Home Cinema: Indie Game The Movie Is Released

By Alec Meer on June 12th, 2012 at 5:00 pm.

Men, at work

Grumpypants time: I worry slightly that focusing on Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid risks painting an extremely narrow picture of indie gaming, and as such Indie Game The Movie might be suffering from some of the same echo chamber issues that some felt this year’s IGF did. But hell, let’s celebrate that it has successfully brought an image of videogaming that isn’t guns/boobs/guns/boobs/guns/boobs/guns/boobs into another medium and be happy about it.

After what feels like years of promotion, the movie is finally out. But not in cinemas! No, right on your monitor. You can grab it from its own site, from iTunes or, a little later today, the Steams. I hear mixed reports, but I shall be in all likelihood watching it tomorrow and can report back more usefully then. Oh, and check back on RPS in a few hours to read young whippersnapper Brendan Caldwell telling you just wot he thinks of this here film.

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48 Comments »

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  1. MadTinkerer says:

    “I worry slightly that focusing on Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid risks painting an extremely narrow picture of indie gaming.”

    Yes, but two years ago, how many Indie developers had significant enough success for 2 Player to film them? Much, much fewer than right now. 2 Player had to focus on few enough personalities to fit into a film (which was originally THREE HOURS before it was edited down, and that was just from the first round of filming) without shafting anyone.

    Let’s not forget that Mojang and Tim Shaefer got whole films to themselves. Remember: it’s the same film production team. Indie Game Makers is a plenty big enough subject for a whole documentary series, but they’re trying to focus on feature-length films, at least for now.

    (Sorry if I come off as cranky. It’s late here and I’m posting after I should be in bed.)

    • Brendy_C says:

      Wrongs! Indie Game: The Movie is filmed by a Canadian film crew called Blinkworks. Not 2 Player Productions, who are based in Portland, Oregon. You really should be in bed!

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        LTK says:

        Easy mistake to make. 2PP is making both the Minecraft and Double Fine Adventure documentaries. To be honest, I hadn’t heard the name Blinkworks until now.

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    It sounds like watching the 3 Stooges, but where they all think far too highly of themselves.

  3. Vinraith says:

    Being as I’m no more interested in games like Super Meat Boy than I am in games like CODBLOPS, I think I’ll pass. It’s a shame that “indie” seems to mean “platformer” to so many people.

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      Martel says:

      Agreed

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      I’ve not watched the film yet, but my impression is that it’s not about the specific games, but the process of game development, and the people behind it.

  4. goosnargh says:

    It’s a really good film but I don’t know why the sole focus on Xbox Live, especially since Super Meat Boy sold better on Steam.

  5. Zyrocz says:

    You guys should really put up a link to the trailer.

    Looks freakin awesome. Can’t wait for the Steam release.

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    KingCathcart says:

    Here is the proper itunes link for those that care.

  7. The white guar says:

    We absolutely need a “grumpypants” tag

  8. Yar says:

    Can’t wait for the videogame version of this movie olollololllololoolol

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think there was talk of a “big bang theory” style TV series….

  9. misterT0AST says:

    I remember the developers from both Fez and Super Meat Boy said something wrong, and everyone was upset. I can’t recall what or when though.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      shame on you
      Fez: rudely said Japanese games were crap, right in front of a Japanese dev
      SMB: denied his game had been hacked or something, got his leaderboards hacked
      Braid: talked about how he was some sort of revolutionary “games as Art” messiah or something

      • Galaxy613 says:

        …didn’t he say recent Japanese games were crap? But I won’t let truth get in a way of a good bullet point rant.

        • misterT0AST says:

          Either way, that’s a pretty vulgar and blunt way to label things.
          Didn’t know about the Braid developer saying that thing, but I don’t mind that one.
          I like pretentiousness.

      • Baines says:

        Was SMB the one where the guy was told about a security hole in the game, he blew off the report with an “I know better than you” attitude, and then saw the game hacked through that security hole?

        SMB also has an image of burning bridges behind it. There was the slam at Microsoft once they were selling on Steam. There was also the perceived attitude that they expected Nintendo to change WiiWare rules to suit them.

        Fez has more than the incident about Japan’s games, as well. There was re-entering IGF years after winning an award at a previous IGF. Then there was the gloating about the new win.

        And while Fish (Fez) tends to too often come off as a **** when he speaks out about something, Blow (Braid) can be seen as the poster boy for “pretentious”.

        (My opinions may vary a bit from the above, or not. I was trying to speak in general terms about what some number of people have professed about the various figures.)

      • JP says:

        “Braid: talked about how he was some sort of revolutionary “games as Art” messiah or something”

        Jon Blow hasn’t really said anything of that sort, he just speaks his mind about good game design very bluntly and then people accuse him of being pretentious. That embarrassingly hagiograhpic Atlantic article on him certainly did try to turn him into a messiah, though, but that’s hardly his fault.

