[music playing] Indie is about small teams working on tight artistic visions.
You have a freedom to explore crazy ideas.
What's great about Indies is that they don't have the same money at stake, so that gives them the flexibility to really, really try new things.
Indie video games are really helping, I think, to push the boundaries of game design.
Indies are pretty much the saviors of video games.
In the beginning, video games were actually independent ventures.
They started out in people's basements and garages.
These were one and two-man teams, and then video games got huge, and you ended up having hundreds of people working on a single title.
I think what's great about independent video games now is that you're seeing this return to really, really small teams, so teams under the size of 10.
I think one of the biggest problems in the past for Indies has been distribution.
Let's say you struck a publishing deal with a Microsoft or Sony.
That process is going to be a lot longer.
You might have a little more cash to play with, but you also have to deal with the reality that your game needs to be put on a schedule and released at a certain time.
One of the great things is that there are some new platforms such as crowdfunding, so Kickstarter, and Indiegogo.
Those are places where you can put your prototype out there and say, hey, I really want to finish up this product.
It allows you to garner a new audience, and it puts cash in your pocket.
So that's what's really exciting is that it's not the difference between me purchasing it and not purchasing it, it's really a difference between something existing and not existing.
And I think that that's a really exciting thing for independent game design.
The jumping or the running or the bouncing of enemies.
These are mechanics.
This is different than something like having three lives, which is a rule, but it's not particularly a mechanic, because it doesn't push you towards the interaction in the game on a moment-to-moment basis.
For me, the mechanics in the game are the small systems that lead to the emotional feeling you get from playing a game.
What you really want when you have a game is systemic significance, learning that it's OK to try again in certain contexts, learning how to approach a situation where you're uncomfortable, because the game's making you uncomfortable.
But you decide that you're going to tackle it anyway.
That's the purest and most exciting motivation of a system.
And I think Indie video games have the possibility to create the most interesting and unique systems, because they're driven by the want to make something and to express yourself.
I feel like a lot of AAA games approach sound design from just a hyper-realistic perspective, whereas a big thing for Indie games is vibe and tone and thinking about how I want the player to feel and what kind of feel I want the music to convey.
It's sort of like an animated film or something.
You're responsible for the entire soundscape.
It's not like there's any physical space that the game is taking place in, so you have to create all of that from scratch.
For Bastion, a lot of it took place on like floating islands in the sky.
So, yeah, I had to make up what that would sound like.
And I asked myself really weird questions throughout the process like, what does it sound like when you hit a genie with a hammer?
Like, I had to figure that out.
You have to make it so that it'll play over and over again without the player either getting sick of it or even really noticing that it's happening.
When you swing your hammer, that sound has to be really satisfying to hear, because you're going hear it thousands of times throughout the game.
All of your senses that you use to play a video game should be tantalized.
It shouldn't detract.
It shouldn't draw attention away from other things.
Everything should hold up the game play and the feeling of what's happening.
If the music doesn't do that, then it's not doing its complete job.
The visuals that I love the most are the ones that just blend seamlessly in with this world and make it come alive.
In Osmos there's definitely a spacey kind of feel or like a deep underwater feel.
And so sort of a dark blue seemed to be the right choice.
And when you start going into abstraction, that space opens up so much more than realism.
Realism feels so focused.
Like [inaudible], Tiny Wings, that makes up these beautiful watercolors but mixed with this procedural coloration that changes every day.
You want to be artistically resonant and beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but you're trying to convey information.
I'd say like a third of the time spent on the visuals in Osmos were spent on making sure that things looked good at all magnifications.
A lot of games don't have to deal with that, and so you don't want to overwhelm the player.
You want them to have enough information to do what it is they need to do.
And you want it to look good.
How do render the things that the player needs to see, and how do you render them in such a way that they actually have a dynamic feel of what's going on in the game?
Almost all the visuals in video games are somewhat related to infographics, because they're conveying information.
You need to be able to play.
Some of it's window dressing, but it all has to be harmonious, and it can't compete or take away too much attention or interfere with what's happening at the systemic level.
And in independent game design space, we don't need an army of content creation that would have to basically implement that vision.
Indies are extremely interested in advancing our emotional engagement with games, and they have the freedom to try to do that outside of what gets funded in the commercial sphere.
Interactivity adds a third dimension to storytelling.
You actually get to be part of the story.
Your actions determine what happens, and you're to experience a greater emotional and personal impact, I think, than you would by observing or viewing a passive story in which you're not participating.
One of our primary ways of interacting with the game is by exploring.
So the story can be on the walls.
The story can be in the environment.
You can see a place that's ruined, for example, and that prompts the player to wonder how that place came to be, and the decisions that the games ask players to make on a moment-to-moment basis can create some interesting themes.
For example, there are games that are very violent that ask you to question violence.
We have games about the impact of choice, what do you do when you can take one path or the other?
Do you arm yourself or do you help someone else?
But games where there are memorable relationships between the protagonist and other characters are some of the ones that remain, I think, most relevant to the canon of the world of gaming.
One of the most oft-cited examples in Indie space is this game called Passage.
You start on one side and walk to the other and then you die.
But along the way as you're playing Passage, you meet a woman who ages alongside you.
It's really the capsule of what means something in someone's life.
People are trying to find ways to make those relationships feel more real, to make those interactions feel better understood.
Storytelling in games is still such a new frontier.
I think we're all very eager to see what people with the freedom to experiment will develop.
And when you make things happen, it's going to be the Indie space that produces them.
Indie video games are really important to the evolution of games, because Indie games have the opportunity to take risks.
Because they're designed by people who have a drive to express something really specific, as opposed to a drive to make money.
They try to push the envelope of the medium and provide new experiences that we haven't seen before.
So that means new art styles, new mechanics, new methods of storytelling.
We play, humans play.
It's always going to be with us.
It's not going away.
Indie video games contribute in a much more personal way, and they're much more focused.
They're much more emotional.
They speak to you.