Thursday, May 6, 2010

Humble Indie Bundle: wait, "indie" is a genre? :(

This week, five game developers threw on their scarves, cycled out to their nearest Starbucks, and teleconferenced through free wi-fi to band together and release the fantastic Humble Indie Bundle: five fully-featured games for the combined cost of $0.01 and up, which can be split between the developers and two charities of their choosing, at whatever ratio you desire. As of this writing, the average donation is close to $8; since there's no way to physically threaten a website, I decided to give them $15 from the shell PayPal account I use to harbor my ill-gotten e-cash, under the pretense that all charitable funds be given to that one organization that ensures I can post on Blogspot pages about my favorite graphic sex acts without it being all over the news. What can I say? The games looked good, and in my defense, I was drunk!

Torchlight: The sub-$20 price tag is a clear sign of its poor quality and distinct lack of fun game mechanics.

Reading forum threads online about the deal, it seems a few people are angry! I know, people getting inexplicably angry about something fantastic and wonderful on the Internet seems like kind of a stretch. But it's true; people are up in arms about having the option to pay as little as physically possible for five critically acclaimed indie hits! Their criticisms focus on 'indie' as a genre of games; as though they received their first indie 'hit' off of vile skunk-blunts like Braid, Passage, or Super Columbine Massacre RPG, and as a result, believe that all games made by small development studios are from starving artistes with a limited grasp on the concept of "fun". To them, all indie games may as well all be two-dimensional open-ended platformers about crying girls exploring handpainted barren landscapes, which end with messages like "SELL ALL YOUR POSSESSIONS" or "END THE CRISIS IN DARFUR" before the curtain-sprites draw closed and the player is booted to desktop.

Castle Crashers: A game about the grave consequences of military imperialism and traditional Anglo-Saxon attitudes toward the subjugation of women.

And hey, I could :colbert: my way through this and make believe that I actually dislike the thing that's good with a slew of cheeky asides that show my true feelings, but since it's the Internet, I can't take it for granted that people will know what I'm getting at. This attitude that all games made for under a million American dollars are nothing but smug, elitist garbage that puts 'story' and 'art' ahead of 'fun' needs to stop. All five games in this bundle were meant to be played, not to be run through so you can comment on the one-man "company"'s blog post about the amazing twist at the end where the main character straight-up dies. Of the five games in this bundle, none were made by Robert Pelloni or Tale of Tales Studios.

Trials 2: Second Edition; a game that bores you to death with its endless cutscenes, pretentious prose, and hamhanded messages.

It feels like a lot of the negative energy focused on indie titles seems to be based not so much on games like AudioSurf as it is on games in the vein of VVVVVV; games that have a strong focus on original characters and a creative visual style that may be different from the norm. I realize that some games have aesthetics that can be difficult to swallow, and I know the sub-$20 price tag sure does make you wonder about the value you're really getting, but neither of these traits makes independent games fundamentally different from their big-brand equivalents except in terms of whether they were put in front of a focus group or not. I'm willing to bet most of the indie stories critics call "pretentious" would be right at home in a Square-Enix or Grasshopper Manufacture game, and the "gimmicks" that forumgoers whine about would fit in perfectly along Nintendo's release lineup. As far as pure quality is concerned, the distinction is meaningless.

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity! Don't let Dejobaan's stunning reputation fool you; I bet it's filled with memory leaks and horrible crash bugs! If only there had been an Activision label in front of it.

...But that's just my opinion, and you know me -- always ranting like the distinguished, erudite dragon I am. Go, comrades; check it out for yourself! Maybe you'll find something of valoh who am I kidding World of Goo is in it GET IT NOW