Standards
October 29, 2016

What's the difference between an Indie and Mainstream game? Production quality? When you saw the word "Indie" associated with a game, did you make concessions for its imperfections? Why?

I've done it, quite recently. Skyborn. Yup. I finally got to the final boss and I'm choked. Annoyed. Frustrated. Irritated. Pick one and run with it. Why?

Because I can't beat the nit. I couldn't even complete the Colosseum. Is that a problem? You're darn straight it is! Skyborn has this obnoxious fixed amount of mobs, and once you beat them, you've topped out. You can traverse the entire game map ... in less than ten minutes ... and not a single new mob will spawn.

They don't, probably because Dancing Dragon didn't figure out how to make that happen until Deadly Sin, the series predecessor. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest planned for a hard cap, and ensured you had the capability of beating the final boss.

Oh, I get that I unwittingly squandered my resources during my first play. Once I simmer down I may try again; 8 hours isn't much for an RPG. A couple of afternoons or one really, dreary, rainy day. I like Skyborn. A lot, and it's disappointing to reach the end and fail.

It's an unforced game over, and completely unacceptable. Why doesn't Skyborn get more attention? I get it now, and for the first time I'm going to go back and revise my review to reflect this. I can't recommend a game with such a glaring fault.

It's got a lot going on, but really, it needed guidance to be good, or even great.

That could be the new slug for my review, too.

Sigh, and I was having a pretty good time, too.

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pickhut pickhut - October 31, 2016 (03:17 AM)
I just see it as: if you made a bad game, then you made a bad game period, and vice versa. I very rarely take other stuff into consideration, such as budget or the size of the development team. At best, I'll mention those things in passing to make a point, like in a "The team was this big and it still turned out crap?"-esque way, but stuff like that doesn't ultimately sway my final opinion on a game. Same goes when I read other reviews of a game and understand why they said the things they did about it, but when I eventually play the game myself, I shut all that out and judge the game based on my own experience.
honestgamer honestgamer - October 31, 2016 (02:43 PM)
I think that development teams get a lot of leeway these days if they bill themselves as "indie." The great old games of yesteryear often had only one or two people handling the art design, for instance, but now we'll look at a game from a team that had "only" 2 or 3 people working on the art, maybe even a game in the retro style, and say "It looks amazing, for the resources they had." If a single guy makes a game and I can't tell the difference between that and a game that took 10 people, I will take that into account. But I'm not about giving a game a free pass just because only 10 or 20 people worked on it, instead of 2 or 3 hundred. That small team has no trouble charging money, and anything that charges money deserves to be rated according to the value it promises--and then does or doesn't provide--to that consumer.
overdrive overdrive - October 31, 2016 (09:36 PM)
As someone who'd reviewed a few indie games, as well as a number of Kemco's Android RPGs, I guess I look at it as a "bang for the buck" sort of thing.

If a game is super-great, it's super-great and if a game is pure trash, it's pure trash. But for the 2-3-4 ratings (as per this site's scoring model), things are a bit more elastic. Where a 4 for a Kemco game isn't necessarily a 4 for a modern console game because it might not be a very good game, period, but it is a very good game for being a 10-20 hour RPG that costs under $10.

But that's more an "original cost" thing than an "indie" thing that I'm taking into consideration. I don't know that simply being indie carries much weight for me; I'm just more likely to be easier on a half-decent $3 game than a $50 game that's only half-decent.
hastypixels hastypixels - November 06, 2016 (11:05 PM)
@pickhut - I agree. If there's any testament to the effectiveness of a team, it is their product regardless of constraints, or lack thereof. Dust:AET took four years to produce, but Dean Dodrill knew his priorities, and the result is a top tier experience.

@honestgamer - There are too many factors to take into account. The currency and advancement of development tools; the talent of the developers, both creative and technical; financial resources; team effectiveness. Some games have come out of the Indie scene with code lifted from Open Source - with no reprisal. As a "fair witness", I try to be objective and judge a game based on its own goals. I try to avoid comparisons, except when the example demonstrates what what missed; a good example, something to learn from.

@overdrive - Oh dear, Kemco ... a fine example of inconsistent effort. I've read your reviews for those RPGs, and it was interesting as a historical presentation of their development. From honest effort to cash in, to diamond in the rough, back to cash in again. Microtransactions tarnish what little respectability mobile games have.

I'm an old school player, and I mean I played LOGO on the C64, Sticky Bear and Oregon Trail on the Apple IIe, and the plethora of titles on the Atari VCS ... I'm sure you can relate. Mobile games have many of the same challenges of these early games. How to squeeze a memorable experience out of just a few, well, gigahertz. Advancements aside, because expectations are so much higher.

As a Humble Bundler, I love a good sale, and have amassed my library paying full price less than a dozen times. Full price for some bundles, I mean. I'm not easy to win over, because good gaming is not a product of Uber-mega-peta-fps-pixelflops, just as good writing is not a measure of language mastery. It helps, but some of the most popular books are literary trash.

I've been agonizing over my review, and I detest the idea of changing it to appease my frustration when it can be so easily addressed. So, I asked myself, now that I've cooled off, has anything I've learned changed what I've written?

No, it doesn't. Skyborn is a mechanically incomplete game; the music still veers from the mark, as does the writing. I'll stand by my recommendation: Buy the game on sale, because it's flawed, but fun.

Unfortunately, now I have no interest in playing Deadly Sin through to its end, but it looks pretty good too. There's a particularly interesting piece of pie after all of these undercooked vegetables: Echoes of Aetheria, which has the polish of Ogre Tactics. Yum!

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