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Beginner's Guide to Indie Gaming, and discussion thereof

The Pezman

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Somewhere toward the end of college, Video Games and I went on a break. Not a break up, since we both agreed that we still enjoyed each other's company. And we had too much history just to give it all up, you know? But it just started to feel, I don't know, really impersonal.

I guess we had both kind of changed. She started hanging out with some really rich, Hollywood types and I noticed that all of a sudden she was really into 3d technology and high production values. Me? Well, I thought she looked nice, but I missed the good old days, when it didn't matter how much money we had - when anything was possible and the world was ours for the taking. She was so eager to try new things back then... now it takes three years and a few billion dollars just for us to go on a simple date. (And I'm ashamed to say it, but sometimes I thought she looked really tacky in all that bloom lighting.)

What can I say? It just wasn't the same.

Things didn't really get any better as time went on. We'd still go out, occasionally, but you could tell that something was gone. The slightest thing could set off an argument. Example:

"Didn't we just eat here the other day?" I would ask at dinner. (Inevitably we'd go to some fancy, over-priced new place with nothing but sex and violence on the menu... where you needed a tux and a $500 graphics card just to get in the door).

"No," she'd reply, coldly. "That was Halo 2. This is Halo 2: Game of the Year Edition. And you asked me the same thing about Final Fantasy 8, 9, and 10!"

"Well, I'm sorry! I just can't tell the difference anymore. God, this place is so crowded," I complained, as I picked at the tiny little morsel on my plate with my controller. "A Link to the Past gave you twice as much food, and for half the price..."

"God, all you ever do is talk about the past and complain! I'm sick of it! And I put on all this bump-mapping and bloom lighting for nothing!"


And maybe she was right. I did spend too much time talking about the past. But where was our future going? Maybe it really was time to see what else was out there. Movies? Books? Comic Books? Board Games was kind of homely, but at least I knew she'd never cheat on me.

So I called it off with Video Games. She cried when I told her how I felt, but we both knew it was for the best. It wasn't long before we both started seeing other people. For her it was a string of young guys who were mostly into her good looks... real boorish types who liked to argue in all caps about what system she looked best in. Me? I got into a few relationships with other artforms, but it never lasted. (At one point I was so desperate I even called up my ex from junior highschool, Pogs, for a one night stand. Yech, what a disaster that was.) After a while I really started to wonder if I was going to find "the one."

Then, one day, purely by chance, I ran into Video Games again on the internet. (You never know who you're going to run into there.) I could tell the years had taken a toll on her - she was bloated, rehashed, and uninspired. But hey, running around with fanboys and Hollywood types will do that to you.

We hugged briefly and exchanged pleasantries, and then she introduced me to her family. That's when it happened:

"Derek, I'd like you to meet my younger sister: Independent Games."

Independent Games? I took one look at her and my pulse reached a fever pitch. Wow, she had really grown up. She was beautiful! And not in that made-up, fake way like Video Games, but in that genuine, natural way that's so much more appealing, am I right? I could tell from the start that she had a lot of passion for gaming. I asked her out immediately.

It was a whirlwind romance, and every moment we spent together was wonderful. I took the time to really get to know her, and I was overjoyed to find out how genuine and thoughtful she was. We went out, tried new things, took chances. Things weren't always perfect, but for the first time in a while, playing games felt exciting again. I felt like a new man. I was in love.

It's been a few years now, and it only seems to be getting better for me and Independent Games. She's even hotter now than she was when I first met her. We still make sweet, sweet love all the time, and it's just as great as the very first time. Yep. Oh, and guess what? We're pregnant!

That's right! Thanks... I was as surprised as you are.

In the end, there are no hard feelings between me and Video Games. She's doing her thing, and we're doing ours. Although I think Independent Games is having a good influence on her. She sees how happy we are together and I can tell that she's trying to innovate a little bit. Last I heard she was meeting guys through digital online distribution, so that's good. I wish her the best of luck.

In fact, I'm supposed to meet Video Games and Independent Games tonight for dinner and a few drinks. And there's a question that I've been dying to ask the both of them...


