History of video games/Indie games


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.


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


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 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 NikkiEdit

A Japanese surreal 2D RPG.

Read more about Yume Nikki on Wikipedia.

Cave StoryEdit

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

Read more about * Cave Story on Wikipedia.


  • First release of the Unity game engine.


Line RiderEdit

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 FortressEdit

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.


I Wanna Be the GuyEdit

A freeware 2D 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-GamesEdit

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


You Have to Burn the RopeEdit

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.


AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for GravityEdit

A base jumping game between high rise buildings.

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


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 BirdsEdit

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 BeatEdit

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.


Unity Asset StoreEdit

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 DescentEdit

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 NinjaEdit

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.


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 BoyEdit

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 LifeEdit

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

Read more about Cart Life on Wikipedia.



A crafting game similar to Minecraft, but taking place in a side scrolling 2D environment.

Read more about Terraria on Wikipedia.

To the MoonEdit

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

Read more about To the Moon on Wikipedia.


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


A notable fanmade mashup of Super Mario Bros and Portal.

Read more about Mari0 on Wikipedia.


Subset Games, creators of FTL, at IGF 2013

Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell RetrospectiveEdit

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.


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

Lethal LeagueEdit

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

Read more about Lethal League on Wikipedia.

Freedom PlanetEdit

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

Read more about Freedom Planet on Wikipedia.


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

Read more about Nidhogg on Wikipedia.


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 EnginesEdit

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

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


Unreal Engine 4 goes gratisEdit

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


Nuclear ThroneEdit

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.


VA-11 Hall-AEdit

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.





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.


Poppy PlaytimeEdit

is a survival horror video game developed and published by 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 2021, The second chapter is released on 2022 and the third chapter will be soon released on 2023.

Read more about Poppy Playtime on Wikipedia.


Cult of the LambEdit

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.

Read more about Cult of the Lamb on Wikipedia.


  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'". https://www.pcgamer.com/the-creators-of-spelunky-and-getting-over-it-with-bennett-foddy-on-sexy-hiking-and-b-games/. 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!". https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/blog/ue4-is-free. 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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