Jun 21, 2008

Rise of the Indie Developers

Game production is getting pretty buffeted right now by much of the developer community. There is a great deal of talk about the ‘lack of innovation’ and the issues with publisher based funding. There are major complaints that with all of the technical developments, the development teams need to be larger and larger to take advantage of the technology – thus needing more capital to get started.

For all of the criticism that current game development gets, there are some major things going on right now that will change the face of gaming over the next 20 years. The biggest advancements being in the emergence of high quality, affordable development tools. This includes physics engines, game engines, 3D software, 2D tools, etc.

In some cases some concessions may need to be made if money is tight, but there are loads of options. Can’t afford Photoshop CS? You may need to buy Photoshop Elements. Can’t afford Maya? You may need to pick up Poser or Milkshape. Don’t have time (or knowledge) to build a 3D engine? Pick up a copy of the Torque engine.
The other component is the availability of a great deal of information online. There are more tutorials on various aspects of development than any other time in history. Just hop onto youtube and type in “actionscript game tutorial” and you can be writing a game in Flash in no time.

Even if you want to do something highly polished, I feel that the technology boom only helps independents. Zbrush or Mudbox make doing highly detailed models crazy easy and fast. As an indie, you may only be able to build a fraction of the content that the big guys are doing – but with some old school tricks you can find ways to reuse content.

These advancements will give indies an opportunity to compete unlike any other time in gaming history.

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