Book Review: 250 Indie Games You Must Play

November 6, 2011 11:33 pm

Tags: Book, CRC Press, Game Development, Gaming

file_474937.jpgBook Review: 250 Indie Games You Must Play

Author: Mike Rose
CRC Press
ISBN:  9781439875742
Publication Date:  May 02, 2011
Number of Pages:  280

I used to be an avid gamer a few years ago, but I have to say work kept me away from most of the games I wanted to play during these past years (for example, it wasn’t until last month that I finally played Portal or Batman Arkham Asylum). Last December, I returned to the gaming scene, not as a gamer, but as an independent game developer. Having opened "The Domaginarium," an indie game development company, we’ve been working on two titles these past months (the first one, SteroidS, will be released this week, and the other one, Parasite, is under heavy development right now).

Being away from gaming also caused me to stay away from the indie gaming world, and that’s one reason I found the book "250 Indie Games You Must Play" so valuable. The book is described as a way to help "further understanding of the role indie games play in the entertainment industry." This may sound like it's a book to lecture people about the importance of indie games, but that's not the case at all. As the title suggests, the book overviews 250 indie games and actually let's you decide by yourself why/if indie games play an important role, according to your own perspective.

"250 Indie Games You Must Play" begins with an introduction to what indie games are, why they are popular, and what it means to be an indie game developer. This last question may be of special interest to those interested in getting into the game development industry, since many "indie devs" actually worked in bigger studios before going indie.

The listed games are divided into three big groups: downloadable games, meaning games that can be freely downloaded to play; browser-based games, those that are played inside your browser (most of the time, all you need is either the Flash player or the Unity web player); and commercial games, which should be self-explanatory (however, commercial indie games carry a far lower pricetag than AAA titles developed by big studios, and sometimes they even offer a "pay what you want" model, where you decide to set your own price).

If you've never played an indie game before, or you're mostly accustomed to big budget titles (mostly obtained through retail channels), you will need an open mind before reading the book. Many of the titles featured in the book have very unconventional concepts and/or don't focus on graphics as much as they focus on gameplay/concept. Personally, I consider this a good thing, since this shows that video games, just like movies, can offer entertainment aimed to different tastes.

As an indie game developer, I found the book very useful to get a different perspective of video games. Indie games show how different subjects can be used to create different experiences. This is not to say you should start taking the concepts found in this book to develop your own games, but rather you should start thinking "outside the box" to develop something other than your standard zombie shooting game.

If you're a gamer, you will get a larger picture of what a video game can be, and even learn to like new genres of video games (for example, maybe you’re an RPG lover, but you find an indie platformer that you really end up enjoying even if you don’t like platformers that much).

“250 Indie Games You Must Play” is a book I’d recommend to anyone who’s a gamer or a game developer, especially those indie game developers located in countries where there isn’t a game developing culture. For example, in El Salvador there are only two game development studios (one is Mindblock, developers of Pest Fest, a game I reviewed a few months ago, and the other is the one I founded). On the other hand, there are many indie games events around the world, but I’ve never been able to attend one, so I’m not exactly active in the indie gaming scene, and the book proved to also be a one-stop resource to know what indie developers are doing around the world.

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Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.




November 7, 2011

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