Rampant Coyote - Indie Roundtable #1
Rampant Coyote Jay Barnson has kicked off the first of an ongoing series of roundtables on indie RPGs. The collection of talent gathered is impressive with Jeff Vogel, Vince D. Weller, Thomas Riegsecker and Jason Compton all participating as well as Josh Engebretson (Prairie Games, Minions of Mirth), JRPG specialist Amanda Fitch (Aveyond) and more. The first question is Why Indie?
Question: Why Indie RPGs? The last eighteen months or so have brought gamers plenty of role-playing games and expansions for computer and console from mainstream developers. And there are tons of Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs (MMORPGs) that are 'scratching the itch' for RPG fans and formerly non-gamers alike. And then there are literally thousands of fan-made modules for the Neverwinter Nights games. In this kind of environment, what does a comparatively low-budget indie computer RPG have to offer the player?
Vince D. Weller, Iron Tower Studio ("Age of Decadence"):
I don't understand the question. Maybe if I rephrase it a bit....
Thank God that Mask of the Betrayer and The Witcher were released, because otherwise it would have been the worst eighteen months or so for the RPG community, unless you count all those shitty action games with stats like Dungeon Siege: Broken World and Titan Quest. In unrelated news, the industry is still obsessed with so-called MMORPGs that are scratching the itch to grind and LARP for people who don't have anything better to do. And then there are at least 10 fan-made NWN modules that are worth playing. How do you crazy indie developers deal with all that?
Well, first, I don't think that the market is over-saturated (or even saturated) with RPGs, second, being an RPG fan myself I don't think that there is a such a thing as too many good RPGs.
As for what the indies have to offer, we can offer players things they won't find anywhere else. Mainstream equivalents of games like Geneforge, Avernum, Mount & Blade, Eschalon or Broken Hourglass aren't in development, yet there are people who want to play such games.
Overall, indies offer originality and creativity. I'm not saying that mainstream developers aren't creative. Obsidian is loaded with top quality, mind blowing talent - Avellone, Sawyer, Mitsoda, Saunders, Ziets, and many others and Mask of the Betrayer proves that beyond any reasonable doubts. Unfortunately, the publishers control the industry and at the moment they want MOAR action, like totally next-generation RPGs. So, if you, dear reader, want something different, well, welcome to Club Indie. We hope you'll enjoy your stay.