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The Case For Independent Developers.

I've been seeing a lot of stuff lately from small independent developers. One thing I've noticed about these people is an absolute love of gaming. These teams don't do it for the money (although I'm sure they would if they could) they create these games because no one else has. The great thing lately is that all the console makers are embracing these small companies. Microsoft has XNA, Nintendo was WiiWare coming, and Sony's own PSN is very friendly to the small developer. Just look at the success of Jonathan Mak.

Everyday Shooter isn't the only successful game out there for download. There are plenty of other small games that really innovate in ways that the big companies can only dream about. And it's only going to get better. The real test though is, how well are some of these games selling? They are selling well enough to keep this focus going. It looks like small and casual games are the next big thing. The situation is turning around for the consoles are far as homegrown products go, but the grandfather system of the small time developer is still, and will be for a long time to come, the place for independents. Of course I'm talking about the PC.

I may be a primarily console player, but I still can't pass up a good PC game, and let's face it, strategy games are just not that great on a console. Just take a look at all the space related games out there. Try to imagine Homeworld or Galactic Civilizations II on a console. A couple things that I came across recently really impressed the heck out of me. First up is the team behind the Battlestar Galactica game Beyond The Red Line. I just can't mention enough how cool all this is. Being a huge, and I mean huge (as in owning all the seasons, the season guide books, and most of the soundtracks) fan of the series I can't say enough about how impressed I am with this thing. It's only in demo form now, with patch number 2 having just been released, but these people are prepping the next big thing for scifi fans. The Beyond The Red Line Team is working off of Freespace 2 to create this fantastic experience. The whole flying a Viper thing is amazing and the game has a very authentic feel about it. Not too shabby for a mod based on an old game.

Next up is another favorite of mine, this one is a throwback to my childhood in the 80's. It's another scifi space flight inspired game, this one is a little different though. This game was created for a movie and, unfortunately, never released as an actual retail product. The dedicated team at Rogue Synapse have lovingly recreated a game that never was. I'm talking about the one and only The Last Starfighter. If you remember the movie you already know what the game looks like. Visually, it's a faithful recreation of the game, available for download and play on a PC. Without a joystick the controls are a little strange. Using both hands on the keyboard controlling both the reticle and the gunner chair is a challenge, but an interesting one at that. I just wish this game had been released in the arcades.

What does all this mean for the average gamer? It means that there will be many more unique experiences to be had in the coming years. Look to see more smaller games and more independent developers. This makes sense for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The small games have a smaller budget and independents are cheaper to buy. This all means profits for the big 3, and the little guy too.

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