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What Was the Greatest Age For Indie Games?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the it-was-the-age-that-gave-us-star-control-2 dept.

Classic Games (Games) 92

jonyami writes: "Indie games have existed for as long as there's been something to play and something to play it on. From the humble Apple II to modern PCs, Xbox Live Arcade and the Kickstarter revolution, just what was the greatest age for indie games? A new article takes a look at the various eras, the top indie games and the future — which one do you reckon is on top?"

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I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 3 months ago | (#46937697)

Never before have documentation and good tools been so available to even indie developers.

Never before has it been so easy to actually earn money with indie game development.

And things might be getting even better.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (5, Interesting)

bluescrn (2120492) | about 3 months ago | (#46937781)

But 'right now' is possibly the hardest that it's ever been to *make money* from indie development - simply because there's so many people making games (due to much-improved tools), it's incredibly hard to get noticed, and the bulk of the media attention goes to the already-successful 'super-indies'.

And even with all the digital distribution options out there, there are new all-powerful middlemen controlling what has a chance of real success - Steam, Humble, Apple (featured content), etc

Personally, I loved the 90s, when the technology was really exciting and evolving fast. The indie boom of the late 2000s was cool too, but now we seem to be facing oversaturation and race-to-the-bottom pricing (even beyond mobile).

Do Cross Platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46937961)

Support PC, Mac and Linux will improve sales. Yeah Mac and even more so Linux is low in numbers, but certainly if the game is good Linux users are happy to throw cash at a good game.

Re:Do Cross Platform (1)

dimko (1166489) | about 3 months ago | (#46938645)

also, we have peers who are not necessary on Linux.

Re:Do Cross Platform (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 3 months ago | (#46942535)

For the rule of thumb is to support cross platform when it is easy to do so.

Having forks for each platform can kill your business if you need to put in updates or add new features.
Linux also has a lot of different distributions where there are different sets of "Standard" settings, which sometimes will cause issues, if you say get it to work in Ubuntu and the person who bought your product has Slackware.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#46938133)

"make money" as in become rock star rich? yes, and That is a good thing. Sorry to burst people's bubbles but programming and game development is not the lottery, you dont get a big payout.

Make money as in cover your costs and turn a modest profit? that is more reasonable, and if these Indie people are going into business without a business plan and fully researching the market as well as costs and other financials as well as research as to their lower price to sell at as well as what price that will not scare people away from their game.

If you are an indie company and think you ca get $60 for your game you are insane, $16.00 to $29.00 for a professional quality game (as in better than the buggy untested crap from bioware) is easily achieved as can be seen by the success of a lot of indie games out there.

But if a developer thinks they will get rich or start living the 6 digit income levels? They need to stop now and work on something else, as they have zero clue as what it's like to sell software let alone games.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 months ago | (#46938825)

6 digit income levels? $100,000 a year is a 6 digit income. That's not a huge amount of income to ask for as a developer. Then again $500,000 is also a 6 digit income, but that's actually a large amount of money to be making.

Personally, I think that game programming is like the lottery. Notch basically won the lottery with Minecraft. There's nothing particularly amazing about the game, but for some reason, it caught on, and now he's rich. It's hard to pin down what makes one game sell millions, while other games struggle to sell in the thousands.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 3 months ago | (#46939171)

You are right that the game has a basic concept, but I think that can sometimes work in your favor. My brother and I love minecraft since it lets us use our imaginations, and that is in my opinion a good selling point for the game. Not only that, but is it cheap and the replay value is enormous.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (3, Interesting)

Githaron (2462596) | about 3 months ago | (#46939565)

While I don't know what made Minecraft initially popular, I think its prolonged success was a happy accident. Notch decided to write the Minecraft client and server in Java which is a relatively easy to decompile language. This encourage a few hacker types to make their own mods. This eventually evolved into third-party mod APIs like Bukkit and Forge which further encouraged third-party content. I don't know what the percentages are but I would guess there is a lot more people playing modded Minecraft than vanilla Minecraft. Since there is not an official modding API, I don't think Minecraft would be nearly as popular today if it had been written in C or C++ because there would much less likely be such a rich modding community for the game.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#46941413)

Minecraft fills a much neglected niche. While everyone was chasing the popular paradigms, Minecraft came in, borrowed from a half-there game and took it into a realm of creative construction not provided by the much-more rigid on-rails environment of the mainstream games. Doors open, walls can be destroyed. Death is a PITA and doesn't just take you back to the previous checkpoint.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 3 months ago | (#46941585)

To me, Minecraft is a very dull game. Mining out raw materials, and combining them to make tools and then manufactured goods, in order that you have shelter before nightfall and don't starve. And all played in a randomly generated, rather than designed environment.

