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Okay, we're all tired of the arthouse indie game, right?

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
Indie is a meme anyway, a lot of those so called "indie" developers are backed by publishers such as Devolver, that help with marketing, playtesting, promotion, community building, porting the game to other platforms, etc.

But yes, a lot of developers want to shove their egos on your face to make them feel important and "auteur".
They don't care about the player's entertainment, all they care is about their own ego and self satisfaction.
 

aries_71

Junior Member
The thing that I believe is overdone is the “pixel art” art style. I mean, the first 100 titles were fine, but now is just old.
 

Shai-Tan

Banned
Indie is a meme anyway, a lot of those so called "indie" developers are backed by publishers such as Devolver, that help with marketing, playtesting, promotion, community building, porting the game to other platforms, etc.

But yes, a lot of developers want to shove their egos on your face to make them feel important and "auteur".
They don't care about the player's entertainment, all they care is about their own ego and self satisfaction.
who are these developers who 'want to shove their egos on your face to make them feel important and "auteur"'

seems to me mostly trafficking in stereotypes to support some kind of axe grinding
 

Bluecondor

Member
+1 OP

I was just reading an article on the best unheralded indie games of 2021, and #1 on the list is a game called Chicory:

"Greg Lobanov's follow-up to the 2018 outlier Wandersong puts you in the shoes of a janitor whom you name after your favorite food—and who just so happens to stumble upon a magical brush before being tasked with bringing color back to a ruined black-and-white world. There are stamps, patterns, painting tools, and draw/erase functions to help add textures and shadows to each area (i.e. Gulp Swamp, Teatime Meadows), and every NPC, side quest, and boss fight adds perspective to the overarching themes at play."

LOL - bringing back color to a black and white world that has had all of its joy/creativity/love sucked out of it by society/The Man is such a common indie game trope (See 2020's Concrete Genie for example).

Oh wait, there's more to the game than using drawing tools to bring color back to the bleak and desolate world -

"Chicory will captivate you with its dialog and relatable personalities, but it will also hit a few heartfelt notes with its comments on self-doubt, depression, and why there’s no shame in starting over."

Reading your post OP, I am in 100% agreement. So, this game is about a janitor who uses his magical brush to bring color back to the world. Oh but wait, this mechanic is actually a deep social commentary on self-doubt, depression and getting over the sense of shame in starting over????

Really!?

Relying on a common indie game trope (re-colorizing the black and white world that has now become bleak and desolate due to inhumanity) is a very low bar in 2021 indie game development. If these developers want to make substantive commentary on issues like this, it's time to up their game past an obvious trope like this.
 
The Indie scene is a LOT of really creative and well-made games full of great gameplay completely overshadowed by a LOT of complete shit with a message to push.

I played a decent number of indie titles last year and would say most were good-great. Games like Dead Cells, Donut County, Carto and Katana Zero all had different aesthetics as well as different gameplay that were each enjoyable in their own ways. Some games are short but sweet, others are really never-ending. As long as there is solid gameplay in the mix I'm willing to give it a fair shake. Hell a lot of indie games are better than the 8/16-bit era games I still play.

Then there's shit like Unpacking which I would not really even classify as a game. It was a self-insert story about a woman who makes terrible life choices all laid out while you literally sort her underwear.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
11/10 - IGN Review for Indie Hit you missed this year, Tunneler: Schizophrenia

In this age of pandemic driven, violent, politically unjust corporate America (let's be honest, bad stuff only happens in the US, except for the unpaid migrant workers of Whereverstan forced to put their two year olds in an assembly line to make PS5s and even then none of our readers can find one, l-o-l) it's easy to forget our humanity. In a world of excitement over Horizon, God of War, Senua, etc, and the memetic legacy of Craig, it's easy for some cesspools of free thinkers to just get on with their gaming lives like regular people. But we at IGN (a company that employs a record low of white men) have finally found a title that we enjoy, far and away our GotY (unless Druckman stealth drops a director's cut to The Last of Us, Part II) TUNNELER: SCHIZOPHRENIA, a charming (and family friendly) story about a transgendered, black, lesbian quadruple amputee earth worm with schizophrenia. This game really let's the player experience the struggles of mental illness and the perceptions the ignorant cracker public has about it, lessons all wrapped up in colorful, eye popping hand drawn story sequences and gameplay involving the life of the worm: digging holes, shitting, not drowning during rain, and the search for equality, all while remembering to take your meds.

