As we see one of the more independent-leaning digital distribution services going mainstream, with Impulse being bought by GameStop, I'm very pleased to have noticed that there's a new kid on the scene. Nimbus, created to be a digi-distributor for the archive of Adventure Game Studio games, can do much more believes creator Steve Poulton. He sees no reason why it shouldn't go on to be the main platform for distributing indie games, although that's a way off just yet.
It's already working splendidly. It's existed for a while under the name Nexus, but a recent overhaul has seen a new name, and the adoption of the AGS Archive. A satisfyingly simple interface splits things into two categories - the Library, and the Games you've downloaded. Once on your machine you can run the games from inside Nimbus, making this the most fantastic way of organising all those indie adventures that otherwise get lost amongst your game folders. So, we asked the creator, could we see this expanding further?
"Assuming that Nimbus is moderately successful," says Poulton, "and that it proves to be useful for both gamers and devs alike then I am very serious about expanding the scope to non-AGS games." Coming from within the AGS community, this is obviously primarily a project that will find its confidence in its own specialist area. But our brief look at it suggests it could make an excellent home for those other non-AAAs that get a bit wayward on our machines. "The expansion would probably be for freeware titles to begin with," Poulton told us. "To test the water and build a non-AGS user base. If that was a success then I could roll out a pay-service for commercial titles once the time seemed right and if the demand was there."
The only trouble at the moment is it isn't able to let you buy things. That's not really an enormous issue in the world of AGS, but if you're after, say, Blackwell Unbound, it currently isn't possible to do that through the system. As Poulton says, he's planning to stick with freeware for now. However, once that's up and running, and if it goes well, Nimbus could well represent what's impossible not to think of as 'the Steam for indie games'. The reason the "commercial" section appears in Nimbus is a hangover from the conversion of the AGS Archive, and Poulton tells us it will be removed "when someone gets
around to it."
There's plans for a community sort of element to go in there too, as you might imagine. That's rather crucial for the AGS community side of things. And a news stream so developers can update users. In the end Poulton hopes to have it be accessible from within AGS games, Steam-style. Other planned bits and bobs include a chat option, universal settings (yes please), player stats, AGS achievements, and more.
If you're a player of AGS games, I'd call this utterly essential. It's clean, simple, and a very nice blue. And if you're an indie developer, I'd recommend nagging Poulton to get on with fixing the rest of it so we can start to adopt Nimbus as our default portal for such games. Poulton also wants to point out that it's "not finished". I say support this one.