Dull, dull, dull.

Where Minecraft seems to have become popular is as a toy. A construction set somewhat like a virtual lego set. And that does indeed seem to be a happy accident.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#46942179)

"make money" as in become rock star rich? yes, and That is a good thing. Sorry to burst people's bubbles but programming and game development is not the lottery, you dont get a big payout.

The guy who invented Wordfeud - real one-man shop stopped looking at his bank account when it increased with more than 100k NOK = almost $20k USD/day, last year he turned a 25 MNOK = $4-5 million USD profit. Of course he's one in a million but the exceptions are there.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46940143)

And even with all the digital distribution options out there, there are new all-powerful middlemen controlling what has a chance of real success - Steam, Humble, Apple (featured content), etc

Steam, Humble, etc. can help (a sale/free weekend/bundle can really help a game's popularity), but the driving force are Let's Plays. Get your game to be played by someone like pewdiepie, and you've just gotten free advertising to millions of impressionable kids.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (2)

Tronster (25566) | about 3 months ago | (#46941467)

History disagrees with the sentiment that it was easier to "make money" as an indie in the 1980s, or 1990s than today....

In the 1980s the distribution channels were being established which meant either you scored a deal with a bricks and mortar retail store, such as Sears, Babbages or Toy's R Us, or you ziplock bagged your PC game and tried to sell them at swap meets and computer stores.

In the 1990s there were more direct retailers and amalgamations of bricks and mortar stores occurred. The shareware model emerged and ziplock bagging disappeared. If anything, the 1990's were a bit of a dark ages for indies as either you had a publisher to get into a store or shareware.

From the 2000s onward we have an increased number of target platforms, and increased demographic of game players (from kiddos to those who grew up playing games for 30+ years... see: http://dmitriwilliams.com/will... [dmitriwilliams.com] (warning: Word doc)) , and increased number of channels (e.g., bricks and mortar persists (barely), online services like Steam, bundles, etc...)

If you (have aspirations to) develop indie games, it may seem likely everyone is creating them and the market is saturated but it's the same mentality as a musician at a "Guitar Center" thinking everyone in the world is now in a band; no, it's just the community they choose to surround themselves in. The signal to noise ratio is such that indies can succeed if they spend time build a great game and heed the lessons of other indies in how to market it through these channels. (GDC Vault has many free videos on this topic, such as: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1... [gdcvault.com] )

I even have a personal example of a AAA dev who use to work with me, but left years ago to start his own 1-man shop. He was a graphic programmer who taught himself to become a better artist and has been making a living, creating games, for a few years now. Check out his studio: http://www.epacegames.com/ [epacegames.com] And can also site Discord games ( http://discordgames.com/ [discordgames.com] ); larger than a 1-man group but by making an awesome game and marketing it appropriately, have an opportunity to sell Chasm to eager players, an opportunity that would not have existed 20 years ago.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 3 months ago | (#46941847)

I miss the arcade in the late 70s first 80s. The whole assortment of electronic games, pinball, mechanical games, mechanical-electronic hybrids... If it reopened as a museum it would blow kid's minds.

But then, the kids would return home, look at the freshly-acquired-with-parents'-blood PS4 and think: "meh", so maybe those things are better forgotten.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#46937787)

Absolutely! Shadowrun Returns, Kerbal Space program, etc... The indie games scene is starting to overtake the "AAA" games in quality and enjoyment.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

thue (121682) | about 3 months ago | (#46938049)

MineCraft

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 3 months ago | (#46938241)

I don't know about that one. I've been playing Minecraft for some time (since about 1.2.5, I think) and precious little has come out of Mojang that has improved it much. They finally fixed the lava flow problem, and occasionally add something cool (Redstone update in 1.5.0, e.g.), but I think that without the extremely rich mod community, which has little to thank the Devs for, Minecraft would have foundered a long time ago.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 months ago | (#46938979)

I think this is what is missing from most games now. The ability to create mods. When I think about the really popular games of the past, many allowed them to be expanded, or could be expanded, which was part of what made them so popular. Things like Barney Doom, or the grappling hook in Quake 2 just added a whole extra level of playability. Minecraft should really embrace the mod community more than it does. Perhaps by having "officially" vetted mods, that are easy to download and install. I don't play with mods, but the one time I went to download one, it was like walking through a minefield of advertisements and popups.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 3 months ago | (#46941383)

A suggestion: Grab one of the launchers. I use the Technic launcher most of the time. You can play any of the "official" modpacks with a click, or add the "unofficial" community packs right into it with minimal effort, and you don't have to worry about scummy click through sites, etc...

