Indie Game: The Movie: The TV Series

Featuring 2D Boy as Tony's mother

I guess indie games are about to become glamorous. The long-awaited documentary Indie Game: The Movie, which is currently touring film festivals and getting a very positive buzz indeed, is apparently to become a telly series from HBO, home of the Sopranos, The Wire et al. As in, a dramatic TV series, with actors pretending to be indie developers, rather than actual indie developers mumbling to camera. Knowing HBO, it’ll be hyper-glossy and filled with arguably unnecessary sex scenes. Will we get to see the bum of a man pretending to be Edmund McMillen? Will we see a nervous Andy Schatz analogue being led to the IGF casting couch? Will we see the origin of Jonathan Blow’s name? Oh God, I’d really better stop now.

We don’t know much, as it’s really only at the ‘optioned’ stage right now, but HBO uber-producer Scott Rudin plans to remake Indie Game: The Movie as a half-hour comedy series. My blood chilled at that prospect – are they hoping to repeat the mugging horror of The Big Bang Theory but with slacker game devs? Or maybe it’ll be more of a lo-fi, Curb Your Enthusiasm kinda thing. Which would be more promising – my fear, though, is that the entire makin’ indie games thing is treated purely as a ‘oh, young people today’ joke rather than a noble, artistic endeavour. On the other hand, doing solely the latter would be a sad mistake too, given there is much to laugh about/with in the making-it-up-as-you-go-along nature of indie game dev.

Update: the makers of the movie claim the series will not be a comedy after all. Said they on Facebook:

“HBO has optioned IGTM for the basis of a (fictional) series. It is NOT a comedy. It is NOT a sitcom. The information came out and someone filled in a blank, and this is why: The (potential) show is being developed within the 1/2 hour department within HBO. We are told that 1/2 hr department is often shorthanded ‘comedy department’. Full hour dept = ‘drama department’. That is the basis of the ‘Comedy’ label. The show is being produced by Scott Rudin – the producer of ‘The Social Network’, ‘True Grit’, ‘Moneyball’, ‘Dragon Tattoo’ & nearly everything Wes Anderson… The people involved, the network involved – all are, BY FAR, the best people possible to make this show.”

Which puts an entirely different spin on things. Anyway: this may well never happen as it’s still only in the planning stages, but the mere concept of indie games being given a large dramatic budget and a DVD boxset is extraordinary, and says much about the games industry’s turnaround in recent years. As for the original film itself, here’s the most recent trailer:

Can’t wait to see it, but mostly that trailer just makes me so damned sad that Fez isn’t coming to PC.


  1. bear912 says:

    Admittedly, I was slightly confused by this news. That said, if there’s going to be an indie game television series, it had better have some unnecessary sex scenes.

    • westyfield says:

      Better make sure it includes Fork Parker then.

    • Bishop says:

      I agree. When I was uni we the local hospital come round and give out STI testing kits to everyone bar the computer programmers.

    • lowprices says:

      The idea of a lurid, sex obsessed take on indie game development brightened what has been an otherwise horrible day. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am to learn this won’t be the case.

  2. Okami says:

    Watching that trailer makes me want to play Modern Warfare 3.

  3. stahlwerk says:

    Quick! Someone! Create and independently distribute a game about making a comedy show about making indie games!

    • Baboonanza says:

      Comedy Indie Game Manager
      Indie Game Comedy Manager
      Comedy Manager Indie Game
      Manager Comedy Game Indie

      Ah fuck it.

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      It’s NOT a comedy!

      It’s an Indie game developer drama series!

  4. LuNatic says:

    They should hire Yogscast as the script writers.

  5. des0lar says:

    Wait, Fez isn’t coming to PC? What the heck? Why would anyone do this even when it’s known that indies can make a lot more money on Steam than on XBLA… SMH

    • bear912 says:

      Well, there’s some chance that it might be, eventually.

