Monday, February 25, 2013

Being Indie is Selling Yourself?

So, awhile ago I wrote a blog post on what I personally felt being indie was. You can read the full post here:, but the basic gist was that being indie meant making the game you personally wanted to make, meaning your decisions aren't dependent on investors, bosses, even the market. While this is an interesting definition, it seems that culture of "indie" is quickly devolving into something far different.

What is the difference between a multi-million dollar AAA company, and a multi-million dollar "indie" studio? A lot of people have this idea that a AAA company is a faceless evil, and an "indie" studio is a team of hardworking developers giving their all. Does this mean that the employees of a AAA company aren't hardworking, or that AAA games are soulless? I've played many amazing AAA games that certainly were not soulless, made by passionate developers simply published through a company. Yet there seems to be shame in AAA game dev, as proof, look at the recently trending #indieAAAconfessional. Why should people be ashamed enough that they have to confess to enjoying a AAA game? What is the big difference between being "indie" and being AAA - aren't we all just game developers?

The difference (despite what most people would claim) as far as I can see it is not the amount of money or evil, but the face. An "indie" studio is transparent, you know who works there, and you know their story. This is not true with AAA games. While you can find out who actually made the game, what you typically see is the brand and the company, not the individuals. And because you can't see the faces of most of the people making AAA games, you view it as faceless, soulless, perhaps even evil. Conversely, being "indie" is becoming more and more about selling yourself and your story, with the game itself becoming secondary. Games like "Unemployment Quest" are successful because of the story of the developer behind the game, not because the game itself is any good. Look at most indie games and kickstarter projects, there is so much material on the development and the team behind the game. Most videos for kickstarter projects have a lot more footage of the developers than the game itself, even if there is a prototype and a decent amount of gameplay already.

Now, I'm not saying that all small development teams are pushing their stories, nor am I saying that it's bad to have transparency and individuality. But, I don't think the development stories should be more important than the games themselves, and I definitely don't think that selling your personal story makes you any better than AAA game companies. So, if you're belittling AAA game dev and idolizing "indie" game dev, get off your high horse and start making good games.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can You Escape?

First off, if you haven't played "I Can't Escape" yet, do so now, it's freely available here: . The following post will contain spoilers, and should not be read until you've played at least once.

So, at this point, you should have played "I Can't Escape." You honestly tried your best to escape, and found yourself being plunged deeper into darker and eerier levels. This part of the game is designed to psychologically invoke feelings of being trapped and helpless. Even though you had full control and nothing really jumped out at you, you probably felt scared, or a little panicked near the end. Now you wonder, is it possible to escape? You were likely never close to being able to escape, but that was probably because you accidentally fell into some pits, and maybe if you did something different, you could escape. There were even signs of hope in the game, like ladders you could climb. Now I'm going to taunt you and tell you that you can escape, and then show you this video that shows a playthrough where I escape.

Now I recommend you play again, and maybe with the information you were able to gather from the video, you'll actually be able to escape!

Still weren't able to escape? Starting to think I'm trolling you, and that my escape was a hack? Well, it was no hack, and anyone can do it, but the video makes it look a lot easier than it is. Below I'll give you a few more hints that may help you.

The first thing you need to be able to do (if you aren't able to already) is to recognize hidden pits and hidden doors. The easiest way is to see them side-by-side and notice the differences:

A normal wallA hidden door
On the left is a normal wall, and on the right is the hidden door. The cracks of the door can sometimes be hard to see, but there is more moss on the hidden door, making it greener as well.

A normal floorA hidden pit
The hidden pit is still black where the pit is, but it has green moss growing over it which makes it difficult to see. If you move carefully though, you should be able to avoid hidden pits.

By avoiding hidden pits and using hidden doors, you'll be able to explore a level much more effectively without falling. Even though most ladders are blocked off by pits or walls, in the video, I was able to break through a cracked wall by bumping into it, exposing the the ladder I used to escape.

It wont be easy, it may even seem impossible, but if you never give up, you CAN do the impossible - escape in I Can't Escape! I'll leave you with one final hint: It is no coincidence that in the video, I was on the second floor and had to climb back up to the first floor before I escaped.