Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Talking Indie Games: Drinking From the Firehose

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 13, 2013

It was approximately ten years ago that I first made my tentative explorations into the whole “indie game” thing. Even having been an ‘insider’ in the games biz, and having seen (and, sadly, dismissed) the first couple of indie game festivals at GDC, I really had no clue. And to be honest – there wasn’t much there. Indie games were the grand frontier, still heavily rooted in old-school “shareware” roots from a decade earlier, and generally hard to find. It still had a very underground feeling.

When I met Russell Carroll a couple of years later, I found that he’d started the website “Game Tunnel” with the idea of indie games being underground and the ‘tunnel’ being a way to access them. The challenge back then was very much the same as it was now – discovering what games were available, particularly identifying those that were not of the soon-to-explode ‘casual games’ category.

I remember it being a banner event when I’d discover an indie RPG of any variety.  I was thrilled to learn that there was a trickle of old-school graphic adventures. And here and there were sparks of additional, cool stuff – space combat simulators, real-time strategy games, turn-based strategy games, a lot of action games (especially Breakout / Arkanoid – inspired titles, shooters, and unsurprisingly, platformers). Not to mention the really cool, weird stuff. But when I started this blog, there really wasn’t a whole lot to say about non-casual indie games, other than evangelize their potential.


Strangely enough, I still feel it’s hard to talk about indie games, but not because of their relative scarcity or difficulty of getting information. Now it’s because I feel like I’m trying to drink from the firehose. Even if I was playing indie games fulltime, I couldn’t keep up anymore, even with just the RPGs. Let alone do that PLUS have a family and more-than-fulltime (these days…) Day Job, a side job actually making games (and contributing to the deluge), blogging, AND actually playing some mainstream games (new and classic) occasionally.

It’s a paralysis of choice, now. It’s like how there used to be only a few dozen fantasy novels to choose from at the local bookstore. Now – assuming you can find a “local bookstore” – there are so many of such varying quality that someone who is NOT a well-informed fantasy reader won’t have a clue where to start. For indie games – there are a few ‘darlings’ out there that have garnered enough word-of-mouth and subsequent press that it’s possible to have heard about it. But they aren’t the best. Just the closest thing a non-hardcore aficionado of indie-dom might have to a ‘known quantity’ before they waste the time (or even money) to check some out.

While “indie” is no longer as obscure as it was a decade ago, the number of titles – and the difficulty of picking out the gems from the crap – is harder than ever. This means that even talking about a niche like “indie RPGs” or “indie Adventure Games” (or “Interactive Fiction”)  with some hardcore indie fans is going to involve talking about games that hardly anybody has played or even heard about.

All the more reason to talk about ’em, huh? Just gotta find where to begin.

Considering the first CRPG I ever purchased and played on my home computer was Dungeons of Magdarr, a title so obscure I have never met someone who had even heard of it, let alone played it (bad news: It sucked). So I guess the more that things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

Filed Under: Indie Evangelism - Comments: 5 Comments to Read

  • Corwin said,

    If you want to try something special from an Indie developer, consider Driftmoon. It’s an adventure/rpg with some similarities to the old Quest for Glory games and a definite hint of Frayed Knights humour- ever fought a Pizza Slicer of Doom? You’ll find plenty of info over at the Watch in the Indie forum.

  • Craig Stern said,

    “Just gotta find where to begin.”

    If only there were some website out there that exhaustively cataloged and discussed indie RPGs, tagging them by category–some sort of…”indie RPGs dot com,” if you will. 😉

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Well, I don’t know what ‘exhaustive’ really means in the current environment. And while discovering these games is still an issue, it’s more of an issue of deciding which games, in my limited time, are worth giving a fair shake. Most of ’em ‘deserve’ it, at least. And there’s a part of me that still wants to play ’em all to completion, which is out of the question.

  • Craig Stern said,

    Well, as exhaustive as a site maintained by one unpaid guy in his spare time can be, I guess. (As of the time of writing, we’re at 379 posts and counting, with close to 130 of them dedicated to talking about newly released games.)

    I usually try to give enough information about a game’s characteristics to help the reader decide whether a game is something he or she will want to check out; assuming, of course, that the developer was actually smart enough to provide that information on their website.

  • BarryB said,

    Temple of Apshai. First CRPG and pretty bad, too.

    It seems as though every game that appears sporting a PC who has stats automatically qualifies as an RPG. I’m not too sure that’s the case.