What is The Indie 500 Project?

Meat Boy

While sitting there, playing some games and consuming some videos I was struck by how impressive the indie scene has become. At a glance it’s viewed as a stage where passion and ideas are shown with less focus on presentation, where the message or experience takes the upper hand over technical prowess. But it’s grown far beyond that. It’s now a place where solutions to restrictions often lead to genius design and game mechanics that rival the biggest budgets. So that’s when a thought hit me: “Would it be possible to replace the AAA-catalog with only indie games?”

Today there are big indie games for all genres of games. There’s Natural Selection 2 for Team Fortress 2, League of Legends for Warcraft III, Limbo for Super Mario Bros., Xenonauts for X-COM: Enemy Unknown. They also have a whole new range of platforms to display themselves on. It used to be that such games were limited to the PC and web browsers, but the boom started with Microsoft opening XBLA, XBOX Live Arcade – which today has its own section for indie games – which was supposed to be for smaller games that didn’t really require a disc. It continued with Apple and the iPhone, where the App Store got over-saturated with small, single-serving games, along with some standouts as well. On the PC-market the indie scene found new traction with services such as Steam sharing the spotlight more and more with the indie titles, a spotlight that used to be reserved for corporate games with big budget. But Valve learned that great games and great deals, big entertainment for small dollars, was worth more than pushing out the latest, mediocre AAA-title.

“Would it be possible to replace the AAA-catalog with only indie games?”

And while all this has led to a great deal of small, crappy titles being pushed out it seems to be a golden age for quality, indie entertainment. So the question stated evolved into more of a hypothesis: “One can most likely survive on indie titles alone for a sustained amount of time without feeling the need to play other, non-indie games”. To test the theory a timeline was drawn up for one year, but during the planning phase of the project it was concluded that the experiment would run for 500 days; just for the pun. At first it was proposed as a sub-section for a bigger gaming site, assuring an audience and readers/viewership, but mid-discussion the obvious solution was reached: This project should, naturally, be run as an indie site, in honor of the scene it’s observing.

So here we are, January 1st, 2013, will be the starting-point for the Indie 500 project and will last for 500 days, until May 16th, 2014. Before that there’s at least one big Steam sale planned, which should add a game or two to the library. There’s also some preliminary work that needs to be done and research to be made. Like, for instance,  what exactly is an indie game?


What is an indie game?

Just what is an indie game?
If you want to look at the clinical term it would be a game that was developed, published and distributed with out the help of other entities than the developer. But there are a few flaws with that definition. For if that was the case, Team Fortress 2, which is developed by Valve, published by Valve, and distributed by Valve, would be considered an indie game; but it isn’t, because Valve isn’t considered indie, because it’s too big of a player. So that isn’t it, the definition is something else, but what?

Is it a budget-thing? That a game has to sit below a certain bar on a scale to be considered indie? I doubt that Mega Man 9 had a bigger budget than Bastion, even though Bastion was made by an indie developer and the return of the Blue Bomber had the backing of Capcom.

Some say that it’s a passion-thing. That an indie game is indie because the people behind have an idea and that idea is seen through to ’till the end. Limbo would be such a game. The developers sought out financial aid, but with every offer there was something that the team didn’t like, so they declined and struggled through on their own.

“Independent video games (commonly referred to as indie games) are video games created by individuals or small teams without video game publisher financial support.”

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:




So could that be it? As long as there is no financial help from a publisher the game is considered indie? Because I’m pretty sure that Blizzard isn’t taking a chunk of money from Activision to develop the Starcraft games. thatgamecompany is also considered to be an indie developer, even though they have a backing from Sony.

I believe that the term indie can’t be defined at this moment, and it’s been diluted with interpretations that range from team size, to passion, to how true the final product is to the concept.

Your two cents:

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