Friday, 4 May 2012

The Definitive Definition of being an Indie, Indiependent and Independent Creator

This post is in response to a forum discussion on 'The Escapist' article regarding Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson comments on Electronic Art's indie bundle as well as a article on RedLynx (creators of Trials Evolution) being acquired and there thoughts on indie / independence dilemma.

I thought I'd address what seems to be a constant re-occurrence of the misunderstanding of what exactly is and makes an entity indie & / or independent. So, I'll risk giving a definitive, full-stop, once and for all definition below (plus it's handy for an excuse to update the long-neglected blog as well! :)

Independent Creator:
So, an Independent entity is someone that creates the product / content they want to create regardless of how they obtain the required finance, distribution and advertising / marketing for that product.

In other words, there is no outside entity having a majority influence over what they make and how it turns out from the original core-organic vision.

Of course, if it's a commercial product the current market and other factors will come into play somewhat when it comes to how much compromise & partnering (publisher, third-party tools etc) is required to get the game to the level of success desired but in this context, it depends on how much of these compromises change the control and outcome of the resulting creation which will also dictate whether it is still been independently made or not.

For example, being published by EA or having a billion dollars to spend on your game does not all of a sudden render the creation non-independent.

Indie / Indiependent Creator:
An indie developer is an entity that is not affiliated, published or reasonably financed by an established / major player be it a partner or themselves.

Indie more describes what promotion / distribution & financial assets are at your disposal rather than how or why you create the product's you create. This also means that if you become an entity that is consider major / established you can no longer call yourself indie.

For instance, Thatgamecompany and it's games have been described as indie and indie-hits. While this was probably true around the time they released Flow 'indiependently' as an online flash game, the moment they signed a contract with an established major player like Sony for promotion, distribution and / or support, in addition to becoming an established major player themselves, they graduated from being 'independent indie' to 'independent' only.

This is also the case for Minecraft creator Mojang (as somewhat alluded by "Notch" himself), no longer indie but still independent and making the content they want to make / play.

Point being indie and independent are not co-dependent on each other. You can be indie or non-indie and still be independent or otherwise, but (especially in the context of growth & commercial endeavours) independent creators should aim to graduate from being indie while still striving to keep their independence on the 'creative' and 'choice' front.

In saying this, I think there's also room for at least some other context's of the meaning a little. For instance, the 'garage-developer' / 'homebrew-indie' for the zero budget creator or something, however regardless of this, the base definition still stands.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Making Game Development more FLEX'ible

 Updated 19/1/11 22:59 with new screenshot and name below!

I was going to originally going to just quickly post some in-development screenshots of a Tile Engine (Called 'E-Phoria Tile Engine' for the moment) I've been toying around with previously in Flash (it took ages with the side dialogs and desktop standards based stuff, thus it remains unfinished due to this) and now in Flex Builder and leave a brief comment about the size of this paragraph, but, well, here we are.

I've been tweeting about Flex a bit recently (I've had it for a while but never 'got it' till now) and the reason for this is I believe it will be a lot easier to realise interfaces, applications and in-dialog Flash game stuff in Flex (and specifically the builder) since it does most of the wheel (not reinventing and all that) work for you so can effectively focus on the design of the vehicle (nice analogy no? :D).

Flash version (I'm still using cs4 mind)

Flash Builder version (I'm still on Flex Builder 3)
Flex also has implications on the last post regarding gDn in that it will allow me to replace all the user interaction elements with cleaner (or rich as they like to call it) elements that respond to input in realtime rather then via page refreshes and redirects plus offers optional effects and flare (kinda like using javascript via actionscript if you will).

It should also make creating the module dialogs gDn requires for integration within flash games much more easier and unified, creating a consistent and clean experience (if done right it could be a design / code once deploy everywhere effect). That should lower sign-up friction for you wonderful people and speed-up development for me (and make GUI development more joyous in general).

Some of this is theoretical (in-terms of actual completed practice) but provided I keep my focus and have correctly understood all my study / practical around Flex Builder, it should pan out as above in most if not all cases.
E-Phoria in the design view of Flex Builder, still lots of bits & pieces to add to get it to the Flash version's maturity, but it should be a cinch now.
Update #1 - 19/1/11 22:59
Decided to go with the name E-Phoria TileMason (I was gonna go with TileSmith :S) for the moment and I've also added a file menu that works in Windows & Mac with shortcut keys (no additional code necessary) via the excellent code-once work everywhere Flex native menu, sweet!
New File Menu, real shortcut keys and a snazzy new name (TileMason), well, it's better then that other name, right?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Current progress and the gameDentity network

Generally I don't do as many of these blog posts as often as I should because I generally take too long to write em' and sometimes find it hard to justify with currently low views / comments etc, however, on this occasion I'll try to be concise and quick!

Lets go back a few months
As you may (or may not) remember from previous posts , I had been working on completing aDance, my physics-based arena dodging arcade game and even did a vlog for it. I also began talking about big ideas of including achievements and an in-game indie music play system.

All of this was well and good, but I came to realise I was very limited in my ability to actually deliver and implement these features in any of my creations due to the fact that my skill-set was limited in the necessary  areas to do so. I was stuck with relying on other third-party options (such as mochi, heyzap, gamersafe and the like) to implement some of these features or hack around them to make them work in a non-seamless fashion, not ideal and not good.

