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Indie Criticism

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Read this:


And tell me what you think. These topics are not plain statements, I'm hoping to start an interesting conversation. I'm kind of disappointed when most people here just hit the "Thank/Like" button, maybe say "Nice post!", and don't offer any of their own points, counterpoints, or other ideas.


And now for some rambling weird thoughts that came to mind after reading it:


  • McJobless, le717 and Quistaros Pugnat thanked this



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Yes. So much this. You sum this up with the TLM metaphor perfectly. :)

Quistaros Pugnat

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As usual, an insightful and thought-provoking piece of writing.

It's funny, I was thinking about this subject earlier today, in relation to Backlot.

Backlot was by no means the pinnacle of gaming. The game consisted of three levels of various treasure hunts and information relaying, made occasionally challenging by a rather eccentric physics system. In abstract, it sounds terribly forgettable.  And yet, that game gave me an enjoyment that compelled me to replay it and cherish it for years. Obviously, nostalgia is a major factor, but I think there's something more. Backlot always immersed me. Like some lucid, pleasant dream, it felt appealing both for its level of detail and for its vacuity. It looked nice, not shoddy, but delightfully simple. It was interactive, allowing for the map to be read, Johnny Thunder's binoculars to be used, his gun to be fired, music to be turned on, the player to be electrocuted, coffee cups to be filled with a specific type of coffee, characters to be talked to, and more. Even the superfluous features and details, like the binoculars or the actor dressed as Takua, added something.  They offered a chance to interact with a world, to feel part of it. It was a very simple microcosm, but it was not inherently contrived. There were few limits or slights of hand designed to move the player along in a certain direction. If the player performed his proper tasks, it was of his own direction, and not the result of "hand-holding." The game was even educational, in a very limited way.  Because of it I learned about the connection between a sled called "Rosebud" and Citizen Kane and between Ruby Slippers and the Wizard of Oz. Mind you, the game didn't explain their significance, and I would have no doubt learned of them anyway, but it was one of those immersive touches. There was another compelling element, that of the physics engines, which managed to make a virtue of shoddiness. Under the system, one could make use of just about any higher surface, be it a step or a toolbox, to drastically increase the height of one's jump. This, combined with the game's shoddy invisible barriers, allowed for the player to explore places, like the vast out of bounds areas and the tops of buildings, that he was never intended to. Most games are like this to some extent, but few to the extent of Backlot. This added another level of enjoyment. Indeed, actually finishing Backlot was simply icing on  the cake.

In short, Backlot was a game made with care, and one that captured the ethos of gaming in a very important way.

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[2:24:46 AM] jamesster: And now I'm looking at the topic a few hours later and wondering what the hell I wrote
[2:27:06 AM] jamesster: I think I initially was just gonna post a blog with a link to Tevis's thing, then I added a few rambling spontaneous thoughts after that, then just before posting decided to put it in creative theory instead of a blog?
[2:27:08 AM] jamesster: meh

Anyway, I just want to clarify that the main thing I wanted to post here was Tevis's IndieCade talk, as I found his "indie player" thing interesting. The other bits aren't really tied together well or directly related, just misc. stuff that came to mind after reading that.

Edit: Alrighty, spoiler'd the weird scattered bits. I'm also wondering why this post here got a thank.
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But there is nothing arrogant about evaluating your own experiences and putting those judgments out there for others. Even if you do so forcefully (because feelings are forceful). I find far more arrogant those who withhold judgment and feign impartiality, always wanting to remain above the fray. As if their pronouncements, once finally given, would just rock our little world.

Before I played BioShock Infinite, my least favorite game of the past few years was the widely-loved Limbo. By criticizing it, I also wanted to question our assumptions about what makes a good indie title to begin with. Is it all about mood and style? Are a bunch of simple single-solution puzzles really worth celebrating? Does it matter that the game’s basic movements feel so bad from moment to moment? Is Limbo actually about anything?

These two paragraphs...they touch me right here man.

It's hard for me to sit and read giant paragraphs of text. Not because I lose focus (but that does happen). I get really worried that somebody is going to say something that'll offend my opinion. But, in this case, I gave the article a chance, and I have to say...

I agree.

I absolutely see and agree with where the writer is coming from. And I feel glad that I've come a long way, considering my whole new attitude on games, and the game designs I'm trying to develop now.

I feel it'd be hard for most people to accept this kind of criticism, but we need it, since trying to pussyfoot your way around a problem will only allow that problem to continue to exist. The only thing that got flagged for me was that the writer pretty clearly had a distaste for games that are very simplistic in the gameplay department, exactly like Raph Koster and Jonathan Blow. That's not a problem at all, just something I feel me and other devs might disagree on, since I still "enjoy" those games in some form.


As far as your own comments, they're not rambling thoughts. I'm in the exact same mindset as you, and I'm just worried that my skills won't be able to serve my vision. Who knows what the future might hold.
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As far as your own comments, they're not rambling thoughts. I'm in the exact same mindset as you, and I'm just worried that my skills won't be able to serve my vision. Who knows what the future might hold.

Thanks, and yeah, that's exactly what I'm thinking as well.
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