The Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX East 2013.
For all the hand-wringing about the indie games bubble, concerns of an over-saturated marketplace, and fears that soon it will be impossible to make any kind of headway as an indie developer, the path forward has already been charted. It may have sneaked right by, under your nose. It will seem obvious, perhaps insultingly so.
The next phase of indie game development will be powered by collaboration.
New copies of Jason Rohrer’s Diamond Trust of London.
Finishing things is hard. For all the brand new conveniences and leisure distractions available today, the harsh reality is that the world only values you for what you produce. This is largely true for game development – unless you’re backed by tycoon money or are able to live frugally for extreme periods of time, you need to produce if you’re going to get anywhere.
If you’re a game developer, it’s likely part of you is terrified right about now. All the rules of the games business seem to be in constant flux, an incredible amount of studios have closed or shrunk to shadows of their former selves, and the phrase “job security” seems to be an oxymoron.
There’s a good reason for it, though: The gaming singularity is near.
Raziel in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is widely regarded for its excellent writing. There’s a reason for this that may not exactly surprise you: its writing is excellent, and deserves to be studied as an exemplar of what game writing can be.
First released to critical acclaim in 1999 for the original PlayStation, Soul Reaver had many things going for it. It had an intriguing “phase shifting” gameplay mechanic that innovated in design while stretching what was technically possible on the PS1; excellent voice performances across the board; an open, free-roaming world two years before GTA3’s release on the PS2; and of course, that fantastic writing, penned by Amy Hennig, who went on to write the Uncharted games.
So what made the writing so good?
Very few people actually know how to live. While those of us struggling to improve ourselves may think everyone else magically has their lives together, the $9 billion that the country spends in self-help books, seminars and programs says otherwise.
If nothing else, the huge market for this kind of material suggests that most of us have sizable gaps in our perceived knowledge of how life is supposed to work on this planet, and we’re figuring out the rest as we go.
To make this process as useful as possible, I’ve identified a basic three-step method to make continuous improvement a relaxing, enjoyable practice.
To the uninitiated, professional networking is an intimidating business. For veterans, however, it resembles something closer to hanging out with the purpose of getting to know others in your field for future employment, recruitment or collaboration opportunities.
Once you grow accustomed to how it all works – the dance of cursory introductions, the exchange of base stats (Are you working? Looking? Doing what?), the tangents into related anecdotes, the mutual feeling-out of each other’s humor and sensibilities – it all becomes an amusing practice. Almost like interactive people-watching.
Yet even for veteran networkers, there is a hard limit that caps the effectiveness of any networking attempt: the physical limitation of only being in one place at a time. Luckily, there are two ways of conceptualizing the act of networking that can help multiply your efforts. These are known as billboards and magnets.
When you meet someone for the first time, a thousand things happen. Consciously and unconsciously you note their facial expressions, their body language, the tone of their voice – all of the myriad tiny movements that broadcast their essence as a person to you within seconds. It all happens so fast, and much of it below the conscious level, that we often fall back on logic to explain away why we feel a certain way about someone we’ve just met.
But beneath the pat comfort of logic, our beliefs are already formed.