        • Grape says:

          Jon Blow hasn’t really said anything of that sort, he just speaks his mind about good game design very bluntly and then people accuse him of being pretentious.

          That’s because his views ARE incredibly pretentious.

          • Elevory says:

            No, they aren’t.

            See? I can provide useless commentary without a shred of backing evidence, too!

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Dare I ask what you think is pretentious about him/it/them?

            I have my assumptions, but your comment has left me with little else to work with.

          • JP says:

            I like how you can just throw “pretentious” at someone these days instead of actually providing solid counter-arguments to what they say.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            His views aren’t particularly pretentious, but he does have an esoteric way of expressing them sometimes. But it’s the same sort of thing you get from listening to any expert in their field.

            I used to think John Carmack was a bit pretentious until I learned what a Sparse Voxel Octree was. I couldn’t implement one myself, but I understand the basics of what SVOs are and now when I listen to his talks about Rage tech he doesn’t come off as pretentious at all.

    • RandomEsa says:

      Fez: or should I say Phil Fish. People focus on that japanese dev incident but he has said “worse” things.

      – He told a person to suck his dick ( and to choke on it) when he won some award at IGF even tho the jury had developers from Fez.
      – At the same festival Fez won 30,000 dollars even tho Fez entered and won it back in 2008
      – He also said that Fez will be so great that He will be the next face of gaming.
      – He also said that Fez ain’t coming to PC ( I mean indie games never make any money on pc) because they are for spreadsheets and Fez is a game
      + He said he hates gamers.

      SMB: The creator did a youtube video where he made rather untastefully made fun of the critics who pointed out flaws/bugs in his game ( I can’t find the twitter discussion how it all started or the video of the rant because he deleted it).

      Braid: I don’t know. Blow only comments how he is right and everyone else is wrong but that’s really not that bad. He is very pretentious but I guess he makes allright games.

      Forgot to add that almost all “mainstream” indie developers can’t handle PR in any shape or form.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      http://youtu.be/GhaT78i1x2M?t=1m34s

      Also whoever the fuck is this guy said that.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        I don’t understand what’s wrong with that quote. It’s hyperbole, perhaps, to compare making videogames to a concentration camp, but making games is hard, making them from scratch is harder, and making commercial grade original games from scratch by yourself is ludicrously hard. So it’s hyperbolic, but not very hyperbolic.

  10. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    And now the image of videogaming is a fat dude saying that developing indie games is like being in a concentration camp.

    I prefer my buns and goobs, sorry

    • misterT0AST says:

      So you prefer it to be bunny and gooby?
      when videogames are Bunny, it Bugs me.
      As for Gooby, Pls.

      I’m sorry, I had an outbreak of horrible puns, now I feel relieved.

    • Grape says:

      And now the image of videogaming is a fat dude saying that developing indie games is like being in a concentration camp.

      I prefer my buns and goobs, sorry

      ^ This.

  11. cliffski says:

    There are such a variety of indie devs, some even living outside of the US, that trying to define them as a small group of developers is mad.
    Imagine:

    BOOKS : The movie.

    Completely silly and impossible. The variety is just too great.
    I’m sure 95% of people who I meet who I say I’m in the video game industry assume I work in server-management, or finance or somesuch, because I’m too old (42) too foreign (UK!) and not hip enough to gaming trends (Never played world of warcraft, never been to E3, never owned a major gaming console or a smartphone) to be an actual developer.

    The truth is, indie game devs are about as varied a bunch as you could possibly imagine. The popular perception of us all as starving hipsters doing platform games about loneliness is just *wrong*.

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      RobF says:

      That’s where “You meet the nicest people making videogames” was going to come in but that seems to have stalled, unfortunately.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Very well put sir. I think the Art world’s difficulty in engaging with what games are (instead of what they think games are (or should be)) plays a big part in pushing these retro-obsessed platformers and their white hipster creators into stage center. And I say that as a white hipster from the US; much love my scruffy brothers.

      Anyway, I think the idea that “there just weren’t other indie devs out there” when they started this film is a bit silly. What about Dwarf Fortress, or AI War, or any of the indie RPGs and roguelikes?

      I don’t know about these film makers, but it seems to me that most of the Art and media mainstream are 10-20 years behind what’s actually happening in video games. They are just starting to understand the Super Nintendo, and they think these retro games that emulate the platformers they’re comfortable with are “edgy” or “sexy”. I think it’s exacerbated because Art especially is so obsessed with referencing history, but in the end it’s just comfortable stuff that doesn’t force anyone to think too hard, or to understand something new and different.

