The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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J T
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The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by J T Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:12 pm

I thought this was a really interesting blog post on the past, present, and future of indie gaming.

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/05/ ... pping.html

We are in this strange spot now where indies have become very popular, yet there are so many now that nobody can keep up and it's harder to know how games will rise up to the top of the crop to get noticed.
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by noiseredux Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:51 pm

interesting read.

The problem is too many games.


This to me is not really a "problem," though. I mean yes of course there are more and more indie games each day. And yes that dilutes the chances of your game being seen. However, I'm also a pretty strong believer in survival of the fittest. I can't help but think that the good games will rise to the top ("the top" meaning, will be played) because of word of mouth akin to what you see on this very forum. And the crap will be ignored.

I suppose in a sense that is the bubble "bursting" as it means the developers of those crap games will end up having to stop making games when it stops being financially viable. But I guess I just don't see "too many games" as big a problem as "not enough games" (IE: when genres such as 2D platformers or turn based strategy games weren't being released very often).

Also, I'd like to again plug The Indie Box who are doing a heck of a lot of work to bring really quality indie games to the public in a physical format that turns them into a real collector's piece. I think really having venues like this will also help to make sure that it's possible to wade through the "too many games" to find many that deserve to be found.
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by Exhuminator Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:49 pm

PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by J T Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:47 pm

noiseredux wrote:interesting read.

The problem is too many games.


This to me is not really a "problem," though. I mean yes of course there are more and more indie games each day. And yes that dilutes the chances of your game being seen. However, I'm also a pretty strong believer in survival of the fittest. I can't help but think that the good games will rise to the top ("the top" meaning, will be played) because of word of mouth akin to what you see on this very forum. And the crap will be ignored.


I think it is a problem, though debatable as to whether it is a good problem to have or not. I used to feel like I could keep up on most everything coming out. Now I can't even keep up with the games I already own, let alone the floods of indie games being released regularly. This means I really depend on others to point me in the right direction, rather than feeling like I personally have my finger on the pulse of indie gaming. That means the main thing to bring a game to attention is marketing (over word of mouth or personally exploring unadvertised releases). This feels counter to indie culture to have to rely heavily on marketing, yet indie culture is too big now to do otherwise. The spirit of indie gaming should always be about being unique and adventurous and much less about appealing to lowest common denominator bottom lines. There will always be people devoted to making great games and funky original titles, but I think it's inevitable that the indie culture will change as it grows, in fact, it already has changed. It seems to have reached a point where it is more difficult to imagine someone becoming a runaway indie success like Jon Blow or Notch. Or maybe I'm an old nerd resistant to change and grumpy because he doesn't have time to play all the games he already has...
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by Cronozilla Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:11 pm

I think this is probably the reason steam sales are built the way they are. It brings attention to unknown projects.

The downside is, in the future, the game might HAVE to be on sale for people to acknowledge it.

In terms of "bubble popping". I don't know if it's really a bubble. It's a spike in a trend, sure, but I don't think it's going to crash and no one will buy anything indie related. I think it'll normalize and a lot of people will be upset because they didn't finish their game or it didn't sell or something.

But, I also think now it's maybe a market expansion more than anything. It's just that the bar for entry to release something has been greatly lowered ... so people are releasing stuff. But I don't know if that means it's going to "crash". It doesn't seem like most indie devs are welching on promises when they get funding, so.
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by noiseredux Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:19 pm

J T wrote:I think it is a problem, though debatable as to whether it is a good problem to have or not.


I suppose if you also think that having too many bills in your wallet is a problem cuz it makes it too bulky?

I used to feel like I could keep up on most everything coming out. Now I can't even keep up with the games I already own, let alone the floods of indie games being released regularly.


You seem to be thinking of it as a problem because you need to "keep up." Why? You often are discovering games from several years ago, or much longer ago. Again, I feel like over time, the good games will get exposed via word of mouth and will eventually find their way to you. Perhaps the influx of new games slows that down, but indie game or not, I feel like "there's too many games, and not enough time" was a "problem" that goes back to the beginning of games.

That means the main thing to bring a game to attention is marketing (over word of mouth or personally exploring unadvertised releases). This feels counter to indie culture to have to rely heavily on marketing, yet indie culture is too big now to do otherwise.


This is a good point, and I'll grant you it. Though again, it feels to me like we're talking about a short-term thing. Yeah if you feel like a game is missed at launch because of lack of marketing, I can agree. But if you find it next year because someone hyped it in a thread here or on a blog somewhere because it's an awesome game then the lack of marketing still isn't going to stop it from being discovered. This is how cult-classics are born.
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by J T Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:19 am

I don't know why I keep arguing, because too many games is totally #whitepeopleproblems, but something just feels off about the indie scene in the last year or two. The bubble pop article felt like an explanation to me.

noiseredux wrote:I suppose if you also think that having too many bills in your wallet is a problem cuz it makes it too bulky?

