Indies versus everyone

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by Reactor, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I'm not sure if this is the best forum to put this in, but as long as no one freaks out over it being noise, I'm happy ;)

    Based on a comment by formfarbeminze,


    It might just be me, but this whole 'indie spirit' thing feels like a load of hoo-hah. Aside from working conditions, and development processes, mainstream developers (whoever they are) aren't that different to your average indie. It's not like there's some magical aura over all indie developers that allows them to create with some unrestricted creativity. Both indies and mainstream guys want one thing- to be making games and earning some cash, so they can do it for as long as they can. In my opinion, this whole indies versus mainstream thing has got to die. I never seem to hear the end of 'indies vs portals' or 'indies vs AAA developers' or 'indies vs the olympics' (okay, so maybe not the last one).

    Has anyone ever thought that people (or dev houses) should stand on their own merits, instead of being crushed into a box of prejudice? I realise it feels to good to have a group of underdog developers supporting each other. I like that feeling too. But, do we have to rag on the pro guys, as if they can't sustain an original thought, or make a game with complete freedom of development? I think it sucks when indies do that. This isn't Starwars, guys. It's not the harmless (yet fun-loving) ewoks versus the dark side. We're all developers. Let's support them, and maybe (just maybe) they'll have a reason to support us back.
     
  2. shoecake

    Indie Author

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    Only been using this forum for a few days and used Dexterity forums a fair bit last year... I've not seen much of the Indies vs thing you mention. On all forums you will get a little bit of "us and them" but that's because the forum has a specific subject (that of Indie Game Dev) and quite often people will need to compare their position (as an Indie) with that of others (as non Indies.)

    Indies and mainstream guys (as you put it) will share many desires (making games, making money etc.) but there will always be very big differences. Most "Mainstream guys" don't need to handle things like marketing, outsourcing work, sales, personal time management, budgeting on tools/software, motivational issues, working with 3rd party publishers etc. The differences are endless and because of these differences theres always going to be comparisons.

    You only have to spend a bit of time working under commercial development conditions before you realize how much the 'indie spirit' is worth appreciating. Sometimes the freedom you get from Indie development can be so satisfying that some of us may get a little emotional when comparing it with mainstream development. I don't think it's really meant to be negative towards other peoples choice.

    Paul
     
  3. andyb

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    I think the real argument is Indie vs "the coporate machine". You're right that the majority of mainstream game devs have ideals that aren't that far from an Indie, however they've chosen (or been forced through circumstance) to take a job with a company that won't let them (in 99% of cases I'd imagine) choose what title they wish to work on next. The companies want to make money, the devs want to earn money. Indies want to earn money too, but we'd rather it was done through customers buying the games WE choose to develop rather than just following the trend de jour.
     
  4. MiCo Games

    Indie Author

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    It seems like every person have their own definition of what it means to be an indie, and what you should be doing to be accepted as an indie.

    For me, it have nothing to do with lifestyle, creativity, company size etc. For me, being an indie means that you fund your development independantly, meaning that no publisher or private investor is paying for anything.

    From this comes some good things, like having to answer to noone but the customers. But personally, I don't involve all that other stuff that some people likes to associate with "the indie spirit" whatever that is supposed to mean.

    From this follows, that for me, mainstream developers can be indies, retail developers can be indies, AAA developers can be indies. Developers living off of publishers advances, however, I don't consider to be indies.
     
  5. Jack Norton

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    I think that you got the point.
    Personally I'd not be against working for a good software house as level/game designer (and I may try to do that if my indie business won't be good enough).
    But my personal experience was VERY bad, and talking with people, most say that there's no comparison to the freedom of indie dev.
    I guess that's not our fault if the majority of the software houses threat people badly...! of course there will be some who don't do that, but from my experience (not direct, talking with others) I don't know many.