Yeah, fuck these kinds of games.
How do you quadruple amputee a worm is the biggest mistery of that game right?
 
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VN1X

Member
Seems like an appropriate discussion for this time of year, as credibility hounds in media tell us about all the games they truly loved ("But more, like, appreciated?") this year that we, the plebs, have never heard of. I hate to paint with a broad brush, but you all know what I'm talking about.

Which brings me to the overall point: how many more indie, arthouse games about grief, loss, mental illness, and social isolation do we really need? I understand that indie devs are limited in budget and so have to make games that can try to achieve greatness some other way, but we need more Hades(es), and fewer side-scrolling, painterly, tender games featuring an art style and essentially no gameplay.

I used to be very charmed by these games, and now I find myself dismissing them out of hand, for the same reason movies have begun to bore me - how much more can they actually do that hasn't been done to death?
This is already the worst take I've read in 2022.

"stop making games that address certain (serious) themes in real life, we've had enough now"

what
 
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SirTerry-T

Member
Like anything else, you have to sort out the good from the bad...the same applies to AAA titles too.

My one issue with Indie games are those trailers we get for some of them, you know the ones I mean, usually involving some over earnest narration (usually a female voice) played over some simple looking game play while an acoustic soundtrack plays in the background.

It's the videogame equivalent of commercials using twee cover versions of new wave or punk era songs.
 
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Fredrik

Gold Member
I dont mind the metrovania stuff. Its the Pixels man. The Pixels everywhere.
Agreed. I’ve already lived that era. It wasn’t better.
Keep the tight old-school gameplay, it’s awesome, then add modern visuals, animations, RT and physics.
= Success!
 
 
The biggest waste is that these simple games have amazing art that could be used towards more ambitious indie games. All of these arthouse games are by people who are artists first and coders third or fourth. On its own, I applaud these artists for trying something that is as ambitious as making games, but unfortunately the output is usually a dime-a-dozen 2D platformer about depression. Good luck trying to find a decent and RELIABLE artist who is willing to work on a project that isn't their original idea all the while not charging exorbitant up-front costs for your indie game. The hardest part is recruiting good artists for an indie project who don't suffer from self-diagnosed mental diseases (AKA prolonged periods of severe procrastination) and are willing to compromise.
 

BbMajor7th

Member
The medium has broadened beyond platforming and shooting; some will love that and others won't. Kinda weird to get worked up about how others spend their free time though.

I got fed up of Resetera because of the constant validation pandering and the demand that the industry be narrowed to meet only their needs. Why do this here?

These games don't represent or speak for everyone, but not everyone has to be represented by everything - or is this what it looks like when traditionally well represented groups find themselves suddenly under represented? They say 'we're all tired of this, right?'
 
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The medium has broadened beyond platforming and shooting; some will love that and others won't. Kinda weird to get worked up about how others spend their free time though.

I got fed up of Resetera because of the constant validation pandering and the demand that the industry be narrowed to meet only their needs. Why do this here?

These games don't represent or speak for everyone, but not everyone has to be represented by everything - or is this what it looks like when traditionally well represented groups find themselves suddenly under represented? They say 'we're all tired of this, right?'
I'm pretty sure this thread is complaining about how the medium is not broadening beyond platforming? People want more variety, but a lot of these developers seem to be very incapable of making games that aren't about depression and/or racism, and aren't willing to experiment beyond simple 2D platformers.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
11/10 - IGN Review for Indie Hit you missed this year, Tunneler: Schizophrenia

