A few months ago, I was in a discussion about independent game developers trying to compete with both game development studios (“trad” game publishers) and fellow indie game developers who published buggy or confusing or unplayable games (which poison gamers’ opinions).
We talked about elevation of independent gaming to compete with Triple-A titles (many of which we agreed weren’t particularly good). The ones which shone were stuck in the quagmire that is the general gaming public’s view of independent gaming as a whole. The concept of an independent game developer standard competitive with Triple-A came up.
In that discussion, an epiphany struck. I wrote:
and the concept of Triple-I development was born. But what does “independence, imagination, innovation” actually mean to the independent game developers and the gamers looking for quality titles from independent providers?
Independence is the easiest for a developer or studio to achieve. If you’re not a studio which could ever be considered for a Triple-A title rating, you’re definitely in the running for Triple-I title rating.
Imagination is harder. Asset flipping and reskinning (cloning an extant game) makes it easy to knock out basic games. Unfortunately, they’re uninspired and more of the same.
Innovation is the hardest. When it seems like every game that can be made has been made, pursuing an original concept is a huge risk. I’m not talking about making gameplay non-intuitive or increasing the challenge by making the game virtually unplayable. Stepping up and taking that huge risk is hard in the face of nearly impossible odds.
Committing to the pursuit of Triple-I quality comes down to the same thing I tell new writers: Writing is who you are, not what you do. Independent game development is unappreciated, but Triple-I development teams (whether 1 person or 1,000 people) do it because it’s who we are–not what we do.
Every Triple-I title is a love letter to players from creators who give their best to the gaming community. Considering video gaming started as a few independent, imaginative, and innovative programmers using a computer to do something different than its intended purpose, the truly committed in independent game development deserve to be recognized and rewarded.
I think Triple-I is a means to appreciate the independent game developers’ blood, sweat, toil, and code.
= (Mini golf should be fun and every hole should have the potential of a hole in one!)