Narf. I know you're mainly going for comedy, but those are different things. More bills means more units of things of equal value. More games means more quantity, but often times less quality.

noiseredux wrote:You seem to be thinking of it as a problem because you need to "keep up." Why?

Because every time I look at a mobile app store, I want to gag. There are so many icons for so many crap looking titles that I don't even want to browse the store. The same will happen with indies. It's already getting more that way. Just take two major indie blogs, http://jayisgames.com/ and http://indiegames.com/index.html, and try to keep up with them for a few weeks. It's exhausting! There is sooo much content. And as more low quality games enter the mix, the appstore problem starts to apply to indies: it's harder to care about the whole endeavour. I already feel this way about Steam Greenlight, a process that I was originally excited for when first released. Now, I haven't attempted to Greenlight anything in months. It's hard to browse Desura anymore for the same reason. The storefront is a see of average game noise where it takes more and more patience to listen for the greatness deep inside the waters.

noiseredux wrote:This is a good point, and I'll grant you it.

Of course my points are good. :P

noiseredux wrote:Yeah if you feel like a game is missed at launch because of lack of marketing, I can agree. But if you find it next year because someone hyped it in a thread here or on a blog somewhere because it's an awesome game then the lack of marketing still isn't going to stop it from being discovered. This is how cult-classics are born.

I don't have faith in that process. Have you ever read the book Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell? It discusses how major trends happen. It seems to me that a lot of things ride on the so-called "stickiness factor", which also corresponds with the ideas of memetic evolution wherein an idea doesn't have to be good, just catchy. This is why of the millions of YouTube videos generated, it's not actually the most brilliant, interesting, or unique ones that rise up and gain notoriety, but rather "Dramatic Chipmunk" and "What Does the Fox Say."

Anyway, I realize I'm quite likely wrong about this and many games is not a real problem necessarily, at least as long as the quality to quantity quotient can stay in tact. I know I'm being a bit curmudgeony about the fact that the indie game scene won't be cool in the future in the exact same way that I'm used to it being cool in the late 2000s/early 2010s. Eventually I'll just have to adjust to the idea that I can't play every game I want to, and there are far worse problems to have in the world.
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by TSTR Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:29 am

I also have faith in the idea that the good games will eventually be noticed/talked about/hyped to rise out of the Steaming (hehe) dung surrounding them. However, that process can take time. Awesome Indie Studio (AIS), who made Sweet Indie Game X (SIG-X), may be dependent on SIG-X's success to continue making games. If SIG-X doesn't sell until a year or two later when people finally start hearing about it, AIS may already have gone the way of the dodo by then—killing any chance of them developing new games (like Sweet Indie Game X Part II: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Naked).
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Re: The Indie Gaming Bubble is Popping

by BogusMeatFactory Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:07 am

Well, one of the major arguments in the article is that people only have so much money to spend on so many games. Can we say that more people play games than they did 20 years ago and that the older generation of gamers have a larger income to spend on said games? We do not live in a time when we got 1 or 2 games a year thanks to our parents anymore. Those kids grew up and have that large income to spend on the games that they want to play.

Now let's also look at the past. PC gaming, in its infancy was something very similar to what we are seeing now on the indie scene. Games like Prince of Persia, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem (not 3D) were small teams consisting of people ranging from 1-10. It was a wild west of development and there were tons of games. Self published games that were passed around like bootleg cassette tapes and soon spread like wildfire.

Think about the plethora of DOS games that came out - a virtual smorgasbord of shovelware that relied on Shareware and CD Demo packages to get the word around. How different was that to today? The only difference is the packaging. Now, with digital distribution, it has become almost infinitely easier to share your product with the world.

Sure, tons of people have picked up the indie mantel in an attempt to capture some sense of what Minecraft and Super Meat Boy and Braid achieved. Others, simple saw that success as an opportunity to attempt making the games that they want to make, knowing that monumental success and fortune were not in the cards. Instead, they wanted to make the type of game that they wanted to make. Much like the early development days, people were just taking game development into their own hands and trying to make the games they want to play.

Sure we have the the, "Simulator," games that are abundant now and brutally flawed, but that itself has become a genre. We find pleasure in playing shitty games like the old PC game, "Big Rig." I feel that the consumer is not dumb. They will not purchase a game that is truly bad and the truly good games will come out from the sea of mediocrity and find an audience.

We are also in an age when it is impossible for a bubble to pop. Can you honestly stop a person from making a game now? We aren't limited by word of mouth and the passing of ShareWare.
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