In this age of pandemic driven, violent, politically unjust corporate America (let's be honest, bad stuff only happens in the US, except for the unpaid migrant workers of Whereverstan forced to put their two year olds in an assembly line to make PS5s and even then none of our readers can find one, l-o-l) it's easy to forget our humanity. In a world of excitement over Horizon, God of War, Senua, etc, and the memetic legacy of Craig, it's easy for some cesspools of free thinkers to just get on with their gaming lives like regular people. But we at IGN (a company that employs a record low of white men) have finally found a title that we enjoy, far and away our GotY (unless Druckman stealth drops a director's cut to The Last of Us, Part II) TUNNELER: SCHIZOPHRENIA, a charming (and family friendly) story about a transgendered, black, lesbian quadruple amputee earth worm with schizophrenia. This game really let's the player experience the struggles of mental illness and the perceptions the ignorant cracker public has about it, lessons all wrapped up in colorful, eye popping hand drawn story sequences and gameplay involving the life of the worm: digging holes, shitting, not drowning during rain, and the search for equality, all while remembering to take your meds.

Yeah, fuck these kinds of games.
I actually looked it up on Google.

Disappointed Kevin Sorbo GIF
 

Kev Kev

Gold Member
i mean..... no?

as long as the game is good, i dont really care that much about the emo story. problem is that those games tend to focus more on the emo story than a fun game, so i kindof agree but not on the principle that you are presenting.
 

Sophist

Member
when i look at the top early access games (usually made by indies) of 2021 on Steam, it's not really the picture that you are painting. Maybe you should learn to be more selective in your choice of video games.

 

AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
Some games have their cake and eat it.



Celeste plays better and has more challenge than most modern AAA games and also talks about some of the things OP mentions without being too in-your-face about it.

So nah, I'm good, I'll just pick and choose.
 

rofif

Gold Member
Some games have their cake and eat it.



Celeste plays better and has more challenge than most modern AAA games and also talks about some of the things OP mentions without being too in-your-face about it.

So nah, I'm good, I'll just pick and choose.
It's just a pixelated platformer with dash. You can't say it play better than most modern AAA games. What would that even mean...
 
This is already the worst take I've read in 2022.

"stop making games that address certain (serious) themes in real life, we've had enough now"

what
Devs address these themes in a way that indicates how sheltered they are and how shallow their perspectives are.
They are free to make games however they please, just as the market is free to criticize the work they put out.
 

AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
It's just a pixelated platformer with dash. You can't say it play better than most modern AAA games. What would that even mean...

Pretty simple really, it means most modern AAA games do not feel as good to play as something like a Celeste, or Hades, or Dead Cells, or several other recent indie games. They often get bogged down in so many layers of attempted realism that they feel like ass to play.

Is that because they're basic arcade-like games that aren't doing many of the things AAA releases are? Yeah, but that's not my point. My point is that it's easy for people like OP to overlook fantastic games like Celeste just because they contain real-world themes.
 

Shai-Tan

Banned
The biggest waste is that these simple games have amazing art that could be used towards more ambitious indie games. All of these arthouse games are by people who are artists first and coders third or fourth. On its own, I applaud these artists for trying something that is as ambitious as making games, but unfortunately the output is usually a dime-a-dozen 2D platformer about depression. Good luck trying to find a decent and RELIABLE artist who is willing to work on a project that isn't their original idea all the while not charging exorbitant up-front costs for your indie game. The hardest part is recruiting good artists for an indie project who don't suffer from self-diagnosed mental diseases (AKA prolonged periods of severe procrastination) and are willing to compromise.
"the output is usually a dime-a-dozen 2D platformer about depression"

lol, yeah, ok how many of those actually exist? probably a handful. Gris, Celeste, Fez (all the way back in 2012). what are the other ones? if we allow 3d there's Sea of Solitude. but look at how many and there are very few compared to the thousands of games that come out a year. so it's more about being offended by content of games (which often is like window dressing considering very few story moments in a game like Celeste)
 
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TonyK

Member
Seems like an appropriate discussion for this time of year, as credibility hounds in media tell us about all the games they truly loved ("But more, like, appreciated?") this year that we, the plebs, have never heard of. I hate to paint with a broad brush, but you all know what I'm talking about.