That's the only real issue I have with some of the MC mod community: way too in love with adfly, and way to possessive of "their" code which, in most cases, could be shutdown by Mojang in a minute if they decided to go full scumbag. A lot of other great folks, though, especially when you're starting out. And these days, once you get forge installed, it's just a breeze.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46941009)

Fuck that. Late 80s/early 90s was the best time. Shareware, Apogee Software, Epic Megagames, id Software and many others. The indie crap coming out now can't compete.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46937825)

You must be young. Almost all indy titles today are shovelware using asset stores for their code, art and sounds. Games are being thrown together by everyone with a view of creation lots of titles hoping one is a hit.

The only reason they get any exposure is the fact the price is negligible and is propped up by in game adverts and pay-to-complete models.

Here's a test: name just 10 indy titles that made money that aren't owned by a subsidiary of one of the major players.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (4, Informative)

craklyn (1533019) | about 3 months ago | (#46937955)

Faster than Light Binding of Isaac Super Meatboy Kerbal Space Program Minecraft Rogue Legacy Fez Bastion (developed by an indie team, published by a big name) Papers, Please The Stanley Parable World of Goo Little Inferno

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938199)

And for those that want line breaks...

Faster than Light
Binding of Isaac
Super Meatboy
Kerbal Space Program
Minecraft
Rogue Legacy
Fez
Bastion (developed by an indie team, published by a big name)
Papers, Please
The Stanley Parable
World of Goo
Little Inferno

(No I am not the same AC)

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (2)

geminidomino (614729) | about 3 months ago | (#46938285)

Bastion (developed by an indie team, published by a big name)

Bastion was a pretty good game, but I think that calling it "indie" is stretching the term to uselessness. You get all the belt-tightening quality of an indie team, plus all the obnoxious customer hostility of a big-time publisher?

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

franciscohs (1003004) | about 3 months ago | (#46943821)

Braid
Limbo
Lone survivor
Hotline Miami

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 3 months ago | (#46939209)

I have another great one to add to your list, Aquaria.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46939517)

FTL: good
BoI: not my thing
SMB: done to death, though decent
KSP: good
MC: decent, but didn't live up to initial promises
RL: haven't heard of it
Fez: creator's a dick, game is decent but not a new concept
Bastion: fantastic
Papers, Please: fantastic as well
The Stanley Parable: fantastic, but not particularly long
WoG: didn't care for it
LI: never heard of it

That's just my take on it. You're right, there are some good indie games out right now (though Bastion was published by Warner Brothers, hardly indie). I think we'll see even more with the advent of the OR and more available VR tech.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 months ago | (#46942329)

AI War, Monaco, Limbo, Machinarium, Botanicula, Giana Sisters, Spelunky, Sword of the Stars: The Pit, Hotline Miami, Organ Trail, Defense Grid, Terraria

Really, it is the golden age of indie games.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (5, Insightful)

Ranbot (2648297) | about 3 months ago | (#46939201)

You must be young. Almost all indy titles today are shovelware using asset stores for their code, art and sounds. Games are being thrown together by everyone with a view of creation lots of titles hoping one is a hit

I used to scour BBS on my 14.4 modem looking for indy games to download, so I think I'm old enough to tell you to stop looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses. There was an indy PC game movement in the 80's and 90's that created some great things but there was plenty of forgettable shovelware too, you just forgot about that (go figure). Those old games also recycled plenty of their own code, art, and sounds. Also, 80's/90's indy developers were almost completely shut out of the console markets, but not so today. 80's/90's indy developers were also much more limited by the technology available, and not just graphics, but also the interface was mostly limited to keyboard/mouse and maybe a joystick. Today's indy developers has so much more available to them to use creatively. Graphics is obvious, but also things like Wii-Mote, Kinect, mobile phone capabilities (cameras, GPS, etc.), and new VR tech. Then you've got Kickstarter, digital distribution, and flexible pricing to get indy developer ideas/projects off the ground. Yeah there are going to be plenty of indy game turds, but there always have been.

As a gamer I'd say the same (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#46938265)

I can still play most of the indie games of yesteryear, and there's more new ones coming out all the time. More and more of them are free to play, or are included for a song with a humble bundle.

Re:I'd say "right now". And it's getting better. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 months ago | (#46940343)

ever before have documentation and good tools been so available to even indie developers.
Never before has it been so easy to actually earn money with indie game development.

And things might be getting even better.

I agree - now is probably amongst the most fertile time for indie developers. There are tons of platforms to choose from, even ones that were previously hostile to indie development are fairly open now.

