GBAtemp Exclusive Harmless Indies and Gaming Saturation

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by chavosaur, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. chavosaur
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    chavosaur Austin Trujillo

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    I pass a lot of time watching youtube videos. From my love of esports highlights in Overwatch and Smash Bros Melee to critical reviews and video podcasts, I’d say youtube covers a majority of what I consume daily.

    A lot of that started with watching early lets plays and rant videos from the likes of Cinemassacre and Jontron. I loved the silly rants and knowledge they would have on some obscure or mediocre games, and especially the ones on unlicensed and rip-off games.

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    Bootleg and clone games plagued the early days of gaming thanks to Nintendo’s strict policy on producing game carts for the NES. Wanting to avoid the first video game crash that Atari had fallen from grace thanks to, Nintendo had placed cautious measures on companies abilities to produce content on its properties. Third-party developers were obligated to set limits on the number of titles they produced per year (typically five) to avoid flooding the market with similar games, as well as agreeing that their games would be available exclusively on Nintendo systems for a particular period of time. Restrictions of this kind allowed Nintendo to maintain a degree of control over both the number of games produced and the content of those games.

    That didn’t stop third parties from finding alternative methods of course, and it’s the primary reason the NES library grew so large. Back when I worked at a local retro store, I was introduced to Tengen carts, color dreams carts and multi-carts which were games or compilations made without licensing from Nintendo. A few of them are pictured below.

    bible_adventures_bible_adventures_nintendo_nes_green_blue_cartridge_ebay_DrUdE77p.sized.jpeg 10427_pd2619089_1.jpg C7B99484-C847-E6F2-CB5F1F21E7002344.jpg

    Bootlegging became incredibly easy to do throughout the lifecycle of the cartridge and its led to some bad translations, knock-offs and just plain broken messes that can’t even be rightfully called games.

    They're incredibly entertaining to watch people try to suffer through and play, hence why many YouTubers make such a successful show based around looking at them. But a lot of this also had me thinking that it seemed relegated to the 8bit and 16bit era. I’ve seen a few exceptions in the PS1 and PS2 days, but you rarely saw those games covered.

    It then became horribly apparent to me that these practices never actually ended. In fact, they may have gotten a whole lot worse. Did the 7th generation of consoles suffer from this at all, and does this current generation see it happening today? Well, this image here should send us off on a good start.

    final-combat-team-fortress-2-chinese-rip-off-troy-horton-evilcontrollers1.jpg


    Seem familiar to you? Maybe it would help if they had a good character intro vide-


    Oh boy. This is one of the more prominent examples of an absolute clone of an existing property. Not a complete bootleg, but no redemption points for it either. PC is a pretty easy market to find clones on, and it’s a million times worse on mobile. Some of them seem like they have some… inspirations

    20170323_172253000_iOS.jpg 20170323_172307000_iOS.jpg 20170323_172343000_iOS.jpg

    And others…

    20170323_172433000_iOS.jpg 20170323_172458000_iOS.jpg

    Oh come on, you didn’t eve- YOU DID NOT EVEN TRY WITH THAT ONE.

    I can't even begin to tell you how awful the mobile market has become with reprinted games. It always existed, but we did not see this enormous bloat of clones until the age of Flappy Bird. When Flappy Bird was taken away, clones of the game did not just flood the scene but battered it into a senseless pulp like a raging tsunami. Back in 2014, Digital Trends noted that there were over 800 flappy bird clones currently on the market, with at least 60 being added DAILY.

    This is where the ultimate problem begins setting in. A lot of this started on mobile and PC markets which led to an oversaturated market of shit to sift through to attempt to find the few gems worth playing. On PC especially it has become a cesspool of complete garbage pushed onto the storefront in to make a quick buck. The kicker is that a lot of these games get the constant defense of, “small indie studio looking to make their big break.”

    Indie games aren’t inherently bad, and I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them myself. But now we have reached this awful place in gaming where the difference between harmless indie and blatant clone/quick cash grab isn’t even apparent anymore.

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    Options are wonderful and obviously it’s up to us as consumers to pick and choose what it is we want to play but at this point it’s getting increasingly difficult to find the good choices among all the soulless drivel. It’s like going to a burger joint, opening the menu looking for burger options and seeing 47 versions of a burger with cheese, but the cheese is slightly to the left on some and the bun is upside down on others, and the server is trying to tell you each one is a different burger.

