It’s becoming a bit of a trend. Through the power of crowdfunding and readily available game-making tools with a very low barrier to entry games are able to be made by smaller and smaller teams. Sometimes a single person conceives a game, sees it through the countless hours of development and releases it to the world. These pure passion projects are becoming more and more prominent as they receive not only financial success but unprecedented critical acclaim. As these one person teams are making more critically acclaimed games loved by fans around the globe I thought it was pertinent to compile a list of the best of the best.
Undertale – toby fox (@tobyfox)
toby fox made the cult hit RPG Undertale through a KickStarter campaign. He used GameMaker to create the game. He made almost the entire game by himself. Gameplay, music and aside from a couple of the characters all of the visuals were created by toby. It’s an incredible feat to have a game so beloved and praised by everyone who has ever played it be the sole passion project of one designer. But toby’s determination to realize his vision payed off.
Cibele – Nina Freeman (@hentaiphd)
Cibele is a very personal experience. Nina Freeman was inspired by her own experiences meeting people online to create a game where the player explores online relationships. Cibele is an incredibly emotional, personal experience that might not even be possible coming from a large team. Freeman’s fingerprints and personal touch are all over it giving it an authentic feeling.
Stardew Valley – Eric Barone
Eric Barone spent 4 years in a self imposed crunch to make Stardew Valley. For those unaware “crunch” is a term used in the industry to describe the labour intensive part of game development that consists of long, gruelling and thankless workdays. Barone told Gamasutra that “[o]n average, I probably worked on it 10 hours a day every day of the week during development.” That level of dedication and sheer amount of effort is incredible and it shows in how wonderful Stardew Valley is and how well it is doing critically and in sales.
Papers, Please – Lucas Pope (@dukope)
The atmosphere in Papers, Please what stands out the most when I played it. It’s incredibly tense and wholly unique. Placed in the shoes of a conflicted immigration officer working at the border of a what is clearly Europe pre-Berlin wall although all the names are changed. It’s an incredibly powerful experience and really well designed not only visually but through the day to day story told about the main character just trying to provide for his family. Pope won many awards for his game as well he should have as it’s an artistic achievement, one built from the ground up by one man.
Minecraft – Markus “Notch” Persson (@notch)
What can you say about Minecraft that hasn’t been said already? It started small, built by one man, but quickly became one of the most successful games ever made. Persson even outbid JayZ and Beyonce for a mansion in the Hollywood hills. How many game designers can say that?
Banished – Luke Hodorowicz
A bit of a cult hit on Steam, Banished is a fun little resource management pioneer simulation that has players build their towns from scratch using the resources from the land around them. It’s a great small game and one that Hodorowicz should be proud of considering he developed the entire game by himself under the studio name Shining Rock Software.
As you can clearly see one person developed games are on the rise. Who will be the next to capture gamers’ hearts like Stardew Valley or Undertale did? I have no idea but I’m very excited to find out! For more awesome content don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog!