PAX East 2013: Indie Games Roundup



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Don't Starve: "From the makers of Tale of the Ninja comes a grim..." Shouldn't "Tale of the Ninja" be italicized?

Transistor: "The game’s named after the giant sword that it’s protagonist, Red, wields"...the "it's" doesn't need an apostrophe.

Telepathic Tactics: "but there’s plenty of psionic powers" should be "there are".

The Swapper: Shouldn't its title be italicized to distinguish it from the rest of the sentence?

Raise The Dead: "Consider our interest peaked!" it should be "piqued".

Divekick: "Oh yeah, and there’s only two buttons.", it should be "there are".

Drunken Robot Pornography: "Throughout each match you pick the robot a part piece-by-piece...", it should be "apart".

I think all titles of things should be italicized, it's more of a formality though. I'm sorry to point out all of these mistakes, but I think a high-profile magazine would NOT have these mistakes. Maybe I could get hired as an editor for you guys? :)



Hey RyGuy,

Thanks for the catches! We've tweaked the article accordingly.




There are some fun looking games in there that deserve some attention. Especially Transistor.



Oh my eyes. Please indie games, give us a break from "stylized"/"retro"/"avant garde" graphics: in the context of indie games they're all euphemisms for "bad". I loathe the animation "style" set by most American animation today and it seems that games either want to emulate that or look like a SNES game, putting me in my own personal hell when I go to check out indie games.

Contrast and Divekick look as though they're tolerable graphically from MPC's screenshots, though they don't seem particularly interesting as they strike me as being solely focused on a gimmick:Contrast contains a LIMBO minigame and Divekick has to be played "ironically".

I guess I just don't stand the indie game culture, though out of principle I try. 'Tis too hipster for me, though I don't understand why as I've found many a game mod that I've thought was most worthy. What happens when a person goes from modding an existing game to making their own "indie" game that they seem to always trade in their practical "hat" for the hipster "hat"?



Please, if I may address some of your concerns.

What you're describing is not a "indie game", but more of a "art" or "nostalgia" game, one made for the artistic appeal or one made for SNES die-hards. The definition of "indie game" is one that's made and published by someone who's not exactly affiliated with the big names. (That being said, that makes it difficult to actually tell when and where the line stops)

There are "indie" games that don't fit your definitions of "bad". For example, Achron (look it up if you don't know what it is, trust me, you'll be amazed), SPaZ, Vessel, and many more are examples of indie games that don't have the "art" or "retro" tags. (Except perhaps Vessel, but it does its art-aspects very nicely)

Not all indie games are "art" or "retro" games, so you shouldn't put them all in one bag. I've played my share of "art" and "retro" games, and I myself find them either a bit dull from the gameplay perspective, or eye-bleeding, respectively. Yet, I still look at indie games, because I know that they're made by people who believe in the work they're doing, not just selling it to the horde.

My view might be slightly tilted, due to me developing an indie title myself, but I still think that you should have an opener mind than "indie"=="bad".



"Indie game" to me means "any game not made by a AAA developer". However, as this article helps prove, when the phrase is tossed about in modern discussion what is meant is a specific group of games, games with "avant garde" graphics (whether they be retro or whatever), simplistic gameplay and a putative unique gimmick (yet they all feel the same to me) that ties it all together. The result of the unholy union of hipsters and technology is the phrase "indie game" ;)

Simplicity seems to be key: do the more complex games (eg:Torchlight, Orcs Must Die, Castle Crashers) count as being indie or are they too "mainstream" for that category?



Achron looks as though it could have some potential.

I couldn't get into SPAZ as its just a top-down shooter with some quirky gimmicks on top, just as Vessel seems to be the tired old platformer with a gimmick. They have better graphics than most, but they're still "retro".

The thing is, I can go back and play a 2d platformer from "the day" and enjoy it. When I play an indie one today, such as 'Splosion Man, I don't care for it at all. It's as though they've been unable to recreate what made the classics of the genres they're imitating good and so replaced it with a gimmick.

Dunno. If we could call something like Orcs Must Die an indie game, well I enjoyed that, but I'm giving up hope that any of these quirky art based gimmick games, as presented in this article, will ever appeal to me.



I'll counter you on several points.

I liked SPAZ, mainly because it's a nice game with nice customization and versatile engine (mods ahoy), I do admit that it does feel a bit old, but I quite like it's play style (after getting past a certain point).

Vessel is really nice actually, it uses water physics and a ridiculously stupid, but lovable AI to drive the puzzles, and that aspect, I loved. At the end, I feel like vessel isn't "gimmicky", but more unique, especially as you have to utilize your seeds and the liquids in more creative ways to pass a puzzle.

I didn't mention Orcs Must Die or Torchlight because that's more of the "mainstream" indie game that you're not exactly ranting about, and if you include torchlight, you'll have to include, say, all the nethack forks, the "dungeon crawlers", etc, etc. I'm just saying that art games don't have to be gimmicky or overdone. Sometimes, artsy games can also be very good gameplay-wise, like Super Meat Boy, or World of Goo.



Then tell mainstream to stop reinventing Counter Strike. Seriously. If the number of FPS' decreased by half, then you'd have rights to complain that an indie company -that works on much less than half the operating cost of major companies- isn't using the graphics of the gods to run their games.
Don't get me wrong. I like a good FPS. I just don't need so many that are SO SIMILAR!



I'm not complaining that they need the "graphics of the gods" (most AAA titles lack those anyhow as they're console ports). You misconstrue.

I'll take "lower quality" graphics if they don't look like someone with my lack of artistic ability decided to create the graphics for the game ;)

The gameplay in every indie game that I've tried has been rather simple, as simple as the rote AAA FPS games about which you complain. To me, indie games are bad graphics and simplistic gameplay based around a gimmick, the gimmick and the graphics the only thing differentiating them from the main titles, and the gimmick doesn't hold my attention for very long.


Renegade Knight

I'm in agreement with the OP. 16 bit retro sucks no matter how good the game play is. A lot of indies look like crap because they go for retro cute. Don't get me wrong. I don't expect indies to be mega buck glitz. Just fun to play (and a lot of mega buck glitz isn't fun). I'm with you on the FPS. Fun to play, great story line and I'm in. Most are just hack and slash and that's not any more fun than it was when 16 bit was awesome. Most of these look fine. Only one made me cringe to look a it.



I completely disagree with you, and agree more with the comment about the glut of FPS games. Im sick of games that focus on graphics and cut scenes and let the content and game-play suffer. When i saw transistor and the other game that had turn based strategy, i was exited. After a month on the couch playing games (broken ankle), I got very sick of modern games and finally fired up an emulator, and played some other great indi games on steam. My favorite was DLC Quest, which is exactly in line with how i feel about many modern games.



DLC quest is one of those unabashed "hipster" indie games: a game designed to be, a game that relies upon being, played "ironically"; if it isn't played "ironically" it falls flat as a game that is designed to be bad to illustrate "badness", a perversion of the lost art of satire. Not my bag, but if it is yours I won't stand in your way. :D

Why would I want to play the very rough looking indie TBS, a game featuring an undue austerity in graphics & apparent gameplay, depicted here when I could fire up a real one? Games that look crappy for no reason, apparently going for some sort of "kitschy" appeal, just look crappy to me. The depicted TBS is among them.

I found Bastion to be decent enough, though long overpriced, but Transistor doesn't call out to me at all.

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