Indie Game: The Movie

This is just a goldmine of a documentary. It’s available on Netflix and I believe it is on Steam as well. They were able to capture Super Meat Boy’s first day with the creators, the development process of Fez, and the reaction to Braid’s success with Jonathan Blow. It brings you through the drama, the fallouts, the sheer joy, and everything in between of creating these larger than life indie games. Phil Fish makes such a solid point when he talks about how games like GTA take 5 to 6 years for development with a thousand people and people won’t stay off these indie guys to hurry up when there is only 1 or 2 of them.

It was interesting to see the developer’s different reactions to the overwhelming success of their games. Edmund McMillan (Super Meat Boy) was mostly just very pleased at finally seeing this great pay off for all of his hard work. While Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy) & Johnathan Blow (Braid, The Witness) were more confused or daunted by the huge success they achieved. Blow said that he saw this twisted image of himself being portrayed in the public eye that he had no way of fixing, and that they really didn’t see all of the parts of the game that were the most important to him personally.

It was really driven home about the difference between indie and triple A games. Huge blockbuster games have the money backing them to go for the highest resolution, the best quality, and reach the largest possible audience. Indie developers have to really have a special meaning and an interesting game style to make up for the lack of a juggernaut companies budget backing their project. Obviously the guys in this movie were able to pull that off better than most anybody else ever has in the indie scene.

I really enjoyed getting a peak behind the curtain and seeing the real human emotion that goes into these games. The anguish that Tommy Refenes went through as Meat Boy wasn’t up and being advertised on the release date in the XBOX market place as it was supposed to be. Or the way that Phil Fish was going through  mental trauma to make it through PAX West with an early and buggy version of his game Fez. I also most definitely enjoyed getting to see their dreams turn into the overwhelming success that we all know them to be. McMillan mentions how Super Meat Boy made more in the first day than he had made personally in the last 6 years. That is truly an amazing story, and this movie captures so many different emotional moments. From McMillan proposing while accepting a game award to Fish pushing through what seemed to be a disaster at PAX west and hitting it off with Penny Arcade (& PAX) co-creator Jerry Holkins. It is a total triumph of a documentary, and a must see for any indie game fan.

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10 thoughts on “Indie Game: The Movie

  1. This was a great documentary. As you say, getting to see behind the curtain was really fascinating.

    It should also be required watching for any gamer that ever went online and attacked developers or publishers – it’s a reminder that there are real people, with real lives, behind the products we take for granted!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good review, but putting in a balancing perspective I hated the documentary. I thought it was laughably sycophantic and not willing to answer (or even look at) some elements of gaming history.

    A major problem was everyone interviewed only had glowing assessments about video games and how perfect they are, without addressing (for instance) the horrendous overreliance on violent FPSs in the modern era. It also brushes over the appallingly obnoxious fanboy wars which remain something which badly needs to be sorted out – we can’t continue on like this is normal behaviour to have fuming arguments about whether the PS4 or Xbox One has the best graphics. Then there’s the League of Legends community, which is so horrendous the developers had to shut it down for a while and build in censorship features.

    One guy even confidently claimed video games can tell a story as well as a book, which is a disastrously vacuous statement. Video game scripts and dialogue are notoriously awful (with a few exceptions) .

    As you can tell, I didn’t like it! It depicted something which isn’t real – a utopian industry where everyone gets along in creative harmony, when in reality there’s a noticeable anti-Nintendo elitism I’ve picked up on, particularly in the games press.

    Anyway, I’m glad someone enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great comment thanks! I was wondering though, were you thinking Video Games The Movie? Because I just started that one and it seems more focused on the historical and philosophical aspects like what you are talking about. It just seemed that they were focusing more in this movie on these three video games success stories than Video Games as a whole.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh crap, yeah haha. Oh man, that was a big old stupid of me there. You’ll have to forgive me, I’m slammed out of it with flu at the moment. I’d make more sense if I was out of my mind drunk. All I saw was “The Movie” and I bloody went for it! Can’t fault the enthusiasm.

        Liked by 1 person

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