THE FUTURE OF INDIE GAME DEVELOPMENT WITH JONATHAN LAVIGNE

In a society suffocated by franchise and corporate hegemony, the gaming world has become swamped in sequels and re-releases, all looking to control the largest market share. However, there is still a single lantern shining within its murky depths, as independent developers have begun to regain a foothold across the console spectrum.

I spoke with ex-Ubisoft Game Designer and co-founder of Montréal-based Tribute Games, Jonathan Lavigne, to catch a glimpse into the future and the workings of Indie game development.

Where do you see Indie game development in the future, as opposed to the bigger franchises and established companies?

Indie game development is getting more and more support. There are competitions like the IGF or Dream Build Play, portals like Indievania to sell your games, and first party companies and publishers are being increasingly more opened to indie developers (like Microsoft with XBLIG, Steam with its wide selection of indie titles, and Sony with the recent release of the Playstation Suite).

That being said, indie game development won’t overthrow big traditional game franchises and larger companies. It has its own niche market and it’ll soon (if not already) generate enough money to allow passionate developers to be able to make games on their own rather than be forced to work for a big studio.

 Ninja Senki, Lavigne’s highly praised 2010 action platformer, was heavily influenced by classic NES formats, such as Mega Man or Metroid. Click the above image to download the game for free!

Is there an increasing audience for this market of games – and if so, is there enough to actually support a company?

– I think that game journalists reflect the increasing interest of gamers for indie development, and they’ve been really supportive and willing to talk about them in the last few years. So yeah, there is definitely a market and it potentially can be enough to support a company – however, a lot of people are still unaware that independent game development exists, so there’s still work to do to promote indies.

Why  do you think so many recent Indie titles been so heavily based upon nostalgia in terms of graphics and style?

– A lot of indie developers are in their late or early twenties, so they want to share the love they have for the games they grew up with. Also, with actual technology and the development tools available, it’s more convenient for small teams to work with 2d graphics and 8-bit sounds and music rather than go full 3d HD and have to hire an orchestra.

Are the older, classic genres destined to resurface over modern game types?

– Maybe not, but there are definitely many genres that were simply lost in translation from 2d to 3d back in the 90s. I believe that a lot of new ideas can come up from old 8-bit or 16-bit generation games. Indie developers are already making it happen and it’ll keep going for sure.

Jonathan Lavigne’s work can be found at Tribute games, Or at PIXELTAO, his personal blog.

Tribute Games’ Wizorb review here.

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