Sort of Crazy Idea: One Brand to Rule Them (=Indies) All?

I got quite interesting idea presented to me about franchise indie world. I don’t know exactly how this chap was planning to go forward, but I started pondering the following:

What if hundred or thousand (or hundred thousand) indies would combine their forces in creating a world that would act as the base for games?
There would be background stories, art, sounds, music, but not gameplay. The theme, art and dozens of characters and so on would be built.

And then… indies could leverage this brand by adding their own gameplay. For example, let’s suppose we’d all agree (after a bunch of fistfights) that we’ll have this steam punk world. Year is 1888, although there’s some technological innovations ranging from limited time manipulation (with non-organic objects) and heavy politics and brink of war between nations. And 1000 other things.

Art would be there, background setting for story would be there. Characters would be there as well.

Now we’d get to the sweet spot. Now indies could jump in and use whatever assets there is and create their own games. The game concept could possibly need some high-level acceptance to ensure that the game is still (at least somewhat) loyal to the world and the stuff would work logically. (For example, there couldn’t suddenly be green zombie monsters from outerspace)

If (when) more art or assets would be needed, the studios could create them by themselves (based on guidelines from existing work) and add to the repository, making it even bigger.

One indie could go and create match-3 game for iPhone – where time manipulation would be done. Another indie would do RTS about the war. Somebody would try hidden object game, and one would create an RPG about politics.

The games could be published and expand the brand, making each game familiar and more popular than what they perhaps could be if done solo.

Could work, don’t you agree?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I like the idea.
    If the world is well though, you might end up with a universe that could offer enough space for hundreds of different unique game experience.

    If you set some ground rules, a basic timeline, i think developers could evolve around the idea, kinda what happened with the Star Wars universe and the books.

    Possibilities are endless, and the opportunity to create a recognizable brand/universe for the players, its a gate open to something awesome!

  2. Hi,
    I’ll give you a post idea: (excuse my english)
    What do you think about Game Walkthroughs?
    It seems like a “must” in these days with so many puzzle games outthere…
    they’re useful when people’s get stuck, but some players quit too easy and go to the walkthrough guide and BOOM!, the game is done since you already know whats coming… and the game lost it’s appeal right there

  3. Juuso,

    let me give another idea, going on the same direction.

    For me, there are two hard tasks to make money with games: 1) Build a really good game 2) Sell it.

    So, why not think about a juuso-insider game store? A place where insiders could put their games in reasonable revenues.

    Since you have a good audience and well understanding about marketing things, including web payments, so it appears a thing that you can handle “easily”.

    Steam and other probabily will keep leading, but “Insider Store” could be a significative presence and buzz.

    What do you think? I´m crazy? Let me know.

  4. Indies are not about money, but about to have achieved something in their life by doing it their way. Sure, it can make money also, but that’s just a side-effect. True independance as in Indie means also to be independant of money :)

  5. Said indie games would lose lots of their unique feel due to shared setting/franchise. They would become dependent on the overall quality and rules of the setting/franchise.

    And in the end, you’re no longer creating your own worlds – merely adding to an existing one. Unless you created it in the first place AND have the powers to decide what gets in it and what doesn’t.

  6. In my opinion, you’re going a bit too far with this idea. Such widely shared franchises would be too much work to maintain and probably also too constraining for the individual developers. In addition, for many people half the fun of game development is actually building their own worlds and characters and background story.

    On the other hand, some large-scale asset sharing among indies would be really nice and useful. While we already have some asset packs available, this is still laughable compared to what we could have. If we could at least reach the same level of sharing that we have with code (consider all the available game engines and middleware packages and open-sourced full games), that could give a really nice boost to inide developers. And while I can understand why people don’t want to publicly release some of their assets (like the main character of their game), releasing things like generic sound effects or 3d models for furniture wouldn’t hurt anyone, but could greatly help kickstarting new projects. And in return, you could get similar assets for your next project for free.

    Basically what the indie world needs is something like sourceforge for assets.

  7. And then you’ll have 1000 games in a steampunk world. Players would get bored about that world after 2-3 games and it will be the end of the show.

  8. I think this idea is kinda hard to implement. In that example you suggest that we’d all come to an agreement, but how long would the discussion take? it could be months before we all agree

    and what about the timeline scenario? (am I choosing the right words? dunno) Like when one indie is making an RTS while other is making a shooter game, both games will have their own timeline in the ‘indie universe’. And I think it’d be strange if one character (the main character) is seen in two different brands (serving different genres and probably time in the story).

    sure it’d make a nice world, I just doubt it’s doable

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