August 5, 2012 8:00 AM | John Polson
This month's Ask IndieGames explores the genres and games we want to see indie developers tackle. Our blog is full of great platformers and twin-stick shooters, so we wonder what other genres merit exploration within the indie space.
Mike Rose: I really enjoyed the recent 7DFPS challenge, and the great angles that some of the participants went for. The FPS genre is pretty weird in that it barely ever goes anywhere new, with the same ideas used over and over again, yet it's been going on for so long now that we've just stopped caring whether we're playing the very same games over and over again. We should definitely be looking to push the genre forward and explore new angles with it, and I think indie devs are in the best position to experiment with it.
Other than that, I'd love to see more sport or management games from indie devs. These are two genres that I'm not even that interested in to be perfectly honest, but I think there is a huge amount of scope for expansion on concepts and innovation. The Kairosoft games, for example, are utterly fantastic management titles that have brought a lot of people into a genre they perhaps wouldn't normally touch. We need more like that. New Star Soccer is also a great management/sports game, so simple yet so addictive. More of that kind of thing would be perfectly fine with me.
Konstantinos Dimopoulos:(Gnome) Let me just say that I really don't mind playing through more platformers and arena-shooters, even though one would have to admit they are being overrepresented. It does at times seem most indie developers have at least produced one...
Then again, if there is one thing I love the most in the indie gaming scene is the fact that all genres, no matter how niche, are represented; even if it is up to some point. Space sims and point-and-click adventures for example, despite being dead for the mainstream for quite some time now, are doing fine and have both a steady (if not growing) following and some excellent genre offerings.
But what would I like to see more of? Well, games like The Sea Will Claim Everything by Jonas Kyratzes for one. That is to say games that do not stick to a genre's conventions and games that touch upon important ideas. Also, games that are brilliantly written and can actually interest non-gamers.
On the other hand, I would love to see some deep and complicated RPGs too, even though I'm pretty much aware of the fact that they can be too demanding for small teams. And some proper turn-based strategy offerings would be nice; there certainly aren't enough of those. Oh, and futuristic sports games!
Also, and as Legend of Grimrock brilliantly and above all successfully demonstrated, the revival of genres considered long dead and buried could work very well, but I do suspect that finding out which these are is the work of the indie development teams themselves.
Danny Cowan: I'd personally like to see more classic-styled shoot-'em-ups. Many indie shooters lean toward the bullet-hell subgenre, but there's plenty of room to explore outside of that space as well.
Satazius, for instance, is a solid take on the Gradius formula, offering varied challenges in terms of level design and enemy placement, rather than relying on curtains of bullets to provide difficulty. Locomalito's Verminest takes a different approach, and riffs on Namco's Galaga series. Starwish is simultaneously a shooter, an RPG, and a dating sim. There are so many possibilities!
Now, I love bullet hell shooters, but I also enjoy classics like 19XX, Raiden II, and Truxton (just to name a few). Traditional shoot-'em-up gameplay has been practically abandoned in terms of retail releases (Raiden IV and Otomedius Excellent are the only recent examples that come to mind, and those games are...not great), so maybe it's time for indie developers to pick up the slack.
(Alternate answer: Pinball. I love pinball. I want to see more pinball games. OK, I'm done.)
Cassandra Khaw: Everything. Everything except more Angry Birds-like games, of course. While I think it'd be totally kick ass to see a point & click/FPS or a stealth-IF one day, I'll be happy if people stopped following trends and started making advances within tired old genres.
For example, I love the stuff that Robert Yang has done in the First-Person Shooter genre. Radiator is easily one of my favorite indie series. Why? Because it uses the mechanics we all know and have gotten bored of in a new, unexpected way. I think that's what we need more than anything else. Screw weird hybrids, let's innovate within what we already have. Blow me away with the creativity of your design, not the wildness of your genre choices.
John Polson: I've already expressed my desire to see a couple genres get more attention and sought input from many well-known devs on the subjects. For those who missed these, we discussed innovation in driving games and FPS games.
This week I wished out loud for more Space Harrier-type games. Any on-rails games (traditional or new hybrids) could also be really fun, especially with some Dyad-like visuals. I want more fast, frantic action that I can't slow down on my own.
I'd also like to ask for two more things. The first is a hack of Actraiser 2, where someone injects the city-building gameplay from the first Actraiser. Are there any games as good as that half of Actraiser? The other is a 2D fighting game with style and substance like Samurai Shodown 1 or 2. Shodown proved to me that heavy combos aren't necessary to create an engaging fighter. This was also one of the few fighters that bled personality (captivating and original characters, stages, and music) and had a unique, suspenseful fighting engine with the perfect splash of gore. The Last Blade is also worth examining for its aesthetics.
Do you have a question that you'd like the IndieGames editors to tackle? Email EIC John Polson at johnpolsonfl at gmail dot com.