Game Devs Join Forces in Cambridge with ‘Indie Game Collective’

It was at a gingerbread house decorating party last Christmas that I first met Michael Carriere. Seriously. While we toiled away on our gingerbread masterpieces, Michael and I got to talking and quickly learned that we rolled in some of the same game industry circles around Boston.

As the conversation progressed, he told me more about the Indie Game Collective – a group that he founded in 2012 consisting of talented independent game developers. Their goal was to leverage the wider groups’ resources and knowledge, relying on one another as a support network in making the best games possible. With a growing population of independent game developers around Boston, I thought the idea was brilliant and an excellent mechanism for helping small studios succeed. My gingerbread house is now long gone, but I’ve been a fan of the Collective ever since.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Michael again this fall to ask him some questions about the Collective now, and its future. Please read on to learn more about some of the great work coming out of the Indie Game Collective!

1)  Tell us the what, why and where of the Indie Game Collective. When was the Indie Game Collective founded and why? Where are you based?

The Indie Game Collective (IGC) was founded in October 2012. We're based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and our group is currently comprised of eight companies, ten individuals. One major goal of the IGC is to provide a rock-solid resource for students considering a career in game development and for studios looking to launch a title.

Another goal was to share knowledge, skills and networks of the members within the group. If you look around the world, there are a few groups doing the exact same thing -- it seems like an organic response to the pressures and challenges of surviving in the current market.

2)  Can you tell me a bit about some of the games that have already been released from Collective developers or are in the works?

The past year saw the release of:

•    Girls Like Robots for iOS and PC by Popcannibal
•    Jack Lumber by Owlchemy Labs
•    Monster Loves You! by Dejobaan Studios
•    PWN: Combat Hacking by 82 Apps
•    Squeezed Out by HybridMind Studios

As for the current titles in development at the Collective:

•    Captain Astronaut's Last Hurrah by Popcannibal
•    Drop that Beat Like an Ugly Baby by Dejobaan Studios, HybridMind Studios and Zapdot
•    Drunken Robot Pornography by Dejobaan Studios
•    Dyscourse by Owlchemy
•    Elegy for a Dead World by Dejobaan and Popcannibal
•    Jungle Rumble by Disco Pixel
•    Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball by 82 Apps

There are also a few untitled projects in the works from Vermont Digital Arts and Zapdot. Everyone is keeping extremely busy!

3)  I imagine that the development process for Indies is different from that of larger developers. Would you say that being an Indie developer benefits the end result, the games themselves?

I think that the major difference between large and small developers is simply scale and resources. Large developers have multi-million dollar marketing budgets and hundreds of talented people laser-focused on particular tasks over the course of a few years. Smaller studios might have a couple of people pouring themselves into a project for 6-18 months before shipping it and starting again. It all boils down to risk: a big studio can't risk their title not being perfect and a smaller studio generally doesn't want to risk their savings on one huge project.

With the increasing number of smaller studios you have a metric ton of games being released on a daily basis. The technology available to developers nowadays is incredibly empowering, which drives up the resulting quality of games and subsequently, expectations from the average consumer. Smaller studios now must work even harder to get the attention of the masses, lest their games quickly fall away into obscurity.

4)  Boston has a strong video game development community. What is the future of the Indie Game Collective in Boston? Do you expect to expand the number of studios involved, to establish an even larger indie footprint in Boston?

Absolutely. Growth is a constant conversation within the IGC. We're looking to add the right people to the mix to continue to increase the overall knowledge and skill set that we can provide to each other and to the surrounding community. Looking forward, we want to find ways to improve our community outreach and to continue to help each other crack the secrets to success in the markets that excite us. 

5)  Anything else you’d like to add? 

We have a small micro-documentary on the group at http://indiegamecollecitve.org/about/. I'm very proud of what was put together and I think it's worth a peek. The rest of the website contains a bunch of information about the people and studios involved in the Collective and we try to keep a bunch of up-to-date information about the happenings of our various studios. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me!

Elicia Basoli is a communications and PR consultant serving the video game industry. Born-and-raised in Massachusetts, she is particularly passionate about the New England games community working for a number of local developers and contributing to the MIT Enterprise Forum’s Games Circle, the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute and the Boston Festival of Indie Games. Follow Elicia at @EliciaBuzz or learn more at www.EliciaBasoli.com.