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Indie development is Freedom. Freedom to work how and when you want. Freedom to explore your own ideas and take risks. Freedom to enjoy game development…
By Craig Lager
Indie developers are nothing if not profound and/or sweary. They are passionate, hard-working and ridiculously talented people who have ditched careers, gambled huge chunks of money, and often gone it alone to make games that we (hopefully) want to play. But what’s it like to be an indie developer? How do you survive in an industry that moves so fast? How do you achieve success?
In talking to the following seven teams, the conclusion is that indie development is hard, sometimes scary, but massively rewarding. The trend seems to be that if you have a good idea and have the opportunity to go for it – then go for it. People will always buy good video games. And it doesn’t matter what your background is – you can be a long-time developer, a gardener, or a cryptographer in the navy. If you want to do it, learn to code and do it. If you dare. Oh, and don’t shove in a load of DRM because it will get you nowhere. And try to avoid living next door to people who like to make bombs. And don’t expect to get paid for a while…
“There were a couple of moments where it looked as though the project was going to fail completely”
Creators of the Penumbra series and then massive cult hit Amnesia, Frictional is more firmly established than other studios out there, and reaching that sort of status is no small achievement. With a team of “7.5 people”, all working from their respective homes, Frictional has put together interactive, Lovecraftian horror that worms out the girliest of screams from even the most bearded amongst us…
THE INDIE STONE
“We entered the indie scene to make a game with the support of a community, not to make a game to get us noticed by publishers”
Made up of games journalists, game developers and BBC sketch show writers, The Indie Stone was the brain behind the controversial hit, Privates, for TV station Channel 4 in the UK while collaborating with Size Five Games. Since that breakthrough moment, it has produced the not-quite-out-yet Project Zomboid – an isometric zombie survival RPG. The company was born when co-founder Andy Hodgetts found himself out of work as the small development studio he’d been with for ten years closed down. He and Chris ‘Lemmy’ Simpson had been talking about going indie for a while, so, together and with a “statutory minimum redundancy cheque” in their pocket, they decided to go for it….
MODE 7 GAMES
“An all-encompassing creative adventure, which ranges from the most exciting to the dullest work you can imagine!
It’s a chance to make stuff you believe in, and that makes it all worth it”
After a relatively small release of Determinance in 2007, Mode 7 (named after graphics tech that “was used to make things seem more impressive than they actually were”) hit it big last year with Frozen Synapse – a brutal turn-based strategy game that’s received barely anything but praise. Paul Taylor started work with Mode 7 when Ian Hardingham invited him to do the sound design on Determinance, but they soon realised that they made a good pair so Taylor got more and more involved in development enabling the pair to “make games on our own terms…”
“I was trying to make a game that was exciting and compelling, but I never expected people to set alarm clocks and get up in the middle of the night”
Neptune’s Pride is a game that breaks people. It has you setting alarm clocks for 5am, it has you falling out with friends, it has you unable to sleep because of paranoia. It’s an RTS that you play in your browser in which eight people can join a single game and that will last for a real-world month. Jay Kyburtz, along with Iron Helmet co-founder Penny Sweetser, worked at 2K Australia for ten years, but left after releasing Bioshock because he “wanted to make games again” which doesn’t immediately make sense. “For many of those ten years, it was meetings, budgets, schedules and people problems all day long,” he starts to explain. “Then, on Bioshock we were short-staffed on the art team and I was able to jump back into making levels again. It felt really good to sit down all day and just think about how to make a small piece of Bioshock look good and play well. These days I spend all day everyday just making games, not organizing other people…”
These are just small extracts from a few of the full interviews in issue one. To read the entire article, click here to purchase the complete digital edition of Continue for just $2.99/£1.99/€2.25.