    The beauty of the system that Nintendo originally had is that even though it did not prevent bootlegging and third party carts, it separated them from real licensed material and still made a basic screening process for games. It was not ideal and some garbage still made its way out there, but it protected itself in the long run for an enormous oversaturation much like Atari faced all those years ago.

    crash.jpg

    We find ourselves in a somewhat similar position now, one that has been discussed before with the semi-recent articles of how many steam games hit the platform daily, and how the PS4 and Xbox One online ecosystems are beginning to see a similar trend. I mean, 40% of all steam games on the entire ecosystem were released in 2016. A little less than half of what is on steam was added in a single year.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that while options are nice, our options don’t need to be this broad and they certainly don’t need to be this gluttonous. I’ve seen it echoed so many times now that AAA games aren’t original anymore and that we are starved for creativity when in reality the small and subtle variety and changes in those games is all but a new topping on the metaphorical burger that other games are just adding salt to and calling new.

    This isn’t changing anytime soon either. I never took mobile gaming seriously before, and I could never attempt to now when only 2% of anything that comes out could even be considered a game, let alone something original and worth playing. It’s happening to steam as the days go by and it’s making its way into console gaming every waking moment.

    We aren’t looking at the tea leaves of a gaming crash by any means. The gaming market is stronger than ever in fact. But we are looking now at a disgusting oversaturation, the likes of which Atari and old Nintendo would vomit over.

    As a matter of fact, I think the only people that are still combatting this gluttony of games IS Nintendo in this very respect. A console needs third parties to survive, but it needs curated, WORTHWHILE third parties over trivial garbage. The PS4 floated without meaningful console exclusives for the first year of its lifecycle thanks to third party support from large developers and a slew of wonderfully made indie games, and the Swtich looks to be mirroring that same respect.

    eshopindies.png

    Some have come to criticize Nintendo’s recent approach to indies thanks to their strict approach to content. I, on the other hand, applaud their efforts to keep their ecosystems free of all the meaningless garbage in favor of curated games and experiences. Quantity does not mean quality, and that means a lot for the Switch in its upcoming years as well as for the future of other platforms.

    You may be looking at all of this and be thinking that it means nothing because you can just ignore the trash in favor of seeking out good experiences for yourself because you’re an educated gamer. That’s good, I applaud you for standing above the other casuals with your head held high. But think of what this continues to do to the casual market. Think of all the wasted resources that go into making quick dollar games. Think of all the money that goes into those games that could have gone into bigger and better projects. All of that money that gets leeched from original games the second cheaper clones have the opportunity to gobble up the remaining pennies in a clueless casual’s wallet.

    It’s a problem that we will either see go nowhere, get bigger as time goes on, or hopefully completely go away in favor of stricter guidelines for publishing games. There is no saving the mobile maket. But we can at least protect our console and maybe even our PC market before its too late.
     
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  2. LichbannMejolaro

    LichbannMejolaro GBAtemp Regular

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    You conclude talking about how we can protect our console and PC market, but I honestly think that the PC indie gaming is in a complicated situation right.

    To clarify things, I'm a guy that loves indies. To be honest, From the last 30 or 40 games I finished, maybe 90% of them were indies. I just can't take the shit that AAA gaming is right now. Every experience is so similar to the other ones that is hard to not be bored after two hours playing it.

    As for the indies, I think that the big problem with steam is the lack of curating. I don't understand very well how things work there, but there a shitload of games there that no one is interested to play because they are plain bad. For every good indie you find on steam, there are a least 10 similar ones that pretty much suck.

    I really hope that the console market doesn't fall for this and keep selecting with care what they allow to enter in their stores. I agree with that Nintendo is on the right way. Compared to PSN or XBLA, it has a small amount of indie games, but pretty much all of them are valuable in some way.
     
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  3. chavosaur
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    chavosaur Austin Trujillo

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    I recently played both Night in The Woods and Hollow Knight, two indie titles I adored on PC and could not give enough praise to. And you're absolutely right in that with those two games I managed to find and play, they were surrounded by absolute loads of heaping garbage. Inf act a week after Hollow Knight came out, a clone had already released trying to bank off the same aesthetic. The same happened on mobile with Night in the woods, which even the developer saw and had a good laugh at.