Which brings me to the overall point: how many more indie, arthouse games about grief, loss, mental illness, and social isolation do we really need? I understand that indie devs are limited in budget and so have to make games that can try to achieve greatness some other way, but we need more Hades(es), and fewer side-scrolling, painterly, tender games featuring an art style and essentially no gameplay.

I used to be very charmed by these games, and now I find myself dismissing them out of hand, for the same reason movies have begun to bore me - how much more can they actually do that hasn't been done to death?
Totally agree, even that part about I was very charmed with that type of games and now I almost hate them. Games need some sort of gameplay apart from walking and picking notes. They are shitty games and they would be shitty movies or books.
 

Buggy Loop

Member
It's just a pixelated platformer with dash. You can't say it play better than most modern AAA games. What would that even mean...

The levels are perfectly tuned around those simple mechanics. It keeps adding simple jump mechanics but the levels are always ramping up to make sure the player uses and understand them well.

It's a polar opposite of typical AAA games where there's a basic tutorial, then it dumps you in a vast world where it's full of convuluted mechanics like as if a publisher's wishlist got inserted into the game after the core mechanics were thought of initially by the creators, but that they are almost not used throughout the game or are pretty useless. 95% of "crafting" mechanics in AAA games comes to mind, especially Cyberpunk 2077 recently.

Missing out on Celeste, one of the best platformer in recent years, because of "indie" or "mental illness thematics" is a ridiculous thing for a so called gamer to do.
 
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More like, since we have 10,000 games to choose from at any given time, we can ignore the ones we don't like.

Indies have been awesome to me lately, especially with Gamepass making access trivial.
 

LordCBH

Member
It’s the same with every movie that wins best picture nowadays: pandering, pretentious, poorly written shit no one has ever heard of.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
No its quite relevant because most real indies can't afford to hire big orchestras. They don't have the entire Sony PD support network helping them make the game. And they might have 1 or 2 people at most doing QA / marketing, not like 20.

As one of the devs who made Journey said - "it was not a small game." It took over 3 years and the budget more than doubled during development. Some of the same Sony people who worked on the audio & music for God of War 3, and The Order 1886, also worked on Journey.

That's not an indie game lol. Of course the game's style or aesthetic is similar to many actual indie games, but its not actually one itself.
I understand it's not a proper indie, and like I said my post was more about the codifying of the "indie" aesthetic, but it's still faaaar from a modern AAA game too.

And you know, in the context of modern game development, $5 million dollars actual IS closer to indie than it is anything in the package retail world. Even stuff in the lower end of that spectrum (what people call "Triple I" indie, or AA) like Hellblade or Oddworld Soulstorm are 2-3 times that.

Indie games run the gamut from one man zero budget productions like Stardew Valley all the way up to stuff like The Witness, which cost like $6 million dollars.

The fact that Sony was involved in any way means Journey isn't technically an indie game, and I understand that, but it's not a AAA game either.
 

Claus Grimhildyr

Vincit qui se vincit
Some games have their cake and eat it.



Celeste plays better and has more challenge than most modern AAA games and also talks about some of the things OP mentions without being too in-your-face about it.

So nah, I'm good, I'll just pick and choose.

That literally is just a platformer with a prominent dash mechanic. Great game, but that isn't "arthouse" any more than Mario is.

I don't think you understand what people are talking about here.
 
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AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
That literally is just a platformer with a prominent dash mechanic. Great game, but that isn't "arthouse" any more than Mario is.

I don't think you understand what people are talking about here.

It was based on what I remember reading here at the time it was released, and on the fact that OP specifically mentioned indie games about mental illness and social isolation. People (not everyone, obviously) at the time got way too caught up in the fact that you played as a girl with anxiety and couldn't look past it to the great game that it was. It was an "SJW game" to some people, for some reason.

If OP is talking about actual arthouse games where the priority is on experimentation and artistry rather than actual game then I have no idea where the "300 a year" he claims there are exist. They're pretty few and far between in the grand scheme of things, I couldn't name you a single one I heard of or played in 2021.
 

