Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We believe they deserve a wider audience with the Joystiq Indie Pitch: This week, Colin Northway describes how indie life in Honduras created Quozzle, the creature in his PC game Incredipede.
What's your game called and what's it about?
Incredipedeis a game about playing with nature and life. Quozzle is a creature that can change her shape by growing new bones and muscles wherever she wants so you can build any kind of animal you like. After you build your creature, you control it to overcome obstacles and rescue Quozzle's kidnapped sisters.
It's also a very beautiful game. Thomas Shahan and I worked hard to make the visuals unique and he did a truly amazing job.
What inspired you to make Incredipede?
Incredipede was inspired by the jungles of Honduras. My wife, Sarah, and I made the game over two years while also traveling the world. When we were in Honduras we lived in a little house slung out over the water at the end of a terrible dirt road. We climbed in the mangrove trees and snorkeled on the reef. Crabs scuttled and fish swam under the house, ants invaded the kitchen, birds ate our fruit and lizards and boa constrictors hid in the trees. Life was everywhere. I have always loved the creativity and variety of life and had to make a game about it.
You mention working now from a small Mexican town – how has a culturally rich lifestyle influenced your development?
Novel input, novel output. Travel has defined Incredipede. It was born in Honduras but grew up in Tokyo, Greece, Costa Rica, Vancouver, Vienna and all over. Every place brought its own little flavor to the game. Not always visually, but in the interface design or the way something moves or the story.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?
Absolutely. Other indies have been a big part of my success. I get to learn from their mistakes and from their triumphs, they help me test and get the word out. We aren't in competition with each other; every indie game makes the audience bigger. We try to meet up with indies whenever we travel, and to travel with indies whenever we can. Right now we're spending two months in Mexico with Matthew Wegner and Ben Ruiz as they work on Aztez.
Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
Being indie lets you make crazy games. It took two years of prototyping to find Incredipede and another year of design to make the game really work. In the AAA industry there are only about four people who get that amount of freedom. Because I'm indie I can spend the time and make something really new and original.
Since we last spoke, Steam has approved 21 more games on Greenlight. Has your perception of the service or expectation of being Greenlit altered at all?
I think Greenlight will continue to struggle. It's a very hard problem to solve, especially for yet-to-be-released games. I mean, how are you supposed to judge games you can't play?
Because I'm indie I can spend the time and make something really new and original.
What's the coolest aspect of Incredipede?
The coolest part of the game is making creatures. You can make anything you want and people have made some pretty amazing stuff. The ability to just creatively indulge yourself and make crazy and brilliant things is wonderful.
Do you think Incredipede is a game for a broad audience, or is it more niche?
Incredipede is simple to learn. Anyone of any age should be able to drop in a learn to play. It greatly rewards play and experimentation and people who aren't looking for an experience that deep will probably be turned off. It isn't a game you should just fire up for a few minutes between Facebook updates. It's a rich experience that is best lingered over.
Sell Incredipede in one sentence:
Get your hands dirty in the raw, wet strings of life.
I'll be supporting Incredipede for much of the recent future. Sarah helped with the game for the last six months and I owe her a lot for that. I'll be helping her with an upcoming project, Word Up Dog. Now that the game is out I would also like to learn to surf!
Incredipede is available now on its own website for $15, alongside a free in-browser demo. Set aside a few hours and don't let anything impede how incredible this game can be.
If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.