Indie games are on the rise, and they are being stealthy about it; just like this issue’s game picks!

Last time we explored the topic of what makes an independent game. We managed to take an objective look at the world of gaming and come out with a rough understanding of how we can determine what warrants indie attention. This week we are going to link that to a more aggressive theme; that indie games are rapidly on the rise.

The trend is a subtle one, honestly. Most of you readers probably play Words With Friends or some other short-term play as you go equivalent. Games being played “by mail” is not a surprising or novel idea, as it has been around long before the Internet (hence the term “play by mail”). The gist is that you are not sitting with your opponent. You take your turn when you get around to it, and so does your opponent. Before the Internet these have been known to take months to complete; and even if played Online these often take weeks. These are on the rise, and grabbing a new audience of younger rabble-rousers.

Frozen Synapse

Frozen Synapse is a good example of a play by E-mail game. It is also so fun my head explodes sometimes.

What does the rise of these games mean though? Well the most important piece to get out of this is that we are fitting gaming in where it can fill down time. Are you sitting in line at the DMV? Not so horrible if you have Draw Something. At a lame party and have nothing to do? Well at least you have Fruit Ninja (or you could leave, but I will not judge.) I would not attribute it to an impatient generation, but instead claim we are a more efficient generation. Why wait twiddling your thumbs when you can text or play a game?

So, is this enough to make indies on handhelds a driving force? Well Angry Birds has achieved well over one billion (with a “b”) downloads across all of its expansions, and is showing no signs of stopping. Here is some perspective for you, Super Mario Bros 3 (which broke milestones left and right) never sold fifty million copies. Before you coerce everyone you know to jump on the app train, you must realize a few notes though. The most important detail is that Angry Birds (and all apps for smart phones) are sold for significantly less than commercial releases. Take for example you buy Angry Birds for a US dollar. That dollar will be split among your publisher, fellow devs, and of course taxes. But hold on, Angry Birds is a gold mine, right? Well yeah, but that is not normal. Oh, and as a new app dev you would have to compete with that. Sorry folks, this article is trying to prove that indie games are on the rise, not that you should get into the business.

Angry Birds

An indie game with commercials. I will never understand this world.

The world of PC and console indies are on the rise too. Let us take Minecraft as a typical example. Not sure what Minecraft is? It is legos for adults, and it is so popular that the dev’s account was at one point a waterfall of profit. No one gets a metaphorical waterfall without appealing to a wide audience. Again, why the surge of profits? A cool idea executed effectively. That is what independent developers do best, and that is how they have effectively broken into the mainstream.

TRILBY: The Art of Theft

If you are like me, you like a good old-fashioned run through a stealth game. Stealth games have been slowly creeping up on the run of mainstream, and I am glad for this. Trilby is one of the games responsible for this. If you are a fan of Zero punctuation, you will especially be pleased, as this was a creation from Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw himself.

TRILBY

For an office building with all this loot, there sure is a lack of light.

In this gem you will walk through side-scrolling areas, attempting to swipe everything that isn’t nailed down. There are upgrades to be had, and perfect heists for completionists. Heck, if you maximize every mission, there is an amazing surprise at the end. If there is any criticism I have for this, it is that memory gives a clear benefit (particularly when cutting wires.) Still, you would be making a mistake to not play through this freebie.

Deity

While we sit on the topic of stealth, Deity deserves a mention. Here you will take the role of a demon in a three-dimensional medieval setting. Torches grant you safety and gargoyles can be used as leaping stones to your destination (which will usually be a guard’s exploding body.) It is a short but complete experience that is abnormal for a free game with such a complete environment.

Deity

BODIES OM NOM NOM!

Until next time, you have been indie updated.