      Sorry Cliffski, I’d make more references to your work, but frankly I’m not that familiar with it or its forebears. Rest assured that if I was, I would be comparing you to Picasso or Homer or what not.

  12. Verio says:

    I kind of lost interest in this… at some point over the last 6 months, I got sick of reading about OTHER people seeing this, and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t just on the damn market or something.

    Now I just don’t care :/

  13. Alexander Norris says:

    The main problem I have with this is that most of the indie devs I know are well-adjusted normal people with social lives, and they’ve picked three insane people (well, two and one slightly-less-insane). This doesn’t showcase indie development well at all.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      It’s like choosing to represent the entire history and industry of Art with Van Gogh, Carravagio and Bosch, but without their mastery of their field.

      Shit I’d love to go to dinner with those three.

  14. Rugged Malone says:

    How about seeing the movie, then judging it? This is about as indie-game-friendly a film project as you could imagine.

    * I’ve met the creators, who are an extremely nice and humble couple, they deserve all the praise they’ve received.

    * I’ve seen it, and it’s a really good film that focuses on the development process and the tendency for indie devs to wear their heart in their games, so to speak. I wish it covered more developers in detail (for example I thought it was really unfortunate that Aquaria wasn’t featured, given its role in how the movie got started). Despite this, I know the reasons why the movie went the way it did, and they’re valid.

    The film is quite touching and is fascinating to watch. (It’s won awards at film festivals for a reason.)

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I’ve no idea what it’ll be like, but, as you know the creators, do you not think your critical objectivity might be a little skewed? Not that you’re wrong, though it does seem a little rich for three devs to speak for an entire industry.

      • Rugged Malone says:

        Could be. I also preordered the special edition, so I’m at least as biased as anyone who preorders an indie game would be. FWIW, I’ve worked as a game developer, so perhaps my opinion isn’t entirely biased, or maybe that makes it even more biased? :)

        I was told the main reason for focusing on those three dev teams was because they happened to be in the right place at the right time for the story that started to emerge during early filming. James and Lisanne realized they had three projects at different points in the development arc, with interesting developers struggling through intense situations, that would tell a complete and surprisingly intimate story of what it’s like to develop an indie game.

        It doesn’t focus exclusively on those three developers (the first part of the movie is a sort of “intro to indie games” aimed at people like my wife who has no interest in gaming whatsoever — she really liked the movie), but most of the movie does follow their stories.

  15. Buemba says:

    I for one can’t wait to watch it. Hope Blow, Team Meat and Fez Dude are as big assholes as the internet at large seems to believe since those make for fascinating documentary subjects, but even if they aren’t I loved Braid and Super Meat Boy and wouldn’t mind some insight into their development.

  16. Zyrocz says:

    I am the best person on the internets.
    I’m always right.
    I hate people, without no reason.

    Am I now just as bad as these other guys?

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      LTK says:

      No. You are worse, because you do not know the appropriate place for a double negative.

  17. Skabooga says:

    but I shall be in all likelihood watching it tomorrow and can report back more usefully then. Oh, and check back on RPS in a few hours to read young whippersnapper Brendan Caldwell telling you just wot he thinks of this here film.

    A ‘wot I thought’ about film? What a novel idea!

  18. smg77 says:

    What’s with the guns and boobs negativity?

  19. D3xter says:

    I’m a lot more excited about the prospect of MOVIES on Steam than the actual movie itself (since I wouldn’t give Apple any of my money and there’s not many competitors), so I pre-ordered it whiles ago, they built some nice Flash Interface for it that looks cool.
    I wonder if the guys that made the movie did that or if Steam did the player and menu/functionality etc. themselves to be able to (hopefully) do this some more in the future?

    Ask them out about it :P
    http://www.abload.de/img/steam_movie1a5f53.png
    http://www.abload.de/img/steam_movie2wgc30.png

  20. Derppy says:

    I love indie games and I think Super Meat Boy is the best platformer ever made, but the movie was a huge waste of time.

    It was over-dramatized documentary about 4 people and their emotional struggle, not about indie games. My favorite part was the 5(?) minute section where Edmund actually spoke about the level design of Super Meat Boy and I’d gladly watch hours of that, but not hours of “My life is so hard, I’m depressed. I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”

    I know I had wrong expectations of the movie, but I hope there will be some other documentary that covers wider variety of developers and game genres, focusing on the actual games. Interviews can dig into some personal stuff and it’s very relevant, but I want to know details about the actual development.

    What was the workflow for Super Meat Boy? what was the general design philosophy for it? what aspects they valued the most? Did the graphics or the physics go through a lot of changes to be so great? How did they come up with all the references? How many copies did they expect to sell?

    It’s nice to know some background about the developers and get an idea about the personal difficulties they had during the development process, but that shouldn’t be 90% of something called “Indie _GAME_: The Movie”