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Here I'm going to spill my heart on the subject of why I support independent developers. Feel free to call me an idiot, feel free to lose all respect for me, I don't give a damn. I know that anyone who actually cares to read this and absorb the information will respect my opinion even if they don't agree, and not flame me or any independent developers, referenced or not, for it.
Think about that.
Alright, most of you know me. I'm the guy who goes into the LFGame forum recommending games to everyone that I can possibly think of an idea for. I often even suggest something 2 or 3 times because I always end up coming up with more. I've played through so many MMOs it's not even funny. I find more fun in the development of a game than in the release of the game. At least in development, the game isn't so static.
First game I'm going to mention is LOVE, just to give more background. I would pay for LOVE until the day I die. LOVE is a game by Swedish developer, Eskil Steenberg. The game is constantly evolving and Eskil has said himself that he doesn't plan for that to change. People often wonder when it will come out of beta. The common response from Eskil is that even after release, the game will never stop growing and that it will essentially never come out of beta.
Currently, I'm not paying for LOVE. I'm giving it a break after 5 months to explore some of the more recent MMOs a bit more. However, I would pay for it over a lot of the games I have been playing recently.
So here's where the real reasoning comes from.
Let's go back about 6 years. I started playing MMOs at the age of 10 (yeah, I'm 16, you got a problem with it?). I started with Clan Lord. Everyone who played MMOs in the 90s and took the time to look past games like Ultima and Everquest should know games like Clan Lord and the Realm Online were developed by extremely small developers. Clan Lord's developer, Delta Tao, was quite the competitor...in the market for Mac games and a few of their games have reached classic status in the hearts of Mac gamers. Nonetheless, they were, and still are, a small, incredibly obscured company. Even almost 8 years after the game came out, the community was still just as strong and dedicated as it had ever been. I took notice, even at that age, and thoroughly enjoyed it for about 6 months, when World of Warcraft came out.
As an avid Starcraft player and a fan of the Warcraft series (naturally, every Mac gamer had played them at some point. There still isn't much in the ways of "real" games for Macs), when World of Warcraft's open beta came out, naturally I was psyched. I played as much as I could back then and reached around level 20 as a Tauren Hunter and afterwards bought the game. After release, I only played for about 2 months before quitting, forgetting to cancel the subscription, playing again for about 2 weeks after the release of Burning Crusade and finally cancelling my sub. Needless to say, my parents were a bit irritated, but they got over it.
After I left World of Warcraft the first time, around January 2005, my search for good games for the Mac lead me to Wolfire Games. They were in the process of developing their now cult classic, Lugaru, and I quickly joined the forums. I was on the forums for about a month before I got banned for insulting the developer himself (I was what...12 then? I didn't know any better) and ended up signing back up a few days later, completely changed after reading the response from the dev himself and his brother and understanding just how much they cared about their games and their fans. To this day, David Rosen is still one of the most dedicated developers I've ever known.
Anyways, after mucking around in Lugaru for a while, I did in fact go back to Clan Lord for a bit on a trial account and enjoyed myself despite restarting a bunch of times. I had a friend I made that also refused to pay and we had gone on a few adventures before he got bored of the game.
After that, and after playing World of Warcraft again only to get bored, I muddled around in Graal for a while, played for about 6 months and quit (had a year long sub), only to come back a few months later, realizing that this game was crazy interesting from the scope of it and the difference between each world. I only ended up playing for a month after that, after hearing they were shutting down the Graal 3D idea, because I had thoroughly enjoyed Graal 3D, despite common complaints.
Since Graal, I haven't found a home. I stayed hanging out around Wolfire and went to quite a few other indie devs over the years, all the while mucking around with all MMOs I could and realizing just how much this genre is failing.
Now, on to what this thread is really about.
Independent developers care. They really care. I could list off a dozen independent developers working their asses off against all odds to release a product that the consumer is interested in. Currently, I'm hanging around in 2 independent MMOs in testing, soon to go back to LOVE, all the while still hanging around on Wolfire, waiting for their Lugaru sequel, Overgrowth, to be released and I'm soon going to introduce myself to the Natural Selection 2 crowd (everyone got a copy free for pre-ordering Overgrowth).
