Important Indie Game topics


Hey guys, this might sound like a repeat of other articles I have done, but this is basically a list of things I can remember from a conversation Killroy fx, Nate Graves, GameAddition, and I had a few nights while playing some indie games. So basically we had a gamer, a developer, and 2 game reviewers. Killroy fx is the mastermind behind the great indie game, BloodyCheckers. Nate Graves is an editor on the awesome game review site Gear-Fish, GameAddition is a gamer interested in all aspects of games, from voice work to coding and design, and I and a new indie game reviewer and aspiring indie game designer.

Here are some of the topics we discussed:

— Why multiplayer is needed for certain games
—  The little things that make indie games that much better if done right
— Peer Review and all its flawlessness (aimed at certain developers, you know who you are)

Those are all great topics, and here are some of my thoughts on them. (so these thoughts reflect my opinions on the preceding topics, not Nate’s, Killroy’s, or GameAddition’s.)

Multiplayer

I have never understood why developers would complain about coding online multiplayer. Of course it is difficult, but if it is needed to make the game great, it should not be skipped. Even if it takes a couple extra months to code, you should have a want to give your fans the best game possible. So games like SpeedRunner HD have fun offline, but without online multiplayer is really just a next to useless feature. Ask any gamer who buys indie games, and only a few have the opportunity to play offline enough to make it worthwhile for the developer to make it. Sure offline multiplayer is a welcome addition, but if I were to give one word of advice to developers, make your multiplayer online, or spend your time on more single player content. You are required to be online to play indie games anyway, why not use that to your advantage?

The Little Things

GameAddition brought up the thing about BloodyCheckers that makes it that much more awesome. If you have ever played BloodyCheckers you know about the candle you carry around the castle. The candle is very well done, and makes the game feel that much more alive. If the candle, the flame, and the hand you hold it in was terribly designed, it would be a huge bother to look at. To use the BloodyCheckers example again, the online multiplayer system has a nice quirk to it. If there is someone roaming the castle in single player, you can hop in their virtual lobby and offer to play a game. In the indie game scene where online is pretty dead all the time, this small thing becomes a huge deal.

What about controls? Ever played a game with controls that are almost great, but are a little slow or clunky? This is just a little bit extra testing for the developer to make sure the controls are just right, and that can make or break some games. Take Score Rush for instance. Great game, but if the controls were clunky it would be a terrible experience that I would not wish upon my worst enemies. Small things like tweaking player speed, amount of drift, etc. make a big difference in the game.

What about games that do not do the little things right? I hate to give the Raventhorne example, but here it is. The stamina bar is a little thing that ruins a lot of the combat experience. I was never aware that heroes had such frequent asthma attacks while fighting evil. This was a little thing that ruined the combat experience for a lot of people, not just me.

Peer Review

Peer Review is broken. You know why? The “I will scratch your back, you will scratch mine” attitude. Seriously guys, you put hours upon hours of work into your game and you want it to release on the Marketplace without testing? This is ridiculous. I personally would have pride in my work and want all the bugs to be fixed. Game breaking bug found deep in an area of a latter level? Peer Review will not find it that way it is set up. I love the developers who give their time up for Peer Review and actually play the games. This should be an enjoyable hobby, not a broken system where people try to release their game as early as possible.

Also there is this little thing called “competition”. It does not seem out of the realm of possibility that someone would find a way to fail a game in order to keep the game off the market while their game gets released. I am not saying it has ever happened, it would just be a little surprising if nothing similar has happened.

When I get into XBLIG development I would want my game fully tested, and I would want fully test someone else’s. I think that Peer Review works when people have pride in their work and want the best possible game to release to the marketplace. My idea is that when I get into XBLIG development I will find a group of devs who will actually test my games, online and offline, and I would most certainly test theirs. I hope that I can get in a group like this because pre-release testing is so vital, yet people treat it like a chore. Guess what? It is work to find and fix bugs. It is even more work to fix them after the game releases. It is also nearly impossible to have sales come back after a poor release, no matter how good the updates are.

