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Hey look man, my name's "I-smel". What I lack in smarts, I at least pay back in honesty. Boink!

Tom Brien @I-smel

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I watched Indie Game, it's not what I expected. Good, though.

Posted by I-smel - June 18th, 2012


First off: I was on a podcast during E3 week, but he did like a dozen other casts that week and it's still not got around to my episode :(
Probably next week, I'll be on there. I was hoping it'd go up today so I could link it, but aaaaaa I don't wanna wait another week to post. Here's my thoughts on Indie Game: The Movie.

I was kinda torn on whether Indie Game The Movie was gonna be like a flowery, hipster "I cum when I think about Megaman, now I make videogames, happy happy joy joy" feature or if it was gonna be something I'd actually like.

From hearing about it online, I went in expecting this to be a movie I could show to people, and really wear it and say "This is what I'm doing and why". It seems kinda dumb looking back, but I wanted to just hear Jonathon Blow talk about what Braid's REALLY about, and show how videogames can have subtext and implied meanings. Then have Ed McMillen say what Time Fcuk is really about, and to have a movie that went a layer deeper than "I make games cos I played Legend Of Zelda 10 years ago it was real sweet."
I think I was hoping for this just to make myself feel better, cos in my world I'm completely alone on this whole videogames thing, and to have smart people sounding smart would be like "SEE?? IT'S NOT TOTALLY DUMB!!!"
Anyway the movie wasn't that.
Actually I was gettin this sinking feeling like 10 minutes in, cos I was realising that this isn't gonna sway anyone I know in real life on whether or not this whole thing I'm doing is just an endeavour for gross bearded hipster baby-men. This documentary just confirms that!, I thought. Then at that point I could see a huge rabbit-hole of kicking myself and worrying about things opening up infront of me, and I decided I'll just zone out and watch this movie instead.

Movie's pretty fun, it turns out.
They do MENTION how games can be about more than just jumpin' around and collecting stuff, but it's more a documentary about the people's lives than about games. You get to meet Tommy's parents, Edmund's school teacher and see Phil Fish freak out in a hotel lobby for a day before PAX, that's more the point of the movie.
I definately see myself in these guys. If you've ever bin working on a game that really got ontop of you, or ever put way too much stake in a game, this is a must-see. When Tommy said he didn't even care at that point if nobody bought it, I was like "lol YEP!", and when Jon was really put down by all the good reviews, I was like "lolYEP!"
Seeing Phil run over and kick someone off a broken demo of Fez to fix it was totally painful, cos I've totally done that.
And there's plenty of new stuff I didn't know about, even though I've seen literally HOURS AND HOURS of podcasts, interviews and panels with these guys.
Other than that it's a fun ride. Watching the games come out is intense.
Oh and there's an audio commentary track where Team Meat make fun of Phil and Jonathon Blow for 2 hours and it's real fucking hilarious. It's TOTALLY worth $9.99.

So yea: IGTM- There's some flowery "I JUST LOVE ZELDA, IT'S JUST THE BEST!!" talk, and it won't surprisingly cut down all the sad cliches of what "indie game developers" are, but you get to see Tommy Refenes really talk shit at Microsoft and the chronicling of Phil Fish's downward spiral. Making a living on games hasn't been documented this well before.

So yeah that's my whole experience with it.

That game I'm making is lookin really good. It feels like a real game, but I'm just havin trouble making it punchier and more exciting. I should put another playable demo up somewhere soon.

I watched Indie Game, it's not what I expected. Good, though.


Comments (28)

aaaaaa this post isnt very interesting, maybe I should delete it.

no it its very nice but since its sumer evry one its partiing like me :D

and heav litel time to stay on the pc...

you now...you shold go see the world take a brake go ghet drunk chent whait to play the demo

why would you delete something you worked on to inform?
So what if you or others view it as boring; it's still there as proof that you put effort into it.

Every little bit of work towards art has some meaning whether or not its completely agreed upon by the collective popular perspective. Just being there means you believe it will help someone who will come across this and want to hear the insights of those who experienced and wish to share the knowledge. passing down was and still is one of the most practiced forms of helping out generation to generation for the betterment of not repeating history.

don't doubt yourself smel; it'll only kill your confidence.

Lots of people will probably read this and find it interesting even though they don't post a reply... Like I wasn't gonna post a reply but here I am! We really need view counts on blog posts / user pages. ANYWAY fun read, I still have to listen to that Team Meat commentary track.

The commentary's hilarious, they're such fuckers.

"This post isn't very interesting. maybe I should delete it."

It's funny you said that. I read this news post moment you posted it, and spent a good 10 minutes typing out a [lengthy] response, but refrained because I shared your sentiment. I wanted to say I pretty much agree with you on all accounts about the film (Kotaku's review also said it better than I could have). I feel the critics showering this film with praise are doing so because something like this hasn't been done before, and they feel it's good because for them it sort of has to be.

I honestly think "Kevin Smith Explaining the Meaning of Life as an Artist" on YouTube would be better fit to convince an outsider why artists do what they do (and that's not just because it's an hour and a half shorter).

Making a living as an artist is pretty much a sink-or-swim deal, and I hope that someday people understand the possibility of the former is no good reason to discourage someone.

That was a fun video!!

I hate Kotaku, but I just read that review and some of it lines up with how I felt.
There are cool points that pop up for a second without being dived into. Instead of interviewing people who work on huge juggernaut games to show the contrast, it feels like a lot of the movie is an episode of The Cake Boss, but they have to get a videogame out on time instead of a cake.

I mean that's FUN TO WATCH, but it's not what I was really expecting.

The first time I saw the film it was super inspirational because it was just a few weeks before we were releasing Closure and I got all the same feelings Ed and Tommy were getting. I also felt the same way during release, a slight worry, but also kind of just going about regular business, sitting around. When edmund talked about a kid staying up late to buy it and not going to school the next day it struck a nerve in me, about how the young kids today will look back and ask each other if they remember the games we're making today - almost nostalgic. Because I totally remember how much the games I played when i was young meant to me.

Anyways, I thought the film itself was well done overall. If i had to complain about one thing, is that it doesn't really touch any bases on the small victories here and there during development. It's mostly filmed during these guys' crunch times so there isn't really any sigh of relief or victory cheer until later in the movie. There should be a decent amount of 'sweet, we just added this awesome thing to the game' or else they wouldn't be working on it at all. I think the devs were just so stressed they didn't vocalize any of that to the cameras. It just makes the film a little depressing during the development stage with no hint of satisfaction while actually making the game. They also started filming well after the game's development started so there was no exciting brainstorming part either, where they build up all their energy.

ALSO EDMUND IS SO OFFENSIVE, HOW DARE HE COMPARE HIMSELF TO AN AUSCHWITZ GAS CHAMBER CAPTIVE

HOW DARE PHILE FISH SAY HE WILL KILL HIMSELF, AND THEN NOT KILL HIMSELF.

Yeah I had the same experience you did when he talked about kids playing Meat Boy.
I'm pretty lost on this game I'm making now, and it's hard to come up with these super dense levels and pieces on my own, so imagining myself playing Streets Of Rage and Golden Axe like 15 years ago was a good sense of direction.

But then like-- why are we all making games for 6 yr olds? Isn't that kind of weird? I don't want that to be my big goal.

"why are we all making games for 6 yr olds?" ~ This question kinda confused me. I'm guessing you're half-joking, but there's still merit in answering it. Edmund, Phil, Jon, their goals in development were to make games based on their own lives and their own preferences. So they made games for people who think like them. I'm sure Super Meat Boy wasn't made specifically for a young audience, considering its difficulty and the nature of its adult jokes and semi-obscure references. But it's designed well enough for its purpose that a six-year-old could conceivably pick it up and play it without much instruction. It's also clear that Braid was meant for older audiences, but because its purpose is different, the game is not nearly as accessible to gamers outside of the target audience.

