Economy of Effort

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Professor Fizzwizzle

I have, in recent months, become very interested in the world of indie game development. Though I am expecting to soon embark on a career in professional game development, I am intrigued by those that have found a way to make some money in independent game development. The advent of the Xbox Live Marketplace on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console has put indie games in the living room overnight. While the ever-popular Geometry Wars might not be an indie title per se, it certainly plays like one, and fits in alongside the other true indie games on the Marketplace. Games seen in the Independent Games Festival are starting to show up on Marketplace - 2005’s grand prize winner (Wik and the Fable of Souls) is now available, and hopefully a flood of other IGF finalist games start coming.

I’ve made it a point to begin checking out IGF finalist games before they hit Marketplace. Yesterday, I downloaded a demo of Professor Fizzwizzle, one of the finalists for the upcoming 2006 festival. First impression: being available on Linux as well as Mac OS X and Windows is good. Second impression: the game is a neat cartoony puzzle game. The premise is simple - navigate the Professor from a starting point to a finishing point. The game can be incredibly simple, or extremely challenging. A neat feature is the different “paths” through the game - you can follow a path of “advanced levels”, or there are “kid levels” for children to play. The game has some neat ideas and it would seem like one of those games that would be great to play with a son or daughter (yes, parents, video games are for daughters too).

It will be interesting to see if the game shows up on Marketplace eventually. This game costs $20 for a full version, like many indie games. $20 is probably too much. When they end up on Marketplace, they become $5 impulse purchases. I would definitely buy this on Marketplace for $5. I’ll buy any IGF finalist game for $5, if for nothing else than to support independent game development. Hopefully indie games start to move even further beyond the “one screen” style of game.