Dec 012010
 

Agoners are obviously fans of actual game mechanics over graphics and movie-like experiences etc, and so naturally we’re very interested in the “indie” games scene.

The XBox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) service interests me the most as it’s pretty unique amongst TV-based games systems, and in theory, should offer some nice quality control and ways to find and sort games that would be to my taste. Sadly thanks to lacklustre efforts by Microsoft on their dashboard to support a system like this, it’s extremely deficient in the searching and filtering departments, including the recently palaver where indie games were moved out of the games section entirely, then fortunately moved back after a few weeks of complaints – I added to the chorus there. In fact Microsoft’s whole attitude to the Indie channel is very much big-dumb-corporate in that it doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing. In some ways they seem determined to suppress it entirely, as this great article details, yet this service is currently a huge boon for the XBox 360 if Microsoft could manage to actually harness it properly.

So just like with other games, it requires a lot of work and trawling of sites elsewhere to find potential gems in the rough, except with the indie channel it’s even more difficult because the sheer volume of indie titles means it’s almost impossible to even be aware of everything that’s on there. Added to that you have the problem that half of the stuff on XBLIG isn’t games at all – but massage apps and fart simulators and other such shit; and of course there’s the usual problem that even amongst the stuff that I’d actually classify as games & challenges, 90% of that is rubbish too. It’s just the same as the wider games industry really, just exacerbated by volume and lack of information.

I don’t have enough hours in the day to download and try every demo on XBLIG, and the information you get pre-download is limited to say the least. Often screenshots is the best thing you have to go on – and again, with indie games it’s even more difficult than with other titles because they are often graphically quite lacking, and their coverage amongst mainsteam media is also very poor.

Looking for good information sources to help me, I’ve come across the following decent sites:

XBox Indies – which isn’t too up to date at the moment but has some excellent search and sort features.

XBLA and XBLIG Ratings dedicated section.

And some sites that do specific reviews:

Digital Quarters

Indie Nerds

Game Marx

Also right now a group of Indie Devs have gotten together to try and battle the problems they face in getting actual challenges and games out there with the Indie Winter Uprising – happening right now. 🙂 Even if most of these games turn out to be a bit limited or poor, I still really support this endeavour, as there are many titles on XBLIG that deserve some more promotion.

My current favourite XBLIG title is AppleJack – really good puzzle platformer which I enjoyed for well over 30 hours for the paltry price of only 80 Microsoft Points (about 50p). I’ve also been playing Shoot1Up, Alawishus Pixel, Hypership Out of Control, Inferno, Breath of Death VII, and Soul amongst other things – and I will be expanding on reviewing and coverage of Indie titles in exactly the same manner as full-priced games, since to me, a videogame is a videogame – the price, method of delivery and publishing method are all immaterial to the experience.

I’ve spent so much time playing Indie games & promoting them to some of my friends, that as the title of this post implies, I’ve actually become known as “Independent Remy” right now – based on the last time Microsoft did decent promotion for Indie games with the hilarious Independent Charles Show, which is well worth a watch even in retrospect if you have a weird sense of humour like me.

  One Response to “The Independent Remy Show”

  1. A good article with respect to the current situation with XBLIG:

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/07/xblig-feature.ars

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