Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How I Purchase and Review Indie Games

As of the writing of this post, I ingest Indie Games on two platforms: WiiWare and PC. XBOX Live and the PS3 are fine services, but my narrowness is defined both by personal taste and financial restriction. I'm not here to play every game ever, just offer my opinion on the games I do choose to play.

I obtain these games via three avenues, ordered by preference thusly:

1. WiiWare
2. Play Greenhouse
3. Steam

If a game is available for both WiiWare and PC, I will play the WiiWare version, (though I might demo it on the PC first), for two reasons: 1) I like playing games on the Wii console, (duh), and 2) I want to support Nintendo's Internet efforts. Yes, Nintendo is already a big successful corporation without my dollar votes, but they have that oh-so-Japanese tendency to completely misunderstand and fear the Internet so I want to encourage these baby-steps.

On the the PC, I want to encourage the Greenhouse because of its relationship with Penny Arcade, a pair of men who have become an important voice in the gaming world. So if a game is available on both Steam and Greenhouse, I'm purchasing it from the Greenhouse because that's where I want my dollar votes to go. After them, however, Steam is still an absolutely wonderful service, and insanely comprehensive.

In the case of PC games, I will not purchase a game that does not offer a demo. In this day and age, not offering a demo is patently stupid. If grocery stores can hand out free samples of food, game developers can hand out free samples of game. Why ignore the opportunity to get shoppers excited about/addicted to your product?

Further, my reviews will discuss the merits of the offered demo, and how well it sells the game. I will also review demos that fail to sell me on a purchase. I want to blog about this because nobody else is, and I think it is an interesting discussion to have. The point of reviewing Indie Games is that I want to help expose the industry, so it follows that I want to see it improve. Proper use of demos is a skill some small game developers lack.

Beyond all this, my standard rules for reviewing apply. My love of games is really a love of problem solving, and games are simply an artistic expression of that activity. Like with everything, I have broad tastes, but I gravitate toward certain genres.

I like strategy and puzzles most, most often in a turn-based environment. This is not a mainstream inclination, I know, which should explain my investment in Indie Gaming, where my tastes are rewarded more often. I'd like to say I like RPGs, but that is a complicated matter, one to be expounded upon in later posts. After that there really isn't any kind of game I don't like, but they have to be mechanically interesting and innovative in some way, and I have to be asked to think and problem solve or I'm going to glaze over and get bored.