Indie games: The next generation
Were on the verge of a new generation of gaming with the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One. All the big publishers are gearing up with multimillion dollar entries in their annual franchises and expensive new game engines. But while the heavyweights of the industry start investing in next-gen, where does this leave the little guys of the indie scene?
In the next part of our series of opinion pieces from independent developers, we asked high profile creators what they think of the oncoming console cycle. Are they excited? Worried? Unconcerned? Those feelings and more are shared in the following quotes from some of our favorite indie devs...
Jenova Chen, thatgamecompany (Journey, Flower)
I'm very cautious about the various rumors about the next-gen consoles. In an era where console games are disrupted by social and mobile games, more or less of the traditional console game market will be reduced. I am pretty sure we won't see three consoles splitting the market any more. If you look at any industry that has been disrupted by the technology, you see the consolidation of power. After this new generation of console war, my guess is two or maybe only one console will survive.
Edmund McMillen, Team Meat (Super Meat Boy)
Honestly, I'm not super excited. I mean, it seems obvious that PS4 is where it's at, especially for indie devs, but my home is on Steam.
Kevin Geisler, Young Horses (Octodad: Dadliest Catch)
I love seeing this surge of openness that hasnt shown up in recent generations (thanks, in part, to the success of Apples App Store). That, combined with better development tools, will help ensure that developers big and small arent wasting a ton of resources simply trying to get the game to run on the hardware. I also love to see the myriad of control options that are available on each of the consoles, like tablets and motion control and hope that we see a lot more esoteric games that take full advantage of these devices.
Chris Cobb, Ragtag Studios (Rays The Dead)
Because were developing for the PS4, our position on next-gen consoles should be quite apparent! While all the extra horsepower under the hood is great, its not what gets us super excited. What does have us excited is the emphasis on social features, and the increasing tendency to open the consoles up to developers of all shapes and sizes. At the start of the last generation of consoles, it would have been much smaller for a small three man team working on a bizarre game like Ray's the Dead to get the time of day from any of the console manufacturers. With the rise of digital distribution, and the demand for refreshing experiences constantly increasing, its easier than ever for games like Ray's the Dead to find a home on consoles. We are stoked!
Mike Roush and Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games (Bit.Trip, Runner 2)
Its going to be interesting! It might be a tad presumptuous to say that this next generation of consoles will decide the fate of console gaming as a whole, but its certainly going to be a pivotal moment for it. As both creators and consumers, however, were very excited (and optimistic!) about whats to come in the years ahead.
Graham Smith, Drinkbox Studios (Guacamelee!)
I'm really excited by the possibilities of the upcoming consoles. The push to have more integration with social media, and the exploration of newer streaming technologies are both very interesting. The ability to stream PS4 games to my Vita, for example, is a system selling feature for me.
Jake Kazdal, 17-Bit (Skulls of the Shogun, Galak-Z)
Having more raw horsepower is only going to make our jobs easier as small developers. The ability to prototype quickly without being super-efficient would make production much faster, and not needing to optimize as much also saves loads of time. Obviously being able to try new graphics techniques that haven't been done before is much easier with more horsepower as well, and the increased emphasis on downloadable-only titles is great for our style of business.
Collin van Ginkel, Two Tribes (Toki Tori)
We think they're fine. Our games don't require the horsepower that they provide, which means we don't have to worry about performance much. So for us, the excess power makes sure we can spend more time on fine tuning the experience instead of getting it to work at all.
Jonathan Lavigne, Tribute Games (Mercenary Kings)
For the kind of game we make, the increase in resolution, polygon count and processing power dont make a big difference. However, this new generation of console is going to be interesting for small and large game companies because its going to change the market by putting an unprecedented amount of emphasis on digital distribution. This, combined with the integration of social networks, will bring the players closer to the developers, which is great for independent companies.
Brian Provinciano, Vblank Entertainment (Retro City Rampage)
With next-gen consoles, I'm most excited about how accessible they've become. More than what's under the hood. The PS4 SDK makes development much easier than PS3, and on the business side, Sony's made it easier than ever to become a licensed developer and release games. Give Sonys Adam Boyes a big high five next time you see him.
Mel Kirk, Zen Studios (Zen Pinball)
As a player I am extremely excited for next-gen consoles. As a developer, there is no denying the amount of nervous energy running through our veins. This is the second console cycle for Zen Studios and theres no doubt this time around is far more complex than the previous generation. Can consoles remain relevant to the way we live our lives today and the devices we interact with on a minute by minute basis? Lets hope so! The big differentiator will be the games, and right now there are a few that look ridiculously amazing, and the rest are pretty meh.
Bryan Sawler, Muteki Corporation (Dragon Fantasy)
It's been a long time coming and I'm genuinely excited. I've always leaned on the side of being a bit of a graphics whore (despite our recent games all being retro go figure), so I'm looking forward to see what people are able to make them do. This also marks the first generation with Muteki as a console developer, so I can't wait to get my hands on the systems and see what we can do as well!
The heavy move towards digital distribution and the greater acceptance of it by console gamers is huge for a small company like us. There's no way we can afford to do runs of physical goods and then deal with distributors and what-not, but we can put our games out on all of the new systems, and get them in front of core gamers.