back to article The Yawhg vs XCOM: Enemy Unknown. How small devs can win against the big boys

As far as the recipe for a successful new gaming genre would go, the combination of an essentially text-based role-playing adventure with a beery party game would seem very wide of the mark. Crunching stats and hardcore partying hardly seem to go together. Colour me wrong, however, for in Emily Carroll and Damian Sommer’s PC- …


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  1. Thomas 4

    Very true

    Indie teams often have a better idea as to what makes a good game better than mainstream publishers do.

    For example, take EA's Syndicate. It had little in common with the original game and was little more than an attempt to cash in on the success of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Now, on Kickstarter, the original team behind Syndicate is making a game called Satellite Reign, which is being touted as a genuine sequel to Syndicate Wars. It looks more like what EA *should* have released than what they *did* release.

    Hope it makes its funding goal.

    1. jai

      Re: Very true

      +1 for the Satellite Reign mention.

      It looks very very promising. Really hoping they hit their target as I can't wait to play it!!

    2. BigNose

      Re: Very true

      Indie teams often have a better idea as to what makes a good game better than mainstream publishers do.

      I disagree. Indies don't know any better about how to make a better game. They do know how to make original games and its that originality (well not like the 'mundane/reptitive' games of the mainstream publishers) that gets them noticed.

      v1 starts as sparkly, but by v3, it is just mudane with sparkles and v5 is just bigger mundane.

      Indies have v1 sparkly, but normaly only go to v2, any more and they become . . . see above.

      1. jai

        Re: Very true

        Indies don't know any better about how to make a better game.

        oh i disagree. take the upcoming Space Hulk release. it is _exactly_ what fans of the original board game want to play, and from the gameplay videos, not only captures what it felt like to play the board game, but enhances the experience.

        which makes a refreshing change from the Fire Warrior, Space Marine, etc that W40k fans have made do with up until now.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Very true

          I'm glad to hear the Syndicate team are making a game for tablets... I've never understood why people have been so keen to port First Person Shooters to tablets, when tablets seem to naturally lend themselves to games like Syndicate, Cannon Fodder, Monkey Island, Sim City, Worms etc.

      2. Terje

        Re: Very true

        I would say this is only partially true.

        I feel that most of the better big studios also know how to make good games. Tt's just that they are rarely allowed to do them as the publishers prefer a dull easy game preferably from a known frenchise, with flashy graphics that is easy to market to a game that requires you to use your brain and is not necessarily much improved by flashy graphics.

        Indie studios on the other hand usually lack the resources to make a game graphicaly breathtaking and miss the armies of marketing drones to push "more of the same with extra glitter" games through the ambient noice, that leaves them with doing games that can stand on there own merit without relying on marketing money and flashy graphics.

        That said I don't understand the point of many indiegames deliberately making the graphics worse. while I can see the charm in simple graphics why for example make the fonts in the game look like upscaled 8x8 pixel fonts...

        Now I'll go back to waiting for Shadowrun returns to release.

    3. AceRimmer

      Re: Very true

      Indies do not know how to make better games, Indies however are able to slip under the radar until they produce a game good enough to get them noticed.

      The larger companies, like EA, are measured on all their output, good or bad especially when the game is part of an existing franchise (SimCity anyone?)

      Have a look at the games on your app store, ignore the first few pages and have a proper look at the amount of utter dredge being pumped out, more often than not by indie games companies

      1. PatientOne

        Re: Very true

        "Indies do not know how to make better games, Indies however are able to slip under the radar until they produce a game good enough to get them noticed."

        Might I point you in the direction of Star Citizen?

        Game in production, true, but it's a kickstart/crowd funded game simply to avoid interference from finance and marketing which often spoil an otherwise great concept.

        But I dare you to say that Chris Roberts doesn't know a thing or two about making games (Freelancer, Starlancer and Wing Commander were his, after all).

        1. AceRimmer

          Re: Very true

          One person and one game does not prove a point about indies in general

  2. dougal83

    Wish I could go back in time and remove mobile devices and consoles from the planet. Then my favourite game of all time would not have been simplified to run on all platforms. Poor X-COM. RIP. Arg Sim City you too?!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Oh Noes!

