Simon Oliver is the founder of Hand Circus, creators of the hit Rolando series of games for the iPhone and Okabu on the Playstation 3. He was at BAF Game to advise anyone who wants to get into independent games development.
Simon spoke about the history of indie, entwined with a bit of personal history.
The first computer he used was programmable, at a time when there was no divide between the people who created the games, and the machines they were created on. The government encouraged computer literacy, and for schools to teach ICT at a deeper level - not just Microsoft Word, but the basics of computer science.
When games consoles were released they were just machines for consumption. There was no concept of open source, which was a huge barrier to entry.
The release of the iPhone was a key moment for Simon, who wanted to grasp the opportunities and meet the challenges presented by this new gaming platform. And so, Hand Circus was born.
Simon is obviously concerned about the future of independent games development, given the expectation that games will deliver hyper real experiences which simply can't be created by a small team.
However, he cites David Braben's Rapberry Pi, which will teach children the building blocks of computer science and Codea (formerly Codify), which lets you create games on the iPad using a simple, easy to learn coding language, as two developments of the kind that Simon is really excited about.
The vast number of tools on the market gives developers freedom through access to these technologies. Unity stands out for Simon; it gives you a very sophisticated tool set, without which Hand Circus would not be able to create their games.
Freedom is a concept that Simon keeps on repeating...
- The lure of independent development is freedom
- Freedom through technology
- Freedom to work differently
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom to meander
For Simon, this is the best work ever, and that's his message for today. It's the most challenging, and the level of personal involvement can make it an emotional experience, but Simon has some advice from fellow indie developers to help you along the way, which you can read about on his blog.
Or, to listen to the full presentation, here's the podcast which you're free to download and share.