Welcome to Writings of Mass Deduction

Posted: 2010/11/03 in Indie Games

Firstly, the name of the blog is meant to be tongue in cheek.  It was partly inspired by blog Dubious Quality, of which I am a big fan. I’ve always appreciated how Dubious Quality has a core topic (video games), but feels free to stray into whatever other topic it sees fit.

One focus of this blog is going to be Xbox Live Indie Games. Part of the inspiration for that is an article I read on Kotaku (another blog of which I am a big fan) entitled Indie Devs Not Happy With New Xbox 360 Dashboard.

Now I’m not as sure as some of the developers quoted in the article that this is necessarily even that bad for Xbox Live Indie Games (or XBIL, if you prefer). That said, I did want to add my voice to the discussion of them. I share their passion for the Indie Games channel, though. I see XBIL as having democratised console game development this generation. I’ve read comments from people who, for as little as $100 to subscribe to Microsoft’s XNA development tools, are realising their dream to become a console game developer. First launched as Microsoft’s “Xbox Live Community Games” initiative, Xbox Live Indie Games are games made by small teams, often by a single passionate individual. These games are self-published through Microsoft’s Indie Games channel. Microsoft takes a 30% cut in exchange for providing distribution and an audience. Ah the audience. There’s the rub. Consider this blog, in part, an attempt to expand that audience.

There are now thousands of Indie Games available, some being sold for as little as 80 Microsoft Points (Microsoft’s prepaid currency system for Xbox Live, Games for Windows, Zune, and a few of their other devices and services); an 80 Microsoft Point game could cost as little as $1, depending on which country you live in. Xbox Live Indie Games have been criticised for their “diamonds in the rough” dynamic, where there are some amazing games at ridiculously good prices but finding them amongst the flood of lesser games can be a chore. Others have heralded Indie Games as one of the few places innovation still thrives in a hit-driven industry afraid to take chances, and one of the last places value can be found in an era of $60/60 euro console games.

For the next few days I will be chronicling the Indie Games I’ve bought so far, and then I will begin an experiment. To prove there are an absolute tonne of Indie Games worth owning, I will begin purchasing something from the Xbox Live Indie Games channel each and every day, and I won’t stop until I run out of good games. My criteria will be simple: the game (or other software, for there are a small number of non-game apps there) must be good, and it must not be on the top downloaded list on Xbox Live.

Why will I avoid games on the top downloaded list? Well, Indie Games developers believe that because of the huge volume of games being released for the Indie Games channel, that many people use the top downloads list as a short list of what to try, and never look beyond it. I see a lot of anecdotal evidence that that is true. Therefore, I will avoid any game on that list in an attempt to bring other Indie Games to people’s attention. Once something drops off the list, though I’ll be happy to consider it for that day’s purchase.

There was another big inspiration for this blog: Kobun’s Xbox Live Indie Games site. He has done a better job of anyone else I’ve seen, and certainly more than any other individual I have seen, at tracking the good and bad of the Indie Games channel. I will definitely be trying out some Xbox Live Indie Games on his recommendation, and chronicling the ones I actually buy here. His site is also recommended reading for anyone who is interested in Indie Games.

Kobun and thousands of other people share the belief, as I do, that Indie Games are important. We want the Indie Games channel to continue to grow and be a hot bed for the innovation this industry so badly needs. Small developers risking nothing more in some cases than $100 and their time can take chances and create experiences that big teams spending millions of dollars dare not. And some of those risks are not going to pan out, but some are going to bring us amazing experiences we won’t see anywhere else.

So you’ll be able to check back daily to see what that day’s game is, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to leave your own comments, positive and negative, about the game, or about other thoughts on the industry. This is just the first of many topics I intend for this blog to cover, and there will be more news over time about that. Thank you for visiting Writings of Mass Deduction, where we’re still searching for the WMDs.

  1. One point about my writing style. I am verbose. I use a lot of words. That’s a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. Also, I’m Canadian. Like most Canadians I use an eclectic mix of British English, American English, and some affectations unique to Canadian English. If you think something I typed is in fact a typo, it could always just be a Canadianism. Or I could have really cocked up. It could go either way.

  2. Harry says:

    Hi Steve! ;)

    Two indie games I’ve enjoyed are Kaleidoscope – a very chill, nice-looking platformer with some lovely music to boot (it picks up the more you colour the world).

    The other is Arkedo Series – 03 PIXEL!, another platformer with a really cute design and some reeeeeeally nice music too.

    Just thought you might be interested. :D

  3. Ibn Abdullah says:

    Hello Steven, you need to play a game called Magical Cube, its 400 points and its polished like a full priced retail game!

  4. Dave says:

    If we can make suggestions here I’ll suggest unRevolutionary. It looks unremarkable and has some savegame issues but the way it’s balanced gives it a very unique feel among twin stick shooters. You can’t just rely on your guns to win the later levels since the guns alone are fairly weak but you have powerful skills that you need to use to survive like tagging an enemy so that it explodes when killed, taking a whole bunch of them with it.

    • Suggestions are great, and thoroughly appreciated. Several of the reviews up on the site were from suggestions from people here. Thanks for recommending unRevolutionary, it looks good and I’m definitely going to check it out.

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