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Article - 'Indie Games' by GaZZwa

An item about Miscellanious posted on Aug 8, 2003


GaZZwa shines a little light on the world of independent games development.


Is it me, or has gaming expanded a little too much? It used to be about the games, early consoles like the Atari, the Amiga and even the NES and SNES all had an amateurish feel to them. But now? Now games development is all about cold hard cash.

Back into the relatively early days of the mid to late 80’s, and even the early 90’s, games were 2D. They were incredibly simple, and due to the lack of an extra dimension, gameplay seemed to be much better than what it is now. Video games were still in their early days and, although the NES brought it into the mainstream, it was still a relatively small business compared to other entertainment mediums. Nowadays, however gaming is a bigger business that the movie industry, one only the music industry can rival.

Back in what I like to call the golden age of gaming, 85-94, it was not so uncommon (until the end of the era) for games to be made in the bedroom, or the basement of someone’s house. I think it’s this amateur, indie feel of some of the games released on the NES and SNES that brings me back to them time and time again. Sure, they had big corporate blockbusters back then, like the Final Fantasy series and every Mario game ever released, but there were ‘indie’ games back then. Just look at Commander Keen, released in 1990. A huge success made by id Software (the developers of Quake and Doom) Commander Keen has now been released onto numerous platforms.

It’s indie games like that that I believe are really special. Back in the 80’s the gaming world was full of them, but nowadays it is incredibly hard to ‘Blair Witch’ the business. Indie developers are often sited as the Garage Bands of gaming industry. And what an industry. More profitable than the movie business, less prone to drugs than the music industry, if you were to join it as an independent company you’d have software houses to develop that regularly dish out unbelievably astounding material such as Metal Gear Solid 2, Halo and the next instalment of Final Fantasy. Yet people still form their own independent games companies. Why? Over a passion for games. It may be tough to get a break, but it’d be the FUBU of the gaming world. For Us, By Us. For gamers by gamers.

Our very own Gaming World is a games creation community. Most of the people here develop their own games, be it with a program such as RPG Maker or using much more sophisticated programming languages such as C++. Whatever the case, we are all showing off our creative sides and when I look at the range of titles on offer at this site I can’t help but remember the days of old when indie gaming was indeed profitable. These games, whilst certainly not professional, are good, and some of the gameplay on offer here is as good as anything available today. With some improvements and perhaps a bit more of an edge, I could certainly see one or two of the games that a community member has created on a shelf at a games store in 1990.

Whilst RM2K may not boost anybody here into the not-so glitzy world of bowl cuts and thick glasses, if you’re an avid programmer indie game developing may be something you want to look into. But how to do it? Well, I wouldn’t suggest going solo. An RM2K game may be fine to develop on your lonesome, but a professional standard game? I don’t think so. And certainly don’t think that just because you’re making your game with a couple of like-minded mates it’ll make you any less of an independent developer. Some of the best games in recent years were made with just a few people; Half Life Counter-Strike, Serious Sam, and even the Eidos produced Timesplitters 2 was made with just a team of 5 or 6. If you’re really serious about developing games and want to make a business out of it, I suggest you take a visit to, the website for the Independent Games Festival, an annual event where given some order forms and money you can show off your independent game for all to see.

You may still be thinking to yourselves that this isn’t the way to go, that independent games rarely pay off, well, you’re right. It is a very tough market. But, like any area of the entertainment business, be it film, music, or whatever, you know it’ll be tough. Hell, even ‘Developer’, a magazine for game makers published a cover last year reading “Why the Game Developer Lottery Rarely Pays” with the writing over a hand with its middle finger firmly extended. You’d think that due to the fact that we’re all gamers, we’d be the best candidates to make a game. Indie game developers are reknowned for making games in a particular way because that’s the kind of game they wanted to play. In the full scope, the games they make are for themselves more than the market. Don’t be put off though, the indie market can be profitable. Just look at John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and programmer for Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and the Quake series. Serious Sam, a huge hit due to it’s basic Doom-esque blasting gameplay was made by Croteam, a company consisting of a group of young guys from Croatia. Yes, I said Croatia. Even game mods can be hits. Counter Strike, built using the Half-Life engine is currently more popular than the original game. Pretty spiffy eh?

Well, that’s my article for today. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to buy a SNES, a ton of old games and lock myself in my room for a month. Better yet, I’m going to get two friends, and create my own indie game. The kind of game I’d like to play…

-- GaZZwa