Whatever happened to good indie games?

Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:51 am

Title says it all. Over the last half-year, I'm just seeing more of the same crap I have no interest in, with almost no variation. Every genre has turned into a set of predefined tropes, with an unspoken rule that none of the supposedly "independent" developers are allowed to step outside the tropes.

All the role-playing games are:

-JRPGs (with a combat system that's mechanically behind their Western counterparts of the late 80's), or

-Roguelike/permadeath, with almost no real content and everything's randomized (or even worse, a Skinner box where the entire purpose of the game is to level to get better gear), or

-"hardcoe"/"difficult"/"unforgiving", or

-Dungeons and Dragons style (turn based, grid movement, tabletop mechanics), or

-card games/board games

All of the scrolling combat games ("shmups") are:

-Japanese "bullet hell"/dodge everything or die, or

-Mid to late 80's retro throwbacks with grossly simplistic mechanics. I've seen several space invaders clones already with absolutely no innovation, just reskins of the same, or

-Infinite survival (because the industry is currently obsessed with roguelikes and random everything), or


All the platformers are:

-Mario clones, or

-Sonic clones, or

-mid to late 80's throwbacks (mechanically simple, no health bar)


-"Metroidvanias" (perhaps the only Japanese video gaming paradigm that I actually enjoy, unfortunately so many indie devs figure out all sorts of creative ways to screw them up)

There's also a large glut of "point and click adventure", visual novels, and similar which arguably aren't even real games.

More and more shovelware as well, there's also a glut of "abstract"/"minimalist" games (just a nice way of saying minimal effort, minimal game mechanics, and the entire game makes no sense). Similar to "abstract art" which anyone can make with a canvas and a paintball marker loaded with randomly-colored paintballs.

Then there are the idiotic real-life simulators (walking simulator, parking simulator, mechanic simulator, farming simulator, ...) that appear to be little more than someone goofing off with Unity and looking to make a quick buck off the resulting product.

I'm also seeing a repeating problem of lack of content. All too often, games will have so few levels/areas that it turns into a waste of the game engine. I've seen a scrolling shmup with only 6 levels at the bottom of the hall of shame. Why do people think it's acceptable to release something with so little content?

Indie games are also turning into a contest to see who can be the most "hardcoe/unforgiving". It's getting annoying and old already, only serving to lock most players out of content. Perhaps this will be the year where I'm going to be just as "unforgiving" to the industry and refuse to buy anything new until they stop being elitist jerks.


Looks like I've been proved right... that out of the droves of indie games, almost all that's been produced has been false choice, where most developers do the same thing with little innovation.

Also: I enjoy classic games from the mid to late 90's... almost anything before that is usually too old and simplistic to be any good.
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Noely Ulloa
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:04 am

They are still being made.

I think that Indie developers and the games they're making are more creative and better quality than any other time in the history of the industry.

(unless you can point to a specific time when Indie games were even better.)

Just because you're not finding games that you like doesn't mean they all svck. ;)

Some of the best recent titles are great gaming experiences...




Hyper Light Drifter

Owl Boy

The Witness

No Man's Sky (Well, maybe not the best example. But it's got originality.)

Darkest Dungeon

Alwa's Awakening

If thousands of people love these games and they earn the respect and interest of the industry, the Indie devs must be doing something right.

The only valid point I can see from your complaint is that the market also gets flooded with shovel-ware.

Advice: Don't buy shovel-ware.

The irony is strong here. :P

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dean Cutler
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:59 am

Maybe some of those game are in Early Access so that means only a portion of the game is done.

Grim Dawn was like that for at least a couple of years. The Devs opened up more of the levels and increased the character level cap as they progressed through the game development. It is quite a good game if you like a Diablo like game.

A lot of the Indie games usually go through Steam Early Access since many of the companies might not have the resources to make the game. Some will also do a kickstarter or some sort of crowd funding to help fund and make the game.

Runic Games is somewhat of an Indie game company. Perfect World has invested in Runic |Games and they were supposed to make an MMO in the Torchlight universe, but they are making a game called Hob and it will likely be out sometime this year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCbJ8XW8dBU

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FirDaus LOVe farhana
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:35 pm

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Emmi Coolahan
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:03 am


No offense meant, but almost half of the games you named in that list aren't even games according to my definitions.

