The state of indie gaming

Kickstarter is the older one, and we've talked about it in these pages before. It's an online crowd-funding platform combining social media with marketing, and it's allowed Indies with great ideas, and/or superb credentials and/or great marketing to get funding. Yet using it is like twisting in a game of Blackjack; if you ask for too much money and don't reach it, then you'll get nothing.

"It's brilliantly helpful, but it's a double-edged sword" says Size Five's Marshall. "I'm aware that some Indies are regretting going down that road because all their backers think they're publishers and deserve a say in the game's design. I've also heard they're living in perpetual crunch, because backers won't tolerate the concept of a day off. So long as you can juggle it, it's really helpful."

Similarly, it's little use to new developers: "If you're fresh out of uni, don't expect anyone to believe your claims and throw money at you," says Smith.

Meanwhile, Greenlight is Valve's big idea for dealing with the problems of developer access to Steam that we talked about earlier. It's, again, a crowd-sourced approval platform, similar to their Steam Workshop, which aggregates mods for games like Skyrim and Team Fortress 2, and allows registered Steam users to vote for their favourites.

Spilt Milk's Smith is in favour; "It puts the emphasis on having fans who believe in your game and your team, which is a very sensible and self-regulating system. It also forces indies to get involved with PR and marketing to a certain extent, and that's a good thing in my book - too many just ignore it."

Similarly Marshall of Size Five thinks it's going to clarify the "previously-unknown submission process… Greenlight probably isn't a perfect system, but I trust in Steam enough to tweak or modify it."

It's hard to know how big the market for Indie games is - given the lack of a coherent definition, no-one's really been tracking it as an industry. Yet, when a one-man game like Minecraft can sell upwards of 4 million copies; when Indie dominates the bleeding edge of gaming; when games as challenging as Braid, Pathologic and The Binding of Isaac can be commercial successes; when all these stars align, you know it's going to be a great time for gamers.

Hardingham probably sums it up best; "I feel immensely lucky to be a part of it right now - something new and exciting happens every single week! One day, I'll be telling my grandkids about the Indie explosion of the early twenty-teens."