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Saturday, September 29, 2007

A lecture about innovation in indie games from the Independent Games Summit, GDC (March 2007) - panel represented by Jonathan Blow (Braid), Kyle Gabler (World of Goo), Jonathan Mak (Everyday Shooter) and Jenova Chen (Flower).

- watch on Google video
- download high res version


Too bad Derek didn't get to ask his question though. Nice shirt! [source: GSW]
16 Comments:
Blogger konjak said at 9/30/2007 08:32:00 AM:  
Mak, you are great to me.
Blogger Lim-Dul said at 9/30/2007 09:52:00 AM:  
Ha, ha! Jon Mak is so rad! He's got like the "I make what I make and I make what I like and everybody else can kiss my ass" attitude. =)

I tend to agree with Johnatan Blow and especially with Jenova Chen more... Although they were all basically saying the same thing, the differed in the finer details and their approach to gaming. I guess this also has something to do with their individual selves like Jon Mak was saying.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 9/30/2007 11:05:00 AM:  
Damn, I really wanted to hear Dereks question as well =/
Anonymous Anonymous said at 9/30/2007 01:25:00 PM:  
That was really great. I want more!
Blogger Brad said at 9/30/2007 02:25:00 PM:  
I have no other soapbox so I'm going to subject you poor souls to this.

I think they're barking up the right tree with their common point that innovation for innovation's sake is a dead end. I also agree that art, entertainment and video games are (or can be) a form of personal expression, and that's what gives them meaning. However, the main reason why indie gamers and indie game devs rally underneath the "innovation" banner is because the large video game industry is bereft of it. Blow said that larger game dev houses can't even aspire to gimmickry.

The problem that innovation or expression, the "video games as art question", doesn't address is the audience. The panel only touches on this briefly but they should have. The study of art and audience is the only way that industry can broach the "art question."

Creating meaningful art is the key to industrializing art. There has to be an significant sympathetic audience to profit from (which has negative connotations that I don't believe in, but this is a deviation). Art in itself needs to "speak" to it's audience in order to achieve some sort of success, period, and industrialization is how the artist can profit from the interaction. Mak certainly develops his "voice" by bucking this system, but in the end, not every artist/developer can adopt a "rebel" personality and profit from it.

I think Chen had the best entry point into this question. The way that the developer, either industry or indie, can properly express themselves in a meaningful way is by creating experiences. The industry needs to sell meaningful emotional experiences. To bring it back around, the pinnacle of innovation is when the a developer is able to bring new emotional experiences to their audience. Halo is successful because it makes players feel like strong soldiers. WoW is successful because it expresses (exploits, imo) the joy of growth and character development. Final Fantasy is success because it forges emotional connections between the player and the story and characters. Each successful game expresses its feeling in its own unique way, each innovative in its own time.

This leads to a lot more discussion on what emotional kind of new emotional experiences game can express, and how technology plays a role in emotional content. This comment has gone on way too long, though, so I hope I've inspired some thought.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 9/30/2007 03:58:00 PM:  
well, i haven't listened to the little clip yet, but i just wanted to add something.

it seems a lot of these indie gamemakers tend to try and pretend indie games are for some reason more what gaming is all about, more innovative, where gamers do it not for the money but to create something more original, thought provoking and fresh.

they also tend to break down commercial game companies, complaining that they care only about money, and release game after game which are mostly copies of each other.

but, from where i'm looking, it seems the big commercial companies are really doing a much better job at innovation than any indie game i've seen. and since the only card indie gamemakers have is "innovation", since they can't compete and other categories like art, music and gameplay, it seems indie gamemakers arent that special after all.
Blogger Lim-Dul said at 9/30/2007 04:30:00 PM:  
Yep, you really should have listened to the video first. =)
Anonymous Anonymous said at 9/30/2007 05:24:00 PM:  
i think the main industry was "lacking in innovation" 5 years ago, but at current, main stream games are really pushing innovation and new ideas and creating new gaming experiences much much more than indie games, and from listening to the video, it seems the panel are still living a bit in the past.
i agree mostly with jon mak though, that its better to create something for you and that you will like, rather than trying to be innovative.
jonathon blow seems to be the one who keeps on repeating the "mainstream is doing enough in games" theme, where imo the mian stream is really bringing out some awesome innovative titles, and the indie game makers are just a little bit late to be the pioneers.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 9/30/2007 05:25:00 PM:  
there should be a "not" in that quote.
Blogger Derek said at 9/30/2007 07:13:00 PM:  
Well, you could technically say that video games were invented by "indie developers..." Certainly it wasn't big companies. But that's not really the point.

It's not an "us versus them" thing, and independent game are not here to take over mainstream games. I assure you that every indie developer with any kind of sense (definitely the guys on this panel) has a healthy respect for the mainstream industry. All of them would agree that the mainstream industry has innovated over the years.

Obviously it could do a lot, lot better, though, and Jon Blow or anyone else using the mainstream industry as a benchmark for how we can improve shouldn't be taken to be some kind of attack on the mainstream. The fact is that indies are more flexible and have the ability do try things that big companies can't. And that's exciting.
Anonymous Kon-Tiki said at 9/30/2007 10:54:00 PM:  
Suddenly, I recall a certain someone and his groupies to diss games, prefering others over them for not looking like a mainstream game, but having so-called innovation, while one was a polished, finished game people got to see the ending of and the other was just a physics engine nobody has ever tried to the end.
Blogger Moshboy said at 9/30/2007 11:34:00 PM:  
leave it alone already. jesus.
Blogger haowan said at 10/01/2007 02:56:00 AM:  
heh, pathetic. talk about bitter
Anonymous Kon-Tiki said at 10/01/2007 03:04:00 AM:  
What's it got to do with being bitter or not? It's about double standards. Here, he's saying that he and his goons respect mainstream games and doesn't go for innovation for innovation's sake, yet his previous decisions show the opposite. It's a matter of being consistent and maintaining one's integrity. If the consistency and integrity shown by Derek is representative for Derek and his goons, then it's just them, but he's talking in name of the entire scene, which means he's putting his own inconsistencies and lack of integrity into everybody's shoes. That's not quite fair.
Blogger Moshboy said at 10/01/2007 03:35:00 AM:  
I visit Tigsource on a regular basis and hang out in the forums and I really don't think Derek speaks for anyone. He is just expressing his personal opinion.

Everyone gets that you don't agree with Derek (and various other people). Who cares anymore? It's like over a month old now. I don't know why you're so hung up on it. It certainly isn't proving anything to anyone.
Anonymous Kon-Tiki said at 10/01/2007 05:10:00 AM:  
Derek zei...

Well, you could technically say that video games were invented by "indie developers..." Certainly it wasn't big companies. But that's not really the point.

It's not an "us versus them" thing, and independent game are not here to take over mainstream games. I assure you that every indie developer with any kind of sense (definitely the guys on this panel) has a healthy respect for the mainstream industry. All of them would agree that the mainstream industry has innovated over the years.

Obviously it could do a lot, lot better, though, and Jon Blow or anyone else using the mainstream industry as a benchmark for how we can improve shouldn't be taken to be some kind of attack on the mainstream. The fact is that indies are more flexible and have the ability do try things that big companies can't. And that's exciting.

9/30/2007 07:13:00 PM


Where does it say he's expressing his personal opinion? It sure sounds as if he's talking for everyone there. Hints like
"I assure you that every indie developer with any kind of sense"
and
"All of them would agree"
don't quite seem as if he's talking about him only.