      (found via Wikipedia, so that may not be the most current information)

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yeah, I thought the Fez developers had changed their minds and were bringing it to the PC after all.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Well, he wouldn’t confirm a PC version was even a possibility to me when I was talking to him about possibly being involved in IGF Factor very recently.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      I’d be willing to bet one of my shoes on the fact that it will end up on PC once his contractual obligations to Microsoft are up.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      I’m sure a year or so after the xbox release we’ll see it end up on PC. The problem is they sign away their souls in these ridiculous Microsoft contracts, and maybe he just doesn’t want to risk angering the console overlords by talking about future, none Microsoft controlled platform releases.

      If it really does never come to PC it’ll be a stupid move. Time and time again these games find their 100k-200k (bar a couple of notable exceptions) sale limit on the console toy and then smash it later on with the pc release breaking 400k-500k.

      With a quality downloadable indie game you can smash the 1m mark for revenue if you release on PC and console. If you go console exclusive, you’ll be luckily to make 500 grand (which would still be a great haul for your average indie dev, but no cool 1m).

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Limbo, Bastion … I’m sure Fez will come to the PC too.

    • Salt says:

      The darling of [some of] the indie gaming movement, with the movement’s message of creative freedom, being restricted by contracts signed with the world’s largest software company is quite … something?

      Still, Fez looks like it’ll be an interesting game.
      Also the programmer’s a nice guy, sharing his research and experiments freely.

    • sneetch says:

      Yeah, it may be six months or a year but I’d say we’ll get it on PC.

      I wonder what kind of deal Microsoft gives for these XBLA exclusives though, do they help fund development, give equipment and dev tools or is it just a wad-o-cash when it releases?

    • Scorpi says:

      There will be a PC port eventually, but they cannot officially say that yet (this is from actually speaking with people involved with its development a while ago)

  6. RobF says:

    It seems the comedy thing was Deadline filling in some blanks, it’s a whoknowswotitwillbething.

    Anyway, Kendo Nagasaki to play me, please.

    • Oozo says:

      That’s what I wanted to point out as well: It probably won’t be a comedy series.
      People just made that assumption because the format will be 30 minutes, which is usually reserved for the comedy departement on HBO. That’s not necessarily the case for this one, though.

      The film makers said as much on facebook:
      link to

      (I don’t know if that’s any better, but I might turn out ti be interesting, if it ever gets made – the producer surely has a stellar career to back up that hope.)

  7. cliffski says:

    I don’t care if they want to poke fun at indie game developers. I don’t care if games are considered ‘art’ byt the guardian and sunday times either.

    I make a decent living doing what i love, with no boss, and work from home. people can make out that indie devs are clueless slackers for all i care, as long as people keep buying the games, why should I, or any of the rest of us care what the increasingly irrelevant ‘main stream media’ thinks about games?

  8. danimalkingdom says:

    Forgive my cynicism, but shaky camera, short depth of field, cloying music; looks like indie games is going to have the same associations with middle-class angst as indie music and indie films, which I don’t think it necessarily deserves.

    And I know indie games aren’t just platform games. Good lord I hope the film includes something from a different genre.

    • mihor_fego says:

      Ah… don’t you get it? “Indie” is now a scene, much like the term is used for the musical genre. It has nothing to do with how games are developed or distributed. Some of the greatest “Indie” bands are actually signed to multinational publishers, like The Flaming Lips on Warner for example.

      Even looking at IGF Awards and their choices for nominations, the type of games that get most coverage in blogs, you can tell how the indie scene is split into “hip” and obscure. Are games distributed through Microsoft really indie? Can they ever compete in coverage with titles distributed by their own developers alone?

      Of course there will be cases like 2D Boy and Mojang where their games became a huge success out of nowhere but that kind of things happen to what? 0.1% of games? I don’t doubt those that succeed commercially are not worth it, but these cases of success don’t make the whole indie game development story.

  9. Big Murray says:

    “Knowing HBO, it’ll be hyper-glossy and filled with arguably unnecessary sex scenes.”

    ‘The Binding of Isaac’ is just asking for it.

  10. Kaira- says:

    Indie Game: The Indie Movie: The Indie Corporate Series.

  11. Ross Angus says:

    I can’t wait for Men With Facial Hair And Glasses: The Movie.

