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Indies to Indies

27 July on Blogs, Editorial  

I find it kind of funny the current "indie game revival" we are going through right now. Of course, with games going for US$59.99 I don't think that's exactly a surprise, but the retro fad is also helping a lot - as the people who started playing games in the 80s are now in their mid-20s and early 30s, it's no surprise that pixels are the new polygons.

Trust me, I am not complaining. With titles like Fez and La Mulana popping up on consoles' download services, I couldn't be happier. But it's clearly a case of "one man's trash is another man's treasure" - I see that a lot of people who started gaming with a PlayStation can't quite grasp the appeal of these titles. But fact is that, with ballooning production costs, indie seems the way to go, even for some weathered professionals. You have to look no further than the LucasArts veterans over at TellTale. Heck, they are even doing a new Monkey Island series!

thumb_MysteryHouseBut what really strikes me as interesting is the fact that this is exactly as games started. Ken and Roberta Williams programming games with photocopied manuals, put into ziploc bags (such as "Mystery House", pictured left) and sold on local software stores are just one example. Richard Garriott did Ultima by himself, and a lot of other garage programmers had their breaks this way. I fondly remember the shareware days, with companies like Apogee putting game demos of Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D on BBSs for people to purchase full versions by mail (the physical kind).

And so it comes full circle that, on this age of PayPals, broadband Internet connections and social networks that people can go back to this kind of videogame production. Since commercial games now cost way too much for any John or Jane to make it without millions of funding (and therefore being strictly guided by giant publishers with little interest in anything not absolutely mainstream), this new ecosystem flourished in wonderful ways. Not only you get freeware tools like AGS, but amazing titles like Cave Story, as well as open source remakes such as FreeCiv. And that's not even going into commercial indie game like Braid. We are talking about a pretty incredible spectrum here.

But if those games were the norm during the primordial ooze of gaming, nowadays they are still somewhat of an underground phenomena, still failing to achieve the mainstream. Sure, WiiWares and Live Arcades are helping, but there is still a long way to go. I don't expect them to sell better than the Halos or Marios - but at least to receive the attention similar to that of indie movies like Clerks. Is that asking too much?

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Author, freelance videogame journalist, cinematography major and a little insane.