Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Indie Game: The Movie

A film that came out recently on a number of electronic mediums including Steam and the like that gave me an interesting perspective into the world of video game development was Indie Game: The Movie. This film, from Canadian directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky provides insight into the interesting world of video game development - namely indie games.
For those of you are unfamiliar with what exactly an "indie game" is, do not be alarmed for it is not a racial slur of any kind:) It is, in fact, a video game title whose artistic direction and vision are sole properties of a group of individuals (most often team sizes range from 1 to 5 members) that exclusively handle the  burdens of financing and developing their projects entirely on their own. A task that seems daunting at best.
The film highlights the creative exploits of three developers (Team Meat, Polytron, and Jonathan Blow) ( known for the games they have created (the titles being Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid respectively).
The film not only highlights the rises and falls of game development cycle but also provides insight into the lives that these game developers and their families lead. It provides a level of characterization not often seen inside the many hacks and saws common to popular titles such as Super Meat Boy.

A Mario-esque platformer in which you, a "skinless" boy
must  save your "bandaged" girlfriend from impending doom
A level of intimacy is heavily encouraged from the film's directors for the stress-intensive periods of time that indie game developers have to endure in light of deadlines and important dates that occur during any game's development. These aforementioned elements come together to make for an interesting take on what many consumers may not consider when ingesting the newest independent title released for the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) or the Playstation Network (PSN).

Furthermore, the film goes into a brief history of independent game development especially emphasizing the advent of modern-day digital download services such as the aforementioned XBLA and PSN whose purveyors (namely Microsoft and Sony respectively) have allowed for lower budget titles to receive their fair share of the spotlight in light of mega titles like the Call of Duty Franchise and Halo series alike.
Polytron's Fez's artistic style is rivalled by few
In addition, a portion of the film is devoted to allowing the viewer to become acquainted with these fantastic titles. From the wall-to-wall platforming of Super Meat Boy; to the cleverly designed three-dimensional opus that is Fez; to the time-reversing adventure gameplay of Braid, gamers will have a blast rolling through hours and hours of beautifully designed titles that come from a group of individual's combined artistic vision rather than corporate grunts whose vision is all too often skewed by the needs and desires of their owners. The former statement truly encompasses the scope of this film's focus specifically the trials, pain, and infrequent success of independently developed game titles that share not only the burden of their creator's time but, in addition, their artistic vision as well.

Until next time... so long.

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