The Chick’s Monthly Update – May 2012

One month from today, Indie Gamer Chick turns one year old.  It’s hard to believe it’s already been one year since I opened this site.  Even more crazy is how much I’ve been able to keep things up.  With over two-hundred games reviewed, dozens of editorials, and commentaries from developers, this has turned into quite the place for your Xbox Live Indie Game needs.  But I’m not resting on my laurels.  I’m not even sure why anyone would want to rest on one’s laurel.  Unless laurel means couch, or chair.  Or ass.  I often rest on my ass.  It’s comfy.

Well, my laurel will be untouched, because some additions are coming to Indie Gamer Chick.  Starting on July 1, the leaderboard will be supplemented by additional genre-based boards.  By the end of 2012, there will be around a dozen of them.  Not all will be debuted on July 1, either because I haven’t played enough games to fill all the spots, or because there aren’t enough good games to do so.  But, at some point, you can expect me to name what I feel to be the top 3 games in each of the following genres:

  • Adventure – This will include action-RPGs, point-and-clickers, and any other game that features a narrative and isn’t covered by one of the other categories.  I would call stuff like All The Bad Parts, EvilQuest, Tourist Trap, Trailer Park King, or Astroman to be adventures.
  • RPG – Turned-based role-playing games.  Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Shooters – Whether it’s a side-scroller, first person, TwickS, or a wave-shooter set inside the stomach of a pterodactyl, games that are primarily about shooting things will be covered here.  Except bullet-hell, which are covered elsewhere.
  • Traditional – Anything that wouldn’t feel out-of-place in an 80s arcade, or possibly early computers or home consoles.  Games based on achieving a high score and nothing else I consider to be traditional.  Stuff like We Are Cubes, Chain Crusher, Who is God?, and even Orbitron: Revolution fit in here.
  • Strategy – Again, mostly self-explanatory.  This will also include tower defense games, or action-defense games like Video Wars or The Cannon.
  • Sports and Racing – I’m sure some will argue that racers should not be lumped in with sports games, but they do cover Formula 1 and NASCAR on ESPN, so phooey.
  • Simulation – Stuff that tries the realistic approach, like Flight Adventure 2 or Train Frontier Express.
  • Puzzle – Games that primarily are about solving puzzles.  Stuff like Escape Goat, Cute Things Dying Violently, Alien Jelly, or HACOTAMA.
  • Platformer – Stuff about jumping from platform to platform.
  • Punishers – This is the big debate.  Why give punishers their own category?  Well, they are over-represented on Xbox Live Indie Games.  Second, they have a very specific fan base.  People who want typical platformers don’t necessarily want games that will swallow their souls.  I define a punisher as a game that’s sole purpose is to be difficult to beat.  These are typically platformers or bullet-hells.  There’s obviously a market for these games (although if there isn’t, that really does explain the lack of popularity on XBLIG), so they should get their own category.
  • Everything Else – An all-encompassing “best of the rest” that fits music, fighting, and whatever the fuck Remote Viewer is supposed to be.

My original plan had been to just go by what games are listed as on the marketplace.  Unfortunately, developers seem to have an issue listing stuff accurately.  Some examples: Cute Things Dying Violently is listed as a platformer, Dead Pixels is listed as an RPG, and lots of other stuff falls into a very vague “action-adventure” category.  I get why they do it.  RPGs are probably a more viewed genre than shooters.  ANYTHING is probably a more searched genre than puzzles.

At the same time, stuff like this is probably among the many reasons Xbox Live Indie Games have not caught on.  Imagine the frustration of a consumer who searches for games by genre and has to deal with title after title that is in no way the type of game he or she is looking for.  If I search for a platformer, I’m looking for a platformer, not a physics-based puzzle game where you play as a crosshair and take no direct control over a character.  It makes the entire platform seem undisciplined, unregulated, and too risky to buy games from.  Maybe.  Or maybe I’m looking too much into this.  You guys can debate this among yourselves.

Either way, all my plans with the genre leaderboards are subject to change.  Brian and myself plan on sitting down and figuring this stuff out.  Obviously, some games fit in with more than one category, while some don’t really have a place in any of them.  We’re open to ideas.

By the way, the Top-10 is not going anywhere.  In fact, it has a brand new member: Chompy Chomp Chomp.  The quirky, hugely addictive party game was played multiple times by myself and my friends over the week and landed at #6 on the board.  This bumped off Pixel Blocked!, which spent four months on the board, and is the only game to fall off the board once and land back on it via a Second Chance with the Chick.

And so another month has come to pass.  June will be a huge month for Indie Gamer Chick.  I’ll be revisiting two leaderboard games that have had significant content added to them, plus I’ll be trying to find the best XBLIGs I haven’t played yet.  Why?  Because on July 1, I’ll be posting the Top 25 Xbox Live Indie Games of All-Time, a special one-shot article to mark the first birthday of Indie Gamer Chick.  Many games that made the leaderboard would have NEVER made the list today.  On the flip side, lots of games game very close to making the board, but didn’t.  If I made a top 25, this is how things would fall.  This is coming July 1.  You can also check back next week for special editions of Indies in Due Time: E3 edition, which will cover the best games from smaller studios that are shown.  Also in June, Brian and I will be teaming with Armless Octopus to do a special Indies in Due Time: Dream-Build-Play edition, covering games entered into that contest.  It sounds like a great way to close out the first year of Indie Gamer Chick.

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

4 Responses to The Chick’s Monthly Update – May 2012

  1. XBLA has the same genre listing problem, on a pretty massive scale. This is something we worried about in the early days of XBLIG peer review (back before it was called XBLIG), but I’ve been away from that process for a very long time.

    My games are pretty safe in the “Very Basic Platformers” genre, at least. :P

  2. You don’t have ZP2k10 or ZP2k11 on your top ten? Those were amazing XBLIG’s. The Indie section of Xbox Live is definitely one of the best improvements to xbox live in the last couple years though.

  3. At least as far as XBLIG categorization goes, I’d love to see them implement genre tags instead of single genres. If Dead Pixels wants to be tagged as RPG, beat ‘em up, action, that would be fine by me and would give a better distillation of its elements. Of course, that doesn’t help you when determining how you categorize them.

    Okay, here’s a suggestion for IGC genre charts: do it based on the part of the game you really liked. So, if you play an RPG puzzle dance game, and the thing you loved about it was the puzzles (because the RPG elements were tacked on and the dancing was generic), then you would put it in the IGC Puzzle Top 3.

    • Brian and I are carefully sorting and organizing the 200+ reviews here and trying to determine what goes into what category, and what stuff needs to be refined. We’re also organizing the big Top 25 list.

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