Last week in Los Angeles, indies had a chance to show off their assets at Indie Games Live, and the results were anything but small. The Nokia Club Lounge in LA (fourth floor, VIP, park the car please) had both familiars and newcomers to the indie scene. A whirlwind of fun, VR experimentation and finger food festivities crescendoed into one fantastic night.
First and foremost, JumpTanks from Mechanical Butterfly Studios pitted me against a bevy of other tanks, mostly run by server admins, so winning was out of the question. Although in early stages as the level design was lackluster in textures, JumpTanks is an up-and-comer that is bound to turn more heads when polished. Think Battletanks, only more fun and without bears in advertisements.
E3 attendees might remember a little ditty named Galak-Z, the retro space-shooter straight out of 17-Bit Studios. Formerly in a rough build on the PS4, the newer build was PC-based and carried a stronger level of polish. With a team of developers carrying previous credits from triple-A games from SEGA, we're anxious to see what tricks they can pull from their sleeves.
Indie fans may remember Homesick from Lucky Pause, the light-to-dark explorer that reminds me of The Black Swan, only extreme light and dark environments can harm you and there's some deeper-level puzzle solving beyond painting the world black and finding some king sitting in a tower. Homesick really pushes artistic boundaries and reminds us all that we're happy to perceive color.
These games, however small, are leaving a massive impact on the industry. It's clear from the shift in development teams and project management that indies aren't about the money or changing a few skins to deliver aged titles—it's about fun and giving the players what they want. Just before leaving the event, I spoke with a lead developer from Mechanical Butterfly and told him directly, "Indie developers deserve all they can get."