originals\ Sep 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Top Five Indie Devs on the Rise


As more independent developers form, more indie games are managing to captivate gamers' attention and imagination. Easily the source of some of the most unique concepts in the industry, the indie gaming scene has grown exponentially over the years, and it seems that trend will continue. Indie developers such as Team Meat and Gaijin Games have established themselves as reputable and successful companies with their respective releases, cultivating a massive fan base and earning a generous amount of revenue. Other indie companies are out there, and many of them might not be as popular as the aforementioned Team Meat and Gaijin, but they show plenty of promise. Here are the top five indie devs on the rise that gamers should watch out for.

5. Streetlight Studios

Though the folks over at Streetlight Studios will argue that they're not a real studio but rather a group of three friends who want to make games during their spare time, there's no denying their potential. Convergence, the trio's first game, plays much like an accelerated life sim. Players progress through infancy, adulthood, and old age, making decisions during the first two chapters of life and seeing how those choices shape their final years. It's a great concept that's executed superbly. Because Convergence is such a short game, players are encouraged to play through it multiple times, making different decisions to see how these changes ultimately affect their in-game character's future. If Streetlight Studios expands on the formula of Convergence or creates similar decision-based games, they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the indie gaming space.

4. Halfbot

Indie devs often face a lot of adversity and obstacles. Halfbot, the two-man team responsible for The Blocks Cometh, was confronted with plagiarism issues when a copycat dev stole their idea and began distributing it on the App Store. Like a pugnacious little pit bull, Halfbot fought back and reclaimed their idea. In the process, their fan base grew and they gained plenty of exposure from the media. The duo then turned their addictive Flash hit The Blocks Cometh into a successful iPhone game, and have since offered plenty of content for fans to sink their teeth into. After the success of The Blocks Cometh, it's obvious Halfbot will continue to create games that keep players enthralled. What will their next title be?

3. tons of bits

The folks over at tons of bits are no strangers to the video game industry. After their previous involvement with Mission in Snowdriftland, a side-scrolling platformer that plays a lot like a classic NES game, the team went on to develop chick chick BOOM, a freeware Flash game that was eventually revamped and ported to WiiWare. Unlike Mission in Snowdriftland, chick chick BOOM was more of a multiplayer experience, offering rewarding back-and-forth gameplay for gamers who enjoy challenging their buddies. Like most indie devs, tons of bits faces the financial struggles of not having a publisher's assistance, but with support from fans and some notable cred gained from their past work, the developer will definitely go far in the future. Hey, tons of bits, how about a sequel to Mission in Snowdriftland?

2. Mike Bithell

Very few games out there can tell a touching, even chilling story without using many words. Thomas Was Alone is in the rare minority. Created over a 24-hour period and fueled by pizza and Red Bull, Thomas Was Alone shares a story of friendship and harmony through a handful of simple, minimalist levels that aren't very time-consuming but certainly tug at the heartstrings. Mike Bithell is currently working to expand the game, and it's going to be very interesting to see how he turns this quick title into a much more immersive experience.

1. Copenhagen Game Collective

Due to the exhausting amount of mini-game collections and multiplayer shovelware, party games just aren't as exciting as they used to be. That's why Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (or B.U.T.T.O.N.) from Copenhagen Game Collective is such a special game. It manages to reinvent the standard for what the genre is supposed to be. It pits players against one another by having them perform certain actions on their controller or computer keyboard, but also gives out specific instructions such as "move in slow motion" or "spin around 15 times." The game has no way to actually confirm whether you're following its commands, making the "Brutally Unfair" part of the game a major gameplay element. By behaving more like a table top game and using the computer or Xbox 360 merely as instructional tools, B.U.T.T.O.N. offers a play style that's inventive. It's exciting to ponder what offbeat games Copenhagen Game Collective will come up with next, and it's this interesting take on video games that is sure to propel them to new heights.

Indie game development is tough without exposure and funding from a major publisher. But because indie devs have unlimited freedom, there's a ton of potential for quality concepts and intriguing gameplay formulas. Keep an eye on Streetlight Studios, Halfbot, tons of bits, Mike Bithell, and Copenhagen Game Collective. You're bound to hear more about them in the future as they expand and deliver engaging games that stand out among the rest.

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David Sanchez David Sanchez is the most honest man on the internet. You can trust him because he speaks in the third person.
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