Claus Grimhildyr

Vincit qui se vincit
It was based on what I remember reading here at the time it was released, and on the fact that OP specifically mentioned indie games about mental illness and social isolation. People (not everyone, obviously) at the time got way too caught up in the fact that you played as a girl with anxiety and couldn't look past it to the great game that it was. It was an "SJW game" to some people, for some reason.

If OP is talking about actual arthouse games where the priority is on experimentation and artistry rather than actual game then I have no idea where the "300 a year" he claims there are exist. They're pretty few and far between in the grand scheme of things, I couldn't name you a single one I heard of or played in 2021.

IIRC, those "people" were a handful of pricks who went too far down the rabbit hole and were banned long ago. Really the only "slacktivist" thing I can say about the game, and one that I feel actively hinders the overall product, was them coming out a year after saying it was all about the "Trans" experience. Instead of letting it be up in the air and have others connect and associate their problems with the character. Mental illness, depression, etc. By stating it was actually one very specific reason it narrows the amount of shared experiences people can have. It vastly limits the overall scope of people it can reach.

As for OP, I would just assume they are greatly exaggerating. But things like Limbo, Inside, Afterparty, Goodbye Volcano High, etc. These games that focus more on super linear narratives, the most bare bones of bare bones "gameplay", and focus on artwork and "experience" versus making an engaging game - they are what is being mentioned here.

But as I stated before, I think these games are fine. Let more types of games get created. As long as we don't have a group of cult-like cunts trying to constantly bash our heads in with how "amazing" they think the game is, like a few mentally ill midgets do around here.
 

Fbh

Member
I don't mind them existing, there's people who enjoy them and these days Indies and smaller budget games have something for almost every taste.

But yeah, personally I don't like them. Whenever it becomes clear a game is about depression and mental health I kinda loose interest. It's even worse in the ones that aren't upfront about it and hint at something else only for the depression angle to be the "twist'.

I think a part of it is over saturation and exposure, it was interesting the first couple of times but now that it seems like 1 out of 3 notable indies go for similar themes it has just gotten old.

At least they are fairly easy to spot these days. Is there a new indie game that doesn't look particularly good but is inexplicably being hyped up by gaming media and personalities? It's almost guaranteed about mental health.
 
It’s the same issue with copycats of big budget releases. Except it’s so much easier and accessible for an individual or small team to create a few gameplay elements, slap on an “emotional” story told through text (or better, game art assets) and call it a game. “Gameplay is bad but the story and music are awesome!” Should have been a movie unless there is a story you can only tell through gameplay. NieR is a great example of this though on a much larger scale. Otherwise we get walking simulator bullshit like Oxenfree which is literally walking from one cutscene to another with try-hard dialogue filler.

Half of these “art house” games would be laughed out of the industry they belong in, so I’m not surprised they went the game route. And I’m not trying to suit on all of these, I do like some of them - doesn’t make them good games and doesn’t cause how they have flooded the market. Let’s be honest and call them what they are, even if we like some.
 

SCB3

Member
Nah, I a bit tired of indie Metrovania Souls likes atm but games like Deaths Door and Hades were great this year
 

Notabueno

Banned
This is because of the growth-accessibility paradox:

On one hand the more tools and platform make it accessible to publish games, the more losers who have no visions, ideas or tastes will start to publish and saturate the market, until they've reach a certain level of access to tools and start plateauing in their mastery, then it becomes harder and harder to create higher quality and fresher games.

On the other hand the more the market is saturated with crap quality, unoriginal but easy commercially successful game, the less it makes it worthy for entrants or even bigger studios to push the tool, production, quality and originality of products because the risk is too big against a market saturated with crap.

It means we've reached the end of a cycle (you could argue there was one cycle in the late 80s/early 90s disk/shareware/demo scene, and arguably a second one in the late 90s/mid 2000s pc/flash scene), this one started in the late 2000s with gamemaker, unity and UE3, has gone through 3/4 waves and reached it's peak, and is now starting to stagnate down. It usually take between a few years and a whole decade before we'll see a new paradigm or "indie" game that are totally fresh.

The horizon is "indie" AA games and art/art direction oriented games.
 
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