The Indy Game Scene
I've often been quoted (by no one in particular) as saying that independent game development is one of the last bastions of innovation in game dev. That is not to say that there aren't amazing developers out there working on the big titles. The main problem is that there is too much to lose for trying something new. That's why we're getting sequels and FPS clones instead of something exotic like TechnoPanda Cooking Pirates.
Over the last year I've become obsessed with unique, small scale indy games. It harkens back to a time when 1 or 2 people could make a game themselves. Their entire creative vision remained so clear. You weren't just playing a game, you were playing inside someone's head. This isn't an "in my day" rant. In fact, I shouldn't even be speaking in past tense. This is still true for the small games being made. It's a world full of win.
Some of the best places to find games like this include Flash gaming sites such as Kongregate and NewGrounds. Due to the speed at which you can develop Flash games, and the ease of which people can play them, that platform has always been a petri dish for hobbyist developers. Although I can't stand developing in Flash, I grudgingly do it to enjoy these benefits. It is hands-down the worst environment to code in, but that's another discussion.
Here are some of the (IMO) unique indy games out there, in no particular order. Please note, these aren't necessarily my favorites, but I think they tried something different:
Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 - By Paul and Dave
This classic game has been around for over a year.
Line Rider - By Bostjan Cadez aka fsk
Created about 2 years ago and quickly finding popularity. InXile Entertainment bought the rights and will be making a Nintendo DS and Wii version of it (hopefully).
Knytt Stories - By Nifflas
This is not just game, it's like an art form. Very cool. Very tiny.
Pillage the Village - By XGenStudios
Pick up people with the "hand of god" and slam them to the ground until the burst into coins! I'm not sure how big this studio is, or if you would consider it "indy", but its definitely a unique concept.
Tactical Assassin 2 - By Simon Hason
Basically an exercise in BOOM Headshots.
Warbears - By Ioji
A not-so-long puzzle game that features mini bears that occasionally eat pizza.
Eschelon: Book I - By Basilisk Games
This is hands-down the best old skool RPG in existence. I have been freaking out about the awesomeness of this game since I finished it. If you ever played Ultima, Might & Magic, Wizardy, Fallout, etc, you're in for a real treat. And, it was made by one dude!
Talesworth Arena BETA v0.5 - By Jinx, Borador and Brolo
Of course I have to plug the game me and Borador (and as of late, Brolo) here are making. This is the BETA and the full version comes out soon with 2 more classes, 5 more levels and a ton more.
If you're working on an indy game, or know of something everyone needs to know about, paste a link and share the love.
Keep up on what's happening at the J!NX Stronghold when we can tear ourselves away from a game long enough to blog about it. Updated Fridays.