Monday, February 22, 2010

Kim Defines "Independent" (Dice-10 Post3)

There was an interesting 'hot topics' session at DICE in which Chris Taylor (Gas Powered Games) and Michael Capps (Epic Games - standing in for Tim Schaeffer) debated "Independent" development and "Indie" development.

Chris at one point made the assertion that there are different tiers. For example, there might be "2 guys in a garage" independent", Gas Powered Games-esque "$5M title bankrolled ourselves" independent, and there's Epic/Valve "We're sitting on a fair pile o'cash" independent.

There were some bar conversations (the best kind at DICE, of course) about this and about the difference between "independent" and "indie". There was some degree of concensus that the former has to do with influence and decision making. Dependence on someone for putting food on the table, etc. The latter seemed to mean different things to different people. The type of game design to some, the aesthetic to others, the 'spirit' in which the game is created.

Anyhow, here are my definitions of the two based on the epiphany I had in Chris's/Michael's talk and on the subsequent conversations (and libations):

Independent Developer: One having funds at their disposal to cover payroll through the next one to two cycles of development. (This definition works if you are sleeping on your friends couch while working on your Flash game, or whether you are covering 150 heads through a 2 year dev cycle).

Indie Game: One who's development and/or design tells a story that goes against the convention of the time. (This definition works for a game design or aesthetic that is different or goes against the grain - it also works for someone that does a run-of-the-mill schmup but does it on their own terms and funds it through kickstartr)

Please iterate and refine (or refute) in the comments .

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