Memoirs of IndieCade

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend IndieCade, for the second year in a row. Yet again, IndieCade has proven to be my favorite game development conference. In this post, I will be covering some of the finer points of IndieCade this year.


Talks & Takeaways


The first day was IndieXchange, hosted by Jane Pinckard. This was the first year attempt at doing a matchmaking service for developers, publishers, advertising agencies, and more. There was also three sessions regarding the business aspects of development. This was a great opportunity for a new developer like myself to meet with groups to introduce them to my game. I would recommend it to any independent developer looking for business information.


Storytelling through Minimalism Symbolism by Gaijin Games

One of the talks at IndieCade this year was Storytelling through Symbolism, by Mike Roush and Alex Neuse from Gaijin Games. This talk covered the story elements of the Bit.Trip series. The character, Commander Video, is a very simple symbol of a human, without any of the details you expect. The talk emphasized how the team (Alex + Mike) were not always on the same page. Many times, they were seeing the story from different directions, and it would eventually reach a mutual point. They explained “this” as a double helix, always returning to a point of mutual direction.


DNA Strands of Development

I really appreciated this point within their talk. Many times, in my own projects, the art and design have gone in different tangents with the direction. In some situations, we have allowed this separation to continue to exist. Occasionally, there is a positive return from this action. We get a good compromise, resulting in a product better then the sum of its parts. However, I have also seen this “break” the helix, and send the direction of both teams into angles of no return. In order for this process to be successful, the team needs to be very cohesive. Perhaps this is a process reserved for teams that have already worked together in the past?

Form + Code

This panel was hosted by Zach Gage, Robert Hodgin, Casey Reas, and Daniel Shiffman. In this talk, they discussed projects which use code as a generative form. They cited many examples within their own work, showing code as the generative form for art, games, and audio.

Halcyon, by Zach Gage

I particularly liked this talk, due to my own positive experiences dealing with code as a generative form. Some of my best experiences in development were using a iterative/experimental design process; coding with no direct plan or goal. This talk reminded me of the beauty of code, and how creating it can lead to forms greater then what is compiled.

Games that Interest Me (Achieving the Sublime) by Adam Saltsman

This happened to be my favorite talk at this year’s IndieCade. The talk weighed heavily on the the thought that we have limited time alive, and that we should use that time wisely. Adam coined the term “TUDs’, or Time Until Death. He used these as a system of measurement, and made the point of how he has best used his.

One point he made was the resonating effect that Flixel has had on the world. Just like any architecture, it has the ability to create beyond its maker’s hands. Every game made in Flixel is a small “ripple” caused by the initial creation of the technology. Compared to a game (Canabalt was the example), Flixel’s effect was far-reaching.

The most influential game of all time?

In many ways, his talk was no different from any other regarding using your time wisely. However, this particular version was more influential for me. It took me a while to understand, but the reason was simply the use of measurement. As a designer/programmer, I tend to think in quantitative form. Being able to visualize life in a quantifiable state made it easier to visualize. Adam’s ability to represent this topic in a style that suited his audience was very effectual.


One of the advertising slogans for IndieCade is “The Video Game Industry’s Sundance”, which I feel is very applicable. However, does that also have negative connotations? It seems to me that the beauty of IndieCade is with its small size. As it grows, will that magic eventually fade? Friends in the independent film realm have told me how much they loathe Sundance now, and claim that it is saturated. Will this someday be the future of IndieCade as well?

I sure hope not.