work on my own games in my spare time too.

      I'm hoping that this indie resurgence will breathe life back into the games industry, I hope it means every other title isn't an FPS World War II shooter or whatever and the ones in between aren't mediocre tat. I hope it means we can see a return of the innovative and most importantly, fun games we saw in the early to mid 90s such as the Syndicate series, Cannon fodder series, the original Command and Conquer and Red Alert, Day of the Tentacle, Little Big Adventure etc.

      Indies take risks, game studios repeat the same old "risk-free" games seemingly oblivious to the fact that by making the same game over and over, people become less and less interested in the same tired clones, such that they're effectively making "risk-free" genres risky by boring the shit out of people with them. This is why there's so many AAA flops, and why the studios turned round and think "But what did we do wrong? This is just like Call of Duty 78: Return to D-Day (for the 78th time)". They seem oblivious to the fact that it flopped precisely because it is just yet another clone, and often with the fun of the original not implemented.

    • by Spatial ( 1235392 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @02:47PM (#33372932)

      I got tired of the 50-to-60-hour work weeks.

      The worst part is, it actually hurts productivity [lostgarden.com] after a while. It only makes sense to do it for the very last couple of weeks of a project.

    • Project management sucked

      If project planning and management is not a phase in of itself of your project, you immediately know your management is inept. Prepare to be in 24x7 reactionary development requiring long hours and lots of stress. Sadly, this is the vast majority of management, and especially so in the software industry.

      All too often developers are blamed for missed deadlines and held accountable by demanding high stress and long hours. The reality is, this is almost always a failure of management because of serious ignoran

      • Which costs less? A couple of people working normal business hours for a couple of weeks to several months, creating a sane project and project plan or fifty people working overtime on an unrealistic, half assed plan over the course of eight to twelve months? Sadly, most management picks the latter rather than the former.

        FTFY, I think.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    EA GAMES - We fuckup everything.

    As a gamer i welcome indy games. So long as they DON'T make the same mistakes the big game companys seem to make over and over.

    I don't care who gets my money. So long as i get something i enjoy that does NOT piss me off at some point. EA... i'm looking at you here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Welcome them with your money and word of mouth advertising. They need it; and considering their budget is really small even a small sales volume will keep them in the green.

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @03:30AM (#33366470) Homepage Journal
    ... because they don't have the budget to spend on superfluous crap that is unrelated to the gameplay.
  • Large game companies have a lot of personnel. Big bloated game companies need to fail and indies will fill the void. Now if only we could somehow apply this to our financial sector.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Large game companies have a lot of personnel. Big bloated game companies need to fail and indies will fill the void. Now if only we could somehow apply this to our financial sector.

      If you're referring to "too big to fail" and TARP in the United States, there's a difference. Far fewer other sectors in the economy depend on the computer entertainment sector than on the financial sector.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by delinear ( 991444 )
        I think that was his point - that we'd see fewer, less serious screw ups in the financial sector if they didn't know that they have carte blanche to fail spectacularly and rely on public money bailing them out because we need them too much for them to go under.
  • Id Software ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tamran ( 1424955 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @03:58AM (#33366558)

    ... at the beginning was like this. Very indie. This was when they made their best stuff IMHO.

    I hope to see a lot more good indie games. These $20million blowout games lately have been terrible (most anyway). Sometimes a simple game is more fun, such as:

    http://magic.pen.fizzlebot.com/ [fizzlebot.com]

    • I loved the Commander Keen series by Id. I've played some indie platformers, but none really have the fun factor of some of the classic sidescrollers. I recently finished Shadow Complex and the game play was OK but the environment was really boring, repetitive and not at all immersive.
      • Have you tried the freeware Cave Story [wikipedia.org]? It's a metroid-style game and one of the best indie titles I've played.

        • by ukyoCE ( 106879 )

          It's also available on WiiWare for $5 or $7 or somewhere around there. Great if you prefer a TV+controller and sending a few $$ to the makers of an excellent game.

