History of video games/Indie games

"Indie games" (short for "independent games") are independently-produced games that are created by a single person or very small team.

1999 edit

In 1999 the first version of the GameMaker engine is released, and later gains popularity among indie game developers.[1][2]

Read more about GameMaker on Wikipedia.

2000 edit

A pirated English translation of RPG Maker is released by Don Miguel, introducing many to game development.[3]

2002 edit

RPG maker 2003 was a continuation of the RPG maker engine, and had surprising longevity, with commercial indie games still being released that were made the engine as of 2018.[4]

Read more about RPG Maker 2003 on Wikipedia.

2004 edit

2004 was a seminal year in Indie gaming history, with several high profile releases attracting attention.

N was released as a browser game, and would see a number of notable followup games.[5] Alien Hominid was a browser game that was ported to PlayStation 2 and Gamecube in 2004,[6] making it an early indie game to see a port from web to console.

2004 also saw the release of one notable game engines used by a number of games, including Source.

Read more about N and Alien Hominid.

Yume Nikki edit

A Japanese horror surreal 2D RPG.

Read more about Yume Nikki on Wikipedia.

Cave Story edit

A Japanese 2D platformer and shooter popular on PC at the time.

Read more about * Cave Story on Wikipedia.

2005 edit

  • First release of the Unity game engine.

2006 edit

Line Rider edit

A unique flash platformer game of sorts that allowed players to draw lines which would then be traversed by a character using a physics engine. Players would often leverage Line Rider to create their own artwork,[7] some of which was enormously complex.[8]

Read more about Line Rider on Wikipedia.


A real time simulation of Nuclear War. This game is known for it's simple yet deep mechanics, as well as it's retro vector graphics reminiscent of depictions of nuclear commands in Cold War era popular culture.

Read more about DEFCON on Wikipedia.

Dwarf Fortress edit

A map in Dwarf Fortress.
Loosing is Fun!
—Common phrase among Dwarf Fortress players, The New York Times Magazine[9]

A text based open world game known for it's extensive systems which lead to emergent gameplay.

Read more about Dwarf Fortress on Wikipedia.

2007 edit

I Wanna Be the Guy edit

A freeware 2D Retro-styled Platformer known for it's notorious difficulty. This game artfully used level design to both increase the difficulty of the game, as well as to parody techniques commonly used by 2D platformer games in the 1980's and early 1990's.

Read more about I Wanna Be the Guy on Wikipedia.

Jazzuo & B-Games edit

In 2007 Polish developer "Jazzuo" creates several so called "B-Games", influencing a number of notable indie developers.[10]

2008 edit

You Have to Burn the Rope edit

The title screen of You Have to Burn the Rope.

A flash 2D platformer known for it's exceptional simplicity and briefness.

Read more about You Have to Burn the Rope on Wikipedia.

2009 edit

AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity edit

A base jumping game between high rise buildings.

Read more about AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity on Wikipedia.

Canabalt edit

Among the first popular endless runner games. It's aesthetic qualities were well received, leading to the game being featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Read more about Canabalt on Wikipedia.

Angry Birds edit

Angry Birds characters became popular figures. Seen here is Astronaut Donald Pettit demonstrating microgravity aboard the International Space Station in 2012 using Angry Birds characters.

An touchscreen physics puzzler hit on early iOS and Android mobile devices, which lead to an extended franchise.

Read more about Angry Birds on Wikipedia.

Bit.Trip Beat edit

A Wii-ware arcade style music game that found widespread popularity, launching ports to other platforms and a series of successor games.

Read more about Bit.Trip Beat on Wikipedia.


An action shooter that proved to be among the most popular indie games available on the Xbox Live Arcade.

Read more about I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 on Wikipedia.

2010 edit

Unity Asset Store edit

In 2010 Unity launches their asset store, making it easier for indie developers to find assets for use in their games.[11] As the decade progresses, other engines follow suit, such as the release of the Unreal Engine Marketplace in 2018.[12]

Amnesia: The Dark Descent edit

A popular melding of adventure and survival horror game genres, and commonly considered among the best horror games of the era.

Read more about Amnesia: The Dark Descent on Wikipedia.

Fruit Ninja edit

A mobile game focused on using a touch screen to cut fruit and build combos, while avoiding slicing bombs.

Read more about Fruit Ninja on Wikipedia.

Octodad edit

A freeware physics game focused on maneuvering an octopus man character through a 3D environment with unconventional controls.

