Published on December 13th, 2011 | by Bob31
Guest Article – Indie Games: PC’s Re-Awakening
Is this thing on? Yes? It’s working? Okay… Hello KBMOD readers! I am Jonathan Beck, I have been lucky enough to have Bob let me do a little writing for the site, so here we go! I’m opening up with a piece on Indie Games, which is fitting with the release of the new Humble Bundle today. I’ve been playing games for the past 15 years, all the way back to the Atari 2600 & NES. I spend more money than is socially acceptable on computer parts & games to go with them. I may also be clinically addicted to the Internet, though I’ve never been tested. Without further ado, here is my first entry into KBMOD Legend. Enjoy.
Indie Games: PC Gaming’s Re-Awakening
PC Gaming is dead, long live PC Gaming. You hear it in every corner of the Internet, PC gaming is on the verge of dying, or worse, has already died. Sometimes it’s easy to look around and assume it’s true. We get slap dash console ports, intrusive DRM schemes, delay after delay for game releases, and often little support once the game has hit market. Major publishers speak out about piracy of titles hurting sales, thus making the PC a last choice platform.
Gaming is at a weird state right now. Development costs grow larger every year, and we are relegated to sequel after sequel because they’re a safe bet. This console cycle has lasted longer than any previous generation, and PC games have stood still as a result. The PC I built over a year ago still takes anything I throw at it because developers code to the lowest common denominator. They aren’t going to write a game that an Xbox 360 or a PS3 can’t handle, so there has been little in the way of break through graphics or taxing PC games. While we’re still getting good games, few of them are new experiences. A new group is emerging to fill the void, The Indie Developer.
Indie games are bigger than ever and they’re delivering experiences unlike any of the AAA titles on the market right now. The best part? They’re doing it all without the support of big name publishers. Basement coders are taking back PC gaming in a huge way. Let’s be honest, if you went to EA 2 years ago and said “I want to make a procedurally generated, infinite world made completely of voxel blocks the player can endlessly manipulate and create with, and I want it to look like something an NES threw up after a long night of binge drinking.” They would have laughed you out of their office. So that’s what Markus Persson did, on his own. That is until it caught on like cocaine on 1980’s Wall St. Now Mr. Persson aka Notch has started his own company and made millions of dollars on a game no sane publisher would have ever picked up.
Minecraft has infatuated an entire sect of PC gamers. You type Minecraft into YouTube and look at the nonsense these people are creating! No seriously, go do it, I can wait…… Okay did you see that? That is a game that 6 dudes in a tiny office cranked out. Then over 4 million people picked it up and ran with it. They just had their first Minecon convention and released build 1.0.0. proving that you don’t need big names to make a blockbuster game, quite literally.
I can think of 5 games total that have their own dedicated convention. Call of Duty, Blizzcon counts for Warcraft, Starcraft & Diablo, and Minecraft. Notice the staggering difference there? 4 of those games are cornerstones of gaming, through multiple iterations and sequels, with multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and enough developers to occupy a small country. Blizzard Games series have roots back to the foundations of PC games. The other is a game that came out of one guy’s basement.
If Minecraft isn’t enough proof, and honestly I could write a thesis on Minecraft and its culture, it was just the first shot fired in the AAA vs. Indie Dev war. With its success we’ve seen a plethora of new, compelling experiences come out of small development outfits. Team Meat has given us the superb Super Meat Boy, which brought back the days of 2D “Nintendo Hard” platformers. A Game so brutally difficult it has an entire world called “Hell”, and it is appropriately named. If you don’t break a controller, or rage quit at least once playing this game, you may want to seek counseling because you are seriously repressing something.
Maybe platforming isn’t your deal. Maybe you want a strategy game unlike any other on the market? You should check out Frozen Synapse. An indie strategy game that just passed the 300k sold mark all about creating an assault plan in randomly generated office like terrain. It’s CS:Source for J-RPG fans. The level of depth in combat and different strategies you can use to complete a mission are vast and varied and there is truly no other experience like it.
Even if you just want to check out a new RPG, because you have somehow finished Skyrim already, Bastion is calling to you. A hit on both Xbox Live & the PC, it’s an anime themed top down Action-RPG, where your goal is to rebuild The Bastion Stronghold, having your journey narrated along the way. Now it’s getting ready to hit Chrome as a game you can play in your web browser. Showing you can have full-fledged, compelling experiences in games just about anywhere.
What’s even better about these indie experiences is that often times you can turn to the Humble Indie Bundle to experience several of them at a low cost. The developers of these games are offering them at a “pay what you want” model and giving part of the proceeds to charity. Not only can you have amazing gaming experiences, you can have them for as little as a few dollars. The Humble Bundles have raised a combined 4.1 million dollars for developers and charities like Child’s Play.
There are so many other amazing Indie games available right now it would take days to list them all, and even longer to play through them. This is just the tip of the indie iceberg. The point is, while some say PC gaming is dying, I would argue we’re about to see a new golden age of PC games. We’ll still always have big name titles, but we’re also going to be treated to experiences no other platform is privy to, just like we always have.
Courtesy of @ReallyCoolStu, @TheGingerBomb, and @nickkbmod on twitter, we have the opportunity to give away THREE humble bundles. In the comments below, let us know what your favorite indie title is – make sure to include your twitter handle and follow@kbmodgaming in order to receive the link via direct message.