Here at GD we do coverage of everything from hardware guides to news, reviews and previews of games and much more. Today, we want to take a look at the new backbone of the gaming industry - the humble indie developer.
Just a few years ago the indie scene was anything but mainstream, relegated to niche flash games and some underground PC titles. Fast forward to now and they have become a mainstay of the industry, with some of this year's biggest and best titles cropping up from indie developers. Because of indies we've got more games than ever before, so we thought take a moment to celebrate the humble indie outfits with a look at indie past, present, and future, without an Ebenezer Scrooge in sight.
Who is an Indie Developer?
This a common question among gamers as the lines become increasingly blurred between independent and big studio developer. An independent developer is a studio developing and marketing a game without the support of a video game publisher (Ubisoft, EA etc). An indie developer doesn't necessarily have to be a single person, it can be small team or a group that manages the whole product and publishes it. Some of the biggest gaming names in the world are technically indie developers, ranging from young upstarts like Telltale Games to the might of the all-conquering Valve.
What makes them special?
Without the weighty hands of publishers and investors not usually hanging over them, indie developers are free to be truly creative in a way that the bigger studios often can't. This obviously isn't true of every indie studio; for every Thomas Was Alone there's dozens of Angry Birds clones, but as a whole new ideas and concepts can flourish easier in this smaller scale environment. Ubisoft wouldn't be too keen on straying far from the core Assassin's Creed gameplay for example, but an indie developer is often free of these shackles.
Indie developers will often start from scratch. These people will be valuing every ounce of support that comes their way, positive or negative. These guys work hard, day and night, scrapping to get the support needed to make the 'next big thing. They are the quiet backbone of the gaming world.
The Indie takeover
You may be surprise to know that indie game developers account for more than a 70% percent share in the gaming market. And I don’t just mean the PC gaming market, the same goes for the mobile gaming world. Thousands upon thousands of games are made every year by indie developers, fighting to get the coverage to be known. Just a few short years ago the indie scene was massively overlooked; the difficulty of getting a game manufactured and shipped to market meant sooner or later everyone needed a publisher. With the advent of digital distribution, and helped massively by Steam's omniscient presence and the rapid growth of Xbox Live Arcade, indie gaming has flourished. Giants like Minecraft developer Mojang didn't even exist in 2008, but now they are synonymous with an outstandingly creative title.
They were the past and the present as well as the possible future of the Gaming industry.
Why do people always say they have too many games to play? That’s mostly because of indie developers. They have covered every genre in this world, and created a few of their own to boot, making sure you are always in for a surprise when you take their games out for a spin.
Indie Smash Hits
Surprised? I don’t think you should be. This game is one of the bestselling games ever, and probably one of the sole reasons there has been such a surge in support for the thousands of indie studios. With more than 35 million users, this game is one of the most succesfull ever released by an indie developer and it continues to go from strength to strength with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions just around the corner.
Hate it or love, Dong Nguyen's game conquered the world one irritating death at a time when it had a meteoric rise in popularity earlier this year, making headlines around the world. Ultimately removed from the App store due to Nguyen claiming that the popularity was becoming just too much for him. Not too much to release a Flappy Bird clone called Swing Copter just a matter of days ago though eh?
The Stanley Parable is an exploration game made by Galactic Café where you have a story but you don’t have a story. You have a choice but then you don’t have a choice. Contradiction after contradiction totally reinvents how you play a game. Great content and new features make this game a fan favourite for a lot of people, turning gaming on its head in a way that many bigger titles haven't had an opportunity to.
Winning the Best Indie game at the Global Game Awards 2013 should say everything for this game. With a game as bluntly monikered as Don’t Starve you know exactly where you stand. Don’t Starve has managed to whittle down the chaff to give you one simple instruction. Gathering tools, food and supplies, you really do feel like a bush-bound nutter, the dark comic stylings lending the game a twisted and surreal edge; a real must-play from Klei Entertainment.
Surely one of the front runners for game of the year, it's sometimes easy to forget that Divinity: Original Sin is but a humble indie title, funded on Kickstarter in 2012 and arriving to glorious success this summer. Many an aged gamer shed a misty tear over the great RPGs of yesteryear when ploughing through Divinity: Original Sin, which was everything you could want from an indie studio and more.
Indies to look out for
Peering into a crystal ball can be tricky in the indie, which tends to move at lightning pace. This year's been great for indies, ranging from Transistor, to Shovel Knight and The Forest, but looking ahead there's absolutely fantastic titles on the horizon.
We've ran out of superlatives for No Man's Sky, but suffice to say it looks like one of the most impressive games we've ever laid eyes upon. Containing a universe that would take 5 billion years to explore, No Man's Sky looks like the ultimate spacefaring experience but also one which we still know so little about.
After the sublime Thomas Was Alone all eyes are on Mike Bithell to see what he create next. Inspired by Lego, Metal Gear Solid, and Robin Hood, it's difficult to tell where he could possibly go wrong with this stealth-based adventure. Packing a powerful customisation toolset and the promise of limitless possibilities, this could have Kojima himself forking out for a download.
Early impressions indicate this could be a wondrous RPG on the scale of Divinity: Original Sin. Creator of the original 1988 Wasteland Brian Fargo is back at the helm for these outing, which looks to be an epic adventure across post-apocalyptic America without a friendly face in sight. Judging from the pedigree this should be one to beat.
Team 17 made Worms, which instantly makes them gaming gods, so I put my trust in them when they trumpet this promising RPG from Mouldy Toof Studios. Don't let the twee 16-bit graphics fool you, this looks like a fantastically in-depth prison adventure in which a fair bit of ingenuity will be needed to escape the wrath of the prison guards, and porridge itself.
The Astronaut’s upcoming detective horror game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks like an absolute blinder, and it's arriving in just a month's time. You'll be exploring Red Creek Valley in the aim of seeing what's becoming of the titular Ethan Carter; a young boy who went missing in the woods. If that's not enough to peak your interest however, The Astronaut's will also be using a new technique called photogrammetry which can potentially deliver photorealistic graphics with a low performance cost.
That's some of our favourite indie goodies at the moment, now we want to know about some of yours! Any indie classics you've been playing recently? What are you looking forward to? Or do you prefer the large-scale AAA experiences over indie? Let us know!