February 20, 2009

What is indie?

Filed under: General — bilbo @ 10:27 am

Recently I was told, yet again, that HinterWelt is not Indie enough to play in Indie reindeer games. I am not really too broken up by this but it has always made me chuckle. I think of HinterWelt as Small Press more and that groups me with company I like better anyway like Clash Bowley from Flying Mice Games and Brett Bernstain at Precis Intermedia. The difference you ask? The best I have seen is the Small Press run a business (meaning they produce titles with making money in mind) and Indie is an effort of art. Don’t get me wrong, the art of game design is a consideration in Small Press and Indie titles do make money sometimes. It is a matter of focus.

As to Indie, I have heard 3 definitions.

  1. Creator owned and controlled IP rights.
  2. Avant Guard game design
  3. Friend of the Forge (an indie game design site).

HinterWelt definitely foll sinto the first. We have done one title (Roma True20) where we used another writer to do the conversion from our house system (Iridium) to True20. Still, most all of the book was my writing and ideas. I don;t do my art (Clash has me beat there) but that seems forgivable from what I have read. So, let’s consider that a check.

Second point, says Avant Guard. Hmm, I write games about playing magical squirrels from the fairy realm of Nuttopia as they come to this world for as many reasons as stealing our nuts to recovering wedding pie. But I get it, it is the system that hangs them up. Iridium is not GMless, narrative control in the hands of the players type game. That said, Iridium Lite has Karma points and narrative control mechanisms in the hands of the players…oops, what the hell happened there? I have to give HinterWelt the check on this one as well. I think we are pretty edgy.

Finally, we have the friend of the Forge requirement. I can’t argue that. I have always thought little of game theory. It is interesting enough for a half our discussion after the game session but more than that an my eyes glaze over. Not because I cannot follow but because most theory is a desparate attempt to codify the obvious.

So, yeah, I guess HinterWelt fails the acid test for Indie but, as I have often said, I am happy being Small Press.


  1. You NOT Small Press, Bill! We Small Press types, in order to maintain out exclusivity and tantalizing allure, have banned companies having anything to do with squirrels, as they louse up the neighborhood and drive down the real estate market. Face it, bub! You’re Squirrel Press!

    Should you ever decide to drop squirrels, I’m sure we could ban game companies stating with “Hinter”…

    Comment by clash bowley — February 23, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  2. Goofy German names…yeah, that’s the ticket!


    Comment by bilbo — February 23, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  3. That’s the reason why I don’t publish as Fliedermaus Spielen! Hinterwelt is obviously a Nazi front! Any RPGer knows that German == Nazi!


    Comment by clash bowley — February 23, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  4. Yeah, but they make the best villains…especially when they are Zombies…

    Comment by bilbo — February 23, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

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