Firewatch = walking simulator = isn't a real game.

Inside appears to be a puzzle/horror game. I have no interest in horror (I actually never get frightened of anything that isn't real), and you can already get puzzles with board games.

Undertale: First one on your list that I would consider a real game. Combat system seems to be kind of lacking though

Hyper Light Drifter: Even more of a real game, unfortunately the comparisons to Dark Souls and "unforgiving difficulty" are off-putting.

Owlboy: Probably the most promising game on your list (I actually have it wishlisted on Steam, however I plan to wait for a deep discount). Metroidvania style with open world and sidequests.

Alwa's Awakening: Another metroidvania that looks promising. Currently on wishlist and queued to buy on significant discount.

The Witness: Puzzles. A board game with a GUI attached to it.

No Man's Sky: Can't believe you put it on that list. It's reviews on Steam are currently "Mostly Negative" (trash-tier).

Darkest Dungeon: Permadeath, horror, and nudity. Nope.



Grim Dawn looks promising, however the Steam version isn't DRM-free, so I'm waiting for price depreciation over time and a deep discount. I prefer to buy games DRM-free whenever legitimately available, and I usually limit the purchase value of most games with DRM to $5 ("AAA"-grade game) and lower for indie games, or at least deep discount off lowest base price (usually three quarters discount or greater). Sometimes I make exceptions to my purchase value limits for particularly excellent games.

The GOG version of Grim Dawn is DRM-free, however GOG doesn't have prepaid store balance cards in the USA as far as I know.

I've generally had a bad experience with Diablo clones (mainly because of poor balance and scaling) and particularly games that claim to be Diablo 2 successors, so I would be extra wary with Grim Dawn. Seeing as it was released just last year and the base price hasn't decreased, it's going to be a while before I consider it (except if GOG starts offering prepaid cards in the USA).



How is that post constructive???
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Erich Lendermon
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:43 am

Well, I'm looking forward to Cuphead personally.. that looks good. If you want to call it Indie. I'm sure Microsoft helped foot the bill.

edit: In fact, MS has footed the bill for a few good (originally) indie games. Skulls of the Shogun is one. Although I recall the developer wasn't happy about the relationship.

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Charlie Sarson
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:11 pm

Stardew Valley comes to mind.

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Mel E
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:29 am

Then you do not define games the same way that 99.9% of the gaming industry does. That makes your argument even more irrelevant.

There's nothing wrong with disliking things, but your disinterest in games that have proven themselves to be good does not mean that the games are flawed. You just have a very specific taste. (your past threads show the same pattern.) Just because you dislike nudity or foul language does not make the game bad.

I also find it interesting that you seem to admit never even playing the games I mentioned.

Firewatch is far more than a "walking simulator" and I'm willing to bet that anyone that has played it will agree with me that it's a great story and very unique.

Or saying that The Witness is "A board game with a GUI attached to it." clearly means you've never played it, or never understood what it's doing.

Digital Ancient, list 10 Indie games that you love. From any year.

Instead of just making a thread to complain, share what you actually like so people can point you in the right direction.

Like I said, despite the problems, it's a very original and ambitious indie game. Which goes directly against your complaint that there is no originality or ambition.

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Adam Kriner
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:15 pm

Nothing is different than before. Small time games that aren't any good have always been around. Back in the 90s the term was "shovelware".

Actually,, times are better now because of online reviews. Back then you took a risk every time and it could cost a lot more too. With indie games you're risking maybe twenty bones and you can research before hand too.

And on top of that, gaming rigs are a Hell of a lot cheaper too, which means that with cheaper hardware and the ability to research games before you buy, today is a fantastic time to be a gamer.

This is definitely a time where it's accurate to say "the bad old days" of computer gaming.
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Becky Palmer
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:43 am

As soon as I saw this thread title, and before I saw who posted it, I said "10 to 1 this is another Digital Ancient thread".

DA, why do you feel the need to come and post almost this exact same thread(just worded differently, but the same exact premise) every few months? If you really hate games as much as you profess, why do you feel driven to continuously complain about it over and over while also claiming to want to find something good, and then turn around and refuse almost every game that is mentioned that fits your criteria, while snidely insulting the person who suggested it? I don't get it, I really don't.

