They say we are indie game developers, and this is unquestionably true, for the most common definition of ‘indie’ revolves around the money available to the developer, and that money surely isn’t here.
With this cleared, I feel the need to spend two words on the big game fair that is the E3, taking place in Los Angeles in these very days.
I think some indie game blogs have chosen not to speak about it, like some form of silent acknowledgement of distance from the mainstream scene. I don’t share this line of thought: after all, they are games all the same, their players are driven by the same instincts to play, and most of all, a lot of the indie reality is interwined with the big industries, from the tools we use, to the digital delivery platforms, and so on.
On to the thoughts… First of all, as a Nintendo fanboy I greatly appreciated its conference, especially after thinking about it a little. They showed that they cared about the players by listening to the complaints that were raised at last year’s E3. I’m talking about the big deal of core games versus the small presence of casual games. While the last year’s situation didn’t bother me so much, I felt embarassed now and then by the sheer amount of shovelware that was presented by the infamous Cammie Dunaway, PR of Nintendo of America. She symbolized, for me, the failure of the Wii console as a gaming platform and the terrible perspective of a market dominated by waggle titles.
Thankfully, while still winking to the casual audience, Nintendo also showed a lot of remarkable titles for gamers. I’m only sad for Zelda, the motion controls are very cool, but the series already needed a reboot in gameplay, puzzles, dungeons structures, and story. I fear all of this will be left the same, compared to Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time. Too bad.
What to say of the other two console holders. Both of them seem just late on the motion band wagon, with Sony clearly mimicking the Wiimote and Nunchuck setup with its Move peripheral, and Microsoft letting people down with the allegiances of its Kinect not really working at all (proved by some actor pretending to play Kinect games on stage).
What does this all have to do with us, poor indies? I bet in some years we are going to work on motion control or 3D titles in our comfy bedrooms or basements, so the conference offered us a glimpse into the future.
I don’t know if those technologies will be available for us soon. I hope they will eventually, so that indie development could have the same ‘horsepower’ in controls like the mainstream titles. What could a wiimote do in the prolific (and free from the main market) hands of an indie dev studio?
Truth to be told, this year we already saw something unexpected even 10 months ago happening: every major engine developer released its free version, with Crytek to follow soon. This is absolutely outstanding and a HUGE opportunity for people looking to create 3D titles on par with the AAA ones (not in scope, but in quality). Who knows when an indie console (I’m not talking about the Wiz for now) will be available for all to create their games on, together with all the cool features (controllers, connectivity, …) these things sport.