You have to love Instant Netflix. On those late nights where you can’t fall asleep, it just seems to know exactly what to recommend to you to help you pass the time. But this isn’t about Instant Netflix, though I do thank it for the recommendation. This is about Indie Game: The Movie.
Indie Game: The Movie takes place with three indie developers who are in three very different situations with their games. The men behind Braid, Super Meat Boy and Fez are all profiled in this documentary exploring the world of indie development and the trials associated with it.
Jonathan Blow talks about life after having a successful indie release with Braid and the effect it has had on him. Team Meat, a duo comprised of Edmund McMillen and Michael Refenes, are shown from midway through their development process until the release of Super Meat Boy on XBox Live. Finally, Phil Fish chronicles the trials and tribulations he went through in the extended development process of Fez.
Now while I don’t want to give this documentary a formal review, I do want to talk about the reaction I had to it. The most interesting thing I found from Indie Game: The Movie is that these four guys chose the path they took when they have all shown the ability to have made it in a larger, corporate development studio. As the film shows, the life of an indie developer isn’t an easy one before, during or after a project. Yet, these guys forgo a more stable lifestyle with corporate backing because their artistic vision is their main focus.
It says a lot about these guys to make a decision like that, and even more for the guys behind Super Meat Boy and Fez. While Jonathan Blow was already considered a success before the filming began for Indie Game: The Movie, Edmund, Michaela and Phil risked their process being seen by the world with the possibility of failure for their title. Phil even talks about his worst case scenario and what he’d do if Fez never saw the light of release day and his answer was actually suicide. Luckily, Fez would end up being released following the completion of Indie Game’s filming and become a success but it just goes to show how much these developers feel the need to put everything they have in their titles that someone who works over at larger corporate studios may not feel the same pressure of.
Like King of Kong, Indie Game: The Movie is a great documentary for lovers of the gaming world. Seeing the emotion behind these games as opposed to a promotional “behind the scenes” sizzle reel are such completely different experiences, both for the people involved and the viewer. Especially having played the three games, it was a unique experience to be able to look back and see what happened before they made it to my screen.