Indies Will Lead Innovation On PS4

Indie-Dev-Rapture

Gone Home is a first person interactive story on PC and it’s the best game I’ve played this year. It’s truly amazing.

The Fullbright Company who carefully crafted this gem gambled on their vision of creating an experience with no combat, no puzzles and no time limits. Instead, they opted to put storyline and exploration front and center. It’s something that could – and would – only ever have been created by an indie developer.

Dear Esther did something similar back in February last year. Originally a Half Life 2 mod, it was developed into a visually stunning full release and was driven entirely by the exploration of its island setting. With a randomised storyline delivered in snippets as you discovered new areas. It was an unmissable experience.

At Gamescom last month and the developers of Dear Esther, The Chinese Room, announced that they would be bringing their next title – Everybody’s gone to the Rapture – exclusively to PlayStation 4. The spiritual successor to Dear Esther, it will include interactive elements and take place in a village in Shropshire, England during the apocalypse. Really. You can read Keith’s reaction to the game here, and I completely agree that it was the most intriguing game shown.

And this is the crux of the strategy for Sony. Gaming innovation takes place in the indie scene. It’s the small developers – oftentimes teams of one or two people – who take chances on bizarre and delightful concepts that push the boundaries of what games are and what they could be. And it’s to Sony’s credit that they’ve always supported esoteric concepts for games since the days of the original PlayStation.  In fact, with PlayStation 4 they really seem to have recaptured the feeling of the early days of PlayStation development – a time which brought us games like PaRappa the Rapper, Kula World and No-one can stop Mr Domino to name just a few. This is something that Shuhei Yoshida alluded to in a recent interview on the PlayStation blog, he said “Back then, PlayStation really expanded the audience for gaming and brought in a lot of new developers. Lots of unique, interesting games came out of nowhere.”

Right now it’s a hugely exciting time in the gaming industry. The tools available to even the smallest developers – and Sony’s willingness to help out third parties where they can – mean they can achieve much more than ever before. The result will be a generation with a breadth and depth of games on PlayStation unlike anything we’ve seen before.

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