Research Braid hourglass

Published on October 31st, 2012 | by Nidde


The unheard masses of indie

So things seem to be going great for the indie scene, right? We see sublime gems make it into mainstream media and memes. Everyone has heard of games such as Braid, Super Meat Boy, Castle Crashers, Bastion, Limbo and FEZ, right? Thing is, these games are the rare exception. For every game that makes it and become a success there are hunders, thousands that don’t reach that height. But what’s the difference? Why aren’t they making a mark? Quality is definitely a factor, but also ambition. A great example of an indie (non)game that has no desire to become a best-selling blockbuster hit is Loneliness, a small flash (non)game and you can try it for free here. There are also games about issues, such as Dys4ia, which is available here, that is a form of expression and used to reach understanding and awareness. Neither of these examples have a desire to be profitable, multi-platform, hits. Don’t get me wrong, they’d enjoy it if they could be, but the creative forces behind them know and understand that’s not going to be the case.

Meat Boy

But even this layer of the indie scene has a purpose. For instance, did you know that Super Meat Boy came from a small flash game called Meat Boy? It’s true, and it’s free to play right here. This version worked as a proof-of-concept, the mechanics were working, the design was good, the gameplay was solid and the music was praised. All these elements helped in preparing for the development of Super Meat Boy, which is basically just a big screen port with added control schemes; aside from all the other polish, added levels, story, animations. OK, so calling it a port is simplifying it a bit, but you get the idea.

Point is, this sections shouldn’t be forgotten. There are a lot of indie games that are developed as “just” flash games to be played in browsers. While not gaining big fame they are still part of the indie scene and some of the go on to other platforms with iOS ports for instance.

Then there’s the non-indie section of this layer as well. It’s hard to imagine that there are corporations of game developers that just make flash games, but there are. Some of them attempt to monetize their product by incorporating some sort of micro-transactions or selling standalone versions of their game, but most that are in it for the money settle for some in-game advertisements, usually in the loading screen. But the why make such an effort for a flash game? Usually it’s about building a portfolio. It’s the only way to make a name for yourself and gain the attention of other companies that wish to make some sort of promotion through a game, i.e. pay you to make it.

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About the Author

For 500 days, from January 1st, 2013, until May 16th, 2014, Nidde will set aside all AAA-titles and only play indie games to find out if the indie scene can replace the big budget landscape.

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