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“Indie” games - a meaningless term in adventure gaming?

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Resonance, apart from having a brilliant story, had lovely graphics. Just saying. Wink

     
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A.A - 16 July 2012 07:47 AM

Resonance, apart from having a brilliant story, had lovely graphics. Just saying. Wink

“In my opinion”. Probably best not to speak like you’re the source of truth for everyone. Wink

     
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There ARE wonderful freeware adventure titles that are as good as commercial indie and non-indie efforts (like “Other Worlds”, “5 Days a Stranger”, “The Silver Lining”, AGDI’s remakes of the “King’s Quest” games), [...] I for one would be willing to pay for enhanced editions with voice-acting and original music of some of these freeware titles.

Are you serious!?! For one thing, the writing and the graphics in the Other Worlds and The Silver Lining are pretty bad. I found both games boring and clumsy. Some remakes of the KQ games are good. The problem with most freeware games and even indies like Jonathan Boakes is that they excel in one aspect of game design and don’t know much about the rest.

     

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Fien - 16 July 2012 09:08 AM

The problem with most freeware games and even indies like Jonathan Boakes is that they excel in one aspect of game design and don’t know much about the rest.

I’ve recently finished playing “Cosmos Quest 4” my first ever freeware game and I was impressed enough to download the first 3. The author(s) has obviously learned along the way because “Cosmos Quest 1” starts off rather illogically in what you have to do to the extent I’ve put it to one side for now - but will go back to finish it and play the following 2 as well. 4 really is pretty good. Not perfect certainly but good enough for me to be willing to put some money their way when I have some (long-term unemployed Embarassed ) as a: they deserve it and b: it may help them to continue to create and improve. Seeing the improvement curve here I’m quite willing to give these games at least some leeway in terms of the finished product.

     

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Fien - 16 July 2012 09:08 AM

Are you serious!?! For one thing, the writing and the graphics in the Other Worlds and The Silver Lining are pretty bad.

What can I say? I liked both games, otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned them. “Other Worlds” did have horrible graphics, but I really liked the whimsical story and its abrupt change into a much more serious mood in the epilogue. As for “The Silver Lining” I did find the writing to be a bit over-dramatic, but overall I liked the flow of the story, as for the graphics they seemed quite impressive to me for a freeware title (and they would even be OK for a commercial title) with very pretty backgrounds and quite satisfying (though occasionally awkward) character models.

     
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Apart from the low resolution the graphics in Resonance are incredible. I actually silently gasped a few times at the advanced animations, like the blackout scene. I can’t remember any other adventure game that has so many complex animations. Also, the scene when Ed drives the subway and the lights go out. Yes, the resolution is low, but the game does its best to not let that feel like a limitation. I never wished for a higher resolution, the graphics are just perfect like they are, for me. But they’re not retro either, which was a wise choice.

And the writing…I don’t know what people have against it, I honestly don’t. I really would appreciate it if people could explain to me how the writing sucks, because I think it’s great. Sure, I can spot some flaws, but nothing serious, really.

But back to topic, somewhat: There are some freeware adventure games that had a similar amount of effort, maybe an even greater one, put into them: the Sierra remakes of AGDI or The Silver Lining are obvious examples. Both by teams though who went commercial. Efforts that would’ve been worth paying for, too.

     
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Oscar - 15 July 2012 10:02 PM

I think what you’re saying about an indie game ‘deserving recognition’ is exactly what I was concerned with - do they?

Anything that’s particularly good deserves recognition.  I didn’t say I only did it for indies and not others.  I do it for both.  (I only mentioned indies because that’s your topic.) It sounds like you resent even the best indies getting their proper recognition because it somehow puts them all on a pedestal, which it doesn’t.

Maybe you don’t claim that all such games deserve recognition, but you’ll find a lot of people who do.

I suspect many people (including me) feel indies deserve a baseline type of neutral appreciation, whether freeware or commercial.  It’s damn hard to make a game, and it’s an accomplishment to see one through to completion, particularly for a small team who isn’t earning a salary to work on it full time.  But that’s as far as it goes.  Then it’s up to the quality of the game to determine whether it’s any good.  Simply acknowledging someone’s labour of love doesn’t inherently make it worth the time of day for anyone else.

There are probably some who fawn over indies a little too much, sure, and some reviews (not here) cut them too much slack.  But I’ve seen just as many if not more who are turned off by them, so it all balances out. 

It’s interesting to me that Wadjet Eye’s games would get less attention if they were freeware, at least on AG - a monthly column “following freeware” rather than a full review.

Why is that interesting?  Surely it’s obvious why we can’t do full reviews for ten or twelve free games a month, many of which would take longer to review than to play.  And because they’re free, there’s less need for a review at all.  Costs people nothing to try them out for themselves.  The same isn’t true for commercial games (unless they have a demo, and even those can be misleading.)  It’s not some bias against freeware; we’re simply being pragmatic.

