"Triple-A indie" projects can be financially viable - Hecker
Laser-focus on simple mechanics can lead to creative and profitable XBLA/PSN titles, says ex-Spore dev
Independent game development for home consoles now has proven financially viable routes to market following the success of hits on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.
That's according to Chris Hecker, ex-Maxis developer, who said that although he is funding his own game project through savings and the help of family and friends, he's confident it can be profitable in the long term.
"The good thing about nowadays when it comes to financing is that there are proven good games of this size that have been profitable," said Hecker in an interview published today. "Before I joined Maxis I was working on an indie game for a long time and never finished it, but back then there was shareware on the PC, but no real console model - no way to monetise it.
"Since Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and to some extent WiiWare and Steam, there's now a $15 business model. You can be somewhat confident that if you do a good job, you can earn your money back, whereas before even if you made a great game, it wasn't clear that there were sufficient channels to do it.
"I think it's awesome, and it helps a lot of people in the industry, because you get a lot more innovation that way," he added.
When Hecker was made redundant from Electronic Arts earlier this year, it accelerated his plans to go solo - he's now working on SpyParty, with plans to release in around two years. And Hecker believes a dedicated focus on just a small number of gameplay mechanics can help such titles find creative and commercial success in the market.
"I've just been working on SpyParty for the past few months - it's what I'd call a 'triple-A indie' project, that's what I hope it'll be,” he said. "In the past couple of years there's been this emergence of this mid-range of games, with Braid, Castle Crashers, World of Goo, Flower... games like that that are indie and small - $15 - but they're completely polished.
"These games aren't trying to be uber-games - they're not trying to be GTA IV or Spore, which are huge - these games are really laser-focused on one particular mechanic, or small set of mechanics, and then just polished. I hope to do that with SpyParty - it's a couple of years out, but that's the goal."
The full interview with Hecker, in which is also discusses his role on the Game Developers Conference advisory panel, can be read here.