  • We all know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dintech ( 998802 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:05AM (#33366586)

    There will always be a market for quality.

  • awesome indy project (Score:5, Informative)

    by nephridium ( 928664 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:05AM (#33366588)
    This one's pretty interesting: http://www.wolfire.com/overgrowth [wolfire.com]

    It's a "rabbit ninja fighting game" ;), free from DRM and they are even developing for Linux (just as they did the predecessor). They are also designing it very modder friendly by using open formats, allowing anyone to to add content and making the engine accessible by scripting (python). Even now during the alpha stages they are already offering support to the modding community.

    Check out the hilarious dev/tutorial videos on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/WolfireGames [youtube.com]

    If you donate you get access to their weekly alphas too! Yes, every week not only a progress report, but an actual updated usable product alpha to play around and mod with.
    • Hehe, rabbit fighting game. Anybody else remember Jazz Jackrabbit? [wikipedia.org]
      I was relatively young, but I loved that one.
      • Actually it made me think of this one [wikipedia.org]. I loved this back on the C64. My favourite part were the disguised ninja - you could give money to peasants for karma and they'd reply "Thank you, it's a hard life being a peasant", occasionally you'd get a ninja in disguise who would attack you once your back was turned, but by giving him money you'd trick him into revealing himself, saying "Thank you, it's a hard life being a ninja" at which point the hack and slashery began!
  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:17AM (#33366638) Journal

    Ok, time to make myself unpopular around here.

    Personally, I don't welcome this news. I've given the indie gaming scene quite a few tries over the last few years, and tend to come away underwhelmed. Ok, there are a few titles I've liked. I guess Portal had indie-gaming somewhere in its DNA (even if the manner of its release, bundled with the Orange Box, was anything but indie). Limbo has an interesting style, though it's also a bit of a one-trick pony that wears thin about half-way through its (fairly short) play-time.

    Ultimately, I like big-budget triple-A extravaganzas. I like high production values, cutting edge graphics and plenty of attention to detail. This isn't to say that every much-hyped big-budget game is good; in the year that saw the release of Final Fantasy XIII (and another bloody Kane & Lynch installment), this is blatantly not true. But if I look at the games I've actually pumped most time into and enjoyed the most over the last couple of years, I come up with titles like World of Warcraft (though I'm happily off that particular crack now), Forza Motorsport 3, Ratchet & Clank: Crack in Time, Uncharted 2, Crysis and God of War 3. Not exactly a list of indie titles. And despite me having given them a go, even the high-end indie titles like World of Goo and the Maw have failed to grab my interest for more than an hour or so.

    I'm also generally skeptical that allowing creative types to express their "undiluted creative vision" is always a good thing. It's a gross over-simplification to say that big-budget titles need to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Ratchet & Clank: Crack in Time contains puzzles that are frankly on a par with anything I've seen in an indie game recently (the irony being that R&C's puzzles are all built around the old "push button to open door" mechanic, just infused with some fairly mind-warping twists). God of War 3 wasn't far behind. But when you get the "undiluted creative vision", what you're often (not always, I admit, but often) getting is a load of self-indulgent tripe from the creator that a competent editorial board would have cut not because they felt they needed to dumb the product down, but because it's not actually any fun to play. This isn't limited to games; for every director's cut in the movie industry that actually improves the original, there are half a dozen or so that just add unnecessary rubbish, ruining the pace of the film. Look also at what happens to books from authors who have become celebrities, once editors lose the confidence to challenge them; you get the kind of ever-expanding padding-filled tomes that characterise the later works of... say... Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling and Stephen King.

    I'm not denying that management and publishers don't occasionally demand dumbing down, but it's pretty clear that seeing the creative type as a poor, exploited victim trying to defend his flawless original concept from the nasty corporate villains is a misleading approach.

    • 'A' with a side-order of 'Men'.