     

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Just giving my two cents here…..first of all Wadjet Eye doesn’t get involved in the writing process from what i know.they do help lots with debugging and testing the game but I think all the decisions lie in the actual author.

secondly,freeware is done by lots at an early stage in their career as a stepping stone and an investment in their reputation as someone else said.Carmack did it with Doom or Wolfenstein 3D(i don’t remember which of the two it was but i’d say Doom).He had distributed it through Newsgroups if i’m not mistaken it for free and when it was time for Doom 2 the stage was set(Doom 1 had made many fans).It’s great for a starter in the industry as he has the opportunity to get feedback and see how he is doing through the fans,also make a videogame and also learn as they go.Just like the post about Cosmo Quest games.The creator of Other Worlds did the same thing.After Other Worlds he founded Atropos Studios and made Diamonds in the Rough.

As far as the comment about Resonance being as best as it could be that became reality when Wadjet Eye stepped in.Voiceovers(very expensive for freeware) were done as a result and gave life to the game,all the testing and debugging was done by the folks in WE which left the rest for Vince and his crew.I know that Vince was tweaking things even at the last moment.And let’s not forget that the budget wasn’t high enough.Vince did this in the spare time he had every day.The rest of his time went to providing for his family.I know it’s not something original but as soon as a publisher(even as small as WE) steps in their investment and budgetary constraints are to be considered.

     
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Jackal - 16 July 2012 12:04 PM
Oscar - 15 July 2012 10:02 PM

I think what you’re saying about an indie game ‘deserving recognition’ is exactly what I was concerned with - do they?

Anything that’s particularly good deserves recognition.  I didn’t say I only did it for indies and not others.  I do it for both.  (I only mentioned indies because that’s your topic.) It sounds like you resent even the best indies getting their proper recognition because it somehow puts them all on a pedestal, which it doesn’t.

Maybe you don’t claim that all such games deserve recognition, but you’ll find a lot of people who do.

I suspect many people (including me) feel indies deserve a baseline type of neutral appreciation, whether freeware or commercial.  It’s damn hard to make a game, and it’s an accomplishment to see one through to completion, particularly for a small team who isn’t earning a salary to work on it full time.  But that’s as far as it goes.  Then it’s up to the quality of the game to determine whether it’s any good.  Simply acknowledging someone’s labour of love doesn’t inherently make it worth the time of day for anyone else.

Some indie games I love, others I don’t care about at all. Just as you feel indies deserve recognition, so do I with games I feel are good. And I still think the label is used selectively to elevate some games and not others. That’s all.

It’s interesting to me that Wadjet Eye’s games would get less attention if they were freeware, at least on AG - a monthly column “following freeware” rather than a full review.

Why is that interesting?  Surely it’s obvious why we can’t do full reviews for ten or twelve free games a month, many of which would take longer to review than to play.  And because they’re free, there’s less need for a review at all.  Costs people nothing to try them out for themselves.  The same isn’t true for commercial games (unless they have a demo, and even those can be misleading.)  It’s not some bias against freeware; we’re simply being pragmatic.

I understand the time limitations, but as you said - a great game is a great game. This should be true whether it’s free or not. Unfortunately it’s not - I skip over a lot of freeware just because it’s free, and I’m sure many here would regret to have missed Resonance if it were free for that reason.

     

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Oscar - 16 July 2012 09:03 PM

I understand the time limitations, but as you said - a great game is a great game. This should be true whether it’s free or not. Unfortunately it’s not - I skip over a lot of freeware just because it’s free, and I’m sure many here would regret to have missed Resonance if it were free for that reason.

While I disagree with your assessment of “Resonance”, which I consider to be a brilliant game (and even better than the more acclaimed “Gemini Rue”), I do agree that freeware adventure games do not get enough coverage. I would really like to see more fleshed-out reviews of freeware titles, especially since their releases seem to have become more frequent the last few years. I download quite a few of them but rarely get to play them because I’m never really sure which of them are actually worth it (screenshots are not much help, since graphics are not much to look at in any of these games). I realize that full reviews for so many games is difficult to handle, but maybe a more critical assessment of these games in the “Following Freeware” articles with perhaps a simple A-B-C grade system would help dissolve the confusion. It’s just that I can never be really sure whether I am interested in a freeware game after reading the “Following Freeware” articles and although none of us spend any money on freeware titles, we do spend time on them and time is a luxury these days.

     

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Maybe the site would put more of a focus on freeware games if there was more evidence for interest in them by the readers? Threads about freeware games are rare on the forums (the old Underground forum was mostly deserted), and the Following Freeware feature is lucky to get more than one or two comments each month.

Personally I would love more coverage of freeware games, but looking at it dispassionately I could understand AG not making it a priority. (Though the main issue is probably that Steve Brown can only do so much by himself, and it’s hard to find other writers to help out covering the niche.)

     
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Oscar - 16 July 2012 09:03 PM

Some indie games I love, others I don’t care about at all. Just as you feel indies deserve recognition, so do I with games I feel are good.

