Independently (indie) developed video games are on the rise. With great success stories like Minecraft (the million dollar hit) and Retro City Rampage (one man developed game come to life), gamers have fully embraced the indie game industry. The indie gaming market also represents a world of opportunity for prospective game designers.
While “hardcore” gamers are only just now giving their full attention to the indie market, there have been quite a few developers working in the trenches to develop their games free of any corporate direction. Indie games have been a big deal for the last eight years or so and these three developers have helped get them there.
1. The Behemoth
The Behemoth is a true indie development team. Based out of San Diego, California, The Behemoth is made up of three veterans of the flash game world, more specifically, the flash portal Newgrounds.com. In August 2002, artist Dan Paladin and programmer Tom Fulp (creator of Newgrounds.com) came together to create a flash game called Alien Hominid. It was met with great success amongst the users of the website, racking up 20 million views (as of 2012).
Paladin began work on a full-fledged console game soon after Alien Hominid. John Baez, one of Paladin’s co-workers, expressed interest in Alien Hominid becoming more than just a flash game. Paladin, Baez, and Fulp hired some developers and founded The Behemoth in 2003.
Their first release, a fleshed out version of their initial flash game, was considered a quirky call-back to games from the 90’s and it brought The Behemoth into the spotlight. They went on to develop Castle Crashers in 2008 and it became one of the most downloaded and highest rated digital titles on both the PS3 and the 360. The Behemoth’s next title, Battleblock Theater, is currently in development with no release date slated.
The Behemoth is most known for their distinctive “Dan Paladin” art style and their quirky humor, but probably just as important is their consistent production of solid titles.
2. Amanita Design
Amanita Design produces some of the most interesting and creative games in the indie gaming world. Founded in 2003, this Czech development company has become known for its creation of beautiful worlds and interesting gaming experiences. Whether it’s the robotic dystopia of their 2009 release Machinarium or the botanic beauty of their latest release Botanicula, one can trust Amanita Design to create a unique world for gamers to interact with.
Amanita Design, much like The Behemoth, finds its roots in the world of flash games. After a few intriguing flash games, the developers at Amanita found work developing interactive ads for a variety of big clients (NIKE, BBC).
Their last two releases, Machinarium and Botanicula, have been met with wide critical praise, with both winning major awards at the Independent Games Festival. Amanita Design is currently working on the third release in their Samorost series, the very same series that started their company in 2003.
Much like their name implies, Amanita Design is less about crafting a rigid and generic game, but rather creating a world with thoughtful game design.
3. Gaijin Games
Gaijin Games is a more familiar story when it comes to independent gaming studios. The minds behind its games are members of the industry who grew frustrated with the way big companies operated. So they went out and started their own company.
Alex Neuse, Founder and CEO of Gaijin Games, is a veteran of the video game industry. Starting out in the world of Q&A testing for Lucasarts Games, Neuse worked his way up from company to company before deciding he was done with being limited creatively. Neuse and fellow industry vet Mike Roush joined forces and founded Gaijin Games in 2008.
Gaijin is most known for its series of Bit.Trip games. Each game features a simple mechanic distinctive to its vision and features iconic characters such as Commander Video. Probably the most popular title Gaijin Games has released is Bit.Trip.Runner which has Commander Video running constantly, jumping and ducking to avoid obstacles.
Gaijin Games and its developers are all about bringing awesome games to gamers and they are free to do whatever they are capable of doing to achieve that goal.
These three indie gaming companies are paragons in the world of unique game design. With every new release, these developers give more and more opportunity to young game developers looking to break big.
Once you start your path into game design, you open up the opportunity to establish your own indie gaming company. Don’t wait! Enroll!
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