It used to be you could only do it on the PC. But Apple opened it up on mobile (previously it was REALLY HARD to develop on mobile - you couldn't get SDKs unless you had carrier agreements in place, and carriers were extremely picky.) - for $99 you could develop on a reasonably (back then) powerful device and within limitations that's all you needed. No more dealing with Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and having to deal with incompatible SDKs, etc. etc. etc. As much as I'd like to say Android, well, it came later and offered more of an alternative at the time. These days, both are equally compelling platforms to write for. Though Apple is more "console like" and gets you prepared for a world dominated by approvals like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, and even Valve.

Plus, the consoles opened up as well - Microsoft did it best on the Xbox360 by having practically an open community-regulated way to put your games on it. And there have been notable mentions from there.

These days really are the golden age - both current gen consoles are establishing Indie development guidelines, you have mobile and tablet gaming on iOS and Android, and there's always the old standby of well, the PC.

Hell, even Steam's opened up to indie games to help solve distribution and payment issues. (It was a lot harder to get on Steam in the past unless you were a big publisher. The domination of the App Store started forcing Valve's hand to open things up).

But 'right now' is possibly the hardest that it's ever been to *make money* from indie development - simply because there's so many people making games (due to much-improved tools), it's incredibly hard to get noticed, and the bulk of the media attention goes to the already-successful 'super-indies'.

  And even with all the digital distribution options out there, there are new all-powerful middlemen controlling what has a chance of real success - Steam, Humble, Apple (featured content), etc

  Personally, I loved the 90s, when the technology was really exciting and evolving fast. The indie boom of the late 2000s was cool too, but now we seem to be facing oversaturation and race-to-the-bottom pricing (even beyond mobile).

You think the middlemen are bad because they control and take a share? I say for indies, they actually provide a very valuable service - payment and distribution.

Sure it's easy to create a website and stick a Paypal button on it, but you won't believe how many issues there are. First, you need to figure out a way to ensure paid users can get at their content any time of the day or night. Usually that means an account system, but now you've just opened yourself up to data breaches and having to ensure your account security is always up to snuff. Then there's dealing with payment problems - the whole "I paid and I got nothing" aspect. Software upgrades, additional content purchases, etc just add to the complexity. And website coding - just because you can write a spiffy iOS/Android/PC/Console game doesn't mean you're a uber web coder. Plus refunds, taxes, international sales. A developer's day can easily be tied up in administrivia so they can't really spend time doing what they want - developing the game!

So paying Valve, Apple, Google, etc., to handle that aspect (re-downloads, receipts, taxes, payments, upgrades etc) relieves the developer to concentrate on supporting their game and development. And in-app purchases can be used to provide additional content on all platforms (extra levels, pinball tables, etc).

Even back in the old PalmOS days - a lot of developers chose to use a third party site to host their apps. Some went it alone using Paypal, but they either had few users, or rapidly got bogged down handling payments and everything else, or just providing registration keys.

And hell, I'm sure a good chunk of those developers who choose to "go it alone" and do it all to avoid the onerous 30% fees probably still haven't fully updated their security on their websites, may have been broken in without even knowing, and still be vulnerable to Heartbleed.

Finally, oversaturation? It's always been the same - 90% of anything is crap. Indie games, indie music, etc. It's just in the past, we had less efficient ways of providing access to such content, so the crap naturally filtered itself out. These days anyone can have a website, or put an app up on the App Stores so it just seems there's a lot more, when it was just distribution methods weren't as good back then as they are now.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46937711)

Easily the '90s

1990s (2)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 3 months ago | (#46937741)

Doom was "Indie". Command and Conquer was "Indie". Hell, compared to the modern AAA teams large enough to fill a city church, Super Mario World was "Indie".

The difference between 1 guy in a bedroom making an ephemeral App, and 10-20 people in an office a timeless classic does not give the right to the former to be lauded as either innovative, avant-garde, or somehow good for the industry. Contemporary "Indie" developers are just as much of a cancer on modern gaming as AAA kilo-teams.

Re:1990s (2)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about 3 months ago | (#46937771)

Yeah, indie is a 'state of mind' now rather than just meaning "not made by a pocket developer of a publisher."

Re:1990s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46942017)

Wasn't Command and Conquer made by Westwood? The same guys who spent a decade doing contract work for SSI and made games Eye of the Beholder, and Dune II. How exactly are they Indie?

Next year (1)

CeasedCaring (1527717) | about 3 months ago | (#46937817)

I direct your attention to Chris Roberts' "Star Citizen" which has so far raised north of $43million purely from crowdfunding.
(Roberts was the mastermind behind the "Wing Commander" series.)

