What's the definition of Indie?

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by dima, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. dima

    Original Member

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    Hello all,

    I keep hearing the term 'Indie' quiet alot around here, and to my understanding 'Indie' means Independant. This then would mean Reflexive, PopCap and a few other developers aren't considered Indie anymore, as they are 'dependant' on their firms. Also, if a single person team develops a game which is influenced by either portals or other publishers, does it make that person independant?

    I am just trying to get a better picture on what Indie really means. If it's 'Independant', then pretty much any self funded company is Indie. Or does Indie apply to only those who start out small, then they become 'Pros' and not Indies anymore? Reflexive - not Indie? PopCap? And if you say they are, then what makes them more independant than id software or squaresoft?

    thanks,
    Dima
     
  2. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Ha good luck on this one, this discussion has been had a million times in a million threads dating back to the dexterity days. You should run a search on the forums for the word "indie" "developer" and "independent" and you should come up with a lot relevent posts. If someone else has the time to link them that would probably be helpful, I suppose we havn't had this discussion in a while.
     
    #2 Dan MacDonald, Apr 13, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2005
  3. dima

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    In a while huh? :)

    I think that 'Indie' is more of a 'N00b' than 'Pro', and once the person releases the game and starts going full time, they become 'Pro'. Sure they are still independant of a Publisher or Boss figure, but I think there is still influence from Portals and Mass market. So 'Indie' is very vague to me. Maybe it's more of a lone-wolfer than a pack-animal type of thing, but surely doesn't sound too independant to me. Maybe the guys who have full time jobs and part time they make shareware games could be called true Indies?
     
  4. Hiro_Antagonist

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    Indie tends to mean whatever the person using the term arbitrarily defines it to mean. It's different for every person, and I suppose most of these wildly conflicting statements are all valid.

    My favorite definition, though, is to say that the developer is 'independant' from the publisher -- i.e. that the developer dictates how the product is made, and not the publisher, and that the developer isn't financially dependant on the publlisher for financial support when the product is being developed. This is often, though not always, in the best interest of the product from a creative standpoint, though usually not from a financial standpoint.

    -Hiro_Antagonist
     
  5. mahlzeit

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    I'm sure indie is short for independent and not independant, since the latter isn't a word (unless you're French). ;)
     
  6. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    An "Independent Developer" is someone, usually a company, who makes games and sells them independently of a traditional mainstream publisher and/or without the backing of an angel or other major investor. They have to suffer the good and the bad of that, meaning they'll see no money up-front for development but also that they can develop what they like and try to sell it as and how they see fit.

    If they make little or no money doing games development, or the standard of the work is low enough to preclude interest by a publisher, then they're not independent. To be independent of something, that kinda implies that that something might have otherwise been a factor. An author of a breakout game is *not* an independent even if he made a million dollars out of it. Publishers would never have bought it in the first place, so how can that person claim to be independent of them? It's about as relevant as me saying I'm indepedent of the US tax system because I'm a UK citizen.

    Anyone claiming anything different is just trying to pin a badge on. I just don't understand why people aren't just happy to describe themselves as software developers, like what we've all been since we started.

    I frequent (troll?) these boards looking for occasional nuggets of info on online publishing and to occasionally share my wisdom (cynicism?), not because it has the word 'indie' in the URL. Frankly, I wish we were more honest and called it "downloadable game developers"
     
  7. Coyote

    Indie Author

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    EEENH! Thanks for playing. I wanna nip that definition in the bud. Indie developers are not wannabes producing inferior stuff in hopes of "going pro" someday. Some are, but a lot of the indie developers out there right now (and in this community) have "done their time" with the major studios and publishers. Some still do, with contracts and so forth.

    Independent means independent of some corporate master telling you what to make. It can get really fuzzy beyond that. Some of us are making a decent living pushing out their own game in their own way, and are doing WAY better than they would be if they were some salaried worker-drone at Electronic Arts. Some people still think that would be a step up, and aspire to be a "footsoldier for the games industry." Some of us are refugees from that environment, who either quit so we could "graduate" to do our own thing instead of forever making someone else's game, or in some cases we're still doing that but we're doing the indie thing on the side.

    Jay Moore (marketing guy at GG) once told me he preferred the term, "Self-Funded Developer," which is slightly less fuzzy but also less cool-sounding. But that explains a lot - you are doing your own game, on your own ticket, and then what you decide to do with it later is up to you and your potential partners. If you THEN turn around and sell the rights to publish it to some major publisher, it's all good - it's your choice to make.
     
  8. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I much prefer that too, but take issue with your 'cool' statement. I actually think an 'indie' badge is kinda lame tbh. Generally speaking, and already exemplified by the poster, most people who are independent in any walk of life are usually that way because they can't (or won't) cut it with the big boys. That's just a fact of life.

    Some people, like those you mention and yourself by the sound of it, are being independent for the sake of the art and good luck to you. However most people claiming to be indies are in fact just the wannabes he mentions.

    I've also got no problem with people who are fully employed at mainstream developers - I employ a couple of them myself. I'd never work at a place like EA, but I spent about 15 years in the mainstream and would class probably 12 of them as the time of my life, prior to starting my own "real" business. If you're good at what you do, do it properly - don't work from home. It's fun for a year until you find yourself lonely and skint.
     
  9. Hiro_Antagonist

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    Hmm... If that's what we are, then it seems I'm in the wrong place. My game will be distributed on CD (though we will have an online demo available).

    -Hiro_Antagonist
     
  10. Vorax

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    Heres a much better term then "downloadable games developers", "Self-funded developers" or "Indy developers"

    I think we should be called -- Renaissance Developers

    We are attempting to expand the art and break new ground, creating a rebirth of game development by starting at the roots.

    We are all Renaissance Men and Women! Vive le resistance!! We willl not be assimilated!! Together we stand, published we fall! Power to the programmers!!

    Ok, it's not that romantic, but it sounds better then Undy...err....I mean Indie developers ;)
     
    #10 Vorax, Apr 14, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2005
  11. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    Honestly, I think we use the word "indie" for the sole reason that it gets us away from the negative conotations associated with the term "shareware developer" which is what we all would have been called ~10 years ago.
     
  12. Coyote

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    That, and the fact that the "share-" part of the term referred to the limited form of distribution of the day. Nowadays it's ... well, downloadable. The problem is that we're going to see more and more "non-indie" titles available through downloads as a distribution medium.

    There's an independent film industry. It goes everywhere from propaganda-oriented documentaries to winners of Sundance awards to college film projects. There are indies in other media as well - from indie CD labels to indie comics. Being an "indie" in any of these other industries isn't a badge of quality - it also runs the full spectrum from the most talentless garage band to famous stars who just aren't currently 'signed.'

    Anyway - the term works, but it's going to continue to defy any sort of catagorization. And maybe that's the whole point.
     
  13. Surrealix

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  14. Mark Sheeky

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    IMO it's someone who both creates and sells their own work.

    In mainstream games an independent developer is an external dev team that a publisher hires to make a game.

    Mark
     

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