    • by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:58AM (#33366784)

      I think your sentiments are common, and also apply to other arts like music. Lots of people seem to like immaculate but (IMO) dull music. Personally, I'm happy with a few rough edges, if the ideas are good, because it reminds me that art is made by people. I'm sure this is influenced by the fact that I'm an indie musician myself! :-P

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Madrayken ( 1784838 )

        I knew someone would mention music as a possible model. It does seem attractive at first glance.

        However, while it is possible to create a piece of music using software worth $100 that is absolutely indistinguishable from something created using millions of dollars of studio time to 99% of people, the same is not true of game development. Indeed, a piece of music that sounds a 'bit rougher' or 'more live' may have an enhanced atmosphere, as it draws the audience closer to the shamanic act of performance. Thi

      • by u17 ( 1730558 )
        I like the music in frogatto [frogatto.com]. It's a GPL-engine, proprietary-data old-school-style indie platformer. The music is just as you describe, with some rough edges but the style is very refreshing compared to what we have been made used to in games.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dkf ( 304284 )

        I think your sentiments are common, and also apply to other arts like music. Lots of people seem to like immaculate but (IMO) dull music. Personally, I'm happy with a few rough edges, if the ideas are good, because it reminds me that art is made by people. I'm sure this is influenced by the fact that I'm an indie musician myself! :-P

        Call me picky if you want, but I'd like to see stuff that is both inspired and slick. The best of the big-budget stuff is really excellent. The stuff that isn't good... well, it's just not good no matter how much was spent on it. Let's call crap out for being crap, and laud stuff that's good, and not get too hung up on whether being small or large is best (it seems to be an unrelated axis).

      • My problem with "indie" anything is the false dichotomy that "indie" means it HAS to have a few "rough edges".

    • An interesting point (especially the last line) - I agree that one extreme is certainly misleading. However, to the same point, an original concept may not necessarily require the moderation of an alternative entity to be delivered in its ideal form (as you mentioned is the case for a small minority of director's cut films). Considering the examples you give, I see two possibilities; either the numbers are in favour of most artists (ranging in skill) usually requiring additional moderation for a finely-hone
    • Looks like you need to try Defense Grid and Braid. The former has a production value you don't see very often in either indie or tower defense games. I'm afraid the demo really undersells the game, though, since with that small amount of towers, there's virtually no strategy involved. The latter is filled with those mind-bending puzzles you seem to enjoy, so... check them out.

      • I second that with Braid, it was incredibly unique and addicting. Even the story-line came with a "wait, whaaaat?" twist...
      • I've played both. Liked Defense Grid quite a lot - I did say there were exceptions to my genuine low opinion of indie games. That said, the main thing that sets Defense Grid apart from its competition (such as Savage Moon) is the stellar voice acting.

        Braid, on the other hand, bored me rigid. Reasonably pretty graphics (though nothing special), but the gameplay just felt intensely "meh".

      • by k8to ( 9046 )

        Braid had a pleasant look, but I found it a *terrible* game. I have no idea at all why people fawn over its so.

    • by Tei ( 520358 )

      You are a massmedia product consumer, you like these products. Hell.. the names you cite, YOU ARE A FUCKING CONSOLE PLAYER YOURSELF!!.

      • I'm close to platform agnostic, these days. I've a slight bias against the Wii, because the graphics tend to suck and it makes me use an uncomfortable controller (though I did mostly enjoy Mario Galaxy 2, despite some specific irritations), but beyond that... if I like the look of a game, I'll play it on PC, console, whatever. There are some genre-related platform preferences; I tend to prefer first person shooters or RTSes on the PC, while I find third person shooters and platformers more comfortable on a

