Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Guest Post: What Indie Games Can Get Away With

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 8, 2011

Today’s guest post comes from a local – Utah blogger and commenter on the indie games scene Rachel Helps, of The Ludi Bin. It’s short, sweet, and very on-target, and I’m wasting your time by commenting on it instead of letting you get to the meat of it, so here you go:

As triple-A titles get bigger teams and budgets, indie games are increasingly showing how bigger isn’t always better. Indie games can do a lot of things that big games can’t afford to do: write games for small niches and experiment with the game form.

One of the things indie games do best is resurrect old game forms, which are easy to make and have some nostalgic value for the small communities that love them. Artists are still writing interactive fiction and text-based adventure games. There are still a few MUDs out there and both Adventure Game Studio and various RPG makers have their own communities of old-school game makers. Big studios aren’t as interested in making or experimenting with these older forms (with some notable exceptions), but individual artists who love these types of games can enliven and update these niche genres.

I’m glad that there will always be new adventure games around, but I find the experimentation that happens in indie games most exciting. Bastion forced players to support a little genocide and then let them repent, in a way, and Code Hero is hoping to teach players how to code by letting them shoot and modify code. Games can do all kinds of things along with being entertaining–things that independent developers are willing to try.

Most indie games have their flaws, but there’s something about slightly amateurish games that I find inspiring. It makes me think, “gee, maybe I could do this.” Life Flashes By is a pretty well-made game (and has some admirable, experimental aspects and funny dialogue), but a few audio tracks had me thinking I could compose music just as well. The Life of a Pacifist is Fraught With Conflict is a tiny visual novel that quickly makes a point with cute but simple graphics. More people are making games (even if it is through a level editor), and it’s helping games become better and more exciting.

Rachel Helps, The Ludi Bin

Filed Under: Guest Posts, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Rachel said,

    Thanks for letting me do a guest post! Hope you are surviving Thai food. 🙂

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    @Rachel – I’m finding that if I don’t add the sauce (the spicy chili fish sauce… I think it’s the fish-sauce part I have an issue with), I’m getting along okay. And I can’t complain about the prices. Everything is about 1/2 the cost it would be back in Utah!

  • Bad Sector said,

    It should be noted that indie games can “get away with” this kind of stuff, not because they are “indie” but because unlike most non-indie (publisher funded) games, they don’t have huge budgets to recover so it is easier for their developers to recoup the costs and make a profit.

    However this isn’t true for all indie and funded games: there are indie games that have big development costs (i used to work on such a game in a company that was self-funded and thus was indie) and big production values and there are non-indie games that have a very small scope and little budget so they can experiment (i *think* that the original Portal was such a game).