    It's shameless and utterly annoying and hopefully steam continues to find new curation methods to sort through all of it.
     
  4. Bimmel

    Bimmel ~ Game Soundtrack Collector ~

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    Lonk? Zeldo? Sounds like a porno of Link's and Zelda's evil twins.
     
  5. B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N

    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N oh no

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    Good article. I do feel that the indie market is getting over-saturated with shit (especially mobile, I wouldn't touch most of that stuff with a ten-foot pole).

    A trend that I'm especially getting tired of is pixel art in indie games, as much as it pains me as a retro gamer to say it. The style is endearing in a way, but once you get to the point where 60-70%~ of indie games are using it, you start to get sick of it. Most of the time it isn't even handled right, creating an aesthetic that looks awkwardly in-between the Atari 2600 and the NES. Same goes for the bubbly-cutesy artstyle I see in so many indie games, which I despise with a burning passion.

    I mean, listen, I know these devs have a tight budget, and creating 3D or high-quality 2D art cuts into this budget, but at least try to put a little style and individuality into it, these styles are as dead as roadkill. Do some-hand drawn stuff, even if it isn't the best; I'd like a game with a rough-around-the-edges aesthetic. Heck, I just want to see arms that bend naturally again.

    Also, looked it up, Lonk's Awakening is a frickin' Flappy Bird clone.
     
    Last edited by B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N, Mar 26, 2017
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  6. Sonic Angel Knight

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Guru

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    The age of chinese boot legs have returned. So we gonna get somari 2 sequel and sonic super jam 5? Final fantasy 8 NES? Oh wait. Super duper ninja shinobi strider cross over for NES Mortal Kombat XXXXXXXXXX 1000 Peoples. :rofl2:
     
  7. TesseractStorm

    TesseractStorm Advanced Member

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    Hows about when every indie game had a silhouette look and minimalist atmosphere. Seems like every hit has to generate a thousand imitations.
     
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  8. VitaType

    VitaType GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    For films that problem was mostly solved thanks to advanced journalism (not only specialized magazins (which don't sell themself to the publishers for the access to some preview events ;)), but also in normal daily newspapers), awards, high marketing budgets, people talking about it to each other as normal accepted media and alot of years of learning in our societies about what makes a film good or bad (the film had the great advantage that making films was much longer really expensive once they really begun).

    Edit: And the lead/main game designer(s) should be mentioned on every game box.
     
    Last edited by VitaType, Mar 26, 2017
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  9. VinLark

    VinLark This machine kills bourgeois sentimentality.

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    But where they ever gone? There have been bootlegs for everything since ever. When was a time it just flat out stopped?
     
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  10. endoverend

    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    I'm just tired of gamers having double standards with this kind of thing. People get mad about 16-bit indies but then as soon as some "homage" to a game they played when they were kids is announced on Kickstarter they'll throw money at it like a dancing stripper. But the real problem comes in the fact that there are people who legitimately want to play this shit. There are tons of gamers who will spend hours in some unfinished "early access" steam game or a flappy bird clone and then come back and complain when another one comes out. This same issue can be attributed to the lack of variety in the AAA market. Ultimately, gamers are the ones to blame, since the developers are just playing into the market. Disgustingly, some people want this.
     
  11. chavosaur
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    chavosaur Austin Trujillo

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    And even I myself fall victim to this, which made it more if an inspiration for the article. After the Yookalaylee debacle I argued for the games defense in the thread. After Foxi and Pluupy made their case for a lot of the unoriginality of the game I found that I couldn't safely disagree with their point of the game being a carbon copy. And I backed that carbon copy as well, because I wanted what Rare was never going to give me. Hence why I call into question the, "Harmless Indies," that are actually doing more harm than good.

    I freely admit that I was wrong and realize that their lack of creativity is what's plaguing the market and its upsetting. I'll probably still play the game but I can't defend it for what it is now.
     
