My topic is about the emergence of the independent developer in the video game industry. This topic relates to me for a few reasons which have developed and grown over time. The first reason this topic relates to me is that video games have been a big part of my life for a long time. From the time I was old enough to hold a controller I have been playing video games and watching how they’ve evolved in my lifetime. I started off playing games on the Super Nintendo, Sega genesis, and Apple II. Each had it’s own style and set of games to go with them but all the games were either developed in house or by licensed companies and very few if any made by independent studies that became much of a success. The next console I got acquainted with was the PlayStation 2, skipping over the generation which had the Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation. Although I played it every so often but it wasn’t as big in my life as the prior systems were. Although this was the sixth generation of consoles independent developers were rare and unheard of. It wasn’t until the next generation, the PS3 and Xbox 360Xbox 360, where I started noticing independently made games.
XBox live had a market where people could put games they created into the market and that is my first experience with indie games. The game in particular was “I maed a gam3 w1th zombies 1n it!!!1” and although fun at the time it was rudimentary and not too complicated but it was made by one person. It was developed in 2009 by James Silvia, a fairly well known creator of other games on the Xbox live arcade at the time. The next big game that came to my attention that was independently developed was “Minecraft“. Although it is somewhat a phenomenon now my friends and I found it a little after it was released in 2011. It was one of the first games I bought with my own money and I was astonished that it was designed by one person. This is when my friends and I became interested in game design and for a time tried our hands at modding in “Minecraft” and “Garry’s Mod“. We were no good and college application season came so our attempts faded out of thought. In this time a few prominent indie games came about such as “Braid” and “Fez” which took gamers by surprise. These were both independently developed games but were well designed and carefully crafted.
Freshman year of college was when I was fully introduced to indie gems. One of my good friends was extremely into gaming and would have me play games on Steam and recommend others. From then until now I have been introduced to hundreds of independently created games and seen how even simple concepts can create interesting or compelling games. Then last year that same friend found a deal on game development software from yoyo games, the developer of gamemaker studio. By this point both he and I had had nearly finished degrees in computer science so the coding required for this system wasn’t the hardest to understand and we worked on a game for a while. He coded while I worked on sprites and concepts that could be implemented. We knew that it was very possible to create a well designed game in this engine because we had seen the release of incredibly popular games that used this engine such as “Undertale“, “Hotline Miami“, and “Spelunky“.
Unfortunately we never made decent headway with the game and he had graduated so our development of that game was put on hold indefinitely. During the summer I found the same deal as my friend but this time for gamemaker studio 2, the new and improved software from yoyo games. I now had the power to create my own game but now I needed the inspiration to create something. I eventually came up with the idea that can be found on the “Bar Crawl” page of this blog. So for me independent development of games has become a huge part of my life and depending if I can get the knack of things may one day go from a hobby to a carrier. It is because of this hopeful possibility that I chose to make my final project about the evolution of the independent developer. The focus will be on indie developers and games that have come out in the last decade mostly for the reason that they didn’t truly exist until that era but I will briefly cover the evolution of the gaming industry and the technology that lead to this age of independent development.