        • Alright buddy, so what was the last game you played on an Amiga?
          • Probably Bionic Commando. Or possibly F-29 Retaliator. I never owned an Amiga myself (went from a C64 to a PC and didn't own a non-handheld console until the PS2 era), but friends had them so I got a fair bit of time on them around 1990 or so. I was pretty much green with envy of Amiga-owning friends at the time, as the graphics and sound were way beyond what the C64 or our 286 could do. The PC had Wing Commander, of course, which was better still, but going off memory we didn't get a PC capable of running

    • by nomadic ( 141991 )
      I agree with every point you've made here. I don't have much time for gaming, so when I do play I want to be impressed, I want soaring visuals, great music, immersive environments, not another tower defense game cranked out by some hipster coder who thinks "indie" means making a game exactly like 1,000 other indie games.
    • I liked your rant, however I'd argue that JK Rowling's writing became exponentially better with each book.

      With Stephen King, I think we all loved it when it was new to us...then we grew up and recognized the pulp fiction for what it was.

      I've read several Clancy books and they all read about the same (mediocre) to me. I really haven't seen much progress or decline.

  • by Madrayken ( 1784838 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @04:28AM (#33366678)

    I started out in the industry at 15, back in '85. At that point, everything was indie. There were no big studios, and the few existing companies funded very little.

    Moving on 20+ years (cough), I quit Microsoft Game Studios in 2009. At the point where I left, there were teams of 100+ people, no one individual had much impact on the game, communication issues both up and down and across the team due to size alone made everything exceedingly slow and frustrating.

    I left.

    I started a new company - Fluttermind Ltd. - which has been going a year and a half now. It's still fun, and the distance has given me an interesting perspective. This is what I see.

    The mainstream indistry is filled with passionate, talented people. The average Joe thinks these games are worth $50+. From my long-time nerd perspective, that's amazing. I dreamed of this day as a kid and it's finally here.

    Don't demonise 'big' game companies just because they're big. That's not punk-rock. That's not anti-establishment. That's knee-jerk foolishness. Big company games are often awesome. I can't wait for Team Ico's next release - 'big' company funded or no. I am utterly enjoying Battlefield Bad Company 2. Amazing multiplayer - some of the best experiences I've had as a gamer.

    'Big' games demand a lot of assets, each of which is crafted by a professional - no 'get your mate to paint a splash screen because he's got an A-level in art' crap here. Professionals and their assets are expensive, so publishers don't like taking risks very often. But it does happen. Fable and Shadow of the Colossus are both very weird, off-beat games funded by massive conglomerates and both great games. There are not that many others, but it's the same for Hollywood. For those of you saying 'Yeah, big budget movies suck, too' - I ask you to imagine an 'indie' version of 'The Matrix'. Or 'Lord of the Rings'. They'd really suck.

    Don't demonise marketing. I've never had a single marketing bod tell me what to put in a game. Ever. Full stop. Secondly, the one thing more likely to cause you a trip to the funny-farm after slogging your heart out for 2-4 years is for your marketing to suck, or - worse - to not be there at all. It will kill your game. It will kill your company. It will kill your job. The end. Saying 'good games will win through' is like saying 'positive thinking cures cancer': I'm sure there are anecdotal cases, but as people here are usually keen to point out, causation and correlation are quite different.

    As for the complaint 'games include superfluous crap'. If you think EA wants to have a team keep running at a burn rate of half a million a month for an extra 3 months so some guy can make a hundred extra guns nobody cares about, you've clearly never spent a minute in a steering meeting.

    While some indie games are wonderful (Dwarf Fortress and Wierd Worlds are amazing) a vast majority of them are worth 10 minutes and little more. Note I didn't say 'crap', I just said 'small'. Like a Daffy Duck cartoon. I wouldn't hold 'Duck Amuck' against 'Schindler's List' and compare the two. It is foolish.

    I admire anyone's initiative and ability to craft a game themselves, on a tiny budget (yup, I'm doing precisely that), but to pretend that indie means 'better games', or 'better people' is both incorrect and insulting.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jedi Alec ( 258881 )

      For those of you saying 'Yeah, big budget movies suck, too' - I ask you to imagine an 'indie' version of 'The Matrix'.

