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Thread: WTF Indie devs?

  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    WTF Indie devs?

    here is a picture of a newly released ipod/iphone game:

    mzl.oimoxnzk.jpg

    Now, I'm almost 30. So I can remember a time looong ago when 2D with more than 16 colours onscreen was the cutting edge. If my 10 year old self was asked to comment on this screen cap, I would say "lame". I would find the art "adequate" but would not excuse the lack of onscreen action or the lame platforming from the NES era.

    BTW, this would have been in 1992, when developing at this level of quality required working on art pixel by pixel and coding was done in assembler. This actually took an effort to develop. Dveloping at this level today probably does not even need programming, but lame kiddie "scripting" or maybe even just simple editing using a game maker.

    So, WTF indie devs? Indie developers used to be known for taking risks and putting their heart and soul into their debut projects. There were groups on the old computers that released Public Domain titles that had a level of quality that matched the big name titles. Have all indie devs gone soft, or are they hoping to make it big with the least amount of energy possible?

    At least there are some who are still carrying the torch:

    super-meat-boy-20110224051330425.jpg

    Hawken-Makes-Mech-Comeback.jpg

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    "Indie" doesn't mean all the things you think it means. Yeah, different games have different graphical styles. So?

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    Lesser Hivemind Node sinomatic's Avatar
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    Indie does not automatically mean deep/meaningful/creative/original/clever/intelligent/artsy or any other of those things. There's a huge demand for games now, given the ubiquity of mobile computing devices. (Some) People want basic, easy to play games, and (some) small devs will provide basic, quick to make products for them. There's room for that, alongside the indie devs who are making quality products that rival AAA titles, or producing less mainstream, less commercial games exploring existential angst and the like.

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    Activated Node J Arcane's Avatar
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    You complained about pseudo-retro graphics, and then posted a screenshot of Super Meat Boy as a counter example.

    Huh?

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    Network Hub Rakysh's Avatar
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    I think he's all joking and shit. I agree it's hard to tell. And I think people being exposed to gaming for the first time can play things from history without saying "lol super mario ripoff" and so there's a gap in the market for that sort of thing.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amandachen View Post
    "Indie" doesn't mean all the things you think it means. Yeah, different games have different graphical styles. So?
    Quote Originally Posted by J Arcane View Post
    You complained about pseudo-retro graphics, and then posted a screenshot of Super Meat Boy as a counter example.

    Huh?
    both of you are missing the point I'm making. Whether it's Unreal Engine 3D or 2D pixel/vector art, it should be compelling. Most of the stuff coming from indie devs is lazy, uninspiring or plain broken. I should have added a pic of World of Goo in there as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    Most of the stuff coming from indie devs is lazy, uninspiring or plain broken.
    Well, that isn't a problem confined to indies, is it?

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinomatic View Post
    Indie does not automatically mean deep/meaningful/creative/original/clever/intelligent/artsy or any other of those things. There's a huge demand for games now, given the ubiquity of mobile computing devices. (Some) People want basic, easy to play games, and (some) small devs will provide basic, quick to make products for them. There's room for that, alongside the indie devs who are making quality products that rival AAA titles, or producing less mainstream, less commercial games exploring existential angst and the like.
    then why are bad games being praised just because they're indie? Hey if a starving developer make some basic mobile game for casual audiences to pay the bills good for him/her, but I get annoyed when this phoned in game gets press coverage from the gaming media (which should be catering to actual gamers btw) while others who might be working on something significant get ignored because they're not playing PR agency.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amandachen View Post
    Well, that isn't a problem confined to indies, is it?
    Gamers and critics are much more discerning where AAA titles are concerned.

  10. #10
    Network Hub Rakysh's Avatar
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    Thing is, compelling graphics is subjective. I think the first one is nostalgic and such, which I find quite compelling. And I think indie games tend to have to survive on their own merits a lot more than AAA games.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node sinomatic's Avatar
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    Can you be a bit more specific about which games you're referring to?

    Also, your original argument was about the quality of games, rather than how the press respond to them. Do small, 'worthy' games get overlooked for crappy ones that know how to sell themselves? Yes. Does this happen in every single creative medium? Yes. Is it right? Of course not. But that's why we comes to places like this that will champion the cause of the lesser-known-but-worth-looking-at.

    And I'm not sure I believe in the line of 'actual' and 'casual' gamer. Its a vague, cloudy divide that helps neither side.