Now I'm not bashing these 3rd party options, they save time and enable many developers to earn money and socialise their content which is great, however if you want certain features implemented (such as a proper achievements system rather then the medals in mochi) you have to either hope and wait, hack it around the provided features or (as they rightfully often say) implement it yourself, so that's just what I decided to do! :)

Databases, PHP, MySQL, CSS and all things Dynamic Web
Around the 23rd of August of this year (around the same time 2 years that I started my journey with Flash), I began learning all the necessary web technologies to implement my OWN gaming and community platform (an ability I was always missing in my development tool-kit) for the above (and a few other) reasons.

I'm not gonna go through all the technically terms and details (Wikipedia's real good for that), but I can safely say that PHP was a tough but joyful language to learn and was made all the more easier because actionscript is very similar too it.

The hardest parts to learn were probably things like security (very important), relative file loading / linking and the differences in Class and Object based development in PHP vs Actionscript. Once I got my head around things like this it was simply a case of combining it with Dreamweaver, MySQL and AMFPHP, which results in me having a system that has the capability of doing all the things previously stated and all the things in my head, on the website and off via Flash.

Introducing the gameDentity™ network
And so gameDentity (or #gDn) is born. It will be entering beta 0.01 very soon and in a sentence I describe it as a Premium Social Core-Gaming Network.

The primary goal is for it to be a complete back-end, profile / user link and community system for Eternal Syndrome games and content (online and desktop). It's going to be online gaming's answer to XBox Live which I'm a huge fan of and use a lot (once I implement the online game play module).

The features include (some implemented already):

  • User Account Profile
  • Achievements (Currently 6 - 8 types including Titles, Treasures and classic types)
  • Leaderboards (Fully customisable and can contain many columns of criteria)
  • Save / Load system
  • Site and Flash based Login (works anywhere Flash does thanks to AMFPHP)
  • Native virtual currency (gCash)
  • Stats via gXP and gPoint (which can be used to get savings on premium content)
  • And more...
It has the flexibility and capability of allow third-party developers and partners to use the system.

Most of thee above will much easier to understand and visualise once it's out their in the wild, but as an example, a game like Diamond Raider will have treasure achievements for finding limited special treasured Diamond types that are only available dynamically to a limited amount of players and therefore highly sought after, think of it as the achievement only the quick and great get.

Right that's it, this was almost a hour in writing and I've still got a lot of work to do on this, mainly the Flash gDn modules, so thanks for reading and my twitter (@eternalsyndrome) is really the best place for regular / up to minute development updates. Thanks again!

Friday, 16 July 2010

All your musics are belong to us.

Posted this elsewhere earlier and thought since the image is so awesome and the post became so long, it was worthy of a dev lab update.

So, what I'm thinking of doing is potentially including great indie music artists tracks in-game (with permission first of course). The mock-up image below shows how the music player (called the ES Ra(u)dio Player, pronounced Raw-d-o) dialog will probably look and shows the ability for the user to find out more information about an artist / track as well buy content from them (Your album cover doesn't need to be as dope as Big Dog Mendoza's).

From avoiDance Concept

Basically (to begin with at least) aDance gets free cool music streamed in-game that matches the style / arena theme and musicians get extra listeners / fans for their music, a bit like EA Trax but indie with included artists getting direct links and an opportunity to sell their content to potentially millions of players (that's what a top end flash game gets, I'm aiming at that floor). All content will be served via XML meaning easy live updates of songs, descriptions and links. Artists will have the ability to see how many players do what with your content (ie click the buy button or add to their favourites etc).

This is all brainstorming at the moment and an idea based on the fact that I do exactly the same thing with arena content (xml based data) currently.

Right, that's all, I need to actual get back to game development for some new content to share, back to the carnage I suppose.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

If a Picture says a 1000 words how much more does Music say?

Today I'm showcasing (or rather spotlighting) some of the current music from aDance. Thus far they're 2 tracks (not including bumpers / stingers) but they may be replaced or change depending on where the development goes. Enjoy (or at least try too, ok?).

Main Menu Music

First up, the main menu music for my current game in development, 'avoiDance Concept'. This was my first track in FL Studio and all things considered I think it's pretty good, prior to this I made tracks only in ejay software (great for quick / start level track making).

Adance Concept Main Course by eternalsyndrome

Originally I was using some placeholder commercial tracks that were perhaps better then their current replacements but with my current budget (that being zero) I had to take advantage of my prior wise investments and finally get to learning / using FL Studio and my trusty Axiom 49 (it's a DAW hardware Army knife, serious). 'Hear' before are you the results of such a predicament.

This was my first opportunity to get real serious with it and I look forward to making more tracks and more importantly better at creating the sound that's in my head rather then just what sounds right or is just close enough which to this point I haven't reached yet.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience being a big fan of music and how it can set the scene, feel, mood and atmosphere for an environment, situation and creative work such as games (big fan of the retro / chip music too). It just seems to have a special God-given attribute that makes it special individually and as a part of something.

Ingame Music

Ok, so this is the ingame music track (the music you hear when playing the game, but, you knew that already, right?).

Ingame Action by eternalsyndrome

Overall I think it's pretty good and does it's job well, I'm most pleased however with it's accompanying Stinger and Bumper (I think does are the terms, if not, feel free to use them to make it so) sounds, which play after losing or winning in an arena. The technique is pretty simply really, upward chords for the Bumper and reverse downward for the Stinger (with a black key or two if I remember rightly).

You can find out and hear more tracks (if I've uploaded them already of course :D) as well as other developments of this independent game via here (naturally) and the links below. Thanks in advance for listening, commenting, following, liking, hating, stalking, stealing (ok, don't do a few of those, seriously).

ES Twitter:
Dev Lab Vlog / ESTV:
Emmunity Forums:
ES IndieDB:
ES IndieDB (Game):
ES Flash Game Portal:

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner