Well, that was fast. Feels like just yesterday, when last those fancy fireworks went off (note: we wrap up each year with explosives here). But alas, the time has come to say goodbye to another year, and one full of great stuff… along with some not-so-much. I am of course referring to all things indie, both the games themselves and their creators. So pop the corn, pull up your favorite couch and let me welcome you to the last The Indie Post of 2013.
Some might disagree that 2013 was in fact ‘year of the indie’, but looking back, I do firmly believe this to be the case. I get the skepticism though. 2012 did after all give us Dust: An Elysian Tail, Spelunky HD, Mark of the Ninja, Super Hexagon, FTL and many other greats. There’s no way 2013 could even begin to compare, right? Compare, no. Utterly demolish? Almost.
Surely you’ve played – or at least heard of – Monaco, Device 6, Ridiculous Fishing, Don’t Starve, Surgeon Simulator 2013, Papers, Please, Gunpoint, and Bientôt l’été? That last one may be too obscure and slow-paced for some, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Heck, some of the most popular indie games are niche titles. Just look at Gone Home. Not a game I cared for at all, yet fans and critics showered it with almost universal praise. What can I say? People are a diverse lot!
Amongst all those great games, we mustn’t forget that 2013 also marked the year when several events took the world of game development and almost literally turned it upside down. For starters, I’ll never get why Microsoft decided to not let developers self-publish on the Xbox One. They changed their mind later, which is great, sure, but come on – it shouldn’t have been a thing in the first place. Been sleeping under a rock for the past few years, guys? Publishers don’t exactly have a great rep, and even less when dealing with small developers. Whether they actually deserve it, well, that’s a topic for another time, but there’s a reason as to why so many games are self-published.
Another interesting [Xbox One] pre-launch tidbit, was that Unity would be free for ID@Xbox (the so-called Independent Developer publishing program for Xbox One) developers. Considering the popularity of Unity 3D (commonly referred to as simply ‘Unity’) among both up-and-comings and veterans, this is not to be taken lightly. After all, who wouldn’t want to have their game on a next-gen console, using a well-established engine? The addition of Unity 2D certainly doesn’t hurt either. Bring on the platformers!
Meanwhile, Sony had a great time at E3, reminding everyone that they ‘heart’ indies; or more specifically, developers. How d’ya like them apples, Microsoft? I’d say this year definitely brought great news for console fans (most of which will hopefully fruition, come 2014). Not just because of the next-gen launch, which Nintendo kinda got a head start on in 2012 with their Wii U, but also because… so many new (and old) indie games are heading to one or more of the big three.
Exactly which will remain console exclusive is unknown at this point, but Sony did grab some potential greats, with Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Transistor, The Witness, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Hotline Miami 2 and Starbound debuting on PlayStation 4. In contrast, Microsoft has, well, Energy Hook? I’m not deliberately bashing their efforts, but by now, everyone knows the value of a system exclusive. While a bunch of developers has signed up for ID@Xbox, at this point, no one knows what to expect from most of them. New games? Ports? Enhanced versions, complete with Kinect (ugh) functionality? Whatever the case, I’m definitely eager to experience what just might turn into the 2014 clash of indie (console) titans.
But we’re still in 2013, and while the Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4 thing did excite developers and players alike, we mustn’t forget about the lesser-known milestones/records. Upon entering its 16th consecutive year, the Indie Game Festival set a new record for student entries, with “over 1,000 total“; I swear, them devs are getting younger and younger… soon, people will be making video games before they can talk. Seriously though, those are some impressive numbers, and I’m glad to find so many students getting involved. From what I’ve seen, the industry is a bit of a mess right now, so here’s hoping some fresh blood can get it back on track.
Speaking of which, remember when a staggering one hundred titles got pushed through Greenlight in that huge batch? Well, history actually repeated itself, both a second and a third time! Given the frequency of greenlit batches, I can’t help but wonder if Valve is trying to tell us something? Or maybe I’m just being paranoid. Not that it matters either way, as the games pushed through tend to be quite the interesting lot. The fact that many Greenlight submissions are from brand new developers is also rather impressive, given the $100 fee and all. Best of luck to them, I say.
That about wraps up my ‘brief’ 2013 recap, which incidentally turned out a bit more console-centric than I had planned, but what can ya do? Oh, almost forgot: Fez 2 got canceled. Yup. That happened. Time for The Recap, and have yourself a happy New Year, dear reader!
How peculiar. Someone must have snacked on my articles while I wasn’t paying attention, as the number seems rather low. Ah well. I did mention in The Indie Post that the holidays were a busy time for me, which makes for a far more plausible scenario than someone actually eating my writings. Then again… Nah!
I did, however, manage to churn out a review of the unique and very interesting platformer, Teslagrad, and Indie Royale launched their eighth Greenlight-centric bundle (which is still up and running, I might add – REMEMBER TO VOTE!). Somewhat related, Tesla Breaks the World! is stuck in limbo, so how about helping it? And finally, don’t forget about the new arrivals. Who knows, you just might stumble upon something interesting.