    About originality of commercial games... Half-life 2, Pro evolution soccer 4, Doom 3, Everquest 2, supergame 10, FPSmaster 48, ultimatemastergame 1882... titles says all ;) hehehe
     
  6. Nemesis

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    You should have really quoted:
    *FINAL* Fantasy [x]
    *ULTIMA* [x]
    The names are quite ironic if you ask me.
     
  7. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    oh yes... how I did forgot about those games? :)
     
  8. Gilzu

    Moderator Original Member

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    in·de·pen·dent ( P ) Pronunciation Key (nd-pndnt)
    adj.

    1. Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing.
    2. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant: an independent mind.
    3. Not determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent: a decision independent of the outcome of the study.
    often Independent Affiliated with or loyal to no one political party or organization.
    4. Not dependent on or affiliated with a larger or controlling entity: an independent food store; an independent film.
    5. Not relying on others for support, care, or funds; self-supporting.
    Providing or being sufficient income to enable one to live without working: a person of independent means.

    So besides quoting the dictionary, my point is that you are truly an Indie if you are in the control of your business and free to set your own rules. Whatever rules they are, even if you choose to have a stiff corporate rules, you were the one who choose them.

    So if you want to be accepted by others - its your choice, acting by your wishes (even if they contridict others) doesn't mean you arent an Indie.
     
  9. MiCo Games

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    Yes, this is exactly what I was talking about... Everyone have their own definition of what "indie" means. Yours is to be in control of your business and free to set your own rules. My definition is self-funding.

    As for the dictionary definition... then I guess there are no indies in the world, because who can claim they are not influenced by someone or something else? :) (I remember seeing an interview with a music artist, think it could have been Meatloaf, who said that he never listens to music, and goes out of his way to not accidentally be exposed to it, because he doesn't want it to influence his own composing... I guess he's quite close to the dictionary definition of "in·de·pen·dent " :D
     
  10. EpicBoy

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    That's such a load though, seriously. You're telling me that if an indie project does really well, there won't be sequels? If you really think that, you're kidding yourself...
     
  11. BongPig

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    Gilzu's dictionary description is interesting isnt it!?

    Certainly throws up some questions though.

    So, would having a bank loan make you non-indie?

    Say we are in a situation where a large publisher offers us a great deal on our next game. Imagine ( as hard as it is ) that they have no influence at all on the game itself. They simply trust that we'll deliver the goods. The only thing they do offer us is development funds and a great royalty deal. We are, of course, free to say yes or no.
    If we take that deal, does that make us non-indie?

    If it does, whats the difference between this and getting a bank loan?
     
  12. Coyote

    Indie Author

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    A lot of us here have done both independent work as well as the big studios.

    Believe me - the pros working on games for the big publishers have almost exactly the same complaints about the business as the indies do. If anything, starting my own little part-time game development houses has made me MORE sympathetic to the publishers than I was when I worked for them. I still believe developers get the short end of the stick in the whole equation, but I'm more sympathetic to the decision-making process that takes place.

    What it ultimately comes down to is willingness to take risk. The big publishing companies are generally NOT run by gamers. They are pure businessmen. They are all about maximizing the value of the company to the shareholders. This generally means they play by the book, and they won't be easily swayed to take a big risk "because its cool." They may do it because they think the coolness factor is high enough that there's a reasonable chance for a decent payoff at the end, though.

    On the other hand, while indies are generally in the same boat of trying to maximize the value of their companies, they typically got their start because they LOVE GAMES (you sure don't get into this to get rich!). So while there's still the financial motivation behind decisions, you may get a little bit more willingness to take a risk out of the love of games.

    Not a huge difference there, but I think it exists. I also think there's a lot of bigger-budget game studios out there with HIGHLY original half-finished games that were just never picked up by publishers.
     
