Support Originality!

I write this introduction only a few short days after the colossal event in London, that revealed the next iteration of the fighting game phenomenon that is Mortal Kombat. Throughout the event, IGN threw articles up to its homepage like they were going out of fashion and you couldn’t browse your social media without coming across an event livestream. Such is the power of a mega-successful gaming franchise backed by a massive publisher like Warner Bros Entertainment with a multi-million dollar marketing budget.

This post isn’t about adding to the Mortal Kombat hyperbole, but it is about highlighting how our attention can be bought, and our focus influenced by triple-A publishers with big pockets. The sheer amount of coverage of this event across gaming websites is no coincidence. It is part of a well thought-out and calculated marketing strategy, and judging by my social feeds and the fact that I have skewed the opening paragraphs of this article, we are all influenced by it.

Recently, I noticed a question cast across the Twittersphere asking people to name the titles that they were most looking forward to during the first quarter of 2019. The answers made for somewhat predictable reading;
Kingdom Hearts 3, Devil May Cry 5, Metro Exodus, Crackdown 3 and The Division 2.

Of course, topping the list was Resident Evil 2, a remake of a game released 20 years ago. If this release proves to be successful, then we can surely expect the games industry to follow Hollywood in their obsession with remaking old content. The remake of Final Fantasy VII is already in development at Square Enix, with many of us already onboard the hype-train despite the lengthy journey.

Creating a new IP is a lot of work; there are no guarantees, there is no existing audience, it’s more difficult to market and it probably won’t be what the developers want it to be until the sequel. It’s no surprise that publishers are willing to take less and less risks with original content, and we can’t blame publishers for preferring the guarantees that come with appeasing an existing fan-base over gambling on new intellectual property. (We can blame them for crappy loot box tactics or overpriced DLC but that’s another blog post).

If we dig a little deeper, we can find a couple of gold nuggets of originality; Anthemand Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are both titles scheduled for release during Q1, 2019. However, although we can class them as such they are both obviously catering to pre-existing fan-bases. Electronic Arts hopes to capitalise on the floundering Destiny fan base whilst Activision, if they have any sense, will leave well alone and let FromSoftware cater to their ‘SoulsBorne’ fanbase with Sekiro.

Of course, there are many other titles scheduled for release over the next couple of months, but to unearth anything truly original is difficult. I wonder if we might reach a point where the only big-budget releases we see are the ones propped by a franchise with a proven record? And so, with a games industry so afraid to bet on originality, we need to look elsewhere…

Indie game afficionado @Jupiter_Hadley recently asked people to share their #indiegames projects on Twitter and add their one-line elevator pitch. It seems mightily appropriate for me to end this article by digging through the HUGE list of responses and highlighting a few, alongside a couple of others that have peeked my interest.

Let’s lend our support to the smaller teams in this industry, developing projects because of their passion for games, rather than board room demands. I’ve added Twitter handles to make it super-easy to follow these devs, and if you’re a developer not featured, post your pitch and link in the comments!

Good luck everyone!

Afterparty
@AfterpartyGame

“In Afterparty, you are Milo and Lola, recently deceased best buds who suddenly find themselves staring down an eternity in Hell. Bu there’s a loophole: Out-drink Satan and he’ll grant you re-entry to Earth.”

Backbone
@backbonegame

“Making a 2.5D pixel art adventure game about a raccoon PI crawling through dystopian, retrofuturistic Vancouver.”

Blood will be Spilled
@blwbs

“We’re making a hand-drawn spaghetti western 2D platformer with tactical turn-based combat. You follow the story of Jack, a mosquito gunslinger on his quest for revenge.”

Button City
@ButtonCity


“Currently working on a cute narrative adventure game called Button City which is about a young fox who is trying to save the local arcade from closing down.”

Chinatown Detective Agency
@genintco


“It’s an homage to “Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego?” You’re a private detective in Singapore in the year 2032, hunting down a serial killer.But you also have to run your business.”

Cilantro and the Dank Burrito
@CilantroGame

“Blast your way across ridiculous and disgusting locations to find the gnarliest ingredients in Cilantro & the Dank Burrito – an action platformer inspired by the Sega Genesis-era!”

Cloudpunk
@ionlands

“In the sprwaling cyberpunk city of Nivalis, your first night as a delivery driver for Cloudpunk will see you meet and interact with a diverse cast of humans, AI and androids, each with their own story to tell.”

CryptoCam
@CryptoCamGame

“I’m making CryptoCam! It’s a first person photography game about taking pictures of cute cryptids.”

Dead End Job
@FreakyZoid

“Dead End Job is a cartoony ghost blasting twin stick shooter.”

Don’t Escape: 4 Days in a Wasteland
@scriptwelder

“A point and click adventure game putting you in the middle of a global apocalypse caused by a mysterious Moon explosion. Also, the world ends in four days!”