    Apart from Jonathan Blow.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Jonathon Blow will be replaced with a hip punk girl called Jenny Blew, and a lot of screaming.

      Also, many episodes will feature 4+ people all holding gamepads and mashing the buttons, while a Mac shows Angry Birds.

  12. frenz0rz says:

    Hmm, I spent 15 minutes writing something but the comment system seems to have eaten it. Oh well.

  13. Terragot says:

    Gabe Newell to be Omar Little please.

  14. MuscleHorse says:

    They optioned this and canned Deadwood? For shame.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      The best show ever, just in case you need that pointing out.

    • magnus says:

      Actually it’s either The Prisoner or Spongebob Squarepants.

    • Koozer says:

      I hope you mean the original Prisoner. For your own well being.

  15. Mechorpheus says:

    The Big Bang Theory is utterly great, and everyone knows it!

    • dethtoll says:

      Big Bang Theory is terrible. I hate to couch this in terms that might be deemed appropriating, but that show is nerd blackface. It’s offensive as hell, and painful to watch.

  16. Neurotic says:

    Comedy nerds and sexy female hipsters ahoy!

  17. yhancik says:

    Channel 4 should now make a comedy freely inspired from the misadventures of The Indie Stone

  18. malkav11 says:

    I cannot imagine what this series could possibly look like. I will be very interested to find out.

    • Gary W says:

      I don’t want to watch a bunch of effete, frappucino-drinking hipsters making artsy rip-offs of 80s & 90s platformers. I want more gritty realism and social commentary.

    • Skabooga says:

      Well, if it’s being overseen by the same man who produced all of Wes Anderson’s work . . . I shudder to think what could be. I like to think of the independent games community as a warm and vibrant place.

  19. puppybeard says:

    While I would definitely give this film a go, a few things worry me:

    1. Overblown sentimentality
    2. Only american games. Minecraft is getting it’s own film, fair enough, but what about Amnesia, Limbo, VVVVVV, etc? I appreciate that it’s low budget, but feel it should be called “US Indie Game: The Movie”. But then it’s a US film, meaning it’s valid to suppose USA = The World
    3. Stupid glasses.

    • Bubbles says:

      “US Xbox Indie Game: The Movie” better fits it since all I see are XBL games or ported from Xbox.

      How could they not include:

      1) Dwarf Muthafucking Fortress
      2) All Paradox games
      3) Flotilla
      4) Battle for Westnoth
      5) Amnesia
      6) Killing Floor
      7) Terraria
      8) And everything else

    • Kaira- says:

      Making documentary about indie games and not including Dwarf Fortress should be a capital punishment. Hell, New York Times made an article about it, that’s how important it is.

    • Bhazor says:

      Not sure you would call Paradox an indie. I mean they’re a pretty big publisher here in Europeland.

      Also not including Dwarf Fortress in a documentary about indie games is like making a Peter North documentary with no money shot.

    • PHIL_FISH says:

      fez is a canadian production, and so is the film itself which was produced in winnipeg, canada.

      and i need those glasses to see.

  20. Skabooga says:

    @Kaira: True that.

    Edit: Seemed to have missed the reply button.

  21. serioussgtstu says:

    I’m just going to pretend this never happened. For shame HBO, somewhere the Bunk is crying.

  22. Meneldil says:

    I’m a nerd, and this whole trailer made me feel awkward. It sounded, looked and felt like the commercial for some banking service, except it was for indie games. Meh.

  23. Tei says:

    What can go wrong?

    Lets change!.

    What can go right! :D

  24. dethtoll says:

    For me, my primary excitement comes from the fact that the one guy is wearing a Sunn O))) shirt.

  25. DigitalSignalX says:

    Fuck HBO’s DRM. Will pirate.

  26. Josh W says:

    Well that sounds rubbish; indie developers are actually available and communicating properly and effectively with their audience, all we need is a few “drama” induced total misunderstandings to get indie developers wound up with misunderstandings, and we could set stuff back years.

    Or it could actually be insightful and ok, but my goodness, the film, and actually reading the blogs of designers, sounds a 100% better idea than watching some scriptwriter’s idea of what would be more interesting than their actual lives.