-Derek Yu

With the newest generation in full swing, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype. Personally, I have not acquired any next-gen systems yet and, considering how many of these games are coming out for PC, there's a good chance I might not (even the Wii controller could be easily emulated for PC).

The point being, when I do have time to game (given that I'm in college) I have taken alternative paths, choosing instead to work on games from previous generations, or else to seek new material elsewhere.

Fortunately, this has been eased somewhat by the discovery of this page. I was happy to see several games I recognized, but even happier at all the stuff I'd never heard of before or had only dim remembrance of. Facade, for example, received high, high acclaim upon its release (and why shouldn't it? It is, as far as I'm concerned, the first true interactive story) but has faded from public view. Same thing with the AGS engine, as some games on the list were made with this tool. If/when I have time, I'm going to shut myself up in my room and play through as many of these as I can.

Indie games don't seem to get a lot of love around here, and while more remixes from such games might change that, it might just be because no one has bothered to talk about them. So, discuss.

Also, if your favorite indie game doesn't appear to be present, don't worry. This list was pared down from an even bigger list.

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The Chzo Mythos (FREE)

The Chzo Mythos is a quadrilogy of adventure games by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw that revolves around the mysterious, malevolent spirit of John DeFoe. Beginning with 5 Days a Stranger, where you play a cat burglar trapped in the haunted house of John DeFoe, and ending with 6 Days a Sacrifice, which takes place in the headquarters of a fad cult, the Chzo games span hundreds of years, three different protagonists, and plenty of horrific mysteries. Each game is unique, but you'll want to play them in order to get the full impact of this excellent series.

They mentioned the DeFoe series.


One day, I will join their ranks in the great pantheon of Indie Developers. This I swear, thereby, I foreswear

Mmmm. Judging by the material on your Wingless sites, especially 'Allegiance', I'm sure as hell would be excited to play anything whatever you could professional contrive.

And it would have kickass music too, woo!

Great link and thread.

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Wow thats a great list, with many games I've loved to play, as well as missing one important one. I never see Return of Egypt on any list. The game stars Moses, but completely ignores biblical story and makes its own up where you fight egyptian gods to the death then beat the crap out of pharoah. Think of it like SotN. The whole story is in Japanese so I have no idea whats going on, but that just made me laugh harder at it.

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I don't know if it's just me.. but... flOw. What the...!?

Am I missing out on something?

He says it's a "landmark experiment in game development", with the "dynamic difficulty adjustment ("DDA")", but.. uh.

Yeah, so, I'm a worm thing that can run around eating these marine organisms that appear to have different effects on my growth, but basically make me have a longer tail. And then I can eat these special 'red cross' organisms that take me deeper into the oceans to eat more organisms, or 'blue cross' organisms that take me back closer to the surface. Sure, I can get deeper and find these huge stingray organism things, but, I still don't get how this flash game is worth mentioning along with any other flash game out there. Hooray, I can go BACKWARDS in a difficulty setting by following the blue ping. Or choose to *gasp* go FORWARDS in a difficulty setting by eating a red floaty thing. DDA just doesn't seem so exciting. Sorry Jenova.

I understand the appeal of Cave Story, along with any other video game aficionado, but, I just don't seem to get flOw. And it's also on available on some form, on the PS3. Right.

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to put down flOw, I'm just desparately wanting to know what the heck the game is about and why it's good.

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Over the summer, I glanced at GameTrailers.com and was a bit miffed to see the first page tiled with nothing but grisly FPSs and cutsie, Japanese abstractions. It could be that my memory is inaccurate, but I agree with the author of that passage: video games on the whole used to be more lively than they are today.

I don't play independent games, but maybe I should get into them, considering the state of the mainstream. I've abhorred Flash games because they always feel shallow--I played "Bowman" with a friend in high school to kill time, but I'd never play it in favor of a richer experience like Smash Bros. From what I hear, though, such games do seem to be maturing, and I probably shouldn't write them off so quickly anymore.

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