Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

New Voices of Indie Evangelism

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 23, 2012

I used to call myself an “indie evangelist,” back when nobody knew what “indie” was (or assumed that indie meant casual games).  For me, as a refugee from the mainstream game development industry, the promise of a market for games free from the domination by big publishers was irresistible.  You mean game developers could make EXACTLY the kind of game they wanted to make? And players could buy the games directly from the developers, instead of fattening the publisher’s wallets while virtually nothing went to the actual developers? Wow.

It was challenging back then. One thing I discovered early on was that while “fun” was not really a factor that could be purchased by any amount of development dollars, production quality definitely was (and still is). Indie games looked crude in comparison to their bigger, multi-million-dev-dollar bretheren, and that crudeness made them easy to overlook or dismiss. So I spent a lot of time explaining how wonderful these games were, and how people ought to give them a shot anyway.

And now – well, the indie revolution happened. I don’t think the war is entirely won, nor will it ever, but some major territory has been captured and the games industry will never be the same again. That’s a good thing. Indie games are becoming “mainstream” in a lot of ways – which is also a good thing, although it makes me feel a little wistful. But in an era that is now post-Minecraft, post-Grimrock, post-Kickstarter-funded-games, post-Angry Birds, post-Humble Indie Bundle, when Indie Game the Movie is showing (and winning) at Sundance and Journey is drawing such incredible responses from the mainstream press, when indie games are common on the big consoles and a pretty significant chunk of Steam’s revenue, and Zynga has managed to usurp EA as the evil gaming empire, I think it’s safe to say that indie games are no longer flying below the radar.

And for me, I no longer feel much a need to rationalize their existence. Oh, I still do, and probably always will. Some folks – especially kids – have a tough time distinguishing between hyper-realistic graphic excellence and gameplay excellence. The big-budget games will always retain a monopoly on the former, but nobody owns one on the latter. This is no longer a secret to most gamers, I don’t think. That, or I’m so myopic that I can’t even understand the “average gamer” anymore – a possibility I confess could be a problem.

While I’m no longer feeling the need to push the ‘concept’ of indie gaming, there’s still a problem that will ever be with us: Many specific titles still fly under the radar (including my own).   There’s more games (even just RPGs) than I have time to keep track of. So I will continue to do my best to offer commentary on the games I have a chance to play – including (I hope) some strange and relatively unknown ones that you might not hear about elsewhere. This isn’t limited to indie role-playing, adventure, or strategy games, though these are my favorite and will continue to be a focus around these parts.

I don’t do reviews (usually), since I feel weird about doing them when I sell many of these games from my website.  But I do offer commentary. I plan to continue to do so, as I have time. This means “quick takes” on new (or old) games, but I’d like to spend more time doing more in-depth discussions about these games – or even little nitpicky aspects of these games.  Indie games have long been worthy of this kind of analysis, and the indie ‘industry’ as it is has matured well enough to offer ripe territory for discussion.

As full-fledged production mode looms large for me in the near future, which means even more restrictions on my gaming time, I’d like to open up this opportunity for others to participate if they feel so inclined. Do you have a favorite indie game you want to offer commentary on? Feel like offering three or four paragraphs comparing Fez with… uh… M.U.L.E.? (I was looking for something bizarre there.) Or comparing iPad indie gaming to that of the PC and big consoles? Or do you have deep insights into the nature of lever-puzzles that you’d like to share? Or maybe you are (or know) a game developer and want to talk shop or spout off a little bit.

Please consider this blog a potential venue for your views. I can’t offer fortune, but hey, whatever fame you get writing here is yours to keep. 🙂

You can contact me as “jayb” or “feedback.” Hopefully you won’t get eaten by the spam filters. PMing me on the forums is also an option.


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