Re: Next year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938085)

Isn't it the worst possible example? Ships sold by the pound and "insurances" for your digital "goods" this sounds abusive by any metric.... A new generation of in game transaction/economy/pay2win... Hold on to youw wallets the space pirates are coming, and the misogenistic community around it is disgusting too...

Well, keep dreaming, I won't buy into this BS.

Industry alumni (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#46939161)

Star Citizen is a prime example of the difference between industry alumni and what others might call "true indie" developers.* Apparently to succeed in indie games, you have to first move away and work for an established company. In the case of Chris Roberts, this involved relocating near Origin Systems and climbing its ranks.

* I'm aware that "true indie" invites comparisons to the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. But what's a better term for someone who builds a reputation without having relocated to work for a well-known video game company?

Greatest age? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46937849)

I dunno. Mesozoic?

Easy Access or Money? (1)

limaCAT76 (2769551) | about 3 months ago | (#46937871)

For "Easy access to the market" I'd say it was the 8-bit era, since all you had to have was an 8-bit computer, record your software on a tape and go to any tape printing facility with your "master".

For money I'd say it was the early iOS era, since Apple made nearly as easy and open as the 8-bit era to access iOS, and the market was not as fully crammed of competition as it has become later.

The 90's were already too difficult, hardware was a rapidly moving target (if you came from Amiga or the Atari ST in the 90's you had to start writing to DOS since both 68k machines never had a sequel with the right success, and then you would have ended up to reshape your abilities to write first for Windows and some weird graphical API, then ending up to write for Windows with either Direct X or OpenGL).

Crowdfunding is letting small creators getting easier access to better artists, musicians, but the market is still the same, and creating assets hasn't became easier than with the mobile resolution.

Re:Easy Access or Money? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#46939189)

For "Easy access to the market" I'd say it was the 8-bit era, since all you had to have was an 8-bit computer, record your software on a tape and go to any tape printing facility with your "master".

That was fine prior to 1986. But then Nintendo introduced the NES that quickly displaced 8-bit home computers and ushered in decades of console industry policies against small developers.

Re:Easy Access or Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46941117)

The only thing that displaced 8-bit home computers were 16-bit home computers. Consoles were always separate. If anything marginalized the selection of home computers, it was the IBM-compatible, once it reached maturity (decent sound/graphics cards).

Re:Easy Access or Money? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#46941339)

Yet the first IBM PC graphics cards (CGA and EGA) were underpowered for action gaming compared to even the VIC-II in the Commodore 64. And by the time IBM PC "reached maturity", consoles had already established a strong foothold for home video gaming.

Re:Easy Access or Money? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 3 months ago | (#46941653)

go to any tape printing facility with your "master".

Often not even that. I was familiar with one of the well known UK 8-bit games publishers, and they had a box converting one DIN plug into 10, such that with 10 standard cassette recorders they could produce 10 game tapes from one SAVE command.

80's and right now (2)

SuperDre (982372) | about 3 months ago | (#46937933)

The 80's were great as it was easy to create games as a single person (no need for a real graphics artist for a long time).. And Now because of the easiness of how people can find your game, but it requires more people to actually produce something top quality looking..

Re:80's and right now (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 3 months ago | (#46938345)

I wouldn't say right now, though I'd definitely agree with the 80s. Back then, indie games (I'm reminded of the awesome Ghostbusters game on my C64 - Activision was still a little indie studio in '84) were about on par with what you could expect from the market as a whole.

Not really the case today. Even the "great" indie games of today (Fez, Bastion, etc..) are generations behind in gameplay.

IMO, they just seem great because the AAA scene of today is utterly fucked.

Re:80's and right now (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 months ago | (#46939011)

Activision was still a little indie studio in '84

Activision? Indie in 1984? No fucking way. They were already a big name then thanks to all their 2600 titles.

Re:80's and right now (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 3 months ago | (#46941235)

They had a big library, but they didn't have the kind of clout back then. It was pretty much the opposite of the current situation: the first party devs were the ones with all the juice who liked to borg up developers.

Amiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46937959)

Amiga for sure

Re:Amiga (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 3 months ago | (#46937981)

Now that's a great answer. To what question, I'm not sure.

Re:Amiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46940801)

I meant the Amiga era.

