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Feature: Indie Game History You Never Knew

In the early 1990s, two Dutch teenagers became some of the most successful independent developers in their country -- creating games for a computer system almost unheard of outside of Japan, as Gamasutra's
In the early 1990s, two Dutch teenagers became some of the most successful independent developers in their country -- creating games for a computer system almost unheard of outside of Japan, as Gamasutra's latest feature explores. These two teenagers, Andre Ligthart and Martijn Maatjens, were devotees of the MSX, a system which caught on in Japan but almost nowhere else -- though that didn't stop the Netherlands natives from becoming die-hard supporters. As Simon Parkin writes in the feature, "After two years of hanging out, playing games at each others' houses, Maatjens, a budding composer, suggested that the pair try to make a game demo of their own for the system. "Within four years the pair would see their games spread across the Netherlands and into Japan, propelling the young boys to fame within one of the most vibrant and creative indie communities in gaming's short history." Christening their collaboration "ANMA," after their last names, the two created only four games together. Nonetheless, they soon became some of the leading lights in the European MSX scene, and their games were eventually released in Japan by Takeru, a notable publisher in the MSX's home market. Gamasutra's feature comprises new interviews with Maatjens and Ligthart about their experience and their influence on their own subculture. "We were semi-professional, because it started as a hobby and we have never worked full time on our projects. We strived to reach the Japan-like quality. Also, we wanted to build a 'cool' image within the MSX scene, just like many groups did on many other systems," Lightart told Gamasutra. The two were, in effect, early indie developers -- self-publishing their games on disks they themselves duplicated, with hasty hand-drawn artwork for the covers. The full feature tells the whole ANMA story, and is live now on Gamasutra.

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