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Rough games deserve our love and respect

To call modern game development risky is an understatement. It’s no secret that developers are investing big and losing their shirts over it. Budgets and team sizes are swelling while sales expectations are dropping. For some reason we’ve been working to ape our brothers and sisters in AAA game development and focus on polish and marketability. But why? Games don’t have to tell sweeping narratives spanning tens of hours, sometimes they can take an intimate experience and share it in 15 minutes.

I’ve recently fallen in love with Bitsy games. If you’re not up to date on your game editors, here’s a crash course: Bitsy is an expressive game editor that forces tight constraints on the developer. The strengths of Bitsy come from these core limitations. I’ve never seen a Bitsy game that could be mistaken for a multi-million dollar project, but I could point to dozens of small and interesting experiments that affected me and judging by the number who download some of these games, they’ve affected plenty of you too.

Sandcastles

Bitsy is also accessible. If the frequent Bitsy jams are any indication games can be developed in as little as a weekend, and the gulf in quality between jam games and full-on Bitsy releases is narrow. With the limitations inherent to the engine, the usual hallmarks of polish (graphics, gamefeel, length) hit their ceiling very quickly. But none of this is a bad thing. By stripping away the padding and veneer of polish, these games say what they need to say and nothing else.

Sure there will always be a place for mass-market experiences, but let’s also place value in intimate conversations between developer. Let’s look toward games that don’t stretch on for 100 hours but ones that can be completed on your lunch break. Profit and acclaim aren’t foregone conclusions in this model either. We’ve featured Everything is Going to be OK several times on this blog, and it made it onto IGN’s Game of the Year list, and according to some resources Gone Home and Tacoma have sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

The House of the Living

This isn’t to say that every game needs to be made with Bitsy (engines don’t necessarily determine what games are made on them) or that every game has to last less than an hour, but I think we can take a look at the strengths of these projects and learn from them, and more importantly: learn to value rough experiences that come directly from developers without being dressed up by a marketing machine.

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The buyer/gamer/player/consumer is NOT required to support such a bloated industry where every dork with a keyboard and RPG Maker thinks they're a game developer.  The market will be healthier if players refuse to support those who do not produce the kind of experience that the specific player is looking for.  Games can be niche and target that niche, but that doesn't provide any obligation for people to 'support game devs'.

The market is tough and life is tough and too many game devs don't realize that maybe they should consider getting a regular job and just use game dev as a hobby.  Not everyone gets to make a living from their hobby.  Tough cookies.

I'm all about supporting indie devs but I'm also about doing what is best for the overall gaming market.  We're heading towards another 'crash' and the mobile market is already starting to contract sharply and mobile indie studios drop like flies.

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Y'all are such good people. It's important to validate small games, thank you for doing so.

I've recently fallen in love with Sometimes You... a publisher that publishes risky, yet sweet and intimate games. Thanks for posting this. I think i'll read this article in a youtube video (unmonitized)

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Thank you for this!

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This makes me happy

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bitsy and twine are super cool for making games :D 

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