by Martin Brennan
Posted In: technology
at 11:20 AM | Permalink
I love video games. Always
have, always will. I grew up watching Mario stomp koopas, Link slay moblins and
Kirby inhale enemies to copy their powers. Games will always have a special
place in my heart.
As much as I like the classics
and the stuff being released by the big name companies, however, recently my
attention's been diverted to a select few independent companies and developers.
People say these past few recent years have been some of the best times for
indie developers to get into the gaming market, and, frankly, I agree with
them. As of late the indie game market's really been booming, and it's no
wonder why. There are some really great indie games out there to find if one
knows where to look. And unlike pricey console games, many of these
independently developed games can be downloaded onto your computer for as low
as $20, $10 or even $5.
Given, these games might not
have the newest, most-cutting edge graphics, and might be relatively simple
when compared to some of the things we see Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft
releasing. However, that doesn't change the fact that they are good games
nonetheless. And many gamers seem to agree with me.
One shining example of an indie
game that's risen from obscurity is Dokutsu Monogatari, better known by
is Americanized name, Cave Story. The game was originally made as a
freeware 2D platform-adventure game by independent developer Daisuke Amaya
(art-name "Pixel") in 2004. He developed the game in his spare time,
intending it to be a tribute to classic popular titles he had played in his
youth, such as Castlevania and Metroid.
After it's initial release on
the Internet, Cave Story slowly gained popularity as a indie game, and
was praised by many gamers for its compelling story and gameplay. Fans of the
game eventually developed an English translation, spreading the game even
Later on, Nicalis, an independent
video game company, worked with Amaya to bring an updated version of Cave
Story with new modes of gameplay and improved graphics to Nintendo's
WiiWare service in 2010.
Since then the popularity of Cave
Story has skyrocketed, leading Nicalis to work with Nintendo to bring yet
another updated version of the game to the Nintendo 3DS under the title of Cave
And Cave Story is just
one of the many success stories told about independently developed games these
days. Several other popular titles have risen from the depths of obscurity to
become commonly known titles to gamers everywhere: Minecraft, Super Meat Boy
and Angry Birds just to name a few.
Unfortunately, there are also
risks involved for gamers who chose to invest their money in independent games.
A method many indie developers seem to be taking recently is releasing a “beta-version”
of their game over platforms such as Steam for a low price, with the promise of
free updates as the game is further developed. A prime example of one such game
is Re-Logic's Terraria, a 2D “sandbox” game featuring exploration,
crafting, resource gathering, and combat with a variety of different creatures.
Upon its initial release in
January 2011, Terraria's sales
boomed. Over 1 million copies of the game were sold, gamers being drawn in both
by the unique style of gameplay and the prospect of future updates to the game.
Head developer of the game, Andrew Spinks, made regular posts about planned
features to the game in his blog, keeping the community informed about what
they could expect in future updates.
Upon Terraria's version 1.1.2 update, which
included new enemies, biomes, resources and a slew of new items to be
discovered and crafted, popularity of the game boomed even more, resulting in
the game being named as the No. 1 of 2011's Indie of the Year Player's choice.
Unfortunately for fans, Spinks
suddenly decided to halt production of Terrarria, announcing in his blog
on Feb. 21 that there would be no further updates to the games despite the fact
that the several planned features that had been announced in his blog. Many
members of Terraria's online
community protested, feeling that the game had been cut down in its prime, and
had yet to reach its full potential.
Sadly, however, this seems to
be a route that many independent game companies take. Several indie games seem
to be halted before they are considered to be “finished.” Lacking the resources
that larger game companies have, independent developers either run out of money
for production, or simply become burned out, no longer having the time or
interest to continue working on their projects. It's disappointing for the fans
who pay to play these games in the early stages of development, however, it's
also a risk people take when they decide to play independent games.
Is it enough to scare people
away from the indie game market? Certainly not, as there are still many gems
out there to be found if one is willing to spend the time and money. Indie
gaming is on the rise. And things can only get better as time goes on.