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What Makes Indie Games Indie

March 8, 2010 1 comment

So why exactly are indie games you ask? Why are they different than main stream games? Well here’s a little information about the video game industry.

There are four levels of production to get a game from an idea to a store’s shelves:

Developer – Blizzard, Naughty Dog

The developer(s) can be one person or a team of X amount of people that actually get their hands dirty. They come up with the idea, plan out development, create graphics, program the game, etc. This is where all you programmers and artists are, where all the fun takes place! But also means living off spam and rice until your game is done.

Publisher – EA, Valve

After a developer comes up with the idea, they create some sort of demo to pitch to a Publisher. The publishers pick and choose games that they believe will sell. Publishers pretty much have control over a game because they are the ones paying the developers because the developers need the money to keep making their game. They also need the people who can get their game out on store shelves.

Manufacturer – Sony, Microsoft

The manufacturers create the mediums that games are played; computers/consoles/handhelds. Developers have to to spend big bucks on prototype or developer versions of the consoles (much often the same now-a-days except for a few jumper pins for debugging) in order to develop on the systems. Though for computers, you can start right away, as long as you have one and the write software! Manufacturers also regulate the games on their systems (once again except PC, unless your talking about digital distributing platforms like Steam. In that case Valve has the say on what games go on their storefront.) and create the CDs, ROM carts, and what not that gamers buy.

Licenses – NBA, Pokemon, Halo

This plays a major role in getting the game out there. A baseball game would hardly make it out of the shipping box at the store if it didn’t have an NBA logo. You often have to pay big bucks to acquire popular licenses, but it almost guarantees your game will sell because gamers will recognize the label.

And that’s how most main steam games are produced. Keep in mind, some companies combine all four steps under one roof, so they have in house development teams and what not. Which costs less but ends up creating less motivated employees.

So what do indie games do that are different? Well its often just the development team doing everything. Now that may sound like the fore mentioned paragraph but indie developers do it different.

Indie equals independent. Solo. Alone. With no help.  They create their game by them selves, with a friend, or a relatively small team that are dedicated to their vision. They promote their own game and sell it using services like PayPal eliminating the need of a publisher. But this also eliminates their paychecks, so everything comes out of their own pocket, aside from donations and sales later on. Most indie games are found on the PC/Mac so they don’t really need a manufacturer to create hardware or CDs/ROM carts, everything is digitally distributed.

But there have been so-called indie games on consoles and platforms like Steam. Are they indie games? Well that’s been quite a controversial topic, because in reality, they are getting help with sales and promotion. Everything is just handled differently. So some people say they aren’t indie games, some say they are.

But personally, indie games stand out in the industry because they aren’t the same formula used in hundreds of other games on the market; murder simulators, button mashers, etc. They often use the good ‘ole classic genres with retro graphics or some totally new game mechanic with hand drawn sprites. But when it all comes down to it, indie games are intuitive and original games that leave an impact on your mind.

But that’s what I just define as indie.

an introduction.

January 9, 2010 6 comments

So as the tag-line states, this is a blog about games that just need some love. I know there are tons of blogs and websites out there that already do this, many of which that I am subscribed to and read daily, but I love to write and I have never actually started a blog on one specific subject. I’ve been wanting to start one for a couple months now, but it wasn’t until quite recently that I came to the revelation to combine both my passion for writing and video games. Not to say that I am a virgin to blogging; I’ve had a few personal blogs and actually still maintain my Xanga. But with Lonely Pixel I want to actually write for some else other than my self.

Be warned: this site is not for main stream games, though, you might see a few exceptions. Its for those very expressive, emotional, and/or intuitive little gems out there that no body seems to hear about. Games that step away from the standard successful formulas and experiment with new game mechanics or user interaction.

I’ve grown tired over the past few years with the on-going hype of the newest Call of Duty game or any other shooter for that matter. (Don’t get me started on Madden) Its just the same formula with better graphics. Murder simulators with achievements. Sure I play them, but I believe video games are better than blood and realistic graphics. They can produce awe inspiring works of art that other mediums can’t replicate simply because of the user interactivity.

And where would this blog be without a little information about the author?

My name is Alex Larioza and I am, well, a gamer; always have and always will be.  At the time of writing this, I am seventeen years old and well into my last year of high school – senior year. And oh boy has it been one hell of a year already.  I’m planning on attending Devry University and obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Design and Development. After college I eventually want to create an indie video game company, or join one.

While back in the day everybody was playing Mario Kart on the N64, I was one of the few who was playing Toejam and Earl on the Sega Genesis. This was probably my first step away from being pulled into main stream gaming.

I soon came  to own a PS1, Ps2, Gameboy Advanced, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo Ds, and of course a PC. Not saying that I haven’t played on other systems.

As of lately, I’ve been playing more on my PC because of the sheer amount of indie video games at my finger tips.  Though the consoles are taking great strides in bringing indie games to their systems, the PC is still currently best way to get to them.

-Alex