      I don't have to imagine anything, I just have to think back to playing The path of Neo...but if I were to do that my gaming budget for the remainder of this year would have to be spent on counselling instead.

      • Great, I picked that up from a bargain bin a while ago, still haven't played it. I played Enter the Matrix (also picked up from bargain bin) and I thought it was a decent game.

    • Big budget games pretty much have to be made for the majority. A small niche isn't going to cut it. You can't afford even the slightest chance that the game won't sell millions of copies because if it doesn't the company may fold. So it really makes sense that they should be "dumbed down" for the masses. As budgets go up, accessibility must go up as well. Most people just don't enjoy thinking. It isn't considered fun. It's too much work. It just makes people's heads hurt. So the designers have to make sure

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sprouticus ( 1503545 )

      Games today are like was music in the 90's, on the cusp of change.

      They are going to go to a more specialized model in the future. Sure there will still be big games (and big music groups), but when tools evolve to a point where decent (not great but decent) effects and gameplayare available to everyone, indie devs will cater to niche crowds. Games which offer specialized game mechanics and gameplay will allow you to reach a small audience cheaply and eventually when the tools improve even more you will be a

      • Games today are like was music in the 90's, on the cusp of change.

        Weird you make that comparison, given that the music industry of the 90's was still dominated by big record labels, as it's always been. Sure, there was a renaissance in rock during that decade, but it had little to do with some sea-change in the way music was made, or some groundswell in indie rock. Hell, Nirvana never saw large-scale success until they signed on with a major record label. Rather, the change in the music reflected a chang

        • Errr... Ever heared about house music, or were you too busy listening to the 40 most sold songs of the week on the most popular radio station?

          P2P and MP3 killed the popstar; wat was once truely popular turned into the representation of the [insert something insulting here] segment.

          • Ever heared about house music

            *Most* people haven't heard of house music (yes, believe it or not, your tastes don't reflect those of everyone else). Using that as an example sounds like a create way to curse indie gaming into perpetual obscurity.

            • Nobody heared about house music? Lol... Ever been to Europe?

              • Great! Consign Indie gaming to underground clubs in Europe. That'll lead to a vibrant, innovating gaming industry...

              • Yes. I lived in Paris for six months and Moscow for a year. Most people there have also not heard of House Music.
                • Wait... You have never, _NEVER_ heared this song?!

                  In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove.

                  And from this groove came the groove of all grooves.

                  And while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldy declared,

                  "Let there be HOUSE!"

                  and house music was born.

                  "I am, you see,

                  I am

                  the creator, and this is my house!

                  And, in my house there is ONLY house music.

                  But, I am not so selfish because once you enter my house it then becomes OUR house and OUR house music!"

                  And, you see, no one man owns house because house music is a universal language, spoken and understood by all.

                  You see, house is a feeling that no one can understand really unless you're deep into the vibe of house.

                  House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body.

                  And, as I told you before, this is our house and our house music.

                  And in every house, you understand, there is a keeper.

                  And, in this house, the keeper is Jack.

                  Now some of you who might wonder,

                  "Who is Jack, and what is it that Jack does?"

                  Jack is the one who gives you the power to jack your body!

                  Jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake.

                  Jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm.

                  Jack is the one who learns you how to walk your body.

                  Jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all Jackers together under one house.

                  You may be black, you may be white; you may be Jew or Gentile. It don't make a difference in OUR House.

                  And this is fresh.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FXSSaiT78Y&feature=related [youtube.com]

                  But it is not suprising that you haven't heared about house music in France, because the French government dictated that there should only be French spoken music on the radio. It is sad that you didn't go to Berlin instead. Paris isn't what it was. All creative artists have long gone Berlin is now the epic centre of art.

                  Moscow isn't that exciting either.