What does indie mean? (2)

Threni (635302) | about 3 months ago | (#46937993)

I've been around, playing games at least, since the early 1980s. If by indie you mean `1 or 2 or 3 people making a living from writing and selling their games with more or less complete independence from bean counters and trend-mongers` then the answer has to be around then, up to around 1994 or so when powerful consoles took off, and the visual side of things was treated as more important (3d, video fmv, cd audio)...basically when it was seen that there was a lot of money to be made appealing to non-traditional gamers. The hobbiest side of things died more or less overnight, as you can't compete on those terms and there was (essentially) no internet for them to self-publish. It's possible again now, thanks to the internet, app stores etc but - perhaps i'm old and jaded - it doesn't seem as fun, or with as much variety now. But I suppose you could make the case that there's been a renaissance in the last, say, 4 years or so.

Re:What does indie mean? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#46941531)

You're definitely right. We're starting to see a resurgence in creativity. App stores and easy access to engines is surely part of that.

my misspent youth (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 months ago | (#46938023)

I'd say my greatest age for indie games was 23. I hadn't started grad school yet and was working part-tme as a bartender and playing in a band, so I had lots of time on my hands for playing indie games.

Timeline (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 3 months ago | (#46938057)

Apparently in this timeline, the world went from the Apple II to PCs, with nothing in between.

Re:Timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938167)

The Apple II came out in 1977, and the IBM PC in 1981.
Which scene between those two did you want to talk about?

Re:Timeline (2)

Goaway (82658) | about 3 months ago | (#46938291)

And when did people actually start playing real games on the PC?

In between, you had all kinds of home computers. Commodores, Ataris, Spectrums, a million things besides. That is where most of the action always was. The PC was very later to this party.

Re:Timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938313)

And when did people actually start playing real games on the PC?

No true Scotsman alert!

Re:Timeline (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 3 months ago | (#46938871)

Not at all. PCs were just not capable of displaying properly animated games until quite a while after they were launched. They were far behind the capabilities of other home computers at the time for anything but business uses.

No sprites, no scrolling (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#46939227)

So let me formulate a similar assertion without NTS. Unlike the Commodore 64, the IBM PC had no hardware sprites, and it had no hardware scrolling prior to widespread use of EGA/VGA. And its CPU was too slow to simulate these things at a frame rate on par with arcades, the C64, the MSX (whose video was the same as that of the ColecoVision), and the NES. This limited what kinds of action games worked well on early PCs. PCs were fine for anything turn-based or with few moving objects, but something like Giana Sisters was right out.

Re:Timeline (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#46941553)

Amiga games started disappearing from the shelves and being replaced by PC games around 1990 (about the time of Monkey Island II).

Re:Timeline (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 months ago | (#46942289)

I don't know what we read the same article:

When Atari brought about the 1983 video game crash with its terrible business management, it left a void which would be filled by bedroom coders working on platforms which weren't originally intended to run games. Armed with micro computers of the period – such as the Apple II, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum – these wide-eyed youngsters created some of the most daring and original titles the industry has ever seen; there were no rules, so they wrote them. These are just a few of them:

The 1980s – The Bedroom Era"
Then in the next "The 1990s – Shareware Takes Over", which really wasn't quite 1990, but early 90's. The article claims there was a gap in indy development with the NES and Sega, and it wasn't until "real games" came to the PC.

Re:Timeline (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 3 months ago | (#46943275)

And the article is dead wrong there. There was plenty of very independent development on the Amiga and Atari ST, for instance, long before PCs finally got graphics hardware that didn't suck terribly.

Re:Timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46939787)

In 1981, playing PC games would have been a little bit of an oddity and they didn't hold up well to more colorful competition and computers with sound. Maybe one in a thousand suburban Dads got Gunship since he had a PC provided by work, but there was a vibrant scene for 8 bit computers (more so in Europe, US only seemed to have C64 and NES) then leading to ST/Amiga.

By the late 80s though, the PC had won out, soundcards like the Adlib were on sale in non-specialist retailers and Atari and Amiga was ebbing out.

Board Games in the 90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938059)

Board/Card games in the 90's, when publishing tools got good enough that you could start to do it all from home. That's indie gaming, not this bullshit.

Skipped over the mod scene (2)

Fnord (1756) | about 3 months ago | (#46938229)

Early 90s shareware was very different from late 90s and early 2000s mods. A bunch of eventually AAA titles and studios spawned out of mods for existing games. Things like Counter Strike, Team Fortress, the original DOTA. I'd put that in a completely different Era from the console scene and the shareware scene.

Re:Skipped over the mod scene (1)

deergomoo (2689177) | about 3 months ago | (#46940101)

Makes you wonder if that would still have been the case were Valve not around.

Re:Skipped over the mod scene (1)

Fnord (1756) | about 3 months ago | (#46940541)

But it wasn't just Valve. TF was a Quake 1 mod. DOTA was a warcraft 3 mod. I also remember playing Urban Terror on Quake 3. Also tons of Neverwinter Nights mods. But yeah, Halflife mods were really influential. We had Counterstrike, Natural Selection, Day of Defeat.

