The Oncoming Indiepocalypse

Jeff Vogel says the words no one wants to hear: “Indie Bubble.”

I think we're in for an interesting few years in the computer game industry. I have my own opinion about the future of small game development, and it's this: If your game can't succeed based on word-of-mouth marketing, unless you get real lucky, you need to adjust your budget, your quality, or both.... Sure. Nobody wants to hear a whole business model being called into question. But I've lived through rich times and lean times, several of each. Small-scale software development is a rough business, and you need to operate lean and mean to live in the long term.

Jay Barnson reminds us that this has happened before, and this will happen again.

Getting featured on Big Fish Games used to be a ticket to the big-time. Ditto for the App Store. Not anymore. That’s becoming true of Steam, as well. It’s just how it reality works. To be honest, as a guy who’s been most attracted to the “independent” part of being an indie – not beholden to any other entity for success – I don’t find Vogel’s predictions to be “bad news” at all. Just an acknowledgement that history tends to repeat itself.

Joseph Kim calls for a new type of publisher for mobile games, one that provides central services to support creative developers.

Large mobile publishers today have a model of typically sharing only the distribution and QA function with third party developers but a lot of the useful central services functions are reserved for only first party titles.... What’s really needed is a sophisticated and efficient Central Services organization that provides the full stack of services and helps artists take the next step of “crossing the chasm” to commercial success.

Bernie DeKoven reviews Hide and Seek’s wonderful Tiny Games.

Forza 5 uses player data to model AI.

Every time you race, we upload telemetry. It’s where the other cars were and what your car did when you made a bunch of decisions. We’re also recording the line you took and all this other information about the race.... The server is then thinking about all of that data as it’s coming in. It’s crunching all these numbers and learning new behaviors on different tracks and in different scenarios that the whole system can then learn.... Then it looks at that massive system and decides what aspects of that system represents what your Drivatar should do. It pushes that down to other people. Every time you log in, you get other people’s Drivatars, which are constantly updating, downloaded into your system.