Independent Game Developers Need to Create Risky Titles in Order to Stand Out

Dear Esther developer says other studios should go big or go home

Independent game developers need to stand out from the rest of the industry by making risky games with big ideas, if they want to succeed, at least according to Dan Pinchbeck of thechineseroom, which made the impressive Dear Esther title.

Dear Esther delivered a bold new interactive experience that barely classified as a game but was still praised by those who went through its touching story.

According to Dan Pinchbeck, who worked alongside the rest of the small team from developer thechineseroom, lots of other independent developers have started asking the studio for tips and feedback about their own projects.

"I get a lot of emails now from small teams asking me to look at their games, or for advice for getting on Steam, or whatever. It's really hard to answer those questions -- it takes a long time to look over something and give good advice, which I just don't have right now, and getting attention is really, really tough because the market is just so flooded," he told Gamasutra.

"The quality bar to get picked up by Greenlight or IGF or Indiecade or press outlets is high as hell now, so those middleground titles are going to struggle increasingly."

According to Pinchbeck, the toughest thing for indie developers to do right now is to make their games stand out in order to impress the media and gamers alike. In order to do this, they need to stop copying other mechanics and create truly unique things.

"I think right now, the biggest challenge is making a game that shoots way over mediocre into super-amazing, as that's really the only way you are going to get the kind of escape velocity you need to start being noticed. This is a time when big ideas, risk, innovation will pay off -- clones and variations are not going to make it. And that's a good thing really. So make something completely brilliant and do radical things."

This cry for innovation has also been made by full-fledged publishers and developers, like Ubisoft, who want new platforms on which their teams can exercise their imagination.

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