As Narbacular Drop Is to Portal

Is that the guy from Doom?

I was just about to do some proper work when I thought this: “Perhaps there’s a room for a blog post looking at indie games that could potentially be the germ of a commercial idea; games that are as Narbacular Drop is to Portal.” Hmm. That does sound better than doing any proper paid work, I must admit.

It’d have to be a game that is conceptually interesting and could, potentially, be imaginatively extrapolated into a commercial game along genre lines we already understand. Poking about reveals that there’s plenty of potential. Perhaps Flipside seems to obvious, and far too many games have already done the polar-world thing. It could nevertheless inspire an FPS done in the style of old European stop-frame animations. Seiklus as an exploration-based 3D platformer? Hmm. World Of Goo? Might be good for an RTS/Godgame where the player constructs things out of primeval gloop…

Actually, there is one indie-to-commercial project I’d really like to see. A commercial game that takes the surrealist horror/FPS-puzzle-nonsense theme of Mondo Medicals and turns it into something a little more Killer 7. Portal meets Eraserhead, something like that. We might be in for a bit of a wait, I suppose. In the meantime you can play the grainy-celluloid brain-rattling sequel, Mondo Agency by the steadfast Cactus Software.

What Indie games would you like to see re-imagined as three-hour masterpieces, readers?


  1. terry says:

    Dwarf Fortress. No, really.

  2. Bob Arctor says:

    Huzzah it’s not as hard as Mondo Medicals, that was just bloody hard and the low rooms got very boring.

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    I suspect a worthy graphicsification of Dwarf Fortress would be beyond even the most talented, expense-happy studio in the universe.

  4. Therlun says:


    I would love a graphical version so much…
    Even very crude bitmaps would be so much better than the pain inducing ascii stuff.

  5. JP says:

    Progress Quest as an MMO.

    Oh, wait…

  6. Janek says:

    There are graphics/character sets out there, but for now you’ll still always have some remnant of ASCII. I don’t use them, mind. I’ve kind of got used to the ASCII.

    I can’t see it working commercially anyway, at least in its current form. It’d have to be heavily neutered to stand much chance of success – think Diablo compared to Rogue/Nethack/Angband.

    As for suggestions, how about a beat’em up with the balance system from SumoTori? Actual proper physical mechanics, rather than preset animations. Fantastic.

  7. Lorc says:

    Dwarf fortress doesn’t need “proper” graphics to become a full-fledged commercial game. What it needs is a functional, user-friendly interface.

  8. Ben says:

    What would stop Dwarf Fortress (which is technically a DOS character set, not ASCII) being done with ‘proper’ graphics? I’m sure the underlying model is no more complicated than something like the Sims or Spore.

    I’d like to see a polished commercial version of Passage, crossed with that other marriage simulator with the squares. Crossed with Facade.

  9. Turin Turambar says:

    I would like to play Dwarf Fortress with non-impaired graphics (come on, it doesn’t need to be Crysis, but the ASCII is obscure and unintuitive) and proper interface & controls.

  10. Jim Rossignol says:

    Actually from what I’ve read I recall a graphics interface being intended for Dwarf Fortress, if he ever finishes getting the world as he wants it.

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    That is, of course, a really big “if”.


  12. Nick says:

    Untill the interface becomes less obtuse and irritating I have given up on Dwarf Fortress. I was fighting against it more than the Elephants.

  13. Redd says:

    The moment you make DFs visuals literal instead of symbolic the magic goes out of the window.

  14. Meho Krljic says:

    For my part, I am still puzzled at the fact that Kenta Cho’s amazing free games have not been snathced and appropriated for XBLA, PSN or DS or PSP or whatever. I mean, his games are pure joy. They are very well designed from the gameplay perspective (Tumiki Fighters? Come on, this is pure genius) and presentation-wise, they are THE best thing in the indie market. There’s this MTV interview (link to where he kinda doubts his games are good enough for commercial release and I have to say I am shocked… Doesn’t he know how good he is?

  15. Jim Rossignol says:

    Kenta Cho’s stuff is being converted for one of the consoles, but I think it’s the PS3.

  16. Meho Krljic says:

    Now, that’s a sensible thing to do. Most his games don’t even require too much tarting up to be released on ‘real’ platforms anyway. Gunroar, for instance is so perfectly beautiful, visual-wise, that it would be a shame to change it significantly (not to mention excellent fighting and scoring system). Of course, PS3/ PSN could use his games much in the way XBLA used GeoWars to explode across people’s consciousnesses

  17. Andrew Doull says:

    You mean like this graphics visualization software for Dwarf Fortress?

    Nah… couldn’t be done…

  18. Jim Rossignol says:

    Impressive, but not actually what I meant. Creating a commercial big-budget game that maintained the same game mechanisms as Dwarf Fortress while delivering ace production… as Portal is to Narbacular Drop.

  19. Andrew Doull says:

    Agreed, but your first comment in this thread suggested even the graphicalisationalism would be too hard…

  20. Jason Dyer says:

    In regards to Kenta Cho, you’re looking for Blast Works for the Wii, which is Tumiki Fighters with new levels. rRootage will also be included (and it is rumored other games of his will be in there as well).

  21. Jason says:

    Just wanted to be pedantic and point out that “indie” games are not all freeware. The terms are not synonymous. ;)

    Lots of indie games are commercial–that is, they are created for the purpose of making money for the developer(s). Check any casual game portal and you’ll see a bunch of them. Look between the cracks more and you can find even more commercial indie games (like Bit Blot’s “Aquaria” or Gilligames’ “Rising Star”).

    More on topic, it seems inevitable that big budget game ideas will spring from small (or no-) budget games. Big budgets are too big to risk much experimentation (i.e., genre tweaking), and certainly not radical experimentation (i.e., entirely novel game mechanics).

  22. Aldaris says:

    I fully support DF, however, there is one game and one mod which I would like to see a commercial form of. Namely Eternal Silence (HL2 mod of doing freespace between capships and doing HL2-meets-TF2 on those ships once you board ’em.) and Dyson (You know the one if you’re an RPSer.).
    Although A New Zero would also be nice on a larger scale, vehicular Battlefield (Battlesea?) with craters in the buildings, and a decent day night cycle. That would be awesome.

  23. Aldaris says:

    Erm, did I jsut gravedig a year old thread?
    Oh, well, it deserves it, anyway.

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