  13. MiCo Games

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    Yes, interesting ideed :)

    Still speaking strictly for myself here, based on my own personal definition of "indie": For me, there is a difference between the bank loan and your (hypthetical!) publisher deal. With a bank loan, I still own the game I'm producing, and I own it in full (unless I've used the game as security for the loan I guess... but let's ignore that, as it's not exactly likely :) )

    When a publisher is funding the game, even if they choose not to influence the game at all (I'm trying hard to imagine it :) ) they still own it to some extent, and I'm not free to pursue any deal I want when it is done. I'm not free to cancel it to start something else. And there's probably a risk that they cut the funding at any time they feel like (depending on the deal of course). Same thing if development is funded by a private investor.

    But as I said before, this is based purely on my personal opinion that "indie" equals "self-funded". If you don't share this definition, you'll probably not accept my argumentation...
     
    #13 MiCo Games, Aug 18, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2004
  14. BongPig

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    If you used a bank loan to fund your game then you dont own it. It seems like you do so long as you keep paying the bank back. But stop the payments and then see what happens.
    The publisher is no different. If you stop making your game, then they want thier money back. This has been done to publishers time and time again. In most cases they never get thier money back, so in a way, the bank is worse becasue they will ALWAYS get thier shit back! :mad:

    To quote:-
    "But as I said before, this is based purely on my personal opinion that "indie" equals "self-funded". If you don't share this definition, you'll probably not accept my argumentation..."
    How can anybody say they are self-funded when the money comes from a bank!? Its nonsense.

    The only real point we could argue is that of distribution. Yes, if you sign up with a publisher then the finished game can still belong to you, but obviously the publisher wants to distribute the game to make thier money back.

    So why does this make me non-indie? I saw an opportunity for excellent distribution and took it. My choice. Is this any different to finishing your game and then using a company to distribute your game for you?

    ( EDIT : maybe i should be clear here. When I say 'me', its not really me. Just for arguments sake. Better than saying 'you'. :) )

    In these cases, the choice is always yours. Always independent.
     
    #14 BongPig, Aug 18, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2004
  15. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I'm glad I brought this up. There's some great thoughts on here. Anyway, carry on ;)
     
  16. MiCo Games

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    I'm not saying that it makes you non-indie. I'm saying that it would make me non-indie.
     
  17. Bluecat

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    If you look at the dictionary definition posted above, I would think that Id Software qualifies as an indie developer. They are self funded (even if Activision pays them an advance for the right to publish Doom3,) they originated the FPS, so they are not being influenced by anyone other than themselves**, and they make the games that they want to make, no outside entity has control of their creative process. I guess you could add 3DRealms to that list as well. Any others?

    For me, the self funding and the control of creativity are what makes an independant developer. Of course there are other parts of the definition, but these two are the most important.

    Cheers

    John
     
  18. BongPig

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    Mattias, explain.
    Why would it make you non-indie?
    ( in your opinion... of course. )
     
  19. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think what he's implying that everyone has their own definition of indie, for him he wouldn't consider himself indie with a bank loan, but he doesn't have a problem with you calling yourself indie WITH a bank loan (if you even have one)

    My contention has always been, the term indie is pretty much meaningless when it comes to indie game development. Anyone anywhere can call themselves independent; heck Monolith considers themselves to be an indie developer because they aren’t owned by a publishing company like EA or Activision.

    The point is no definition is enforceable, independent the word has a specific definition in the dictionary, but the term "indie developer" is defined in 16bit shades of grayscale. There's no way to actually separate "true" indies, from "wannabe" indies or however you want to split it up.

    So like Mattias says, what makes you indie may not make him indie, and I think any attempts to define some standard for "indie developer" and attempt to make others comply with that definition is pretty deep in to (what i call) the cult of the indie developer territory.
     
  20. BongPig

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    Thats my ( very long winded ) point Dan.

    If we all accept that the term indie has different meanings for each individual, then why do we use it?
    I completly agree that a word like that is pointless in the context of conversation between two people.
    So I ask again, why do we use the term in a social forum when the word is pointless?

    Hell, why call the forum indiegamer forums?

    Am I making a valid point or being a dickhead!? :D
     

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