February 1, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson
IGN is at it again with its indie dev reality series, The Next Game Boss. Six dev teams will spend one week attempting to survive judged competitions surrounding different aspects of game development. Whereas last year's Game Boss pitted existing Indie Open House teams against one another, this season's contestants are essentially auditioning for a spot in the next Open House, along with earning $10,000 in prizes (which are mainly dev tools).
Lazy 8 Studios, developer of Cogs, is one familiar face in the bunch. As much as I love Lazy 8, I don't think they should be bunched with "up-and-coming devs," being a multi-award winning studio with a multi-platform game. Their game was even in Humble Bundle, helping raise awareness of the team and Cogs substantially.
XBLIG indie devs Team2Bit also grace the screen with their scruffy presence, branding themselves as Team Fist Puncher as a nod to their upcoming game. Michael "Bean" Molinari has been doing some neat art games, and his talent shows in his creative concept in the premiere episode. The other teams I believe are new-comers.
The series is bound to rub some the wrong way, but I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned. Rapid conceptualizing is hard, but it is an invaluable skill when you want to figure out whether your idea is worth fleshing out as a game. Bringing your best pitch forward is an equally important lesson, as often developers only have one chance to pitch a great concept, be it in an email, in a trailer, or in front of industry professionals.
My favorite moment of this episode was meeting Dogsworth McFreedom, though it doesn't quite reach the level of craziness that I saw from Runt or Cryptic Sea in last year's Open House (Raptor Hitler, anyone?). Surely this kind of indie filming isn't going to win any Sundance awards nor end up on HBO. Some may even see it as a step back for the indie scene as a whole or at least for those who want meaningful press on IGN's website. However, The Next Game Boss season 2 feels like a slightly better attempt at capturing game development and is good for a (possibly uncomfortable) laugh.