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26 indie game developers you need to follow

The Odd Gentleman

It’s not every day that a student project manages to catch the eye of a major publisher, but that’s just what happened with The Odd Gentleman’s The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. Combining a unique silent film visual style and a time-bending game mechanic, the game managed to become an XBLA hit. Though the team’s next project revolves around slapping one another in the face, we wouldn’t be shocked if it was eventually upgraded to add a pie-in-the-face mode. Or at least some form of pastry-based play.


Playdead

Limbo is one of those games that people just can’t stop talking about. A breathtaking art style, minimalist but haunting production values, and the occasional anger inducing puzzle made Limbo worthy enough to gain a coveted perfect score from GR. It also marks a stunning debut for Danish studio Playdead, which despite being formed in 2006, never released a commercial game before Limbo. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take four years for the developer’s next project to arrive.


Pocketwatch Games

Educational games are boring - except when they’re made by Pocketwatch. The indie studio headed up by Andy Schatz is best known for its Venture series of games, which not only taught players about environmental issues in Africa and the Arctic, but were also damn fine games. The most recent Pocketwatch game, the IGF grand prize winning Monaco, goes in a distinctly different direction, - it’s a four-player, overhead, pixelated, caper game. Unfortunately, when it will actually be released is any body's guess.


Polytron Corporation

Remember that one game, called Fez, that was kind of like Super Paper Mario, where you could switch your perspective from 2D to 3D in order to solve puzzles? Well luckily for you, it’s still coming out. At some point. Originally slated to hit XBLA early in 2010, Fez has clearly seen some delays, but Montreal-based Polytron insists it’s not cancelled, though no specific release date has been announced. Images like this one have us counting the days.


Queasy Games

The cool thing about indie studios is that they’re often made up of just a handful of people. Or in the case of Queasy Games, just one: Jonathan Mak. Mak managed to create PSN’s first killer app single handedly, in the form of Everyday Shooter. The awesome, guitar-infused dual stick shooter first hit the PS3 back in 2007, and was followed by PC and PSP ports. Mak’s next project is a mystery, but whatever it is he’s working on in his Toronto lair, it can’t come soon enough.


Ragtime Games

The team at Ragtime Games hasn’t released a commercial game yet, but they did manage to score the award for best student game at last year’s IGF. That game was Continuity, one of the most addictive and creative puzzle games released in quite some time. And it’s about to become portable – at post time, the members of Ragtime are hard at work finishing Continuity 2 for the iPhone, a platform that seems like a perfect fit.


Ronimo Games

WiiWare isn’t particularly well known for its great crop of indie games. There are a few gems, however. Like Swords & Soldiers. Hilarious and charming, the game is also secretly one of the best console real time strategy games ever. And while it may be Ronimo’s only release to date, a number of the developers also worked on what would go on to become De Blob as students. Two releases, two great games. Not a bad track record. It has since migrated to PC and Mac, and the recently released PSN version even has Move and 3D support.

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30 comments

  • FreedomPhantom - February 16, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    I probably spend just as much time with games by these devs as I do with much bigger titles. Excellent choices GR!
  • CH3BURASHKA - February 16, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    I've heard of a majority of these developers. I'll most definitely be checking out the ones I haven't (heard of). One indie dev you seem to have missed is Giant Sparrow. However, that's completely understandable: they haven't released their first game, the Unfinished Swan, yet. In fact, they haven't had an update in over 4 months. I can only hope they're still working away at their game, because I'm absolutely stoked for it. For those unaware, check them out: www.giantsparrow.com Also, Eric Ruth has been in the gaming news quite a lot for his numerous demakes of famous games. He's responsible for the 8-bit versions of DJ Hero, Halo, L4D, and others, as well as a few originals. Check him out: http://ericruthgames.weebly.com/ PS Whadda ya know, Giant Sparrow updated just recently.
  • TheFlyingFishey - February 16, 2011 11:51 p.m.

    Hmmm...some preatty good choices here, but id really like to see Taleworlds.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - February 17, 2011 midnight

    Wheres Notch?
  • crossed23 - February 17, 2011 midnight

    Awesome article guys. I love to see the Indy guys get some much deserved love!
  • JohnnyMaverik - February 17, 2011 12:05 a.m.

