E3 '07: Indie games get a shot

Underground development scene crashes the Barker Hangar party with a handful of alternative gaming options.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Despite the latest generation of consoles offering more horsepower for games and more ways to control them than ever before, the industry is still dominated by first-person shooters, licensed properties, and franchised sequels. Whatever one thinks of the upcoming lineups from the major publishers unveiled at this year's E3 Media and Business Summit, there was one booth at the Barker Hangar where visitors could count on every game shown to bring something new to the mix.

The Indie Games Showcase booth, a collaborative effort between international independent games festival IndieCade and the International Game Developers Association, takes up more space than those for some big-name publishers like Ubisoft, Activision, and Take-Two Interactive. The booth houses a number of games that stand out from the crowd, from the surreal Night Journey to the physics-based platformer N. Information about all the games on display is available at IndieCade's official Web site.

IndieCade founder Stephanie Barish took a few minutes to answer some quick questions from GameSpot about independent game development and its role at the new E3.

GameSpot: It looks like just about everyone else here is a member of the show's organizer, the Entertainment Software Association. How'd you get into E3?

Stephanie Barish: We were invited by the ESA to come, and they actually sponsored our booth because they really wanted to show everybody else here that there were other options, and just have people see things that were a little bit different.

GS: With so few companies coming this year, there's a concern that smaller, out-of-the-way games from independent developers that might have been displayed in Kentia Hall last year wouldn't get a chance at E3. Is this enough of a foothold for independent games at the show?

SB: That's a really good question. I think that this is a different kind of foothold. I don't think we could represent everybody that was in Kentia Hall. And I think the ESA purposely wanted it to just be their members representing themselves. So in terms of representing Kentia Hall, no. In terms of representing what the indie games scene is like, I think it's a really good starting point.

GS: One thing about the old E3 is that independent developers could come to the show and do business with publishers as well as the press. The indie games in the booth are getting exposure to the media, but is there as much going on with them on the business end of things?

SB: Well a lot of these games are by independent developers, like one person. These are people that wouldn't even have gotten into Kentia Hall, so yeah, this is great visibility for them... We're getting a ton of attention for the gamemakers. And also the ESA wanted to support our efforts for this independent games festival, and that will be a good place for the people who would have done business at Kentia Hall... A couple of them are now coming out. Sony just announced Everyday Shooter on the PlayStation 3, N is coming out on the DS, somebody else is working on a deal with Xbox Live Arcade. All these guys are making deals. They're all different situations because they're all individuals.

GS: What are some of your favorites here?

SB: It's hard to know; it depends on my mood. I had a dream about Night Journey last night, which is an incredible game done by game designer Tracy Fullerton and media artist Bill Viola. He's an incredible video artist and it's kind of a dreamy, zen-like game and it's really unusual, interesting, and exploratory. I love Everyday Shooter. One guy did everything on that game. And Cloud's been a favorite for a very long time.

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Discussion

34 comments
gautham
gautham

It's nice to see indie developers and big-name corporations such as Sony existing with each other, and even benefitting each other. Good to know that there is still room for those independent developers out there :)

mikec62
mikec62

I reckon not only next gen HD games will be the future but defiantly indie game developers selling their game on steam or given it away as freeware . and the new Microsoft xna game studio will help people make games for Xbox live marketplace

Unholyone123
Unholyone123

See, this is how indie developers should do it...by drawing attention to yourself with proper business like behaviour. If more indie developers would conduct themselves like this instead of whining and crying about how the industry isn't fair, then maybe more of them would be taken seriously.

easteast
easteast

'07 and '08 are great years for Indie developers...

nintendo_fan675
nintendo_fan675

Doesn't seem like the thing that will make me go wow

mumblesh
mumblesh

errrrm, he said 'incredible' twice? hey Neuro... you said it more times! Indie games need more publicity. The mainstream has become rather stagnant. Bring back things like the Net-Yaroze I say, and encourage bedroom coding again!

Dreski83
Dreski83

exposure... such an intimidating word, but very good in some cases. in the entertainment world, everyone deserves some sort of chance to strut their stuff... look at crap like American Idol :P

c_rakestraw
c_rakestraw moderator moderator

That's very cool!

neuromancer123
neuromancer123

incredible incredible incredible incredible... sb gets -5 for saying incredible so much.. buy a thesaurus and spend some time with incredible man.

msudude211
msudude211

That's cool that Indie dev.'s are getting a chance at E3.

magicmo
magicmo

Not bad, but I would get bored with it very quickly.

shinian
shinian

RaiKageRyu: Exactly my thought.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Everyday shooter looked very Rez like.

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

asmodeus_z
asmodeus_z

Hope MS will introduce some indie games on XBL - This is definitely good publicity for both parties - Aegis Wing is a good start (even though its done by Ms interns)

icytower
icytower

Indy games are good or bad, never seam to be in the middle, but they will always belong in the world.

edubuccaneer
edubuccaneer moderator

As long as they keep the frozen lemonade cold, indies will always have a space in the Kentia Halls of our hearts. Yes, I am corny.

prostar343
prostar343

This is a good start on allowing small development houses to get their games out. But its only a start, and hopefully more help will be given for the games to have a shot at retail.

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

Indies are doing well right now and I really like it

psyconius
psyconius

Eh.. I want more info on Night Journey :/ So far all I can find is a artsy portfolio page talking about the concept.. no details on availability :/

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

The thing I like about independent game developers, is that they don't have the creative restraints that big developers do. So they're free to make games as wild as they want; games that follow their dreams and flow with creativity. These are the games that I like looking at. They have all the effort and hard work of big ticket games, but they can sometimes be better!

KorJax
KorJax

N on the DS? WOW! Thats like one of the more legendary classic freeware games out, it's awsome the game is getting some comerical recognition

DJGeki
DJGeki

This levels nothing! There won't be a 'level' playing field on the consoles until someone has an Internet based 'store' where mostly-complete, fully-tested games are available, and those games come from anyone, anywhere in the world. Think Xbox Live Arcade + a free section of Indie games, or game demos where the player can buy a full version without paying a $99.00/yr fee for them. (i.e., screw XNA since it doesn't allow everyone to download your newly produced game). BTW, if you want to support indie developers, go buy their games!! Check out www.goatstore.com for some on the Dreamcast scene that have been released commercially (Feet of Fury, Maquipai, Cool Herders).

The_Mad_Nutter
The_Mad_Nutter

Always good to add some variety into the mix. Also good to hear that the indie developers will be getting their games out to a wide audience on xbla, ds and ps3.

Shishio817
Shishio817

Pretty cool, some of these games are actually okay/fun.

Bansheesdie
Bansheesdie

This should happen more, Indie developers should get more publicity.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Cool, some Indy games are pretty good, hope to see more on XBL.

vampiredust99
vampiredust99

Cool. Good to see some of the smaller guys standing tall.