Read more about Octodad on Wikipedia.

Super Meat Boy edit

A 2D platformer known for both its difficulty, and its ability to quickly retry levels.

Read more about Super Meat Boy on Wikipedia.


A 2D platformer hallmarked by replacing jumping with inverting gravity and it's Atari 2600 style aesthetics.

Read more about VVVVVV on Wikipedia.

Cart Life edit

A simulation game focused on the challenges of being a street vendor.

Read more about Cart Life on Wikipedia.

2011 edit

Kerbal Space Program edit

A 3D space action game featuring the green aliens.

To the Moon edit

A 2D RPG without battle mechanics known for it's plot revolving around the concept of memory.

2012 edit

The 2012 Global Game Jam
The FEZ dev team at GDC 2012.

Mari0 edit

A notable fanmade mashup of Super Mario Bros and Portal.

Read more about Mari0 on Wikipedia.

2013 edit

Subset Games, creators of FTL, at IGF 2013

Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective edit

An unofficial fangame of Bubsy 3D, posted online when the domain name for the original game expired.

The game was set in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art during an exhibition of the postmodern work of James Turrell. The game itself delves into strange scenes, perhaps in a postmodern exploration of its own.

Read more about Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective on Wikipedia.

2014 edit

Lucas Pope, creator of Papers, Please, at IGF 2014.

Lethal League edit

A 2D fighting game centered around successfully passing a ball back and forth between players.

Read more about Lethal League on Wikipedia.

Freedom Planet edit

A 2D platformer made in the style of 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Read more about Freedom Planet on Wikipedia.

Nidhogg edit

A 2D sword fighting game known for it's balance and 1980's inspired visuals.

Read more about Nidhogg on Wikipedia.

Transistor edit

Released in 2014, the game Transistor is known for many of its qualities, particularly its unique art direction. While working on Transistor, game artist Jen Zee took inspiration from the Art Nouveau style, as well as the work of 19th century Austrian artist Gustav Klimt.[13][14] The game is also well known for its less direct storytelling methods, as well as it's unique hybrid real time and turn based action system which leads to interesting strategic choices for the player.[15]

Read more about Transistor on Wikipedia.

Game Engines edit

Unreal Engine 4 is released in 2014, offering a number of improvements.

The Godot and Xenko (now Stride) game engines are open sourced.

2015 edit

Unreal Engine 4 goes gratis edit

  • Unreal Engine 4 eliminates subscription fees,[16] making it more accessible to indie developers.

Games edit

Nuclear Throne edit

A screenshot of Nuclear Throne, showing bullet hell, or danmaku, style gameplay.

A top down 2D shooter known for it's difficult bullet-hell style gameplay.

Read more about Nuclear Throne on Wikipedia.

2016 edit

VA-11 Hall-A edit

Christoper Ortiz, one of the developers of VA-11 Hall-A, showcases the game at a talk at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, Venezuela.

A mix of bartender simulation and visual novel created by a team in Venezuela.

Read more about VA-11 Hall-A on Wikipedia.

2017 edit

2018 edit

2019 edit

2020 edit

Friday Night Funkin' edit

Friday Night Funkin' was developed for the Ludum Dare game jam.[17] Some news outlets noted the similarities of Friday Night Funkin' to the sorts of games which were based on Adobe Flash.[18] It's important to note that there was an increased interest in Adobe Flash games,[19] as the time of this game's launch corresponded with the discontinuation of Flash. Notably the game was open source[20] which attracted modders to the game.[18] At the time of release, it was somewhat unusual for original indie titles to launch under an open source license.

2021 edit

Poppy Playtime edit

is a horror game developed and published by american independent developer MOB Games. The player takes the role of a former employee of toy-making company Playtime Co., who revisits its abandoned toy factory 10 years after its staff's disappearance. The player navigates through a first-person perspective and must solve puzzles, some requiring a gadget named the GrabPack, to progress while avoiding various enemies. first game chapter is released on October 13, 2021, The second chapter is released on May 5, 2022 and the third chapter is released on January 30, 2024.

2022 edit

Cult of the Lamb edit

is a single-player construction and management simulation, rogue-like action-adventure game developed by indie developer Massive Monster and published by Devolver Digital. The game was released on 11 August 2022 for macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. The game follows a possessed lamb who is saved from death by a god-like stranger named "The One Who Waits", and must repay their debt by creating a loyal following in its name.