                  House soon became an umbrella term for all

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I like Indy games because I perceive that they find it easier to take more risks with design and concept. Rather than release "Sports Again 2011" and "3D FPS WarSim: The Reiteration", they can release games that offer some novelty.

      Not all their ideas work, not all of their ideas are well executed. But there's a zillion of them, so there's bound to be a lot of bad releases.

      But also, guess what: there's a lot of bad releases among big studios, too:

      • Half-baked games released to target a price point and a d
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IICV ( 652597 )

      Fable and Shadow of the Colossus are both very weird, off-beat games funded by massive conglomerates and both great games.

      You're... you're comparing Fable to Shadow of the Colossus? And you call yourself an indie game dev?

      Seriously, what the fuck? Fable was an absolutely bog-standard RPG with real-time combat (if you could call it combat). There was nothing innovative in it - if you'd made the main character an elf it would have passed for an extra-bland off-label Legend of Zelda game. There was nothing wei

  • So what great stuff have I missed on the Wii? Crowdsourcing FTW. KTHXBYE. :)

    (I've aquired the Bit Trip stuff, really like those. The Art or Balance was great too. What else? There's too much crap out there, so what other gems are there for us geeks?)

  • Programmers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:24AM (#33366870) Homepage

    Programmers are funny animals. Some of them work best in complete isolation. One person can pull off things that entire teams never dreamed of. A kid in their back bedroom, and a rainy summer, can generate a game quicker by any design-by-committee. Programmers don't naturally work in teams, they have to be taught - every serious CS course has a team-building component to it.

    Lots of big names started off as tiny indies... Codemasters is the most famous example, most probably, and Valve has bought up indie teams before now. It's not surprising at all, the only surprise is that indie went "out of fashion" with some people for a decade or so.

    The skill of programming a game is not about knowing Knuth off by heart, or finding mathematical shortcuts using integer arithmetic, it's about actually having a little vision and wanting to see it move around and make funny sounds. Once you know what you want to do, the rest is just slog-work to get it to work how you imagined. Large teams do sometimes miss the fact that, underneath everything else, there should be a game. Most of the "classic" games of the early 80's were written by teenagers in back bedrooms. Magazine cover tapes were full of indie material. Even large collect-a-weekly-parts programming magazines were written by what we would legally class as children (I know, I've spoken to someone on here that wrote a huge game for INPUT by Marshall Cavendish when they were a kid).

    Indie development was around at the start of the Internet - almost the whole shareware scene was indie. It kinda lost sight of itself when huge powerful consoles became mainstream, moving into the "homebrew" and various other sidelines which, because of their dubious legal status, were never as popular in mass-media. Now indie has found its roots again. A teenager can knock up a game in a week and be selling it by the thousands from Steam, or direct from their own website. They don't have to worry about system architectures or OS or having enough processor power. They can be pretty sure that it can be ported to myriad systems and not have to worry about development kits for consoles.

    I also think that indie and retro are often closely linked, because of this connection with old-time indie development. Retro remakes are popular, retro gaming magazines are everywhere - I was in London Stansted last week and there were FIVE different retro gaming magazines on the shelf - I couldn't believe it! People are happy to just play silly games that are no more complex than some Spectrum games of old - Facebook jollies, or five-minute play-throughs or even Flash/Java demos on the author's website (Altitude is very cool!). People are carrying devices that can run small games with ease and even buy them immediately and securely from their phones.

    In fact, I've started programming on a game that I've been wanting to do for years because of all the indie development I see. I see how simple or retro games are coming back into fashion and it makes me want to code. Chances are that my code will never leave my PC but it's immense fun to be doing for myself - it's replaced quite a lot of other hobbies just lately - and very heart-warming to see my little sprites bop around the screen. Even my girlfriend likes the fact that there is a little game that she can modify and influence and has often said she wants to sit there and make dozens of sprites for it. She often asks what I've got "your little people" to do today. The beauty is that if other people think the finished article is good enough then setting up a store, Paypal link or even Steam distribution takes no time at all. And because I programmed it for the fun of it, it's ALL profit - I would have programmed if a time-traveller told me that I'd never, ever sell a single copy.

