For years, giant corporations have been hurt by scrappy indie studios hogging the limelight with titles like Crayon Physics Deluxe, Braid, World Of Goo, and Super Meat Boy,” reads the opening blurb on Tomorrow Corporation’s front page. “To those tiny, un-American, indie developers, Tomorrow Corporation would like to deliver a message: Your reign of terror ends… Tomorrow!”
If you’ve played World Of Goo or Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure, the ironic humour inherent in the statement will be very familiar.
A partnership between “indie sellouts” Kyle Gabler (2D Boy co-founder), Kyle Gray (Henry Hatsworth designer) and Allan Blomquist (a fellow grad student from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Centre), Tomorrow Corporation is the kind of collaborative effort we’re seeing with greater frequency in the indie development community – one that would have barely been acknowledged five years ago. Now it’s front-page news.
Because while indie was once an underground scene exclusive to the PC community – a prolific but hidden treasure trove of content and concept – the onset of XBLA, PSN and digital distribution has seen game development democratised and nourished, giving bedroom coders access to a viable and affordable platforms through which to release their games.
Now, indies can become overnight sensations within a thriving community, and it’s the only place to go to find the games that take real risks. In the past few years alone, titles like Braid, The Path, World Of Goo, Flower, Machinarium and Bit.Trip have proven that games can and will work outside of the genre archetypes ingrained over the past four decades. It’s all happened incredibly fast, and publishers are struggling to keep up.
At this year’s GDC, Ron Carmel (the other half of 2D Boy) told the audience that the relationship between indies and publishers is “a system that never worked”, saying that the new and quickly evolving strain of indie development simply doesn’t fit with older methods of distribution.