IndieE3: An Early Review

What is IndiE3?

Most people already know what E3 is: one of the largest video game advertising outlets in the world. They show a variety of AAA and indie games, most of which from the biggest companies and publishers in the world. But what about the rest of the indie community? There are thousands desperately trying to find their place to shine, most of which actually deserve it with great games worth playing. But as expensive and limited in time as E3 is, it feels exclusive against these people.

And so, IndiE3 was born in 2014, days before E3 began, through a couple comments on Twitter. It blew up into a (somewhat) huge event, with hundreds of indie games on show, dozens of panels by fans and professionals on a variety of topics, and over a thousand people tuning in to the live streams. It was a revolution, and one indie gamers and devs have been waiting for a long time.

That being said, there’s a lot that could be better for next year should it continue, even though the event is still going on right now until next week (watch here and here to see live stream).

  • Organization

Made in only a few days, of course there would be issues. But there were tons of bugs, the first day of streaming spent the majority of its time starring awkwardly into the camera while a behind-the-camera technician tried to fix computer and camera streams. A few extra days of testing ahead of time might have fixed this, but even then issues are unavoidable. Another fix is to avoid changing the system of streaming too often: trailer streams switched back and forth from youtube streams to a camera of commenters, and that constant switching brought plenty of sound and video issues. Change the format of the show to avoid unnecessary change.

Even now, the show is accepting game submissions, and a “schedule” has either not been set or has changed a little as the days continued. The shows are great, but preparation to finalize these days and let them be known ahead of time would have been huge for viewers. Again, not possible this year due to timing, but maybe next year.

  • Initial Days

What do you show in the first few days? Arguably, indie trailers are the biggest thing: they bring attention to games and are fun and unpredictable to watch. The show planned to do this on the first day only, but has been streaming game trailers every day due to the huge volume. Also, the founders commented and praised each game as they watched, but this took up more time then necessary.

My suggestion? Keep the first day exclusively for game trailers. Set up a youtube account and make a playlist of all the trailers submitted, and just run the playlist during the event. This frees up time on your first day of organizing, and you can make the playlist public after for easy access. On the second day, consider running the playlist again with commenters as you watch, but not requiring change of audio back and forth. Safer on your equipment setup to avoid bugs and issues, and it shows the trailers a second time, which devs would appreciate (the more time shown, the better). If all runs smoothly, even this setup would take less time than how indiE3 is currently showing trailers. The rest of the days for various panels and interviews make sense.

  • Bring In “Famous” Talent

While intended for indie devs with a passion for what they do in need for a little exposure, there are larger, more well-known “indie” devs. Talk to them, book them to reveal a new game or do an interview. Why? Because it will bring more attention, and could double or triple the viewership, whereas current viewers could be predicted to be made up mostly of other indie devs, not just gamers. Even if these people aren’t as “indie” as the rest of us, they are still important to potentially help their fellow devs. Chances are many of those well-known indie people were in the same boat as the rest of us once, and would like to lend a hand. And imagine if larger game-news sites streamed the show? It could very well make this a true competitor to E3.

  • Timing

When this gained momentum, many people had the assumption it was a direct competitor to E3, as in “against E3.” Even the panelists and organizers made humorous comments along those lines, despite saying multiple times that they have nothing against E3 and want both to coexist. Embarrassingly, even I made similar comments against E3, although I enjoyed the attention indies did get during E3, and stand by my statement that those indie games were far more interesting than the AAA games on show.

Best way to avoid this confusion? Change the date. Don’t make it during E3. Make it the week before, or the week after. It gives people the chance to give it the attention it deserves, and make it a celebration of indie games, not a battlecry against AAA.

  • Controversy

Ok, I don’t know exactly what happened. I missed one day of indiE3 streaming, and found out that other sites that agreed to help support the event backed out, and that indiE3 issued an apology.

Apparently, racist/gender-related comments were made in a chat about one of the panelists, or something along those lines. This is ultimately a terrible show of the people watching the event, who on the first day seemed so encouraging and kind, unusually so for the Internet. But indiE3 is being held responsible for not moderating the chat to avoid feelings being hurt.

Frankly, I don’t think indiE3 is a fault, even if they should be responsible for their own chat. The people who made such comments should be ashamed. Despite that, indiE3 is liable, and had to take drastic action, to the point where it may have already finished at the time of this writing. More importantly, how exactly do they solve this in future years? I don’t know. I’m certain E3 chats had much worse comments, but there it was expected. We are sensitive artists here. Should we simply ignore harsh comments made to us? Or should chats be removed altogether? Whatever the case, this is the biggest issue indiE3 has right now. Even with more than half the original viewers still tuning in, many other sites that showed any support are backing away, and this may hurt future shows, in the same way the PAX had with comments one of their organizers said.

 

 

Overall, the show was a moderate success given the quickness of its formation. I thank the organizers for showing my game, “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth,” and for one of the organizers actually playing the game and commenting on its appeal, and helping spread word of its Steam Greenlight page. I love what they tried to do, and hope they do it again one day. Hopefully any issues from this year won’t be an issue when that happens.