You’re still mixing quality into the discussion where it doesn’t belong.  The word “indie” is strictly a neutral term on its own.  I often use origins as a descriptive terms as well.  Would you object if I referred to someone as an “innovative French developer”?  I’m sure I’ve done so for either Quantic Dream or Lexis Numerique at some point.  Doesn’t mean I think all French studios are innovative.  Again, it’s simply information.

Like I said, I’ll note praiseworthy games and developers whether they’re indies or not.  But obviously that’s only possible once the games are out and the results known.

And I still think the label is used selectively to elevate some games and not others. That’s all.

It may be, in some cases.  But without even a single example, it’s pretty hard to debate.  I can easily point to hundreds of uses here where the word clearly wasn’t used as a status symbol.

I understand the time limitations, but as you said - a great game is a great game. This should be true whether it’s free or not. Unfortunately it’s not - I skip over a lot of freeware just because it’s free, and I’m sure many here would regret to have missed Resonance if it were free for that reason.

I really don’t understand your complaint.  What does this have to do with what I said? You understand the time limitations, but you’re still complaining that we don’t formally review far more games than we could possibly accommodate, even though it costs you nothing to check them out for yourself?

We don’t review commercial games because they’re BETTER.  We review them because there’s an actual NEED, since we have access to games that most people don’t (without paying for them).  And since there are far fewer of them, we have enough people to actually cover them all (barely).

You find me ten more skilled reviewers who want to cover freeware games each month, I’ll gladly take ‘em on.  Wink

Castledoque - 17 July 2012 06:17 AM

I realize that full reviews for so many games is difficult to handle, but maybe a more critical assessment of these games in the “Following Freeware” articles with perhaps a simple A-B-C grade system would help dissolve the confusion. It’s just that I can never be really sure whether I am interested in a freeware game after reading the “Following Freeware” articles and although none of us spend any money on freeware titles, we do spend time on them and time is a luxury these days.

We’ve never graded even the formal freeware reviews here.  And it definitely won’t be happening with FF coverage, because Steve isn’t required to finish all the freeware games each month, just play enough to insightfully report on them.  (And all graded reviews MUST be played to completion.)  Following Freeware is supposed to be more of a handy, one-stop resource pool than anything. 

After a brisk nap - 17 July 2012 12:24 PM

Maybe the site would put more of a focus on freeware games if there was more evidence for interest in them by the readers?

Nope.  I’ve always wanted more freeware review coverage, and it’s strictly a matter of finding writers interested in covering them that prevents it.  In lieu of reviews, even the monthly round-up article had to be shelved years before it was actually implemented, and if Steve alone hadn’t stepped up, we still wouldn’t be doing even that.

     

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Jackal - 17 July 2012 01:00 PM

I really don’t understand your complaint.  What does this have to do with what I said? You understand the time limitations, but you’re still complaining that we don’t formally review far more games than we could possibly accommodate, even though it costs you nothing to check them out for yourself?

There is no complaint, by me anyway! Smile
You seem very defensive and there’s no reason for it, in this thread anyway. No one is challenging AG or the reviews. I like the website and the reviews. Most likely you’ll argue with this post too - take a chill pill Smile

ozzie - 16 July 2012 11:46 AM

Apart from the low resolution the graphics in Resonance are incredible. I actually silently gasped a few times at the advanced animations, like the blackout scene. I can’t remember any other adventure game that has so many complex animations. Also, the scene when Ed drives the subway and the lights go out. Yes, the resolution is low, but the game does its best to not let that feel like a limitation. I never wished for a higher resolution, the graphics are just perfect like they are, for me. But they’re not retro either, which was a wise choice.

Hmm.. not sure what you mean by not retro. Aren’t they? They look early 90s to me.

And the writing…I don’t know what people have against it, I honestly don’t. I really would appreciate it if people could explain to me how the writing sucks, because I think it’s great. Sure, I can spot some flaws, but nothing serious, really.

I’d love to but maybe that should go in the Resonance thread.

     
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They should be called ‘democratised’ games as in, these ‘indies’ wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for a large group of programmers and engineers who created the tools used in game production. Indie developers can only claim independence because someone else made it easy for them to do so.

     

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In my mind, indie is a term used when a developer (or developers) aren’t salaried employees of a larger company. They are creating the game INDEPENDANTLY of another body.

Stasis is indie, because I’m not getting paid to make it. Resonance (which is a beautiful game) was made in the same way, as was Gemini Rue.
The line is getting blurred through Crowdsourcing, because in essence, the crowd becomes the ‘larger entity’ that is backing the game.

When it comes to quality, I think that indies always try to do the best they can with the limited funds and assets they have. It’s never a case of ‘I’ll puposfully make the sound shit because I’m indie’, it’s a case of ‘I really need to eat this month and an extra 6 months of development just isn’t doable.’

You see the same issues in AAA games, with day 1 patches, and DLC.

As for these games not being indie because they use tools that others have created in the creation process…that’s just silly. NO games are made using completely custom toolsets. Even the earliest days of gaming had programmers using pre made art programs to create their assets.

     

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