At this point, given your refusal to try anything that is suggested, and your steadfast belief that there is nothing good anymore, I would highly suggest you find a different hobby, one that actually brings you enjoy, instead of constantly beating a dead horse. Life is to short to waste on things you don't like.

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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:45 am

So true. Here are just a few of the threads in which Digital Ancient asked for recommendations or opinions and then proceeded to arrogantly argue with most of those who tried to help or participate:








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Nadia Nad
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:32 am

You know, the only "Indie" game I've been interested in recently is Stardew Valley, and I stopped caring about "Indie" games when they all got re-categorised under the very general "Indie" title.

I used to pay attention to any degree of curation, such as Xbox Live Arcade, but since the change to make everything be perceived as being "more fair", there's just too much crap to look through, and no guarantees that I'll like what I get. Plus, no more free trials or demos.

The last "Indie" game I bought was Terraria (back when XBLA was still a thing), and whilst I greatly enjoy the game, I don't have the time to sift through the stacks of nebulous content looking for the gems amongst the poop. So, I stick to "triple A" games only, and have done for the last few years, simply because of the sheer laziness of multi-billion dollar corporations to put any actual effort into a curation and free demo program.

In short, I haven't cared about "Indie games" for years, and it's exceptionally rare for any to catch my attention anymore. "Indie games" haven't "stopped being good" as far as I'm concerned. They're just buried beneath an endless deluge of mediocrity.

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Queen of Spades
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:47 am

One new Indie game that I have been enjoying recently (After playing Fallout 4 all year) is Astroneer - It is still in early access but looks promising.

(Most Indie games that I have purchased were found by looking at the steam stats - they had a high number of players - I found Terraria, Stardew valley and Astroneer that way).

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Yung Prince
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:30 am

Stardew Valley is one of the best indie games ever!

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Lexy Dick
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:48 am

I think the big problem is a market flooded with cheaply made cash grabs with little to no QA before it hits the market.... Like in the 80's on the Atari.
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Chloe Lou
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:44 am

@Pluto (post #8):

For me, combat design and mechanics are far more important than a story. From your picks, it looks like you prefer narrative games and interactive stories (much different tastes from mine). I consider a good storyline to be a plus rather than the main grading factor.

10 of my favorite indie games:

-Endless Sky. Open source project similar to Escape Velocity: Nova, only much better in every way. More content than some "AAA"-grade games for a price you can't argue with.

-Hammerwatch. 2D ARPG with upgrade system.

-Aarklash Legacy. Despite having numerous serious flaws (completely linear, bland item and inventory system, and lack of AI for characters you aren't controlling), it stands out as being 1 of the only indie party-based RPGs with real-time combat (a genre almost monopolized by EA/Bioware).

-Counter Spell. Awesome and cheap FPSRPG, surprisingly large amount of content for its price and size. Could be best described as a near-perfect mashup of D&D, World of Warcraft, Borderlands, and Unreal Tournament.

-Cally's Caves. Best metroidvania type game I've played so far. Unfortunately Steam only has the third one and the roguelike sequel.

-Revolution Ace. Scrolling shmup tribute to Raptor: Call of the Shadows. Received my "Best indie game purchase of 2016" award for being a "breath of fresh all-American fighter-jet-fuel infused air" in a "genre almost completely monopolized with cookie-cutter Japanese games and their ridiculous, bland mechanics (no shields/health, color-polarity changing)"

-Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages. A spaceship building/combat game with an MMO-style skill system. Generous single-player campaign emphasizing player skill.

-Starscape. A little-known arcade style game vastly improved with RPG-style progression. If you're expecting an arcade game plus, you will be impressed. If you were expecting a full-featured 2D space RPG, you will be disappointed.

-Magicmaker. Combine materials with different effects to make the most broken game mechanics you can think of. Unfortunately there aren't that many levels.

-Tyrian2000. OK, perhaps it's more of an ancient legend in its own right than an indie game. I consider Tyrian2000 to be the best ever scrolling shmup ever made, even to this day.



The problem isn't lack of QA, it's lack of content. In particular, there are way too many indie games built solely around a specific design concept while lacking content to use it well.