      You'd get rid of Sonic, Mario, Zelda, DK, pokemon, Journey, Flower, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, God of war, GT, Little Big Planet, Heavy Rain, Fire Emblem, Xenoblade etc.... Just so you could stop development of a new X-COM game?

      Maybe just play the old one, eh?

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: Oh Noes!

        "Maybe just play the old one, eh?"

        Also might want to look at the crowd funded spiritual successor:

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems a lot like Monster Loves You!

    Albeit possibly aimed at a more mature audience.

  4. RyokuMas

    Indie is the only way

    The great Jeff Minter says it best in the documentation for his old 90s title Llamatron - the men in suits have created the AAA games industry and are afraid to break from the formula in case their risky new title bombs. But people are tired of paying 60quid for the latest version of the same game with different cutscenes and now - especially with strong, easy-access mobile platforms and the advent of open consoles such as the OUYA - indies are filling the gap. Yes, there's a lot of dross out there - but nobody's being forced to buy it. And at the end of the day, Angry Birds and Minecraft were not written by EA or their ilk.

    1. Peladon

      Re: Indie is the only way

      Without in any way wishing to derail the thread - or hijack it - a lot of this post (and it's one I agree with :-) ) can be applied to the Indie publishing (and to a degree self-publishing) industry. I'd go so far as to say it could apply to just about any activity involving Indie-type producers and marketers - film, music, and (yes :-P) books too.

      In essence, the Indie companies have both less to lose (in terms of established market presence and revenue), more to lose (in terms of personal investment and passion), and more to gain (because they have little save the fluff and lint in their pockets, and a bank loan or a KickStarter fund). But that same passion gives them either an ability to take more risk, or the ability to believe in themselves sufficiently to not think of it as risk. And I'm really not sure which of those two approaches I admire more :-).

      If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the road to mediocrity can be paved with safe repetition and good corporate fiscal care of shareholder risk (none of which is necessarily in itself a Bad Thing(tm)).

      But that road is a lot less likely to take you to somewhere no-one has ever been before - good or bad :-).

  5. Sooty

    good to know

    It's not just me having issues with an iPad 2 and X-Com, i was a bit concerned intiially about how it was going to handle it, but it was listed as compatible, and the constant crashing after i got it didn't sell me. It did get past the worst of it though, possibly after a reset.

  6. Dropper


    They should know that competing against the big boys is hopeless, because all your base belong to us.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Hopeless

      "all your base ARE belong to us"

      Get it right :)

  7. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Where the obligatory

    Kerbal Space program mention??

    Oh its not available on Ipads etc...shame.. for them :)


    <<<about to make another illconceived attempt to fly to the moon in a badly designed spacecraft barely able to get off the launchpad

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Where the obligatory

      That's "The Mun"

  8. Eugene Goodrich

    Monster Loves You

    "Monster Loves You" is another indie game in the choose-your-own-adventure format, like The Yawhg. I saw it as low as $4 (USD) on a Steam sale, I believe. It's short by conventional game standards (I think a play-through is forty minutes the first time and 20 minutes once you've replayed a few times and don't have to read as much.) Most options do seem to appear on subsequent playthroughs. And you go through different age-phases of being a monster, with the culminating event being a humankind/monster meet-up that can turn out various ways based on your influence.

  9. Putonghua73

    COYA Community

    I almost passed this article by, and am very glad that I stopped to read it. 'The Yawhg' has caught my attention in a big way even though my platforms are now iOS and OSX. I love bothnthe concept and theme - it's the multiplayer element, where one's actions affects one's fellow players that is really intriguing.

    There is a community of COYA fans on iOS (which is the perfect platform for the resurgence of these type of games) who have rallied around Tinman Games licence of the Final Fantasy gamebooks (plus their own IP); Inkle's re-imagining of Steve Jakson's 'Sorcery!'; not to mention another new developer's re-imagining of Jon Denver's 'Lone Wolf'.

    For any affidavit, I've grown out of the traditional COYA gamebook (Assassin of Orlandes didn't work for me); yet, 'The Yawhg' is a different slant on COYA - reminiscient in some ways of the marvellous 'King of Dragon Pass' that is set in Greg Stafford's Glorantha.

    If it ever comes to iOS, then I'd definitely would buy.

  10. robmobz

    Indie vs big name

    It seems to me that indie devs are making games that they would want to play whereas big names are making the games guaranteed to make megabucks.

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