Future Flashback
@futureflashbck

“Behold a future where a drug is capable of recreating vivid memories. Untangle the obsessive mind of an ex-surgeon, that after an accident, starts reliving the memories of a girl he never met.”

Heartbound
@PirateSoftware


“Heartbound is a non-traditional RPG about a boy, his dog, secrets, and sanity. The story changes based on minor actions performed by the player throughout their adventure.”

Innkeep
@DanielOBurke

“Run your own 2D fantasy world inn. Serve ale, share rumors, tell jokes, cook “creatively” with whatever you can find, and maybe rob your guests a little.”

ISO
@_Mnots

“ISO is a game set in a futuristic world, where you experience the day-to-day of an interstellar bounty hunter. Battle off space pirates, escape the clutches of a rogue corporation, eat some tasty ramen.”

Jetboard Joust
@bitbulldotcom


“I’ve spent three years working on a retrogame shooter where you utilise a wide array of ridiculous weapons o stop evil aliens abducting your babies and turning them into mutants.”

Lost Ember
@MooneyeStudios


“You play as a wolf with the ability to switch into any animal you meet (15 different ones in the end).”

Magician’s Valley
@ArcalieRdgz

“Magician’s Valley is an atmospheric and immersive walking simulator where you will live the journey into a new life!”

Mare
@Zmakesgames

“The game follows Naomi, who awakens to find they cannot remember their name, memories, or where they are. All they know is they can hear a lone voice calling to them, ‘Naomi, come find me’.”

Mesmer
@rain_games


“A Social Survival game where you convince people to join your revolution.”

Purgatory
@JoelMayerProds

“A side-scrolling horror adventure reminiscent of games like ‘Clock Tower’ but mixed with an intricate story about young people.”

Puzzle Pelago
@HallgrimGames

“Puzzle Pelago is a ware-chain-economy-sim turned puzzle game. Think settlers, but roads must not cross, space is limited, and the islanders need all kind of goods!”

Retrace
@RetraceGame

“It’s a game about love, death, puzzles and lesbians.”

Röki
@PolyTreehouse


“Röki is a game of adventure, courage and folklore. It’s a game about monsters that shouldn’t exist, but do. Join Tove on a fantastical journey to save her family, and discover who she really is.”

Sea Salt
@YCJYgames

“We are making a pixel art action strategy hybrid where you play as a troop of monsters controlled through the hive mind of Dagon, the eldritch force of the sea.”

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi
@shaunaitcheson

“We are making a pixel art point and click adventure … about a logging worker who gets stranded alone deep in the jungle. Will he make it out alive?”

Summer in Mara
@chibigstudio

We’re making Summer in Mara. A tropical adventure about taking care of your own island and sailing through the ocean”

Techium Eclipse
@KennyNL

“It’s like a modern day Missile Command. Defend Earth from incoming meteors, change the orbit to save important structures, build a space port and leave the planet!”

The Last Friend
@theStonebot


“We are working on a tower-defense beat’em-up mashup. You’re goal to is protect the mobile doggo shelter from evil starving mutants with the power of your brain and fists in a not so classic post apocalyptic world”

Tumbling Apart
@goodnameheredev


“It is a harrowing tale of one man’s guilt over the fate that has befallen his sister, and his desperate trek across time to fix it.”

Warborn
@JoshReganDev

Warborn is a turn-based strategy game about squads of giant mechs battling each other”

Waycaster
@NickDCarver

“A platform, puzzle adventure game about controlling light and keeping to the shadows.”

Zniw Adventure
@KurasiuPL

“We’re creating a kid-friendly traditionally animated point n’ click adventure game with dinosaurs!”

6 thoughts on “Support Originality!

  1. That’s so great that you shared all of these indie games! Some of these look absolutely beautiful 🤓 I totally get what you mean about not being able to escape the media about some things but it all comes down to the marketing budgets. Obviously Indie devs don’t have those budgets so we need more people like you to spread the word.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey thanks pal!

      There’s a crazy amount of passion projects like these in development. I guess the difficulty is finding the quality, and making people aware of it. I wrote the article as a reminder to myself to be honest, to search out and take an interest in projects like these, rather than the latest cookie-cutter triple-A releases.

      I may well create another post v.soon highlighting another 30 indie projects! Thanks for reading!👍😊

      Like

  2. I really enjoyed Oxenfree so I can’t wait for Afterparty!

    Indies also seem to be the place where devs push art styles in more creative directions. While most AAA games go for photorealism, I love seeing games like Gris and Ape Out do something different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! The small guys are kinda forced to be different to stand out, which is why you see such creative art direction a lot of the time.

      I literally just finished playing through Oxenfree a couple of nights ago. Loved it!

      Liked by 1 person

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