The Reasons Behind SpyParty
January 10, 2011 Page 4 of 4
The phrase 'speak to the human condition' is one that comes up increasingly often among high-profile independent developers, particularly within the art games movement. Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid, is fond of the phrase. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising when he comes into the room and sits in on the interview, waiting for Hecker to finish up so they can go to the pub (for another interview, of course).
'Speak to the human condition' is an arty phrase. If it came from the mouth of a mainstream big-budget developer it would be shrugged off as PR-speak. But to hear it from people like Hecker and Blow, it feels genuine. The worst people could say is "they're being pretentious". For Hecker, this isn't really a problem.
"There are various friends and I that talk. Like, we would welcome more pretension in the game industry," he says, laughing. "Just because, like, that would at least be a change from 'Argh, I just want to go kill some more orcs!' You know? It would be great to have that pocket of people who thought they were elitist."
"That'd be awesome, that might make it fun! I mean, indie already has a culture to it. There's the Indie Game Summit, the GDC and things like that. And there's clearly a culture -- you go on the TIGsource forums and they all talk trash about the mainstream developers. And that's great, fine. Everybody likes to have an identity.
"At the end of the day though we need more interesting gameplay. And if it comes from an indie in a garage who's being really pretentious, that's great. If it comes from some like, line level designer 342 at Ubisoft Montreal, great too. I just want to see more games pushing in more directions.
"So, I'll criticize the radar in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood multiplayer as much, and then I'll criticize some random game on TIGsource forums. Like, 'Why did you do this? You didn't need to go the conservative route there.'
"The indie mentality right now is almost more of a business model thing than it is a creative thing. You've got an art game thing going on a little bit. People pushing in more directions but there are a lot of clones in the indie industry. So, indies can't talk trash about the mainstream that much because they do a lot of clones themselves.
"But yeah, it's mostly individuals who are doing interesting work and they tend to be indie because you can't actually get the long leash in the mainstream."
Like a lot of indies, SpyParty doesn't have a release date. It'll be done when it's done. Considering the possibilities open to him, and considering Hecker's enthusiasm for playing with these possibilities, it may be a very long wait. It makes sense that this the price you pay for depth, for something a little bit different. And that's the most important thing to Chris Hecker. He wants games to do something new.
"I mean AC: Brotherhood and things like that are getting to that. The Ship and things like that. That's playing in the same space. So the more games like this the better I think. Because people... I mean, we just don't need to kill any more orcs!"
He smiles and raises his arms.
"We've beaten the orcs!"
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