I am an indie game developer. Not a particularly successful one, but one whose career has so far lasted over 12 years and 50 or so games. I am glad that indie games now command so much attention and coverage from the mainstream games media. However, I have two issues with this coverage. My criticism is not directed specifically at Edge, rather the media in general, although I feel your magazine is just as guilty for not providing an alternate voice.
Firstly, I do not consider that some developers who are considered to fall under the banner of ‘indie’ are really that at all. Let’s consider two examples: Mike Bithell and Lucas Pope. Both of these personalities undoubtedly created interesting games, but both did so from positions within the industry.
Both were able to leverage the media and industry contacts they already had, in order to get their games in the limelight. To draw comparisons with the music industry, they were not musicians toiling away using social media to gradually build up a following, until they gained the attention of a major label. They were Zayn Malik, launching a solo career after leaving a successful group.
My second concern is the apparent reluctance of the gaming press to draw attention to the obvious flaws in those few indie games that have become darlings of the industry. Braid is no doubt an innovative game but it is also one that features some horrendous puzzle design. I can understand that Papers, Please has an interesting story allowing you explore the moral dilemma of your behaviour under a crushing communist regime. But again, it features some dreadful design decisions, chief among them the fiddly manual you must consult to learn the game facts and the cramped space it is contained within.
Finally, I would like to briefly discuss Super Meat Boy. I’ve watched a few interviews with Edmund McMillen and he’s clearly a charismatic guy. Also, I understand that there are fans of rock-hard games that love the challenge that game offers. However, Super Meat Boy has sold millions of copies, and I would be willing to wager that most of those customers gave up within a couple of hours of first playing it. How can Edge rate so highly a game that many players only see a fraction of before ditching?
Of course, there are many indie games that thoroughly deserve all the praise they have received. I would love to see Edge host a discussion between a group of indie devs who have interesting things to say, but haven’t necessarily hit the big time (I am available!). I think in doing so you would be offering your readers a much broader insight into the current state of the industry. I also feel it would be interesting to see a more critical retrospective of some of these games: those I have mentioned above, along with Fez, Limbo and others. Sort of like Time Extend but perhaps offering not just a look back in time, but an alternate perspective. Jonathan Fisher
Providing a mix of high- and low-profile games isn’t always easy, but we don’t have a strict rule: if a game captures our interest, regardless of its origin, it goes in these pages. Now, what’s a Zayn Malik?
“How can Edge rate so highly a game that many players only see a fraction of before ditching?”
E3 is approaching fast once again, and the hype is starting to grow as usual. The world’s largest gaming expo is back. Or should I say the world’s previously largest expo is back?
Don’t get me wrong, E3 is still massive and regarded as a great event for all. But this year, it appears to be changing again. EA, Activision and Disney have dropped out
completely and given up on the conference, and Nintendo clearly has given its weakest approach yet, with Zelda for Wii U being the only game we’ll see at their conference.
Why is it falling apart? Why are companies all of a sudden giving up on the conference? I’d like to see in ten years’ time what E3 will be, because the real question is, will the three main companies have completely given up on it? One is already going, and it’s hard to see if it can gain any more strength after EA, Activision and Disney gave up on it. Which is a shame. The excitement is always huge around E3, and it wouldn’t be the same if it was no longer one of the most important dates of the year. James Baldwin
EA’s new event is just over the road from E3 itself, Activision will have a presence, if only at press conferences, and Disney’s removal is part of a bigger issue. So E3 as a whole isn’t in such bad shape, and it feels like there’s a bit more gas in the tank. Rogue-like I’ve greatly enjoyed the recent Dark Souls coverage in Edge. The retrospective of the original Dark Souls in E291 granted me an insight into a series that, though personally appealing, has fallen at an inflexible time in my gaming life – two children under the age of three makes prolonged gaming sessions hard to come by! – meaning my pyromancer is doomed to remain forever trapped in the Painted World Of Ariamis.
Rather than the core gameplay feel, which I personally found awkward and cumbersome, I now understand the series’ greatness lies in its systems and structure, qualities that take time to appreciate. The apparent influence of the series as detailed in E291 (and reinforced in E292’ s review Post Script) has given me an insight into why so many gamers and developers regard Souls so dearly. Now I can admire the series’ achievements despite being unable to pump 200-plus hours into three titles, and I thank Edge for this.
I now hope that Edge might find some space for a title equally deserving of recognition, not just for its brilliance, but also its influence in rebirthing the Roguelike genre. I refer, of course, to Spelunky, a title destined to be regarded as one of the most important of this or any generation.
I would love an in-depth article to learn more of the rare alchemy that formed
Spelunky. Derek Yu’s inspirations are clear, but I’d argue that his creation outstrips even Miyamoto’s best, so perfect is its feel, structure, and depth. Indeed, if I consider the hours I scraped together to conquer Spelunky’s Hell, my excuse for abandoning Dark Souls begins to ring a little hollow. That Spelunky compelled me where Souls (or any other game since parenthood) hasn’t is my greatest endorsement of it. Edd Brown
We’ve never been shy of praising Derek Yu’s game in these pages, but for the sort of insight you’re after, you should try his
Spelunky book, which is part of Boss Fight’s lineup of studies focused on classic titles. Waiting for the drop A while back I typed ‘ Uncharted 4 release date’ into my favourite search engine, only to learn that copies of the game were stolen during transit. It just confirmed for me Yoshinori Ono’s sentiment in E289’ s cover story that, “When information falls into the hands of the media, or people outside the company, they can’t help themselves.”
For such high-profile releases, are leaks inevitable? With Game Of Thrones last year and Rhianna’s Anti in January, it would appear that TV and music are not immune either, but the latter industry certainly seems better at avoiding it.
Perhaps this is due to experimentation in release strategies. Jay-Z and Kanye West stopped Watch The Throne from reaching the Internet prematurely by releasing it digitally before the planned retail date, and who can forget when Beyoncé’s self-titled album was uploaded to the iTunes store without warning? Both moves had an indelible effect on the music industry, and other artists followed suit.
Such album drops also make some fans go nuts. When I first heard about Lemonade, the day came to a stop. Several impatient moments later, I lay down on the couch to listen, only to arise euphoric. Obviously the music was the main enjoyment factor, but the buzz of excitement from learning about its existence mere minutes beforehand was no small part of the experience either, and left me craving for a similar feeling in games.
Admittedly, a lot more people can be involved in a game than an album, so by numbers alone, such releases may not be feasible. But Lemonade’s gargantuan credits show it was a collaboration as large as any development team. Yes, the top artists also have such sizeable and devoted followings that there will always be an audience and renumeration for their work, but if Jenova Chen or Jonathan Blow suddenly released a game, wouldn’t most of us buy and play it as soon as possible too?
Regardless, until a high-profile developer actually takes such a risk, and is successful, releases won’t change. We may all dream of booting up Steam to be presented with Half
Life 3, but it’s fantasy to imagine Valve, or any other developer, currently doing such a thing. We’ve seen it happen in music, but the risk in games is simply too high. It’s a shame, because music and gaming surprises together would be the ultimate fantasy.
After all, not much could be better than driving down a highway in GTAVI, minutes after first hearing of the game’s existence, singing along to Wilson Phillips’ Hold On. Benjamin Thompson
Except, of course, it’d be hours and hours after first hearing of the game if you were downloading it via PSN. The game industry works a bit too slowly sometimes. The postal system means that you’ll have to wait for your New 3DS, too, unfortunately.