This episode brought to you by Agora
Derek Yu is the award-winning indie game developer behind games like Aquaria, Spelunky, and most recently Spelunky 2. Earlier this year he joined Gamasutra’s Kris Graft and Alissa McAloon in a live GDC Podcast to talk all things Spelunky, how indie game development has changed over the years, and how game development is an exploration of ideas.
Check out some highlights:
“I think in some ways, hearing people felt that way about Spelunky 1 was freeing, because I wasn’t going back and doing anything with Spelunky 1, I was just making a new game. So if people didn’t like the new one, they always had the first game to go back to.
“For me, I just knew that there was more that I wanted to do with Spelunky, and I felt like in the landscape of roguelites that we saw develop after Spelunky…after roguelites kind of exploded and became this big genre, I still felt that there weren’t a ton of games that were quite like Spelunky, and so I was excited to explore that further.
“And for me, I think about it as an exploration, and it’s really helped me to think about making games–even releasing a commercial game–as just part of exploring. For me personally as an artist, it’s about thinking of [game development] as a continuous exploration.”
“One of the challenges now is that it’s hard to find an insulated community to work in. Really the way I feel about it, a lot of things have gotten easier for indie game developers, but to put it in a video game term, I feel like the difficulty is sort of scaled with the power of indie game developers.
“There’s so many tools and so many resources now but at the same time, expectations have really grown. You know, what does an indie game need to look like? What is the threshold for a ‘commercially viable’ indie game? And I think it’s harder to get noticed these days too, just because of the volume of people working in the space.
“And to go back to the community aspect, we’re now all on social media, which is kind of like connecting everybody at the same time, which is very different from when I was in the Klik N Play community. We were very insulated from the outside world, and we were just doing our own thing. It felt very manageable in that way because we were all at the same level of student-hobbyist back then, so I felt that it was an appropriate level of challenge and goal-setting for us. We pushed each other but there wasn’t as much pressure as you feel now.”