So when I get into development I will let you guys know so I can get a group of people who take pride in releasing a game pleasing to their fans. It will be the group for the ages, group PWTPIRAGPTTF. Hopefully as good as team TOXLIGRWDGTTUTESGWPLTEOTSWHBAFC would have been. Hopefully some people take my advice and start a group with all the developers who test games fully and want the same done to theirs.

Comment below and let me know what you disagree with, and leave your thoughts on the matters.

EDIT: More Important Stuff to discuss:

— Game Flow
— Game Balancing
— Learning Curve
— The importance of the first level

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About Dcon
Just a 20 something dude who like to think a lot about things, sometimes even write about them.

12 Responses to Important Indie Game topics

  1. Kairi Vice says:

    I’ll be doing a review on Redd tomorrow that complains heavily about the Bay of Pigs invasion if you want to rip that off too 😛

  2. Agreed on all the above. I know Nate has said that much before. The one thing I’d add, and it kind of goes under Little Things and Peer Review, but game flow and balancing. Too many games I’ve played now basically up the difficulty and go for your throat immediately. Even if difficulty is your thing, it can be frustrating and a turn a potential player off faster than lack of online. Like you mentioned, just not enough time and polish going into them.

    • Dcon6393 says:

      Dang I knew I left out something. That is what happens when you are writing an article and an essay at the same time, you forget stuff. I will probably write a short article on flow and balancing eventually. I agree with game flow and balancing. being a big deal. Like I said in my Score Rush example, that has amazing game flow because of the smooth controls.

      I just tried this new game called Ninjah. It was a cool concept, but the controls are crazy and they throw it in all at once. It is not even the difficulty, it is the fact that you have to learn everything at once. This is a no no in my book. Just look at Portal and Portal 2. Those games has brilliant difficulty curves, and it is a shame they can’t publish a book explaining how to make them. Some developers have a ton of content in their game, I can understand that, but throwing it at the gamer all at once because of the trial limit is not the best plan. I would prefer a developer gave me 1 thing to learn at a time, and when I start learning new things I slowly master the other things. I know it is difficult to make, but that effort can be the difference between thousands of people trying the trial and disliking it, to thousands buying it because they feel like they are mastering all aspects of the game.

      Oh yeah, I forgot to add fun in the main article, that is important. Without fun I don’t care how brilliant your tutorial, story, or graphics are, I won’t buy your game.

      • Fun’s essential, nay, required. I played Ninjah as well. Looks like it wanted to be an N+ clone, (great arcade game, if you get the chance / or have played) but yeah, way too much at once, and the controls just felt off to me. Add increasing difficulty to the mix, and, presto, another indie game held back by its own faults. I’m sure we’ll be adding it to the Indie Rundown at some point, so I’ll give it another go, but didn’t impress me at all in the trial.

      • Dcon6393 says:

        it impressed me with the amount of different controls use to solve a puzzle, but it is much easier to play a game with only a few different ways of moving. And the controls are pretty bad, so that doesn’t help. It looks to be a great game, so it is really sad.

        I did just download a game called Apex where the only controls are jump, move, and double jump. You also have bombs and time bombs (slow time, except for you, for 4 seconds). this game is incredibly simple, but the gameplay is great because of it. It is one of my new favorite games.

  3. You and I must think alike then. Tried that last night myself. As much as the ‘chase’ aspect of certain games gets tired, I liked the way this one worked, and the powerups / slow time idea was nice, especially in tight situations where in any other game you’d just die and have to start over. It looks to be a short game, probably more to see how many ‘attempts’ it takes to get to the ‘apex’ but certainly fun, and thankfully, checkpoints.

    (Sounds like a mini-review right here. I’ll have to copy and paste over to the Fish. Ha.)

    • Dcon6393 says:

      Yeah, but I am pretty sure the game goes on for awhile. There seems to be online leaderboards and the top score (the handle of the guy who made the game) is 4 times higher than me….. the 4th checkpoint seems to be the last one and that was about where I got my high score. I am gonna try to get some more details from the developer if I can. He made a game like Trials HD as well (OSR: Unhinged) and it is well done too. I am starting to really like this companies games.

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