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Indie Developers Are The Future

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The Future Of AAA Is Right Here

The indie game scene is exploding with more and more great content at a rapid pace. With the help of crowd funding sources such as Kick Starter, indie game developers can do what may have seemed impossible just a few short years ago and that is to get their game idea off the ground, funded, and on to a major home console. I sincerely believe that in order for the game industry to survive the next 10 years it is going to need the help of independent game developers. The industry needs their originality, their creativity and their raw passion. Without it the industry will remain stagnant and eventually find itself becoming irrelevant.

The Originality

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What is the biggest genre in gaming? Shooters. What are the biggest games in the industry year in and year out? Shooters. The gaming industry is in a season where over-hyped “Dude-Bro” shooters sit atop the alter to be worshiped by the masses. They capture the attention of millions and generate billions, but popularity isn’t exclusive to good game design. Gaming is in dire need of originality from the major publishers but they care more about their bottom line than integrity of the industry. For them its more about large set pieces, explosions and profanity because lets face it, this is what sells units. Fortunately originality isn’t something that is lacking in the indie gaming industry. Indie developers can afford take risks on gameplay ideas that would otherwise go untouched by the so-called “Triple A” developers.

In 2009 programmer Markus Persson, better known as “Notch”, developed a little game called Mincraft and released it on PC. Mincraft is an open world game with no specific goals for the player to achieve, just a large procedurally generated world for them to play in and re-create to their hearts desire. Seems simple, right? Simple yet very deep. This sort of game is almost sure to never have seen the light of day had it been pitched to a large development team yet Minecraft went on to sell over 33 million copies across all platforms. How many “Triple A” titles sell that much? The mighty Call of Duty sure hasn’t.

The Creativity

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One Of The Best Games Of Last Gen

Indies are free to explore new gameplay ideas without the fear of someone looking over their shoulder, worried if their design decisions will be attractive enough to the global market. Luckily indie games tend not to attract the prepubescent, loud-mouthed, obnoxious crowd that loves to just shoot stuff in the face. Gamers who enjoy the majority of indie titles seem to have an appreciation for one thing .Gameplay. Unique an interesting new types of gameplay mechanics may not be exclusive to indie games but it’s where it seems to stem from the most these days.

Take the game Journey for instance. Journey is a PS3 exclusive that is the complete opposite of what current gaming trends demand. You play as a mostly silent character who’s main goal is to get to the peak of a distant mountain top. Gameplay mechanics include the ability to interact with cloth, forming your characters scarf that allows the player to defy gravity to reach new areas. That’s it. No shooting, no upgrades, no perks, no real enemies and no real combat. There is one thing Journey has in common with its “Triple A” big brothers. Journey can be played online but not like your used to. Every now and then another player will enter your game and they only way you can communicate with each other is by having the character make sounds to alert a near by player. You can help each other progress or completely ignore one another. Very simple yet very effective. So much so that there have been many mentions and references towards Journey for having made the industry re-think how we see online gaming. Because the crew at That Game Company, the folks behind the development of Journey, we now understand that online play doesn’t have to be intrusive, and plagued with foul mouth idiots. Once again, an indie game leads the way.

The Passion

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Say What You Will About Kick Starter, It Opens Doors That Are Otherwise Shut To Small Devs

Their are a wealth of indie devs that have a passion for games. Most of them don’t have the means to create and publish their own games on the various platforms available. That’s where Kick Starter comes in. Crowd funding is responsible for giving many indie devs their time in the sun. Young men and women who have a deep passion to create exciting game worlds for us to play in can now continue to dream big knowing that they have every opportunity to be successful.  Passionate developers no longer have to go to big publishers and potentially sell out their creations just so their games can see the light of day. They can interact directly with their audience who are as equally passionate to play these games as the devs are to make them. All of the hard work and dedication that indie devs put into making their game can be appreciated by all. The only thing that can hold them back is themselves.

Mighty NO. 9 is probably the biggest example of this. Created by famous Mega Man co creator Keiji Inafune, Mighty NO. 9 is a direct result of what the passion to create can produce. No just the passion of a developer but of the fans eager to get their hands on something they understand will probably never be made by the likes of EA or CAPCOM. Many well known developers choose to go down this same development path as well. It’s not about Kick Starter or any other crowd funding source, its about developers knowing that true creativity and freedom cannot properly be nurtured and cultivated at a large development house but only in an environment where creativity wont be stifled by the need to create the next blockbuster.

The Future

Independent developers are the future of the gaming industry. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo know this all too well. Nintendo has done and excellent job at inviting indie devs to make games on their platform even going so far as to waive the costs of dev kits. Sony has been hard at work courting indie devs for their Playstation 4 platform and Microsoft has made sure indies will be able to create for the Xbox One by making every Xbox One console an actual dev unit. The industry needs to continue to support indie developers and gamers need to support them with their wallets. Who knows, the next indie game you purchase on  XBLA, PSN, and Nintendo’s eShop or support on Kick Starter could be made by the industries future Naughty Dog. Think about it. Indies are the future.

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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyno9/mighty-no-9?ref=live

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