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    These days, you can find a bazillion bedroom-coded games at the click of a button. Sure, most of them suck and most of them aren't ever going to be properly completed.

    But what can you do about it (except whine)? Well, what you can do is throw money at a developer who you think makes good stuff. Like Cliffski. He makes good shit and also has a good attitude about it.

  13. #13
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    Independent developers are hardly a homogeneous group. Look at me, I'm an independent developer myself (well, barely) and all my skills are self-taught. On the other hand you get people like 2D Boy, who are former EA employees, or Number None, who developed Braid on a $200,000 budget and hired a professional artist. Most other independent developers are somewhere between those extremes. Hell, I think most of them would be happy if they even had something they could unironically call budget.

    Don't like the graphics? Don't buy it.
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    to wound the autumnal city.

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    Activated Node J Arcane's Avatar
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    Meat Boy's visuals are incredibly drab and parts of it's play mechanics are seriously ill-considered, and the Hawken shot you posted is purer "bloom-n-brown" than I even see from mainstream developers anymore.

    "Indie" just means "no publisher". Doesn't say much about the quality, and that's not anything new. It's been going on since the days when we called it "shareware". And beyond!

    I mean, come on, Passage? Really?

    I kind of get where you're coming from on the retro graphics, they're often an excuse not to bother with decent art assets, but well, when you're a tiny indie studio you're pretty much stuck with whatever you and some mates who'll work for free until this thing takes off can pull off. It's a situation I know all too well as a hobbyist game designer, and as a writer who's recently dabbled in comics. But at least with the former hat, I have the option of dialing it back to what I can actually draw, and it even helps the game look "trendy" to the right audience.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinomatic View Post
    Can you be a bit more specific about which games you're referring to?
    triple A titles that have been panned by critics or bad indie games that are seen as classics?

    Quote Originally Posted by sinomatic View Post
    Also, your original argument was about the quality of games, rather than how the press respond to them.
    how the world responds to mediocrity influences it's propagation, so it's important to talk about the standard of quality and it's acceptance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    how the world responds to mediocrity influences it's propagation, so it's important to talk about the standard of quality and it's acceptance.
    Should I whine about your typos? There's a lot of bad art, bad writing, bad software, and bad opinions on the internet. We just have to live with it.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amandachen View Post
    Should I whine about your typos? There's a lot of bad art, bad writing, bad software, and bad opinions on the internet. We just have to live with it.
    so, the next time another Kane & Lynch is released, I should accept that all coerced critics consider it the best game ever made?

  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node sinomatic's Avatar
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    I'm just a little confused at the overarching argument here - you are annoyed at indie devs for not making games that are graphically pretty/compelling enough (which is highly subjective in itself, and an argument that can be levelled just as easily at non-inde devs).

    You're then annoyed at the press for some of these 'phoned in' games for getting press attention just because they're indie. Though you haven't given any specific examples, so its hard to know whether the games that you think got more attention than they deserved is something the rest of us agree with or not.

    Bad games, of any level, are going to get good press attention sometimes. For a variety of reasons. Because the devs have previous goodwill, because there is a huge marketing campaign behind it, because its cheap/free, because its controversial etc etc etc.

    Its horrible (and I very much doubt you'd get much disagreement on that point), but the only way round it is to go to sources that you trust in the gaming press. Which, I imagine, is why we're all here at RPS in the first place.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Arcane View Post
    "Indie" just means "no publisher". Doesn't say much about the quality, and that's not anything new. It's been going on since the days when we called it "shareware". And beyond!
    yeah... but before the internet, you would only be aware of good shareware/PD. There were a few times when CU Amiga or Amiga Power would feature a bad indie game to mock it into oblivion, but that would be the extent of the exposure to crap indie titles.

    Nowadays we're flooded with these so called indie "classics" that are either straight copies of older games or just plain bad games.
    Example of average indie game blown out of proportion: Cave Story
    Example of straight up bad indie game: Yume Nikki

    It's too bad because this mixture of diamonds and dirt leads people to steer clear of indie altogether. I recommended World of Goo to a co-worker who still keeps his NES in his living room and the first thing he asked me was "made by which company?". He lost interest once I mentioned "indie"

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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    the first thing he asked me was "made by which company?". He lost interest once I mentioned "indie"
    Publishers and developers are two different words. Figure that out and then explain it to your friend.

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