As a gamer or as a developper ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 3 months ago | (#46938311)

As a developer ? 5 years ago when you could easily breach out. As a gamer ? Today with the wide choice of quality indy game.

Now is the time, seize the day... (5, Informative)

Tronster (25566) | about 3 months ago | (#46938435)

What constitutes indie is one questions (and AAA is even harder to come to a consensus, even among my work peers) but that said...

As a child of the 80's, who adamantly played video games (e.g., Apple ][, arcade, 2600, NES, etc...) and got into professional game development over 10 years ago (I work for a AAA studio and my have my own gig for nights/weekends) I'd agree with those who say now, 2014, is the best time for indie game development.

Powerful engines and Middleware tools are accessible with licenses that fit indie budgets (e.g., Unity3d, Unreal4, etc...) as well as a swatch of free software for development. (e.g. Phaser: http://phaser.io/ [phaser.io] Blender http://www.blender.org/ [blender.org] Love https://love2d.org/ [love2d.org] Flixel http://flixel.org/ [flixel.org] Haxe http://haxe.org/ [haxe.org] )

The internet, as-is, provides indies with a way for
- distance-collaboration (Skype, E-mail, Groups, etc...)
- community building (Twitter, CMSs, Facebook, etc...)
- fundraising (IndieGogo, Kickstarter, HumbleBundle, Paypal, custom web-based donation system, etc...)
- advertising (game communities, news outlets, etc...)

Organizations, such as the International Game Developer's Association (IGDA, http://igda.org/ [igda.org] ) and events like the Global Game Jam, PAX (IndieMegabooth), and MAGFest also contribute to the community of indie game developers.

It is a great time to be an indie game developer in terms of accessibility and ability to achieve a sustainable income.

Late 70's early 80's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938515)

All games were indy. Sierra was in Roberta's kitchen. Well that's where see answered the phone anyway.

49 (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 3 months ago | (#46938575)

Can't post. Playing Dota 2 in a coffee shop

Snowden told everyone About Soulkill's games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46938917)

No, I mean the NSA knows, what amazon, Chase, and VISa all know. Which games Soukill likes. The shame, the horror.

That goodness Snowden put stop to it and is now cajoling so bravely with Putin. Brave man Snowen and non-bully Putin.

Let the bullies beat you up Soulkill. You don't want to violate their rights with NSA-like intrusions.

late 80s into the 90s (3, Insightful)

crossmr (957846) | about 3 months ago | (#46939005)

Say what you will about all the access devs have now, but it was that time when things were greatest.

People were still experimenting. Not just with concepts but core mechanics. Interfaces, everything. It was the wild west.

People weren't yet dumbing things down to make them more "Accessible", when you got a game there wasn't going to be another one in 5 minutes. The internet wasn't everywhere. People still had slow connections when it came around. You read magazines, hunted for games and traded with friends.

The early days were really the best for the entirety of computing. Sure, things are flashy, we have such powerful machines now. Those were the days of great games and great indie games.

Re:late 80s into the 90s (2)

Tronster (25566) | about 3 months ago | (#46941071)

tl;dr: Accessibility has always been a concern and, there is more innovation happening today than 30 years ago.

I also miss the (video game) days of my youth; learning about games from friends, or by going to an arcade and seeing what new machine was front and center...later making ANSII ads for BBS's so I could obtain a high enough credentials to get access to their warez section and learn about the latest games.

That said, I chock my emotions of those days as nostalgia and recognize an indie in the 80's/90's had a much more limited set of options than today. From middle school to college my options went from Applesoft Basic with the Beagle Bros compiler to Turbo Pascal/C++ with the XMODE library. That's it. Innovation in game design, and mechanics was regulated to a task that could be accomplished only after you figured out how to get a framebuffer up, sounds playing, and all the other nit picky things required to build a game.

Don't mistake accessibility with complexity. I make games for a living and some of my co-workers have been doing this for 30+ years; accessibility has always been at the front of the games developers build. When 4k of memory was a lot, the best games could do was have paddles, a ball, and text written on an arcade cabinet to describe how to play. Later on we introduced demo mode and how-to-play screens, which worked particularly well with most games as they didn't scroll and limited play modes and/or mechanics to demonstrate.

And when games became more complex (powerups, scrolling screens, etc...), the games people played were the ones that continued to innovate on how they were accessible. A great example that codifies this early push for accessibility by design is in "Sequelitis - Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X" https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

If games haven't always found a way to be accessible, demos, tutorials, etc... they wouldn't be played because only a handful of us die-hard geeks are willing to read through the manual. So as awesome as it was making games in 320x240 with 256 colors with my own game engine, I know what I was able to produce then pales in comparison to what an eager indie can create today.

