Indie Games

  By Shamus   Apr 18, 2006   7 comments

Over at Tales of the Rampant Coyote there are a few posts on the indie game he’s working on, titled Apocalypse Cow. It’s interesting to see the work in progress.

Indie games these days are hard. The tools available to indie developers are getting better, but not as quickly as the work required to bring a game to market. Big-budget games have larger teams behind them every year. They keep raising the bar on what players expect. This puts some games out of reach of indie games entirely. For example, I can’t imagine a couple of guys whipping up their own rendering engine and tools and making their own first-person shooter. Animated characters take 3d modeling and texturing and programming and animations, which means in most cases a single character running around the game world is the work of at least four people. Articulated characters are maddenly expensive, and there is no way around it.

I don’t think this is going to change anytime soon, either. Better tools might make creating an animated character easier, but it’s an inherantly complex task and there is only so much help the software can give.

This is a lot of the reason I feel like I can’t do anything with the dueling game I came up with. It’s fairly modest in scope, since it doesn’t require epic environments or dozens of voice actors. However, it does require well-animated human figures. If this were a game with a couple of tanks driving around blasting each other, the whole thing would only be a few of weeks of work at most. But since we’re dealing with humans, the time to implement it jumps from weeks to months, and the team goes from one guy to several. Suddenly the thing is too big to be a hobby project.

7A few comments. Call it seven-ish.


  1. HC says:

    Take a look at the dueling systems in Sid Meier’s Pirates!, or in Quest for Glory 2 – with a confined set of maneuvers, animating things isn’t as problematic.

    Alternatively, take a look at King of Dragon Pass – an excellent (American, and indie) RPG that I should have mentioned in the other thread. They solved the animation budget problem through simple refusal, and it is remarkable what can be accomplished with text, award-winning still art, and music.

  2. Eric says:

    Yeah i heard the dueling in pirates is good. end transmission.

  3. Capt_Poco says:

    Of course, this is why most indie games are 2D.

  4. Lysander says:

    Well-described text-based games would give you all of this, yet rely on imagination. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does narrow down the audience — makes it less accessible to those who, for reasons that completely escape me, don’t enjoy reading.

    Your game would have a great deal fun, if it was pulled off visually. Especially if they can preform stunts seen in various swashbuckling movies, and finish off their enemies in that way as well — doubly so if it can be from maneuvering the enemy into various hazards.

  5. Corsair says:

    Speaking of Indie Games, there’s a series you might be interested in, Shamus.

    http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com

    On that site is a series called Avernum. Or Exile. Avernum is Exile’s remake. They’re pretty much the same. They’re all amazing RPGs, and in terms of today’s prices, fairly cheap, too.

  6. Tristan says:

    I know I’m quite late to the party here, but mod’s really are the answer in these situations. It’s coincidental that I find your site the day after working with a programmer friend on a design document for a ut3 mod revolving around 1on1 sword combat (ninja’s)

    I’m going to have to show him your ideas as I find so many of them spot on. (Focus instead of hp is an incredibly idea, as is auto-blocking, which we wanted to implement but weren’t sure how. And I don’t know why or how we didn’t think of it)

    But we plan to work on it together, just the two of us. The whole modelling, texturing, rigging, animating process Really isn’t that hard for a 3d artist with the drive and a bit of spare time, atleast not for an “average” model. Aslong as your not expecting assassins creed style graphics it should be quite possible.

    Seems like you need a good 3d artist friend? or atleast did back when you made this post.

    And yeah, considering its a mod, all the engine programming and what not is non-existant. His time will mostly be spent on scripting what exactly happens when you press the attack button which is what your talking about (well thats how I understand it).

    If you want to sell it or make money off it thats another kettle of fish… But theres always the hope that it will be picked up by a big development studio and u get taken along for the ride (like the tfc quake and hl team, the portal team, and countless mods for unreal.)

  7. Rick says:

    You should check out what this guy is doing with character animations. But then again, he makes lots of things look easy.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!