It’s Developer Appreciation Week! If you don’t know what that is, read up about it on ScaryBooster’s blog (he invented it, after all!)
I like to think I always appreciate developers but maybe that’s just in my own head. I certainly do my fair share of bitching about games.
Back in olden times when I wrote for a gaming magazine I met a lot of game developers. In those days only the biggest companies had PR flacks. More often than not you’d sit down with a few members of the team and a producer and talk about their next big thing.
I can’t remember ever meeting a developer who wasn’t super-excited about their product. Now I was press so maybe the grumpy devs were all locked in a closet, but from my point of view visiting a company meant hanging out with a bunch of people who were overflowing with energy and optimism and a love of gaming. I’d come out of those meetings bursting with energy. So much fun.
But that was long ago and now it’s rare that I get to meet game developers. The closest I come is rubbing shoulders with them at PAX East. No, I didn’t talk to Cliff Bleszinski at PAX (my one and only meeting with him was at the very first E3 when he and a few other teen-aged guys were running around with a laptop trying to get journalists to look at some shooter they were building…it was called Unreal or something like that) or anyone from SW:TOR or Battlefield 3.
I talked to, or at least hovered around, the little guys. So my DAW post is going to be about the smaller developers. I’m constantly impressed at how devoted these folks are to making their games. They’re always on a strict budget, trying to figure out how to get published (or whether to self-publish) and how to handle PR & Marketing and pay the rent and do the taxes…while they’re also slaving away on a game.
I love the timing of DAW because it comes so soon after PAX East, and both years I’ve come out of the show enthused about the smaller and indie devs. Y’know, those “garage developers” that Nintendo doesn’t give a fig about. Stupid Nintendo. Really stupid.
So let’s name some names. There’s Fire Hose Games (Slam Bolt Scrappers) and Robot Entertainment (Orcs Must Die) and Demiurge (Shoot Many Robots) and Hothead Games (Swarm) and Polytron (Fez) and Owlchemy Labs (Smuggle Truck). These guys were all showing their games at PAX and I plan to buy and play them all (I’ve already bought Slam Bolt Scrappers and Swarm).
There were more there and of course there’s are a ton of small and indie developers who didn’t go to PAX. Blendo Games (Atom Zombie Smasher) is another small developer who I’ve recently supported via my gaming addiciton.
One company I have to single out is Dusty Monk’s Windstorm Studios. Their first game doesn’t have a (public) title yet, but what’s incredible here is Dusty’s transparency. Those of us who follow him on Twitter really get an inside peek at the day-to-day life of an indie developer. You are your only boss and it’s clear that you have to have a lot of inner strength to beat out some code when you’d rather be playing Rift like everyone else is.
I’m positive I wouldn’t have the willpower to do it and I’m kind of awed that all these companies have small teams that have to really behave as TEAMS with everyone pulling their weight and then some. These people bust their asses to produce games for us to play and let’s face it…very few of them are getting rich doing it. They make games because they love games. If they didn’t love games they could make a lot more money working on accounting systems or something.
I salute all of you ladies and gentlemen who’re working in teams small enough that there’s no hiding from the pressure or riding on another person’t coattails. Everyone has to give 110% every day in order to get your games to the market.
Your games are fresh and fun and awesome. Please keep up the good work, and I’ll keep buying them!
One last item: a special salute of admiration goes out to Werit, who is building a game by himself and seems to really be sticking to it. He is as indie as indie can be! I look forward to the day when he launches Stellar Fortune!