2023 edit

Pizza Tower edit

Pizza Tower is a 2023 platform game created by the indie developer Tour De Pizza. It follows a pizza chef, Peppino Spaghetti, who must scale a tower to prevent the destruction of his pizzeria. Across 20 side-scrolling levels, the player increases their score by gathering collectibles and defeating enemies to build combos. At the end of each level, they activate an escape sequence and must return to the beginning within a time limit. Pizza Tower does not feature health or lives, and its difficulty depends on what the player chooses to achieve.

References edit

  1. "Ten Years of Game Maker 1999-2009". 14 November 2009. https://gamemakerblog.com/2009/11/15/ten-years-of-game-maker-1999-2009/. 
  2. "GameMaker Studio creators look back at 17 years of development". VentureBeat. 4 September 2017. https://venturebeat.com/2017/09/03/gamemaker-studio-creators-look-back-at-17-years-of-development/. 
  3. Zavarise, Giada (11 October 2017). "The secret history of underdog game engine RPG Maker and how it got its bad reputation". PC Gamer. https://www.pcgamer.com/the-secret-history-of-underdog-game-engine-rpg-maker-and-how-it-got-its-bad-reputation/. 
  4. Zavarise, Giada (1 September 2018). "Are RPG Maker games as bad as people think?" (in en). Eurogamer. https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-09-01-are-rpg-maker-games-as-bad-as-people-think. 
  5. "Toronto developers create 2,360-level video game they hope will last a lifetime CBC News". CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/n-the-perfect-video-game-that-took-10-years-to-complete-1.3179232. 
  6. "``Alien Hominid Invades Retail Stores; Critics Are Raving About This Bigger, Badder Console Version of the Cult Game Now Available from O-3 Entertainment and The Behemoth" (in en). www.businesswire.com. 18 November 2004. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20041118005596/en/Alien-Hominid-Invades-Retail-Stores-Critics-Are-Raving-About-This-Bigger-Badder-Console-Version-of-the-Cult-Game-Now-Available-from-O-3-Entertainment-and-The-Behemoth. 
  7. "Crazy for Line Rider". Pogue’s Posts Blog. 2006-11-22. https://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/11/22/22pogues-posts-2/. 
  8. "11 years later, this gobsmacking Line Rider track is finally complete" (in en). Rock Paper Shotgun. 2020-11-28. https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/11-years-later-this-gobsmacking-line-rider-track-is-finally-complete. 
  9. Weiner, Jonah (2011-07-21). "Where Do Dwarf-Eating Carp Come From?". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/magazine/the-brilliance-of-dwarf-fortress.html. 
  10. Macgregor, Jody (11 April 2018). "The creators of Spelunky and Getting Over It talk about Sexy Hiking and 'B-games'". PC Gamer. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  11. "Unity: "Games wouldn't see the light of day" without asset stores" (in en). GamesIndustry.biz. https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-07-19-well-88-percent-of-what-asks-unitys-global-head-of-asset-store. 
  12. "Epic Announces Unreal Engine Marketplace 88% / 12% Revenue Share". Unreal Engine. https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/blog/epic-announces-unreal-engine-marketplace-88-12-revenue-share. 
  13. "The Cyberpunk Art Nouveau Style of Transistor - The Phoenix". 6 April 2016. https://swarthmorephoenix.com/2016/04/06/the-cyberpunk-art-nouveau-style-of-transistor/. 
  14. "The diverse artistic influences behind two of 2014’s prettiest games" (in en-us). AV Club Games. https://games.avclub.com/the-diverse-artistic-influences-behind-two-of-2014-s-pr-1798277930. 
  15. "Hardcore Gamer’s Best Games of the Decade (2010-2019)". Hardcore Gamer. https://hardcoregamer.com/2020/01/10/hardcore-gamers-best-games-of-the-decade-2010-2019/364857/. 
  16. "Unreal Engine is Now Free!". Unreal Engine. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  17. "South Cariboo game designer reaps success". 100 Mile House Free Press. 21 November 2020. https://www.100milefreepress.net/entertainment/south-cariboo-game-designer-reaps-success/. 
  18. a b "Friday Night Funkin' Fondly Recalls Flash Games" (in en). TechRaptor. https://techraptor.net/gaming/features/friday-night-funkin-flash-games. 
  19. "If You Missed the Golden Age of Flash, You Should Try THESE Games". CBR. 1 February 2021. https://www.cbr.com/flash-games/. 
  20. "Twitter @ninja_muffin99". https://twitter.com/ninja_muffin99/status/1320215862578606080. 

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