There are old indies.
And there are hipster poser indies.
I got back the other day from GDC and was taking stock of the experience.
One of the low points for me was the IGF awards, but before you burn me at the stake, I just want to say I really like the fact that Andy won and I wish everyone all the best for thier products.
What annoys me, is that its become this huge production thats almost a parody of "indie". For a start, most of the games are "different" in the way that most cultures that try so hard to be different that they become homogenous. Almost all of the IGF entries were 2D platformers of some sort. Of course with lots of artsy black and white and the like.
I was sat at the back of this huge hall watching the presenters read of a 20 foot tall prompter screen thingy and just thinking to myself "this isnt what game development should be about".
Its like the whole thing has turned into a cult of celebrity rather than a celebration of game design and development.
The whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth. Enough that I'll make sure to steer clear of the whole thing next year. I'd rather spend my time finishing my game and building relationships with my customers. I dont need to be recognised by my peers or seek any kind of fan-boy adoration really.
I guess you have to be there to get where I'm coming from.
www.mindflock.com - social AI-based games
There are old indies.
And there are hipster poser indies.
I'll agree the presentation was a little off, but I do think the games vying for the awards were appropriate. The show is a little better with some wine or beer though.
I think the nominees themselves are a matter of taste - as far as I'm concerned they were for the most part totally deserved, and pretty daunting quality goalposts to boot.
I was a little disappointed the Zynga guy wasn't booed off stage though.
Why, what did he do?I was a little disappointed the Zynga guy wasn't booed off stage though.
Funny how IGF might be killing itself in the eyes of some indies.
At least one of the big IGF winners has several million dollars in investment backing. Maybe these huge indies are what alienates the more regular selffunded "lone wolf" indie?
The minute guys like that pathetic slimey prick from zynga turn up on an IGF stage to offer indies money (no thanks asswipe, I've made a decent living withotu working for fucktards like you), you know its having trouble maintaining its direction.
What surprises me is the number of UK and non-US indies that go to GDC. Do you really think it's worth it? In terms of the cost of travel and accomodation etc.
Do you really think you get your moneysworth in terms of benefit to your business?
Ouch, I see.But his acceptance speech was pretty graceless, and he took the opportunity to say that if any of us wanted to be indie and make money, we should come and work for him.
I think I'd rather choose not having money over being a douche any day, but hey, that's just me
I'm a bit isolated from most. My city does have several game developers in it, but the indie scene around here is pretty small. I feel out of place hanging out with guys at the "looking for jobs" level, seeing how I probably interviewed a bunch of them at my prior job (Tech Director at Big Blue Bubble). I don't mean it as disrespect to the Londoners, but my role and experience puts me in a mentor position with most. I don't mind teaching, but my free time is better spent hanging out with potential collaborators and associates, people that wont require me to pay a wage to work with.
I realize that sounds incredibly douchebagy, but it's just as weird for me too! Success is freaky!
So yes, I feel GDC is absolutely worth it, for my sanity more than anything. It's an opportunity to meet with real people I know and chat with over the internet, people doing what I do. We are soooo freaking lonely as indies, especially "lone wolf" indies! We all crave human contact, and GDC is a chance for you to meet up and hang out with your peers. Forums and mailing list are great, but hanging out with a room of awesome people doing awesome things is totally freaking awesome! 12 hours of jumping between airports is long, but without a doubt, completely worth it.
So yeah, it's not so much for the conference side (though IGS is fun), it's for the schmoozing and boozing.
what he chose to do to his customers:
Grade A douche.I knew that i wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues, right, fucking, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I dont know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs* We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business…So control your destiny. So that was a big lesson, controlling your business. So by the time we raised money we were profitable.
I've done no better than 'honourable mention'. Even that has proved a very useful thing to wave around when I'm trying to get stuff like dev kits, and the extra publicity paid for my trip over there.
Is belonging to an angsty subculture more important than making a good life for yourself and family?
There has been so much anti-IGF sentiment this year and most of it is entirely unwarranted.
First off, to clear up a possible misconception: the Zynga guy accepted an award during the Game Developer's Choice Awards, not the IGF.