Yeah you're right.
I thought about it, and there's a tonne o reasons people want kids to like their games.

I have yet to see the movie, but have been meaning to. while I never had a game crunched out to the caliber of those games I've had smaller games and definitely felt those experiences mentioned here to a smaller degree. Ive had to deal with the whole "closet artist" vibe all my life. growing up I was pretty much made to feel ashamed I was into it, and usually it was taken away from me when ever I fucked up in school or something. Which is why Id used to get overly offended whenever I saw one artist putting down another, on this and other sites.. it used to really hit a cord..
But There were a few rare instances where I worked on a project with a team of other artists and I finally said to myself ' yeah, this is where I want to be.'
I finally just now started to not care of what people around me thought I did, and simply do it because Its what I'm happiest doing.

Yeah I'm stuck in the gap right now between SAYING I'm doing that, and actually subconciously doing it.

Also I noticed in starting this new game that I have a tonne of stuff I KNOW about how to make good games, but I never deliver on it. I wrote loads of stuff for No Time To Explain about all this stuff I was thinking about, but it never came out like that in the game.
So that's a theme with me.

Would you prefer us to watch the movie then critique about your post with a comment, rather than reading the post and then comment?
it leaves me a bit bewildered.

do whatever, do both if you want.

I wrote it so it'd be safe for people who haven't seen the movie. So if you totally don't know what I'm talking about, then I must be dumb at writing.

tom made me comment or he would buttfuck me,and yes I read the posthing

I'm gonna be honest I don't believe a single word of this.

Hmm, I'm interested to see that movie, but I'm not going to go out of my way to watch it.

Yeah that's what I thought, but then I did anyway.

I admit I went to go watch it wanting to hate it. I thought itd take the usual hipster angle to it. But it didnt and I actually came away with a better understanding of programmers and their struggles and investments into games. As an artist sometimes you dont take that into consideration and you just shovel graphics and are like hey make this.

But yeah I found it to be a pretty good movie. I will have to get around to seeing the one with commentary on it.

Tommy Refenes is actually the best motherfucking coder in the world, but they didn't really mention it.
Apparantly Microsoft gives every game a list of like a hundred certification checks to put in the game, and Tommy updates the whole thing in a few hours and the Microsoft cert guys were like "No, you have to put all this stuff in the game, it'll take a few days."
and he's all "Yeah I just fucking did that, what now."

There's another story about how it was gonna be on WiiWare, and they said "Hey guys, we're thinking of putting it on XBLA instead", and some producer representative's like "Yeah nice threat dumbass, you don't have enough people to do a port"
Tommy's all "We already have versions working on all consoles, so guess again bitchesszzzzz"

Guy's fuckin ridiculous.

Thanks for the tip on this, Hadn't heard of it till you posted here - I just watched it and loved the insight to the process.

Even knowing before hand that the game was a success, It sure felt good watching those guys succeed, I must say.

And the commentary tracks aren't available for the Steam version...greeeaaaaat. This morning's 3GB update was essentially a "re-download" so they could change ONE WORD in the credits. I'm pissed; I was planning on watching it again today with the Team Meat commentary.

It's in the Steam version, PM'd how to find it.

I watched it last month negro.

nerds

I saw it at Doc/Fest in Sheffield. Very interesting seeing it with bunch of doc lovers rather than game lovers.

It's just strange when you're so used to being totally in this community of ppl who know and get it, then to be surrounded by people who are like "What's an indie game? wow, he's so lonely"

Haha, why do you care so much about what your family thinks? Games are silly bits of entertainment. If you feel deep playing one, that probably just means it has good music. ;)

Also, 3D game is 3D. ^^

wait slow down there einstein

I feel I can really connect with your post about hoping the movie would finally show games as an expressive medium that affects people's lives rather than just a mild distraction, and I actually think the movie portrayed that.

