CHALLENGE THREAD: define "indie"


this is the mystery we have been pondering ever since we first answered the question this site is named after. It has become very important to the game development world to determine what qualifies as an indie game or not, because we have to know which games are worth $0 and which are worth $80.

some of the greatest video game minds have clashed online to find a tangible definition of an indie game. many talk about labor conditions and structures of power. Some talk about aesthetic focus, or even budget.
but what NOBODY seems to be talking about is pointz. i mean, come on, we’re gamers here. i wouldn’t even care about making indie games in the firstplace unless i could use them to reach a high score.

It’s high time we define a true, qualitative system to help us understand what is an indie game or not. the way it works is simple: each item on the list is a component of the game with an indie score of a positive or negative number. higher positive numbers indicate that this attribute makes your game more indie, and negative values make your game more Triple-A

  • game has a skeleton in it: -1
  • you can talk with the skeleton: +2
  • cannot touch the ball with your hands: -2
  • you can pet the dog: (chaos effect: neutral)
  • you can’t pet the dog: +1
  • day/night system: -2
  • an old man tells you about his granddaughter: -1
  • an old man pilots some type of mech or crazy machine: +2
  • play as the old man: +1
  • the moon is an enemy: -1
  • legs respond to stairs correctly: -3
  • pause screen music: +1
  • can you crawl through a vent: -1
  • vent sequence lasts more than 10 minutes: +2
  • gun customization: -1
  • gun’s customization: +1
  • a mouse that tells you where to go next: +1
  • countdown timer: -1
  • daily run button: +1
  • dodge roll: -1
  • fans of the game have a dedicated name: -5
  • fans of the game cryptically speak in in-game dialect online: +3
  • mystery doors: +2
  • you must find gemeralds representing elemental forces: -4
  • permadeath: +2
  • MEGA RUINS: +1
  • goblins: -1
  • pixel art: +2
  • mixels: -2
  • goes on sale for $3: +1
  • juice drink mechanic: +1
  • “mini waku-waku”: +3
  • meter for some bodily function that isn’t health/stamina/mana: +2
  • open-world elements: -2
  • interact with the bed to heal: -1
  • protagonist is named to the effect of “fwummy”, “grompo”, “pelbits” etc.: +1
  • soundtrack is on bandcamp: +1
  • soundtrack released on streaming services 20 years later: -2
  • ttrpg elements: 1d4 - 2
  • giant meteor: -1
  • console launch title: -1
  • sports game, but like, twisted around: +2
  • 1/3+ of the screen covered in opaque UI: +2

- wiggly text: +1

  • zinecore: +1
  • dating sim mechanics: +2
  • 3 hour youtube retrospective: +1
  • 9 hour youtube retrospective: -1
  • unity3d: -1
  • klik n’ play: +1
  • unity3d splash screen: +1

i hope everyone can find this system useful and i am excited to hear your LOFI (level of indie) scores. feel free to bring up your own methodologies, rulesets, and assessments on the boundaries of indie below

this amazing rating system is 100% accurate according to my one test subject: the hidden gem touch grass on (unironically one of my favorite games on the platform)

it scores 0, which is the expected score for such a boundary pushing game. incredible scoring system, it never misses!!!111

indie games is cave story. thats the only one

sitting at a score of … 6 :bangbang:

  • +1 - “goes on sale for $3”
  • +3 - “mini waku-waku” (i hadn’t ID’d this font until this thread, so thank you for that lol i will be adding it to my game asap)
  • +2 - “sports game, but like, twisted around”

that was fun

Oh boy! I did that for each of my games thus far. Here’s the totality of my indie pointz cred:

An Outcry: +7
There Swings A Skull: Grim Tidings: -1 (proof you can have 42 reviews on Steam and still be AAA)
Crumbs: +3
NO ME: The Future Is ours: +6

Quinn K.'s development career almost faltered when in 2022 she accidentally made a AAA game one time. Thankfully since then the dude she knows who works in the industry and wrote that game took a hike to be smelly so it’s back to all indie all the time babeyyy

(this was a lot of fun.)