It is true that Heroes of Newearth won the IGF audience award this year, and at least in my book, it doesn't seem that they belong in the IGF, I think everyone recognizes that. But the organizers would rather have an open competition rather than having to define "indie" and exclude developers that may not fit a possibly narrow definition. Better to have false positives than false negatives. I happen to believe that there should be a few simple rules governing who can enter, but so far as I can remember, this is the first entry in the last 5 years that actually WON that probably shouldn't be there. That said, congrats to that team for making a great game, indie or not.
The Direct2Drive thing is a sponsorship. It's the sponsorships that bring the money, and in the end, it's the production values and the prestige that make the IGF press worthy. The IGF has had sponsors for as long as I can remember. I think it's really hard to argue that the Direct2Drive segment in some way diminishes the awards as a whole.
Erik Svedang put it perfectly this year: the IGF is not just for the people who win or are nominated, it's a beacon of light for those of us struggling to find recognition for our art. It's something we can all look to and dream of winning.
I know that's one thing that has kept me going for the past 5 years.
Imagine a world without the IGF and tell me if that world is a better place.
And as a more level headed follow up to my diatribe:
Costik shared your distaste for the production value of the ceremony. He was wrong too. The production values are one of the things that make the press follow it (and also make it fun for those involved). If you wanna have an intimate little ceremony where everyone is in shorts and tevas, go right ahead.
As for it being a cult of personality... I won't try to defend myself or my own game, but games in the past have never been voted in just because of the personality of the creators.
It is true that this year two fairly well known indies won awards (Cactus and myself), but I can say that Tuning (not Cactus) deserved the award irregardless of it's creator's standing in the indie community.
I'm honestly just sick of people whining about the IGF. Go make a game instead.
FYI, here's the transcript of Bill Mooney's acceptance speech on behalf of Zynga:
Brackets and emphasis added for clarification.First of all I want to thank everyone who voted for FarmVille. We really appreciate it.
It’s funny, however, that we’re in this part of the show, because we probably seem like a really big company. It feels like we’ve been established over a lot of you folks for a while, but two years ago there were 20 people sitting together in a crappy little room.
One thing I really want to call out to folks here, especially you indie game developers, is you may not think of us [social games] as the kind of place you’d want to be involved in, but I was in AAA games for eight years, and it’s really nice to work at a place [Zynga] where you can just get it out. You don’t have to count on someone; no one can block you. You can try stuff. It's [social games are] a really good space. You should try it [developing social games]. Especially you indie folks: come show us [developers of social games] what you can do. We want this space [social games] to grow; we want people to have fun.
I want to thank a bunch of folks. I want to first of all thank Facebook and the other partners we’ve worked with. I want to thank the FarmVille team–over 75 people have worked on the game since its conception–we want to thank them and many other people at Zynga; all the folks who helped.
And in particular I wanted to call out one last thing. I want to thank our People Ops group, and I want people to know that, whether you go into the space [social games] alone, or whether you want to join us [Zynga] — there’s something like 200 openings at Zynga, and many more opportunities across other places — seriously, think of Facebook and the social games space as the last big realm for indies. If you’re interested in making your own mark, please come join us [social games developers].
Thank you so much.
Zynga definitely sounds Indie, just like Epic and Valve.
Anyways, great acceptance speech. More and more Indie developers should include important stuff like job openings and work conditions while accepting awards for developing games. Definitely mirrors Oscar acceptance speeches.
He won a choice award, not an igf award.
He also was sitting at our table when he won, we had no idea it was him, and we all groaned. We were wondering if this contributed to the aggressive tone of his speech.
I took a picture of the massive autocue because I found the rather wooden deliveries quite funny and sad: http://twitpic.com/180lkp I was glad that Andy's speech was natural and made some good points.
The Zynga guy (who, as has already been pointed out, was not part of the IGF awards, but the developers choice awards) was obviously recruiting at the end BUT he did make a great point that social games are doing really well and that if you are Indie you might want to try making some - they are the new gold rush now that the iphone is saturated.
I met a bunch of Zynga people when I was there. It sounds like they work long hours but they are all enjoying themselves and the company is not as "corporate" as many others. Also San Fran has good weather based on my small experience, so it's probably a neat gig if you care for it.
The best bit of the awards for me was the mega64 videos :-)