Documentary shows the hard work of indie game design
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 15:10
The new breed of starving artists in the 21st century are the indie game developers. These intrepid innovators build video games from scratch with incredible limited means. First-time Canadian filmmakers, Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, created the documentary “Indie Game: The Movie” to showcase these incredible struggling independent artists.
The documentary started through a Kickstarter project in 2010. Kickstarter is an online pledge system for funding creative projects where “backers” or supporters of the project can directly donate. The film raised its initial goal within 48 hours and eventually ended with $23,341. Pajot and Swirsky were able to finish the film in 2011 after another Kickstarter project that raised $71,335.
The documentary can be found on Netflix, which is beneficial to students who choose video streaming to the hefty price of cable. The film follows four indie game developers as they ride the rollercoaster of game design. Each burdened with the desire to be successful, the developers border on going crazy from the obsession of finishing their games and finishing them beautifully.
Jonathan Blow, developer of "Braid," one of the highest grossing indie games ever, created his game over a three-year span and spent $200,000 of his own money to fund the development, according to Escapist Magazine. His final product was a game that follows protagonist Tim as he tries to rescue a princess from a monster.
The game is unique from its competitors because of the deep moral and philosophical questions it asks. Blow is a developer that deeply cares about his games. The documentary allows an outsider into the world of indie game design with prime access while Blow shares his heartbreak and happiness with the release of his game with the world.
Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes spent two years working tirelessly on their video game “Super Meat Boy.” Although McMillen and Refenes lived on opposite sides of the United States and met only a few times in person while working on the game, they managed to create a game that would eventually sell over one million copies by January 2012.
The game follows Meat Boy, a red, cube-shaped character, as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the game’s antagonist, Dr. Fetus. The game is high energy and tons of fun as you race around multiple levels. McMillen and Refenes both credit Blow’s “Braid” while looking for inspiration in developing their game. It’s available to try or purchase on the Xbox Marketplace or by visiting supermeatboy.com.
Phil Fish, the final developer featured in the film, is most famous for his game's long delay from its initial announcement in 2007 to its release in spring 2012. Fish is seen in the film as a man who knows good things come to those that wait. He hates being criticized by fans for taking so long, but he knows fans will appreciate all his hard work once the game is released, he said.
The game follows Gomez, a 2D creature who lives in a 2D world, until Gomez encounters a Hexahedron. The strange artifact gives Gomez a magical fez hat that allows him to perceive a third dimension. Gomez must collect all the cubes in his world to help rebuild his world before it’s torn apart. The game is only available on the Xbox Marketplace.
Each of these developers has found an uncanny amount of success with their indie games, but the film proves making video games is hard and the creative process and exposing yourself through your work isn’t easy. “Indie Game: The Movie” is an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and should be on every student's watch list.