Independent video game development
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Independent video game development is the process of creating video games without the financial support of a video game publisher. While large firms can create independent games, they are usually designed by an individual or a small team of as many as ten people, depending on the complexity of the project. These games may take years to be built from the ground up or can be completed in a matter of days or even hours depending on complexity, participants, and design goal.
The origins of indie video games may be traced back to the 1970s, when there was virtually no established computer gaming industry. As video game firms developed they employed more programmers. Nonetheless, independent programmers continued to make their own games. During the 1990s, indie games were most commonly distributed as shareware or shared from friend to friend and therefore known as "shareware games".[original research?]
Before the mid-1990s, commercial game distribution was controlled by big publishers and retailers, and developers of indie games were forced to either build their own publishing company, find one willing to distribute their game, or distribute it in some form of shareware (e.g. through BBSs). With the rise of online shopping, it has become possible to sell indie games to a worldwide market with little or no initial investment by using services such as XBLA or PayPal.
By the mid 2000s, many indie (computer) game developers have also taken the opportunity to make their games open source, thus rendering the group of possible participants much larger depending on the interest a project generates. This approach enables games to become much more complex as well as to succeed where a closed source version would be restricted due to limited resources, risking the possibility of vaporware.[original research?] Several online communities have formed around independent game development, like TIGSource, Ludum Dare, PixelxCore Independent Gaming and the indiegames.com blog.
Recently independent games have been released for big budget consoles like Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. Many games that are being released for these consoles are ports of popular flash games and/or just plainly developed independent games that have received notice. Often indie games are completely programmer driven, due to lack of publisher funding for artwork.
On November 19, 2008, Microsoft launched Xbox Community Games, later renamed as Xbox Live Indie Games, which allowed independent developers to create games for the Xbox 360 using XNA development tools and sell them in an area of the Xbox Live Marketplace.
In May 2010, several independent developers organized the Humble Indie Bundle, which raised over $1.25 million in revenue (of which about $400,000 went to charity) and showed the value that community involvement and cross-platform development can have for independent developers.
The majority of the distribution of PC and Mac games come from various portals such as Steam and Big Fish Games. With a massive number of PC titles per year coupled with a price drop it is becoming increasingly difficult for PC developers to make a profit unless it is one of the few hit games.
With the advent of smartphones such as the iPhone and the relative ease of producing these titles many independent game developers solely develop games for various smart phone operating systems such as the iOS and the newer Android. This has also seen games being ported across to take advantage of this new revenue stream such as the successful game Minecraft.
There are also independent games distribution websites, such as IndieCity, springing up to cater exclusively for indie games, rather than including them alongside the mainstream games which are the main focus of most distribution portals (see: Steam).
||This section may contain original research. (February 2011)|
Developing video games can be a very time consuming process, and independent games are often distributed for free. The motivation to create games varies per individual. The usual motivator behind independent game development is creative freedom, which is more easily attainable within smaller, more focused teams, and without the constraints of bigger investors risk aversion. Having a portfolio of video game works can also be beneficial to someone applying for a job. Solving problems in developing video games can help in solving other problems in engineering. Creating a small independent video game can help developers explore domains and receive feedback where an innovative idea might be further developed into a commercial game.
C++ is the most popular language of choice within the video game industry due to speed and efficiency as a system language, which is critical for 3D processing. However, independent video games have seen use of a variety of other languages. Notably, C#, the language for XNA (Microsoft's toolkit that facilitates video game development on the Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7 and the PC) and Objective-C, the language for the iPhone's Cocoa touch API, the popularity of which has grown greatly since 2008, due to the accessibility of the App Store to independent developers. Indie games written in Java are also prevalent, due to the wide compatibility for most operating systems and web browsers. Other dynamic languages, notably Python, Ruby, Lua and ActionScript have also found their way into the scene, lowering barriers of entry to game development.
Licensing fees 
Personal computer platforms (such as Linux, Mac OS, and Windows) are traditionally financially more accessible to independent game developers than video game consoles. Aside from basic development costs, console game developers are required to pay fees to license the required Software Development Kits (SDKs) from the console maker. Manufacturers often impose a strict approval process and take a percentage of the game's net profit in addition to yearly developer fees. To develop for Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3 requires an SDK license fee of between US$2,000 and $10,000, in addition to yearly developer fees and profit cuts, although development for Xbox Live Indie Games only requires a $99/year Creators Club membership and Microsoft takes 30% of sales. Microsoft does provide a free membership to the Creators Club to students via the DreamSpark program. Indie game developers can also use homebrew development libraries, which are free of charge, and usually open source.
See also 
- Indie game
- List of indie game developers
- Game development
- Independent Games Festival (IGF)
- Dōjin soft
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- "Humble Indie Bundle Page and Stats". Wolfire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
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- "Frequently Asked Questions". XNA Creators Club Online. Microsoft Corp. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
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- Elliot, Amy-Mae (19 November 2007). "Sony's half price sale on PS3 SDK for developers". Pocket-lint. Retrieved 16 May 2013.