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Be creative... you don't have a choice

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So I'm sitting there playing with my cat when all the sudden I realize something... Every single highly succesful indie game incorperates a new concept behind it. This makes a lot of since, wouldn't you agree? If you make a First Person shooter and sell it for 20 bucks, would someone honestly buy that over going and getting a professional FPS for 20 bucks? The graphics are better, sound is better, gameplay is (mostly) smoother. So, the only way the indie developers can get themselves ahead of the game is by creating concepts no one has thought of, or on topics that the indusrty won't touch! Examples: BreakQuest: the first "block breaker" game to be centered around a very strong physics engine Defcon: The first realistic RTS game that focused it's tactics more around the concept of chess than conventional warfare. Console RPG's: These can generally go un-noticed, but they do offer a quality that was lost long ago in the RPG realm, simple graphics. Aveyond is rediculously addictive for how stupid the story line is. Half Life 1: Yes, belive it or not, half life was an indie game (and Valve still is technically independant). It was the first FPS to incorperate seamless story-telling into a game. Gish: come on... name one other platformer where you're a 12 pound ball of sticky tar. This is the first game to ever have concepts anywhere close to this. The way to get famous is to be creative to your breaking point. Not gonna lie, it could end up completley alienating and unplayable, but on the other side, you could end up getting pretty rich. Look at Introversion! lol, idk, I'm just venting :P

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I wouldn't say every successful indie game is based around a new concept; the indie-strong casual market often has sequels and imitators high on the best seller list.

I do however agree that it's best to have some unique thing that makes your game stand out over the others, and that creative game design is a good way to do that. However my impression is that with many game ideas it's often not the revolutionary game that's the big seller but the next evolutionary one; the one that cleans up the rough edges of the pioneering games and expertly adds just the right combination of features to make a well-rounded package.

For example, I don't really regard Half-Life as revolutionary in having a seamless story-telling in a game. I've seen good story-telling in first person games since Ultima Underworld, and I've seen the introduction of several of the techniques used by Valve in other previous games such as Cybermage: Darlight Awakening (which had the bulk of its story told "in game").

(Additionally, I'm not sure if Valve qualifies as "indie" with Half-Life; didn't they sign up with Sierra very early on in the development cycle? Regardless, they're certainly not the typical model that most aspiring indie developers can follow).

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Original post by TheKrustIf you make a First Person shooter and sell it for 20 bucks, would someone honestly buy that over going and getting a professional FPS for 20 bucks?


I just want to make a note that this is a given; if you could live in a shack or a mansion for the same price, you'd probably choose the mansion. Usually, the pro game will cost substantially more than the indie game, so its lower price is really its better selling point.

I agree however that creativity is a must.

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Original post by Funkymunky
Usually, the pro game will cost substantially more than the indie game, so its lower price is really its better selling point.


I agree, but HL2 episode one started as 20 bucks, counter strike source is 20 bucks, most of the older unreal tournaments are from $7 - $15 bucks... You see where I'm going here.


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I agree, but HL2 episode one started as 20 bucks, counter strike source is 20 bucks, most of the older unreal tournaments are from $7 - $15 bucks... You see where I'm going here.

You forget the marketing.

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Thats my point. If you plug your game everywhere AND you have previous successful installments - you can then sell it 3$ a copy and still make a huge profit.
Or you can go without marketing - then it doesnt matter what the price is, 1c or 100$.

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I agree with Trapper Zoid, Starcraft was/is stupidly successful dispite the fact that there's little originality about it. What Blizzard did was simply push out an extremely well polished clone of existing games (which they have a reputation for). Just look at World Of Warcraft, most of the elements in that game you'd find in Everquest.

Quote:
I've seen good story-telling in first person games since Ultima Underworld, and I've seen the introduction of several of the techniques used by Valve in other previous games such as Cybermage: Darklight Awakening (which had the bulk of its story told "in game").


Ahh, such fond memories. ^^

EDIT: In hindsight i guess Starcraft and WoW aren't really good examples of indie games. Xp

I think something more along the lines of Doukutsu Monogatari (cave story) would probably serve as a better example.

[Edited by - Gyrthok on August 12, 2007 8:40:50 PM]

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The difference between success and failure is the level of polish your game has. Polished game requires talent, passion, vision and strong planning skill. These do not scale along with the amount of assets in game as the money does.

So, what I say is that indie devs should focus more on planning how they intend to polish the game to the heaven with reasonable cost of time and people instead trying to create a game that nobody understand in the first 2 mins because... they simply never seens one and the mechanics are too complex. Be creative but don't jump too far from the "what people are familiar with".

Frustration is not allowed in games. After you met this point you can think about being creative (which is just putting together already known things in an improved manner... this is what creativity is and sounds like a bit of polish, doesn't it?).

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At first, please dont compare Blizzard with other companies. Blizzards games usually have extremely high quality in at least 1 area, usually more. WoW has some really shiney graphics for a MMORPG and its pretty big. Starcraft had some really shiney graphics for the time and is one of the best balanced games existing if patched properly. Diablo also had very nice graphics and it had an extreme motivating drop system (at least for some people). Thats why Blizzards game are as successful as nothing else. They just are on a mad quality level.

Basically, indie developers should take this as an example how a good game should be. There is no need to be brilliant at every single aspect. Some aspects might even suck (WoW "character development"...., "story" in Diablo2....), but some areas have to be extremely good.
Ok, some areas have to be good. Basically, the "interface friction" has to be minimized, that is: A player should be able to give his input as convenient as possible. This implies the ability to redefine keyboard layouts, mouse sensitivity. Furthermore, things like volume, brightness and similar "trivial" things should be adaptable easily.
If I am unable to adapt the keys to my need, Im annoyed pretty often (standard egoshooter movement keys: FGHT. 'nuff said?). An annoyed gamer is no good customer.


However, after this, you can specialize. Innovations and gameplay are a good idea to specialize in, because gamers become curious: "what other wierd things did he create? what else can I discover?". A problem with this is to keep giving the player interesting input to keep him interested If you slam out all your innovative potential in 10 minutes, you are doomed, because at least I get bored after that, unless I have no time to get bored. :)

Graphics on the other hand are an interesting part. usually specializing in graphics is not such a good idea, because its hard to compete with professionals. You should *not* try to create the best graphics ever existed. Create the graphics that fit your gameplay best. I have seen a lot of games that were fancy-3D-foobar, but a simpler graphics whould work better imo. Trust me, well done 2D-Graphics with lots of flashes, particles and other shiney stuff floating around will look very nice, too. Prolly even better than the 3D-Solution you might create. :)

Story might be a good area to be good at, however, it is costly. I CANT be bothered to read those 10 pages of full-screen-text-with-size-8 in the beginninge of a game. Let me play the damn story! Or at least, read it to me. Generalizing this, in order to tell a story well, you either need voice actors to do things or you need more levels to let me play the story. DONT make the player read pages and pages and even more pages of text. That sucks.


Well, basically thats about it, what I have thought of until now.
Greetings,
Hk

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Blizzards games usually have extremely high quality in at least 1 area, usually more.

I still instinctively shudder every time i remember WC3 game art. With THOSE models, THOSE textures, THOSE in-game animations - it was, nevertheless, selling great.

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