To see this innovation just poke around Newgrounds or go to any global game jam site or just look at the entries from one of the quarterly Ludam Dare's ( http://ludumdare.com/ [ludumdare.com] ). At the Game Developer's Conference this year there was a whole section of alternative input games ( http://www.gdconf.com/news/gdc... [gdconf.com] ). And there are plenty of other sources showing innovation game play mechanics, some fun, some not, but plenty of experimentation.

Re:late 80s into the 90s (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#46941593)

when you got a game there wasn't going to be another one in 5 minutes.

When you could fit a dozen games on a C60, there often, literally was. :)

"Game as Art" (1)

xyourfacekillerx (939258) | about 3 months ago | (#46939295)

I'm interested in what was going on 2006-2010 when games were being released as art. Small indie games with floating glowing objects, very non traditional game play, beautiful surreal aesthetics. I can't think of a single reference. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Re:"Game as Art" (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 3 months ago | (#46942995)

Osmos? That was a fascinating game based on fluid dynamics and orbits.

where 2 curves meet, and that X factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46939319)

You have the tech curve which was low and so the story and gameplay curve by necessity had to be high. Over time these curves hit a sweet spot which im in my opinion was the Super Nintendo (SNES). That was the golden era. Think of how many big franchises peaked then - Zelda, Mario kart (peaked early). It was fortunate that Atari made a a balls of the console revolution on some level because I grep up with Japanese culture hidden clandestinely in my games and consoles. The music, artwork and story lines - all heavily influenced by Japanese culture, especially the animation and music. I feel that Japan's gift to the world is not technology. Other countries do much better in that regard. The PS4 is all AMD really, and if it wasn't AMD it would be Intel or nVidia. We never really needed the likes of NEC. Japan's gift is their culture, and I consider myself lucky to have had it infused with my upbringing.

The SNES and Megadrive era, especially SNES imo gave us reasonable graphics - enough to not make u feel like u need more. It made the best use of what it had and filled the rest with story, and music and still defined computer gaming - i.e. it wasn't too real..

Re:where 2 curves meet, and that X factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46939365)

Follow up: I think human civilisation peaked in the 90's. It should not be, but its seems to be the case.

nethack (2)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 3 months ago | (#46939331)

I always sucked at FPS games. OK, I'm gonna cast my spell of Getting Back to Work now. Good thing I'm wearing my +2 gloves of typing..

Re:nethack (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46941981)

I thought hack was much better than nethack.

Re:nethack (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 3 months ago | (#46948645)

Gaa, who can remember that many years ago??

Right now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46939353)

"Indie games" is a hipsterism that didn't even exist until the middle 2000's, so the only answer to the question is "right now".

Re:Right now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46942643)

"Indie games" is a hipsterism that didn't even exist until the middle 2000's, so the only answer to the question is "right now".

...or it's just better classifying something that has existed for awhile.

Sure I could march in that parade that calls everything I don't like hipster-influenced but then with that logic:
"First person shooters" is a hipsterism that didn't even exist until the late 1990s... Call of Duty and Halo are clearly "Doom Clones" via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

I feel like the Unreal Engine did it (1)

SocialEngineer (673690) | about 3 months ago | (#46939619)

At least, it was the turning point. It was a great engine, with decent (albeit buggy) tools. As it grew, and modders became more and more ambitious, you began to see some really unique full games (originally called "TCs" or "Total Conversions").

I remember the old shareware stores (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | about 3 months ago | (#46939711)

Back before the interne, I remember going to little stores packed with thousands of disks ranging from 99 cents to maybe 3.99 of programs and games from indy developers. Some games were free, you just bought the disk and some you cost a bit more. Most of the time the games were pretty bad, if they even worked, but now and then you came across some pretty good ones. At worst, if you didnt like the program, just delete it and you now had an new blank floppy disk.

right now (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 3 months ago | (#46940269)

Goat simulator legitimately kicks ass. I can't think of a better, faster, or wider distributed game like it that was made that well.

The Stone Age (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about 3 months ago | (#46940503)

Plenty of rocks, sticks and pebbles for everyone's game.

Before there was Indie (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46941977)

The best age was before there were even "indie" games and no one had invented the silly word. All developers then were independent of each other and there were no mega game corporations. Even EA used to be "indie".

Seriously, if someone asks a question on slashdot it would help if they define what the terms mean, such as what "indie" means with implications that it is better in creativity but lacking in resources or other political baggage.

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