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  12. VitaType

    VitaType GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    It's a interpretation of the platform genre that wasn't seen in ages. By people who made very that interpretation popular and released a couple of it back then themself. I think there is a huge difference between jumping on the succsess of one game (cloning a game because it's the hot thing) and releasing a game with the very same mechanics as before years later when that very set of mechanics isn't present on the market anymore.
    It sounds like you played Rare games back in the N64 days. There is nothing wrong with wanting a new Banjo-Kazzoie (they aren't allowed to call it that way) after all this years.
    Replaying the old games isn't the same as playing a new one of the same kind (escaply with this search/collect based games).
    I'm annoyed by this jones for ever new mechanics. It was completly okay e.g. to release New Super Mario Bros. (there isn't much of innovation in the first one), but releaseing 10 of them is just cash grabbing (or Assassin's Creed... <- this Lord of the Rings Assassin's Creeds are a good example for this behaviour in AAA games btw).
    As long as they don't release five other Banjo-Kazzoie clones in the next years (or other do it due to a hype) it's legit to release the game.
    This cult for ever new stuff...
     
    Last edited by VitaType, Mar 26, 2017
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  13. RemixDeluxe

    RemixDeluxe GBAtemp Psycho!

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    As long as the developers do good work the people will follow. Shovelware will never go away but it can be reduced by word of mouth and educating people better on what to avoid and suggesting better material. If they just happen to like small time crap like candy crush then its all subjective in the end.
     
  14. Justinde75

    Justinde75 VGM Addict

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    I love me some shitty games that advertise the game with digimon or pokemon ads
     
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  15. B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N

    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N oh no

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    Or better yet, hentai games and news about what happened to these cats.
     
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  16. Captain_N

    Captain_N GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I agree with your article. Most indies don't put much time into the games they make, be it lack of programing skill or money. There is a saturation in the industry. Worst part is they are useless digital downloads that have no value. That's the main reason i like physical copies. Its not just to collect, It actually feels like i bought something. Buying digital feels the same as if i torrented it. worthless. just space on a hard drive.

    I enjoy 8-bit and 16-bit indie games specially when they are made to be a nes/snes game. shovel knight is an example of this. it does not go out of its way to be pixelated. its a great platformer just like a nes game. Sure the game code will not run on a nes, but the feel is there. Snes games did not look pixelated like that. that's due to the use of a CRT. CRTs make it look smooth. Sharp displays and low resolution up scaling causes that. I should know i have the same gaming setup i have has since 1989. shovel knight looks fantastic on a CRT. Not much different then a nes game. The pixelation is hidden by the CRT. I know its there but effect is greatly hidden.

    To demonstrate this, play a SNES game like Super mario kart on a PC with no extra display features or scan-line adders and full screen it. Then play the same game on a real snes on a CRT. You will see the difference. Till nes emulators became a thing in 1996. i never knew nes games were that blocky. Wonderful device that CRT. It never has noticeable display lag and don't care what Analog resolution you give it.
     
    Last edited by Captain_N, Mar 27, 2017
  17. Justinde75

    Justinde75 VGM Addict

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    beautiful
     
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  18. RyleWeststar

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    The problem with Nintendo doing this is that developers like Gennadiy Korol that developed titles like "Ori and the Blind Forest" get turned away by Nintendo, unable to recieve Switch development kits, while you see comparatively trash title makers in comparison recieving devkits.

    My criticism is that proven developers are getting turned away over others that are proven to be trash in comparison.

    No, I think the current activities by Nintendo aren't solving this and instead we are seeing good content being turned away.

    I genuinely find it suprising as someone who is part of the GBAtemp community even comes to this line of thinking, considering that a lot of the efforts here involving Homebrew and hacking is about accessing things you are unable to access normally through the 'vetted' systems.

    There is nothing stopping someone from making a currated store of 'good games' on mobile, both iOS and Android are flexible enough in capability to allow this. The problem with mobile games is mostly the fact that what people consider 'good games' don't work well on touch screen user interfaces and short spurts of casual play. If they did and did well, we would see a lot more of them, because they could be monetized in the same way we monetize the relatively 'bad games' on mobile. Very few titles like Hearthstone manage to make something that works and even then, it doesn't appeal to everyone.
     
  19. Bladexdsl

    Bladexdsl ZOMG my posts...it's over 9000!!!

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    the mobile market is cancer to the gaming industry
     
  20. netovsk

    netovsk GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    We should thank digital distribution for that. It's all about return over investment and as long as development cost is low, without physical media the risk is close to none.

    I like a few indie games and if we go back a few decades ago, some games we loved were developed by a very small team with few resources a available, but I honestly wish that they would stay in a dark corner rather than in a storefront as they try to shove those down our throats every day (PSN and Fluster cluck for instance).