    If you're working in the industry, and the scare-stories are anywhere near true, I'm not surprised that people are leaving their megalithic corporations that are trying to source funding for $60m games and instead want to see if they ca

    • Programmers are funny animals. Some of them work best in complete isolation. One person can pull off things that entire teams never dreamed of. A kid in their back bedroom, and a rainy summer, can generate a game quicker by any design-by-committee. Programmers don't naturally work in teams, they have to be taught - every serious CS course has a team-building component to it.

      Wow, I couldn't disagree more with this. Yes, "some of them work best in complete isolation", but I completely disagree with this idea

      • Re:Programmers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:59AM (#33369892) Homepage

        Of course I'm exaggerating the team situation to an extreme, but it has a truth to it. Programming is an inherently single-person process - team programming methodologies basically boil down to "you do this bit, I'll do that bit, we'll meet in the middle to these specs". It's usually design-by-committee, implement-by-parts, with individual inspirations made public. Yes, there's feedback and direction and lots of other interactions but in-between, the programmers are basically walking to their own personal computer, thinking to themselves, working on their own in their own heads and then sharing with others later.

        And CS students, even the social ones, have to be taught how to work effectively as a team because, like mathematics, it's such a single-person process that collaboration is all about getting everyone on the same page by their own methods. Programming in teams does not scale linearly (far from it), does not scale at all in some cases, and isn't portable between humans. Even setting a code-style can be an administrative nightmare - many programmers have breakaway systems where they do the actual grunt work in their own way and then have some sort of conversion back and forth to the team methodology (whether that be source-control methods, coding style, etc.). Sometimes getting programmers to agree on a common development environment can be tricky, even (but fortunately that usually HELPS the code quality rather than hinder it).

        If you leave 100 people in a room and tell them that they have to move a 50-ton rock to the other side, they will work naturally together as a team (on average, at least - one will sulk and do nothing because they weren't listened to, another will take exception with the unelected "leader", another will be actively working against the majority with their "more efficient" method, one will be complaining because they're doing all the grunt-work while the others are discussing the problem etc.). Leave 100 programming students in a room and tell them to achieve a similarly difficult intellectual objective using their coding skills and you will have absolute chaos on your hands. And, more than likely, one guy out of the 100 will figure out a super-efficient method at the start, work on their own and then just apply their code to get the job done before anyone can even think about analysing the problem team-wide.

        It's a generalisation, but I've seen no end of CS students who would actually do a million times better job if you removed the team around them and asked them to do it themselves on their own. And even if you cherry-pick the most active, most integral and most amenable members and group them together on their own, they aren't any better than the best individual. The *quantity* of work achieved increases, of course, but the quality and the rate of achievement doesn't.

        • Of course I'm exaggerating the team situation to an extreme, but it has a truth to it.

          TBH, no, I really don't think it does. Some programmers are loners. Some aren't. Your statement is equivalent to me saying "All humans are taller than 6 feet", and then when challenged, saying "Okay, I'm exaggerating, but there's some truth there!".

          Programming is an inherently single-person process - team programming methodologies basically boil down to "you do this bit, I'll do that bit, we'll meet in the middle to th

    • it's about actually having a little vision and wanting to see it move around and make funny sounds. Once you know what you want to do, the rest is just slog-work to get it to work how you imagined.

      True, but in most cases, this requires two different people. It is extremely rare to find a developer who also a good designer (and vice versa).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    And All I Got Was This T-Shirt
  • I first read the article title as
    More Devs Going India, To Gamers' Benefit
    and thought this was going to be another glowing article about the benefits of international outsourcing. The Editors need to think more before posting.
  • unions are needed real bad in the industry as well

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics