Updated Thoughts: The following was written in the heat of the moment.
There are three types of indie studios. There’s the independent studios, who are only really indie in-so-far as indie is sort of short for “independent”. But when you’re making a game for Sony or equivalent, it’s not quite the same line of business.
Then there’s indie indies. Of these there are two. There’s the type of studio that really, if they were honest, they’d like to be the first type of indie – everything they do is onwards an upwards to this goal. Legitimacy. A proper company. And then there’s the other type.
This type of indie never pretends to be professional. The “company” is probably just a name. It technically exists, but really what it boils down to is a guy in his underpants making a daft game. Sometimes that guy has a day-job, sometimes he’s taken a whoppping gamble and is working full-time from home.
The point is, if you’re going to throw your money at one of these indies, it’s important to know who you’re throwing money at and why. You can’t necessarily have your cake and eat it too.
If, unsatisfied with the tendency of commercial games to repackage the same basic game in shinier packaging, you decide that actually the shit looking 2D game with blocky graphics and dreadful production values is actually more worth $10 support than the latest bland corridor shooter is worth $40 then that’s great. But know who you’re supporting. Don’t throw that guy your money and then be shocked when he or she throws a hissy fit on Twitter. You’re dealing with real people – not a PR guy sat behind a wall of publisher validation.
Since I’ve had my blog, I’ve said pretty mean things about Oblivion and Skyrim. No doubt, there’s some poor sod sat there at Bethesda who would love to repudiate those sorts of statements. Either to justify why things are as they are, or to lament why they’re not. But he/she can’t. They have to sit there in silence and suck it up. It’s a horrible situation to be in but as sympathetic as I am, the feelings of an individual artist / animator / coder / designer / etc are not a terribly good reason not to say things how they are.
And neither should be the case with our game, Project Zomboid. The difference being, that with this there is no publisher wall to deal with. You hate our game? We’ll find that post on a Google alert and if we disagree we’ll either register and post or tweet a whinge or two. Why not? Why shouldn’t we? We might even call you a twat in the meantime. So what? We’re people, and we’re as entitled to get angry, upset, or annoyed by something on the internet as you are.
Oh no wait, but we’re selling you a game therefore we must be professional. Who says? Why? If we wanted to be professionals we’d never have left our jobs in the first place. What we actually want to do is make a game which we’re proud of and not be pre-occupied by maintaining a decorum on the internet. Don’t want to read our actual personal thoughts on shit? Don’t read our personal thoughts on shit using Twitter.
Don’t feel comfortable throwing money at an indie dev who replies to insults with insults back? Don’t throw money at that sort of indie dev. It’s really terribly simple.
Edit: For some reason, some people have written of this post that I’m somehow saying all indies are unprofessional. What I thought I’d made clear is that all indies are different. Know your indie, that is all.