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Spelunky's Derek Yu On The 'Fuzzy' Definition Of 'Indie'

The definition of "indie" is becoming "fuzzy," but that's not necessarily a bad thing, said Spelunky creator and indie scene figurehead Derek Yu has told Gama
As small developers find new venues to bring their games to wider audiences, the definition of "indie" is getting fuzzy, but that's okay, says Derek Yu, an indie figurehead and developer of the game Spelunky. The procedurally generated platfomer Spelunky originated on PC, but now Yu is bringing it to Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade. Although the game is now aligned with the immense conglomerate Microsoft, Yu doesn't feel like such a partnership compromises the indie spirit, as long as the artist's vision is still strong. "I personally don't feel like that [working with Microsoft] is something that needs to be reconciled unless I'm totally bending over for them," he explained in a Gamasutra feature interview. "If they say, 'I want you to put a Toyota Yaris in Spelunky' and I do it, then yeah, that's something I have to reconcile." "They're just providing a platform in there. They're just helping me put the game on their system and providing the marketing and the distribution for my idea and work. I don't have any problem with that." But there are some indies that aren't as concerned with commercialization of their games -- maybe these are the "uber-indies?" There is a difference, but Yu says that both can co-exist under the "indie" banner. "I feel like from here on out, there are always going to be those two sides [commercial versus art games]. I feel like both are really necessary. I think, yeah, it's definitely going to get really fuzzy, and some people are just going to feel like if you put a game on Xbox Live or something like that or that if you work with a publisher, you're not indie." "That's totally fine. I'm very happy with it being kind of gray. I don't know if a new name is really necessary. I mean, Spelunky started out as a free game, not a 'fuck you,' [to the status quo] but more just something that I wanted to [make]." And, Yu says, just because an independent developer wants to release a commercial game doesn't mean that he or she can't also create more abstract pieces. "That's kind of the nice thing about being independent, that I think you can jump back and forth between those two sides, you know? I think it's great that guys are being successful kind of doing their own thing." For more insight on the spirit of the indie and Yu's past and future work, read the full Gamasutra feature interview, available today.

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