Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 20, 2010
Rise of the indie game

I think I'm going to buy Delve Deeper when it comes out on Steam today, as I liked the demo, and it supposedly will cost only $5. My last three Steam purchases were Puzzle Quest 2 for €14.39, Recettear for €14.99, and Kings Bounty: Crossworlds for €14.99 with Kings Bounty: The Legend thrown in for free when I prepurchased it. Together that makes 4 great indie games for €50.

It used to be that games that cost $15 on release were hard to get, as many shops found their shelf space was too valuable to stock cheaper games, especially those not coming from big publishers. But the rise of the digital distribution platform was a boon for the indie games. Of course some people try to sell their games via their own website and collect payments by Paypal, but for example this weekend the Minecraft website went down, because there are now so many players that the servers couldn't support the load when people were trying to download the latest patch.

With better availability comes greater media coverage. Both Bastion and Skulls of the Shogun were mentioned in the Machinima Best of PAX 2010 video, although they aren't even released yet. Of course that is helped by PAX actually having indie game booths, those are rarer at the more expensive game expos.

Now of course a $15 game usually doesn't have quite the polish and graphical excellence that a $60 title has. But then most of the $60 titles are sequels nowadays, while in indie games you can find everything from remakes of forgotten great games to completely new ideas never seen before. Some games are very niche, but if you happen to like that particular niche you are now more likely to find a game that suits you. Often you can get a demo, and even if you end up not liking a game, you don't lose all that much money. So I'm quite happy with this current development, and I'm looking forward to discovering more great little games.
Thanks for the reminder. I'm keeping my eye out for thisgame. The theme is reminiscent of the golden oldie Hostages and the venerable RoboSport that I mentioned in another comment a couple of weeks back. And, I suppose, the first of the Tom Clancy games, although I forget what that one was called.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to run Recettear. Everyone and her father appears to be talking about that game nowadays. Is it good?
"this game". Space bar ftw.
Recettear is very more-ish. It's a light shop sim coupled with a randomly-generated dungeon crawler that rewards reading enemy movements and counterattacking more than damage spam. At least to start - there are eight different dungeon-crawlers with their own wrinkles.

Your shop exists in part to sell adventurers gear upgrades. You can take your stock into the dungeon for them to use, but you risk losing it and can't carry as much loot back. So the shop end is a mix between stocking upgrades for them and keeping a mix of goods in that the whole town will buy to keep up your cash flow.

Like I said, very more-ish. One more stint behind the counter, one more trip to restock, one more set of dungeon floors to clear a waypoint to...

Not that this matters if you can't run it, of course. But for anyone who can, the demo is basically the first week of play, missing a couple of wrinkles that show up later on but a pretty good representation of the foundation of the whole thing.
How is PQ2? Similar to the original or the first two sequels? The original I found very entertaining, but never could get into Kingdoms.

Another plus of digital distributions: games that came out a year or so ago are not only still available, but likely at 50% or more off. In the old days if it was off the shelf, it was gone. This is not only a plus for gamers, but more reason for a dev to patch a game 3-6-9 months after release.
Yeah not sure what all happened with minecraft but the website crashed and you couldn't login to play either. He ended up having to release an updated client that didn't require logging in until he got it fixed.

The game is crazy addicting for whatever reason and a lot of fun.
More indie developers could well be rising up, as corporate software development may not be that much fun.

Anyone making a living on indie development is my hero, as I might actually want to become one some day. Therefore, it's been very interesting to follow the creation of a new RPG game from Jeff Vogel's blog.
Everyone should try Battle for Wesnoth. Desktop and iPhone version, with the latter including full game and all campaigns.

Its an amazing turn-based strategy rpg. You have your main characters then recruit an army. Units can be recalled in further maps and renamed as well.

Each soldier has a class and gains exp. Upon reaching the next lvl they are promoted to a new class or you are given a choice of 2-3 classes.

In this fashion your inital 5-7 base classes of units really entails 5-7 branching trees of classes, with around 30 in total.

Ex: Mage-> White Mage, Red Mage

White Mage-> Mage of Light(final)

Red Mage-> Silver Mage(final), Archmage,

Archmage-> Great Mage(final)

(The Arch/Great Mage line is pure offensive power, with probably the highest damage of any regular unit in game, while the Silver Mage has a less powerful attack and a teleport ability)..(In this vein..the Archer line for Elves splits into Ranger with invisibility in forests, and a Sniper with highly accurate lethal damage) etc..

In addition, there are a bunch of different factions that reflect political rather than racial groups, adding further to the variety.

Very tactical gameplay that gets very difficult on higher difficulties and on harder campaigns. Speaking of which, a campaign's difficulty levels are different depending on each individually. So a Hard on one might be equivalent to Easy on another more difficult campaign.

There are at least 15 campaigns and around 7 races, and countless units. You won't be disappointed.
Seconding Wesnoth and also noting that Recettear is solid. Both have their warts, but at that price point, it's expected. The core game is good enough to make it a good value.

While we're talking indie, may I plug a different blog? I've found The Rampant Coyote a great read on indie games, as he's an indie dev who also takes time to play other indie games and plug the best ones.
Kings bounty can't be seen as an indie game. It's backed by a huge publisher (Atari).

Recettear looks like a lot of fun though. Will try it out one day.
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