26 indie game developers you need to follow

Semi Secret Software

If you own an iPhone, go buy Canabalt. Like, right now. Its monochromatic graphics, simple yet exhilarating gameplay, and heart pounding soundtrack make it one of the best titles on the platform to date. And the developers at Semi Secret managed to follow it up recently with yet another gem, the deceptively difficult Gravity Hook HD. Wait, you thought we were going to say SteamBirds, didn’t you? We could have. This crew has a penchant for creating retro-styled games that fit perfectly on the iPhone, so it’s hard not be excited for whatever it is they have coming next.

Spooky Squid Games

The two-man team at Spooky Squid is currently hard at work on its first full-scale commercial release, the puzzle/strategy hybrid Guerrilla Gardening. And while that game looks great, you need only look at the studio’s history of small, free titles to see its potential. For example, Night of the Cephalopods is what would happen if Evil Dead featured squids instead of zombies, and it features incredibly unique and engaging real-time narration that describes what’s happening on screen. It may be short, but it definitely shows off what Spooky Squid is capable of, which makes the wait for Guerrilla Gardening all the more difficult.

Team Meat

Why are people so in love with Team Meat’s debut game, Super Meat Boy? Well, there are a few reasons. It’s based on the awesome Flash game Meat Boy. Programmer Tommy Refenes previously worked on games like Goo!, while designer/artist Edmund McMillen is known for titles like Gish and Aether. It’s caked with nods to old school gaming. The game also stars a cube of meat fighting a fetus in a jar and hardcore, blood-soaked platforming. So, really, what’s not to be excited about?


For most developers, making a game about microscopic creatures eating each other or flowers blowing in the breeze would be a night impossible task. Even more so if they wanted to make the game fun. That’s what makes thatgamecompany so special. Games like flOw and Flower are both very different and very good, a combination that can be hard to come by. The games have also gotten progressively better, a trend that will hopefully continue with the release of Journey on PSN.

Twisted Pixel

The Maw came out of nowhere and was pretty great. Then came ‘Splosion Man, which was even better. Twisted Pixel’s next game, Comic Jumper, didn’t garner quite so much adoration, but the upcoming Ms. Splosion Man looks to return to the company’s usual solid gold form.

Got an indie developer you’d like to showcase? Shout ‘em up in the comments below!

Feb 16, 2011

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  • 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: 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: 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...
  • 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:

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