All of the games I'm currently with have developers that are shaping the game around what the community wants.
First, Wolfire, they have a pre-order forum for open discussion between people that pre-order Overgrowth, they listen to the suggestions, respond with what they wanted to do and their opinion, and they decide what they're going to do next based on feedback from the users and such. Currently, the game is in alpha and they release a new build every Tuesday for users to mess with and provide feedback and bug reports on. The first alpha was literally a dynamically generated terrain with the ability to place one of a few objects.
Second, Natural Selection 2 (can't remember the dev's name currently) is in alpha and doing something similar to what the Wolfire guys are doing. The current build is still an editor, I think. I can't remember.
Third, LinkRealms is in closed beta. The developers are currently listening to feedback from everyone. One of their community members came over here saying that he could name at least a dozen features and the people that inspired them to be put in the game. Not to mention, the game's polished as hell. It runs lag-free, they have an animation for near everything (when you talk, it does an animation, when you drink something, there's an animation) and the animations are some of the highest quality I've ever seen. It's being made by an independent company that's going to release it for free.
Fourth, Unistellar Industries has their game RISE. The community is really small there, too, but the game is solid, if not with a bigger learning curve than EvE. I have been contacted by e-mail by the developer, Jacob Reskin, himself, asking for feedback on certain parts of the game that he's working on, even after my sub ran out. I'm sure no less comes of other members of the community.
Fifth, City of Eternals, being developed by the all-star team, Ohai, finally set up a forum. My first topic (in the Suggestions forum) was responded to by Susan herself, telling me what their plans were and how my idea would/wouldn't fit in and maybe how we could come to an agreement in our ideas.
Sixth, there's another one I'm keeping from the community to keep them from tearing it apart in such an incomplete state as it's in, but it's in alpha. There's near nothing there yet except the base features. The two or three of us that know about the game and are active in the community and testing have direct communication with the developer and we're helping him get the game shaped up with whatever feedback we can. He's told us several times that he's dedicated to letting the community have a huge influence on how the game shapes up.
And I could probably name a ton of other games, but the point is this. I don't have to. You all should know by now that your precious "AAA" games are all hackneyed crap, despite how polished they are. I'll take my gameplay and you can have your goddamn polish. I don't care. A lot of you come running back to the LFG forum 3 months later anyways. Why do you think I hang out in there? I spend my time exposing the indies to people who could potentially enjoy them.
Now, I'm not endorsing support of people like Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, Firesky, or even Star Vault. I'm just saying that we need to support the indies.
Now, I also know a lot of you are going to call EvE and CCP on me saying that they're not indie and they're polished, have something new and are incredibly popular by MMO standards. Well, where did EvE start? EvE started in the same place all these other unpolished MMOs started, way back in 2003. I think someone said something about...5000 subs max back then? Yeah, I think that's right. That's about 1/10th of Darkfall's audience. Look where they are now! 7 years of dedicated support and look where they got themselves.
Here are my questions:
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, keep going, if not, get out of my thread. I don't want you responding because I know what you're going to say.
Now let me ask you this one simple question:
If you answered yes to this question, move on. If not, then feel free to tell me why.
If you answered yes to this question, you're the reason that this genre is stale. You're the reason that games never change. You want to support these games? Support them. Stop saying they're too unfinished or unpolished for your liking. Stop saying the graphics suck too much for you. Support them.
Because you know what? I can guarantee that if you don't support the indies supporting the things you want, the AAAs never will either.
If you told me 5 years ago if that little company, Wolfire Games, run by a guy just entering college after releasing Lugaru would ever get to where it is now, winning all sorts of awards and revolutionizing the meaning of "an indie game with good graphics," I would have told you you were batshit crazy. Look where they are now.
Look where EvE is now.
These guys have the ideas. They have what we want. So why don't we support them? Why don't we show the AAAs that this is what we want and not some hackneyed World of Warcraft/Everquest/Lineage clone?
You tell me.