Art StatusWorks in Progress
1Blogs in progress
I confess - sometimes I read vidya game news. Sometimes it happens that I read them not on Igromania.ru or stuff, but on western gaming websites. Like, honestly, I really enjoyed Engadget's subsidiary, Joystiq, for a while.
That is, while the whole INDIE thing had not started. So instead of having 80% news devoted to actual gaming news about actual real games, 80% of the content shifted to tell the stories of Kickstarters and Steam Greenlights about indie developers. Yeah, I get it, news draught. But come on...
So, a couple of days ago, on one such site I read a lulzy story about how a "female indie dev" was caught fucking journalists for favorable reviews on several gaming news outlets. That aside, the game in question was a text-based SJW shitfest about "depression" - not even a real game, but a multiple-choice quest.
And see, that's what's the whole indie scene is - pretentious fucking shitfestering pile of abhorrent talentless gunk.
So there's that - I loathe "indie" games. And I can actually make a case for it.
First off tho, I have to make an important term distinction. There are big and small studios and publishers. EA, 2k, Blizzard, Warner Bro's Games, Netherrealm studios, Ubisoft, Visceral, Bethesda - big players, yup. Yager, Starbreeze, arguably THQ, GSC, CD Projekt - smaller/small. But these are viable business entities, employing dozens of people, having quality control, SLA, legal departments, full-time artists and programmers, marketing, etc. A small studio isn't INDIE, even if it's not connected to a major publisher - a small studio will still get it's game on the shelf by someone else's means.
In my classification, Indie game are made not by factual, full-line process studios and devs, but by makeshift, on the go, just "forming" collectives, who are missing or outsourcing key departments and employees, who are not connected to proven, known to the market publisher, and who rely on outside real-time investment to fund the game.
This is why indie games, well - SUCK.
The main thing is resources and money. It should come as no eye-opener, that the more resources you have - the better tools you can affort, and better tools yearn better quality of the product that is made through them. Tool include not only material assets, but more importantly - human resources. If your budget has a limit of say, $2 mill over 2 years of a production cycle for a game design department, you can hire 4 big industry professionals that require a 250K over the year. If your budget is $30 000 for a year, you can hire well, 2 students for 15k a year. Yeah, these students MIGHT BE the next Joe Karmak (sp?), but they still have zero experience, and you wouldn't expect them to produce the same result as 4 solid professionals.
Same goes for material assets. You have to rent server spaces. You have to buy your designer and programmers adequate equipment - computers, professional software, cameras, etc. When you don't have professional work-station servers, you can't expect to render realistic cut-scenes with hi-poly models - that's a given.
More importantly, a functional studio has departments that take care of all the inner operations - ordering materials, doing the logistics, proving the needs of the employees, etc.
But indie studios? People multi-task. One person is often working as a designer AND modeler, AND photographer, AND is responsible for system administration, because the studio doesnt have the money to hire actual separate specialists. Multi-tasking in a work environment always downgrades the quality of each job unit. Then, you have to rely on always fixing things on the go, changing stuff of the go, outsourcing - and then wasting energy trying to gather the outsource puzzle into one functional work process.
That is the reason why an overwhelming majority of "indie" games are one of the following:
- retro-pixel side-scroller variation
- retro-pixel side-scroller platformer
- flash-based abomination that is "artsy"
- pixel-hunting quest thingy with detailed immobile background
- fps/horror/game that is so polygonal it should've stayed in the early 90s
- abstract AND artsy
See, that's the point. For example, "retro-pixel side-scroller" - why is it so prevalent? Well, firstly, such games are OLD. Their source codes had been released decades ago, and are available now for free. It costs nothing for an "indie dev" to obtain them, and then just modify them to the hearts content. The codes are simple enough to be worked on by beginner programmers. Pixel graphics don't require a lengthy - and costly - production process.
Making a good, A(AA) game is a really complex process akin to filming a blockbuster. Consider a game like I dunno, Grand Theft Auto. Aside the engine programmers, aside from the coders, you need people that:
- conduct motion capture (so that in-game and cut-scene models move realistically)
- go around a country filming and taking shots of architecture, textures and etc - to build libraries for the designers and modelers
- sound effect directors
- voice actors
- AI programmers
- level designers
- lighting specialists
the list goes on. No indie collective that prances around Kickstarter, can afford that.
The result is the same as in cinematography. It's not about making a visual eyegasm only. Even realistic, grounded films like say, Trance or series like Breaking Bad, that don't involve giant transforming robots, need a huge budget and effort from a massive, professional team, to make it look good as it does.
But independent films are more often than not a "shaky cam" cheap experience with overlong shots of a floating pack of garbage, or some dark, dank, weird-ass shit. There's a reason why District 9 was rolled out in theaters worldwide, but Neils Blokamp's short film that preceded it became only a Youtube hit.
Indie games, due to the constraints put on them, are always badly made and boring - that's the bitter truth. You may whine that stuff like Battlefield 4 or Call of Poopy is boring as well because its all pew-pew and VIOLINS, but at least it's breaking technological and production grounds, paving way for the medium to develop.
But you see, there's nothing fun or innovative about yet another "nostalgic" sidescroller, or a flash game about some developers "feels". It's no new word in gameplay, and it's visually repulsive. How a game like say, Isaac's Binding is good and innovative, when the pew-pew top-down view dungeon crawlers existed since the 80s? Hows is Slender a technological or gameplay feat when it lasts 20 mins at max (and yet people complain that 8-hr games are short)?
More so, these games are NEVER desired by or played by a general audience. They are a niche thing, born by gamers who want to feel "special" about liking "non-mainstream COD CLONES OMG". It's a completely self-contained, circle-jerk scene for which quality is an anathema since it gets "less genuine".
Simply put - these games are bad. They are bad because their developers don't have the budgets to make anything good. They are bad because they are a repetition of old, worn-out shit. They are bad because the niche they exist withing doesn't try to acknowledge the fact that quality, not pretentious wrapping, sells a concept. They are bad because they are made by faggots for faggots.
I'm not saying that indie games should cease to exist. No, they should - they might well be a platform for rag-tag collectives to someday develop into viable, professional teams, if only for that.
I'm arguing that we should look at these games for what they are - horrible, broken turds that deserve the same level of scrutiny and critisms that solid gaming products get. That they are a thing for a hipster niche, and should not influence mainstream, quality gaming. That people who do them are often tallentless scammers.
That's my view on this shit. I have a really cool idea for a game. But I have a presence of mind to realize that such a game would require a lenghty production cycle by a professional team - and I have the presence of mind not to buy some half-baked flash engine and try to do it on my knee, taking the role of 4-5 employees.
Correct way of handling such a desire, is to go to a bank, take a big-ass credit for a beginning small business, assembl a quality team with all key studio departments, and set out to do it like a professional business entity which you are. When you beg for shit on Kickstarter, and go around Deviantart begging random artists for free concept art, you know that your product will be lump for shit.
So you go and make a 2D pixel retro side-scroller platformer, and game journalists piss their pants.
Thanks, I'd rather play Aliens: Colonial Marines.