What goes on behind your screen of the game console you’re using, how do games find their way to your hard drive?
Indie Game takes us behind the scenes of three independent game designers and their games – the flushed with success designer, Jonathan Blow, of the hit game Braid; the anxious, verging on nervous breakdown creative team behind Super Meat Boy, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, and the struggling to get it right while cementing the dissolved business partnership that created the still-in-development Fez, Phil Fish.
Engaging, brutally honest in its portrayal of artists and designers who have been pushed to the edge in pursuit of their ideal game experience, something they feel cannot be found in the big corporate gaming – they’re designing and want to play games with soul.
Where big companies have thousands of designers and programmers working on their titles, these are lone operations, with no more than two people working to code their craft and bring their imagined world to digital reality.
There is stress, heart ache, and nerves galore as release dates are set and passed, as one hopes to prove that the years spent on creating these games won’t be wasted.
They sacrifice so much for their art, living poorly, keeping ungodly hours, and have non-existent social lives
Giving up everything in pursuit of the elusive goal, will their creation appeal to gamers?
I’m not a huge gamer, I will go for months without playing one, then the mood will strike, and I’ll be playing for the next few months. Having said that, I would happily play all three of the games featured in this film, but they may only be available on XBox, I’m going to check my PS3 – or if anyone knows tell me, as I may not get to check for a while.
The film wonderfully illustrates all the trials and tribulations of those who not only work in the game industry, but are determined to make it as independents. No small feat.
We sit with the creator of Braid as he sees the success of the game but is afraid that the gamers don’t get it, or see the parts of himself that he put into it in an attempt to connect with the world.
The stress on the Canadian designer of Fez is enormous, going so far as to show up at an expo to demo Fez, knowing he could be facing a lawsuit by his ex-partner by doing so.
And the boys behind Meat Boy struggling to meet an encroaching deadline, then seeing release date hit and they aren’t featured on the new games page for hours, a time when every moment counts.
This is the generation that group of with video games as a way of life, who played Mario for days, who loved Tetris, and Mega Man.
They love their games, and each one of their games is an homage to those games that they love, featuring fun game-play and delightful ideas, something they feel is missing from a lot of the big company games.
Indie Game examines all of this, making us laugh, chew our nails, and hope and yearn with each of these designers.
Indie Game is a wonderful and accessible film, even to gaming neophytes like myself, and shows what actually goes on behind the scenes before you even grab your controller.