@8bit bob:

I already checked out Stardew Valley (the reviews, anyway) and it looks like a farming simulator with a bit of combat thrown in and a ton of grind. I could be wrong though.



Looks more like a simulation than a game, mostly about crafting and building. Doesn't appear to have any combat. It's in early alpha though, so it could change.



While good indie games are too often buried under piles of poop, I've largely given up on "AAA"-grade games. Self-quote from another discussion:

(begin quote)

After filtering out all the genres that I obviously have no interest in, almost every remaining "AAA"-grade developer these days always seems to find a way to ruin what would otherwise be a good game, whether it's requiring EA Origin (which snoops on the end-user), Denuvo (which shreds solid-state disks), nudity, or otherwise obscene/crass content. Why is "premium game with no spyware/crapware that keeps its content clean" such a tall order these days? Name any "AAA"-grade game made in 2014 or later, I almost guarantee I can provide a good reason why I rejected it.

Probably the next "AAA" grade game I will buy is Elder Scrolls VI, although that hasn't even been formally scheduled yet.

(end quote)

My current running joke is that most of the "AAA"-grade video game industry has partnered with the (nonexistent) Corrupt-A-Wish foundation (a popular forum game where each poster posts a wish, then the next one finds a way to grant the wish in a manner that makes it unusable, then posts the next wish).

I have a better chance looking for the few good indie games than searching for "AAA"-grade games right now. The latest "AAA"-grade single-player game that I got was Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

(Caveat: my discussion of "AAA"-grade games is only for single-player focused games. It excludes MMOs, other centralized online games, and arena/competitive games)



It's funny that you mention the "bad old days" because the latest batch of indie games is pushing just that - throwback clones of mid to late 80's games with little innovation. Roguelikes, permadeath, and a return to grid-based movement. Archaic arcade style games with no health bar. You'd think that there should be improvements over time instead.


@ Selene and Starwulf:

Why do I make these discussions every few months? Because it's getting worse. Every time I figure the industry has bottomed out, the predominant genres always find a way to screw up even worse.
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Toby Green
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:49 pm

DA, I don't think it's getting worst. Shovel ware is nothing new. It's been around since the days of PONG. Even arcade games from the early 80s had its bombs. I bet there were board games before PONG that bombed.

It's exactly the same thing. It's the medium that has changed.
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Quick Draw
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:53 am

And dare I say better than a good chunk of AAA titles? :P It's got lots of heart to it and I like that.

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Lyndsey Bird
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:44 pm

I would say so ;)

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le GraiN
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:13 am

Yeah, my father used to get those "1000 games on this CD" discs that were included with some computer magazines and stuff back when the CD-ROM was new for PC back in the early/mid 90s, and the only thing worth playing on those was pretty much the ever returning DOOM shareware release. So much junk!

Thanks for ruining my day by reminding me of all the junk I had forgotten :P
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:01 am

I forgot to add Counter Spell. It is quite a good game actually.

Ah the good old days of early 90's shareware - Commander Keen, Jazz jackrabbit, Scorched Earth, and Jill of the Jungle are some favorites that come to mind (as well as Wolfenstein and Doom).

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Ice Fire
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:48 pm

I bought that tonight. My goodness, it's hard to put that game down. Even now, I'm thinking of what I have to do on my farm. The skeleton in the cubicle in the introduction was hilarious!
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Roberto Gaeta
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:48 pm

lol yeah, if I'm not mistaken that doesn't happen every time, it's a easter egg ;)
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Joe Bonney
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Post » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:01 am

Pardon the rant, but the term "indie games" just sounds like hipster jargon and rubs me the wrong way. There has been small, medium and big developers for decades and the pop culture high jacking around "indie games" needs to fade away like all ill conceived fads and trends.

With that out of the way I liked the Valley game which was out last year.

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Alex Blacke
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Post » Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:51 pm

I'd definitely say you should check out Hyper Light Drifter. I don't know where you're hearing the comparisons to Dark Souls, and as an avid player of Souls, I don't see too many similarities besides the basic mechanic of dodging enemies found in a lot of games and it's not really that punishing either.

If anything, I hear more comparisons to Zelda with it. I've never played a Zelda game myself, but perhaps that may help intrigue you.

Unless you have something against those games as well...
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