I don’t know if it’s just my tiny corner of the Twitter-verse, but man, my feed has been weird lately. I realize that society as a whole has become more than a little extra bonus loopy as of late, and sure, social media is going to reflect that, but the sheer bitterness towards whatever things other people are enjoying has seemed – at least to me – to have ramped up a whole bunch since the start of 2022.
Through the magic of likes & quote re-tweets, I saw a tweet today from Jeff Vogel, founder of Spiderweb Software, that got me started thinking about a potential new project. He posits that the current trend of approximately 10,000 new indie games a year is too much, and throws out a suggestion to try to play even 1% of those games.
Note: In the thread that follows the original post, Mr. Vogel almost immediately corrected his math error. Ten thousand games a year is closer to 30 games a day than 300. He does not, however, back down from his original point that it’s too much.
I’m still not sure if the original point was that these indie game developers shouldn’t waste time creating, or that they should just let their passion projects fester on their hard drives. I’m a firm believer that if you want to create something, you should absolutely be creating something. Draw poorly. Write meanderingly. Make a wonky game or twelve. Give your soul the food it needs to survive this world, and if you can find someone who wants to pay you for the things you make? Take their money with a smile.
One percent is a mere 100 games, and my first thought was “That is absolutely completely doable.” Now, mind, I’m not saying it’s feasible for everyone; I have the luxury of significantly more free time than most people, a fairly broad interest in different genres, and a blog that would synergize nicely with just such a project. Several years ago now, I did a full calendar year of blogging about a different game every single day. That project was far less restrictive than this would be – I didn’t restrict myself only to new games, or even just games on Steam. In fact, I didn’t even restrict myself to PC games. If it was any kind of video game, and I played it, I could write about it.
It was just the tiniest seed of an idea, and I probably would have forgotten all about it in a day or two, but then, Mr. Vogel decided to double down.
See, I am going to enthusiastically defend the glut of indie games until the end of time. I do play them. In fact, I would wager I play far more indie titles in any given year than I do big budget games. Now obviously, this isn’t true of most people, and it’s probably not even true of most gamers. But I am glad these game exist, and that they are so readily available, and I know I am not alone. I’d be far more likely to “surrender to despair” if my only gaming choices were big budget titles that played exactly like the 27 big budget titles that came before. I love quirky passion projects, solo developers, bonkers concepts, and stories that break my heart. I want even more indie games for more types of gamers.
I’m so tired of the idea that there’s only one correct way to enjoy this hobby. I’m tired of gatekeeping. I’m just tired.
No, I feel like the biggest impediment to taking on this sort of project would be financial. Assuming an average price of $20 per indie game, this project would cost me roughly $2000 over the course of the year if I was purchasing everything I played. Obviously, I could bring that cost down with things like GamePass, bundles, and requesting review copies, but it would likely still be a hefty price tag.
At any rate, as much as I’d like to jump right on in – I have some difficulty resisting this kind of challenge, and the double-down definitely elevated the original suggestion into a challenge – I would most definitely need to give it more thought and get the parameters defined. Would demos of newly released indie titles be adequate? Would I need to do it for a calendar year, or is it something I could look at on a rolling basis (i.e. as long as the game was released less than one year from the day of posting, I’d be covered)? Where do Early Access titles fit in – would it be only the first year from EA release, or would only full-release games be applicable?
I do currently have 48 yet-to-release indie titles on my Steam wish list (with Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 being the only non-indie outlier), as well as another 48 that have released since February 2021. That doesn’t even take into account available indie titles on GamePass or that are already in my Steam library.
… I kind of feel like I have to do this now. I just need to figure out the shape of the thing.