Do you have eyes? Check. Do you like awesome things? Check. Now watch Indie Game: The Movie. It’s an incredibly intimate documentary that follows 4 independent game developers that pour their heart and soul into what they do, even if it nearly kills them (and the theme is actually touched on!).
Having created many a Flash game in the past, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes (aka Team Meat) set out to take their popular Flash game Super Meat Boy to where the big boys play—Xbox. Phil Fish of Polytron Corporation prepares to show his game Fez at PAX, which after several years, delays and iterations is nearing completion; While Jonathan Blow of the established game Braid contemplates his follow up, while giving insights into why he never finishes games and why indie games are so important. It’s an emotional roller coaster for these guys. They sacrifice everything for their game. Their dream.
IG:TM really hones in on what it’s like to be a software developer in the age of digital distribution: a situation that software developers of 20 years ago would have killed for. The number of people you can reach from your bedroom/garage is phenomenal. At the same time that audience that loves you and can make you rich will also rip you apart with a moment’s notice. It’s a knife-edge relationship with the people of the internet.
The documentary also shows the beauty of being an indie dev—having the freedom to think outside the box, push the envelope and experiment all the while not having investors or ‘suits’ trying to steer you towards the largest profit margin. And when you finally cross the finish line it is a very satisfying feeling, knowing that it happened your way. That it wasn’t compromised and it still has a soul.
The passion and fresh ideas that indies bring to the table doesn’t just apply to video games either. There are all kinds of great things being done by indies right now. The fact that we even have this movie is a testament to that. This intimate, well-presented story was made by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky—first-time filmmakers themselves. It’s some sort of indie-ception. We must go deeper!
With all of this fresh blood hitting the scene comes a flurry of new ideas and hopefully a change of guard. KickStarter for example, where IG:TM got its funding. Without the hundreds of fans coming together we’d probably never have seen this awesome documentary. Or maybe we would, and it would have been very different, because of whoever may have funded it. Who knows. Kickstarter also spawned the infamous Double Fine Adventures project that went gangbusters. It’s exactly this kind of movement that brings a refreshing change to the way we receive things we like the sound of or want. Sure, crowd sourcing may have its flaws but if there is an alternative to the big, stodgy publishers dictating what us fans receive, I’m all for it. It may even make them re-evaluate how they do things and catch up a few decades.
The way this movie is distributed online is hopefully a glimpse into the future of digital entertainment. It’s not hard to get hold of, wrought with DRM and nor does it bombard you with anti-piracy tirades and warnings when I just paid for it. It’s $10 through PayPal, or Amazon, with instant streaming or several download options to include subtitles, alternate resolutions or additional commentary. What’s even better is that I can come back later and grab it again with my login. It was a no-brainer to buy it right there and then.
And that’s me about done. It’s no small feat to have me actually want to make a blog post but I felt compelled to let you guys know how good Indie Game: The Movie is. I don’t know if it’s because we’re an indie dev, or because ever since I was young I have wanted to make a video game, or because I was a just a passenger that felt everything the filmmakers projected. The bottom line is that it was a great experience from the moment I went to the website, to buying it, downloading it, and watching it. The icing on the cake was that it was all done by/featuring indies. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie (and the indie dev scene in general). It certainly had a massive impact on me.
TL:DR Watch Indie Game: The Movie.