At the very end when Edmund says that making the game was worth it because he knew that out there, some kid spent all night waiting for the release and playing the game. And that one day he may look to the game and when he realizes it was made by just 2 guys, he may be inspired to make something of his own.

Just knowing that the games you make, someone out there has spent hours (if it's a flash game) or weeks (if it's a PC game) playing the game, and then thinking about it. A game like "Company of Myself" broils you with emotions and the experience lasts with you. And a lot of these art games can really get people to rethink something in their lives.

This isn't even limited to art games. Super Meat Boy doesn't really have any deep meanings, but it can still inspire people, and just by being this really fun game that could turn into someone's solace everyday after a long and boring day at work/school.

The fact is, the games you make influence people. Millions of people. Game developers are artists. And an artist's work is no less important than any other in society. In fact I'd argue that it's more important. Artists give people reason to live and motivation for work.

(I'd love to hear your thoughts on what I just wrote!)

Yeah ok, this is the thought people have that "Games are automatically art, because people made them", and everyone has a different view on what games do best.

A couple years ago I decided that what I really think is worth exploring in games is how they feel and how they work. So my favourite games are like Street Fighter, Gears of War, Team Fortress 2, and all those games that FEEL GREAT, and have unique characters and powers n weapons that tie into each other in fun ways. That's really what I'm focusing on personally, I used to call that the real art of designing games.

That's not exactly true though, cos that's not what art is. Literally: The word doesn't apply to something like that. It's VERY fun and interesting and respectable to do that kind of game design and I'm happy with it, but what do the people in this movie really mean when they talk about "games as art" ?
They mean making a game with a message, or to reflect how you feel, or to tell a parable story. Like how Meat Boy is a boy without skin which makes him vulnerable to practically everything, and Bandage Girl shields him from that and stops him from destroying himself every 5 seconds. That's Edmund McMillen and that's what "ART GAMES" are. Braid is about Jonathon Blow reflecting on mistakes and regrets and telling some kind of story there through the rewind mechanic; and there's a game by Terry Cavanagh called Don't Look Back that uses the game mechanics to communicate what he went through and the mistakes he made after his dad died. Putting you in the driver's seat of that game WORKS BETTER to tell his story than if he'd just wrote it down in words.
There's a game called DEFCON from like the 80s where you control nuclear missiles from a hidden bunker, and watch billions of people die as statistics, and the dark, strange feeling you get playing that ONLY WORKS if you're the guy pushing the button. That's what art games are.

There are art games that kinda fail at their goals- like just making a regular game with poems in it, that's not helping. I DID NOT GET what Time Fcuk was about, and basically nobody got what Braid was about.
It's a cool goal though, and I support the guys who do it, cos I'm probably never gonna try something like that.

There's a joke World in No Time To Explain that parodies everyone on TigSource sayin "I'M AN ARTIST TOO!!" and just makes the same fucking platformers but with classical music and paintings in the background. That's really annoying to me, cos it undermines what those other guys are trying to do, and it's really waving a giant flag saying "I missed the point".

Anyway yeah, that's what art games are. From the games I make, I'm not an artist. I'm an entertainer; like a comedian or a rock band or something. I LIKE art games, but I'm not really itching to make one.
Also: Following Jonathon Blow on Twitter is hilarious, he fucking hates the mainstream games industry cos literally none of them are doing what he wants to do.

Great summary of your thoughts, man. (Why is that the best sentence I can come up with?)

I had a very similar reaction regarding what I thought an outsider might think of it. It doesn't bother me as much because I still saw the movie as extremely accessible to non-gamers and non-developers. That's pretty much the definition of a great documentary: making you care about something you did not have an interest in before. I'm glad it was able to play both sides of the line.

Ok I'm glad everyone thought the same thing at some point.

Maybe read that Kotaku review someone mentioned, cos it points out that it's really not accessible to someone outside of videogames in a lot of places, and raises a lot of unexplained points.

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