The mainstream video game industry has, traditionally, moved in trends, with certain styles of gameplay dominating the market at different times. The same can be said of the independent game industry, but there are always games that buck the system and try something new or, increasingly, something old.
One older format, the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) so popular in the 1990s, and best personified by Super Nintendo games like Final Fantasy III (IV in Japan) or Chrono Trigger, never really went away, even if the mainstream has moved on from it.
But indie developers are known for looking to the past, to “retro” games for inspiration, which is what En House Studios of Chicago is doing with their game Glitched. It’s a JRPG-style game, which breaks the “fourth wall” and asks some deep questions of the player and the world they’re visiting. The literal player, as the game’s protagonist talks to directly to you at points.
It’s early in production, with the team just having completed a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. How successful? They hit their goal of $7,500 in 24 hours, and by the end they hit $68,646, so they ended up 915% funded. That money is going into development, backer rewards, and eventual downloadable content.
The campaign’s success shows just how much people are clamoring for titles like this. Retro games are the current “big thing” in the indie market, and it’s starting to infect the mainstream market as well, with indie games making the leap and with some major studios supporting them. A game like Glitched isn’t going to topple Call of Duty, of course, but it helps to illustrate the diversity of the market and the customer base.
Big mainstream titles, like Hollywood blockbusters, sometimes fail to cover costs, or succeed by such a thin margin that they never turn into a franchise (one of the major goals of the mainstream game industry).
Games like Glitched show that, with a little creativity, you can make games that people clamor for and which, from a financial point of view, are undoubtedly successful.