    Surprised to not see Johnathan Blow's name pop up on here somewhere, not nessesarily all that bothered seeing as there were bound to be people/teams forgotten/left off, and he isn't the only one, but still surprised.
  • NotBraze - February 17, 2011 12:28 a.m.

    I've played several of these games after hearing good things through word of mouth, but Machinarium was a fantastic game which caught me completely by surprise. I purchased the most recent Humble Indie Bundle primarily for Braid which I had already fallen in love with, and World of Goo, which I had heard great things about, but I had never even heard the name Machinarium before, and when I launched the game it was love at first sight. In terms of story it's not incredibly deep or sophisticated, but the puzzles, the art style, and just the sheer amount of charm makes this hame a must play.
  • jazxsora - February 17, 2011 12:39 a.m.

    Sweet, my uncle (thatgamecompany) made the list. Sucks I can't play his games though, as I don't have a PS3.
  • miningguyx360 - February 17, 2011 1:17 a.m.

    SuperGiantGames should be on this list....
  • ChipTheExecutioner - February 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    where's notch/mojang? with how much minecraft news you guys post I figured they would be up there without a doubt
  • Risonhighmer - February 17, 2011 2:23 a.m.

    Shank was a crock of shit. It was a glorified flash game, that played worse than most of them these days. I hated the animation style, the dialogue was downright childish, and the controls were piss. However, all of the other titles and developers on this list are fantastic. Amanita Design's title Machinarium is by far my favourite adventure game of all time. And ThatGameCompany's Flower was absolutely brilliant and I can't wait to try journey. Meat Boy was platforming perfected. Sleep Is Death is hardly a game and is often pretty lame, but when it works, it works astoundingly well. As for AaaaaaAAaaaaAAAaaaAAAAaaAAAAAa! I loved the shit out of the demo, never got around to getting the full game (due to lack of funds) and their new game looks even better!
  • richtaur - February 17, 2011 2:25 a.m.

    Don't forget Lost Decade Games … … … anybody? ;)
  • JLThatshilarious - February 17, 2011 2:32 a.m.

    Where is Frictional Games? Why hasn't GR done ANY coverage of Amnesia? It comes out on retail the 22nd (feb). I expect there to be a review then Gamesradar, or I will be VERY unhappy.
  • Mike657 - February 17, 2011 2:46 a.m.

    I know this has been said already, but where the HELL are the creators of Minecraft? I can't believe they didn't make this list, did some stupid technicality keep them off?
  • Rub3z - February 17, 2011 3:25 a.m.

    There are some devs of note I'd like to add. You guys have checked out the indie games section on XBLA, and a couple guys from there that I think should havee made the list are Ska Studios (creators of the absolutely fantastic and wonderfully titled I MAED A GAEM WITH ZOMBIES 1NIT!!!111!! and the less known but still pretty cool ZP platforming/twin stick shooter online fragfest titles) and the creator of the radiangames series, whose name escapes me (pretty sure the dev is in fact called radiangames, not sure though), but most all of the radiangames - JoyJoy, Crossfire, fluid, Inferno, and the final one... the mind-bogglingly chaotic and beautiful Ballistic - are works of pure, distilled gameplay awesomeness. You owe it to yourself to try them. I really do hope those devs have more goodness to offer in the future.
  • heartskuppy - February 17, 2011 3:53 a.m.

    the lack of nifflas on this list makes me sad. :(
  • Montag - February 17, 2011 4:11 a.m.

    Amanita Design did a great mini game for the band Polyphonic Spree, very much in the same vein as Samorast... http://www.questfortherest.com/
  • Crimmy - February 17, 2011 4:21 a.m.

    Where's Uber Ent.? I <3 them. Monday Night Combat has devoured a lot of time (seven hours being cloaked as assassin alone is just scary) and that will just continue to grow. Oh wait MvC3 just released. THAT is going to be my new time killer.
  • Shuuvuia - February 17, 2011 5:18 a.m.

    I love thatgamecompany. They're definately one of the best indie developers out there. Flower is a masterpiece of modern gaming that just hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. I can't wait to see what the company does with Journey.
  • borutp - February 17, 2011 7:52 a.m.

    Check out Haunted Temple Studios' Skulls of the Shogun: http://skullsoftheshogun.com/

Showing 1-20 of 30 comments

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