Getting to know you...
For Indie Week at GamesRadar, we reached out to some of the biggest names in the independent development scene for their opinions. But these people werent always luminaries of home grown gaming. And we had to ask ourselves what game, if any , inspired them to make a game of their own?
For some there was no one game that pushed them in, for others theres a direction connection to playing something in their youth to making games on their own. Take a look and see if any of your favorite devs pulled direct inspiration from one of your favorite titles...
Jonathan Lavigne, Tribute Games (Mercenary Kings)
Ive been dreaming of doing this for years, so its probably a combination of games from my childhood that inspired me. I mean, wanting to make games like the ones I grew up with was a huge driving force for me. Mega Man 2 is probably the game that inspired me the most, and if youve read the story behind that game, you can almost consider it as an indie game.
Jake Kazdal, 17-Bit (Skulls of the Shogun, Galak-Z)
I think for me it was Pixeljunk Monsters for PS3, made by Q-Games in Kyoto. I'm a huge fan of all their work, and I realized that while working in AAA I was never going to be able to make a cute, fun 2D game like that. That game and my love of Advance Wars was the kick-off for Skulls of the Shogun!
Jenova Chen, thatgamecompany (Journey)
I think it's not really the inspiration to be indie, but the inspiration to create something that moves people and make their life better. And these games made me feel that way: Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy VII, Katamari Damacy, Legend of Sword and Fairy().
Sean Murray, Hello Games (Joe Danger)
For us, it was a series of games that we played like crazy when we were kids--Sonic, Micro Machines, Mario. Wed seen games getting really serious and losing that sense of color and immediate fun in the years before we went indie, so we wanted to make a game that could capture the same feel.
Graham Smith, Drinkbox Studios (Guacamelee!)
In 2008 there were already some really great Toronto-based Indie games on PSN and XBLA. Specifically, N+ (MetaNet Software & Slick Entertainment) and Everyday Shooter (Queasy Games) were very inspiring success stories. Coming from a console development background, we saw the potential of these distribution platforms, and really wanted to be a part of this new and emerging space.
Collin van Ginkel, Two Tribes (Toki Tori)
There was no real indie scene in 2001. So we did work for hire and such for the first couple of years. I think the release and success of Geometry Wars on Xbox Live Arcade gave me the indie itch again. It took a few years for us to transition, but we're totally independent now.
Mel Kirk, Zen Studios (Zen Pinball)
We have always believed that its best to control your own destiny. In that spirit, we knew we had a solid team capable of delivering good games. That was all the inspiration we needed. So we jumped off into the deep end, started swimming and have never looked back.
Edmund McMillen, Team Meat (Super Meat Boy)
I wanted to make my own stuff, that was the only way to do it. When i started making indie games the internet was blowing up (around when the first internet crash happened). It was kind of like the Old West. You could do what you wanted and everything was exciting and new. I wanted to make cool stuff I didn't see in the mainstream, so I just continued to do what I was doing.
Chris Cobb, Ragtag Studios (Rays The Dead)
I wouldn't say theres any one game that inspired me to go indie, but Ive noticed that more and more over the years I have strayed away from the cookie cutter, big budget games and tended toward the more unique experiences. Games like Demons Souls and Sword and Sworcery were hugely inspirational, and I'm so pleased that these unusual games have found an audience. Seeing the market for games like these continuing to increase, but not being able to make them was a huge catalyst for going indie.
Brian Provinciano, Vblank Entertainment (Retro City Rampage)
Developing my own games had always been in the back of my mind, but the financial security of keeping a day job held me back from the fear of losing it all. Eventually though, my passion for Retro City Rampage became so strong that I couldn't focus at the day job at all. All I wanted to do was get home and keep working on my own game. It became pretty rough to slog through nine hours a day on something I wasn't enjoying, so ultimately I decided it was worth the risk and went indie.
Derek Yu (Spelunky)
There wasn't a game in particular that inspired me to go indie. It's the only way I've ever made games... I really enjoy having so much control over the development process and the freedom that the lifestyle offers me. But Gish and Darwinia were two early indie games that helped inspire Alec and me when we were working on Aquaria, our first commercial indie game.
Yousuf Mapara, Switchblade Monkeys (Secret Ponchos)
Almost everyone on our team worked at larger "AAA" studios as Leads or Directors, but eventually we all found ourselves in a similar mindset that we need to do something creative and new, even if we don't get paid for it. Just to reignite that passion of loving games, and remind ourselves of why we first got into the industry, instead of pumping out products. We came up with a cool game concept that got us inspired, and the people in our group just wanted to collaborate on it. We did not set out to do a business or start-up, it was just a game we all saw we could make together if we contributed our skill sets and time. I really love this dynamic, it reminds me of how a group of friends in school get together in their garage to make a band.
Mike Roush and Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games (Bit.Trip, Runner 2)
We wouldnt say theres any game in particular that led to our decision to go indie, unless you count our own games. We wanted total creative control, which meant quitting our jobs, taking a pay cut, and making the games weve always wanted to make. We dont regret it one bit.
Kevin Geisler, Young Horses (Octodad: Dadliest Catch)
Braid introduced me to the idea of making games that trended toward being experimental while being developed by a small team. It didnt seriously cross my mind before that people could financially be successful without climbing the ranks of a larger studio. Otherwise, it wouldnt be false to say that Octodad inspired me to take the leap after having received so much positive feedback from people who played our student version. For a lot of us on the team, it really seemed like it would be a wasted opportunity if we did not try to make a more polished version.
Bryan Sawler, Muteki Corporation (Dragon Fantasy)
Gauntlet for the Nintendo DS. I know this is an odd answer, especially as the game never actually came out and that's probably WHY it inspired me. Long ago myself and Adam Rippon (also at Muteki) worked on a Gauntlet game for the Nintendo DS. It was a labor of love in a lot of ways and we were both genuinely excited how it shaped up. And then for a number of reasons we won't get into (and some we don't even really know) it was canceled by the publisher. And then it was pitched to about a dozen more publishers over the years and some picked it up before then giving up on it. I wasn't part of the business side at all there, just a lowly engineer, so I don't know why it all happened. I just know it was crushing to have this game that you poured so much energy into not ever come out. And we're not talking, Oh, it was canceled like 30% into development. The game was finished.
After that Adam left that company, and a few months later I did as well. He went on to work elsewhere, and I started Muteki. Then some years later, stars aligned and he joined and here we were working together again. And now we're in a position to say if we have a game that we've made, and we love it, no one can tell us sorry it's canceled due to some unclear business decisions. Now I'm the guy making the business decisions.