When I first got into the game industry back in the late 70's, it was the norm for individuals to create entire computer games on their own, and then shop them around to various publishers for potential publication. We were known as 'lone wolves'.
I was successful at doing this on a number of occasions. I sold 'Wallwar' and 'Mr. Cool' to Sierra On-Line, the former which is actually documented in the book 'Hackers' by Steven Levy. I also sold 'Lexi-Cross' to Interplay, which led me to being a principle crew member for 'Stonekeep': an in-house project for which I was the only contractor in the core production group.
But as 'Stonekeep' was being developed, the game industry got infatuated with 3D graphic technology. For at least a decade from the point 'Castle Wolfenstein 3D' and 'Doom' hit the market, the 3D game was about the only games anyone would consider publishing. I would claim this is a industry subliminal mindset to create a holodeck, but that's another blog... ;)
The problem with 3D games - at least before computers got really fast, 3D graphic cards became standard, and 3D engines became commonplace -i s they required large crews to create. This meant 'lone wolves' were left out in the cold. There were exceptions, but most games from that point on were made by big companies with large (for the time) budgets.
This looked to be the death of the 'lone wolves'.
But then, a few years ago, th cell phone industry bcame a major platform to publish a game on. Bigger than all other platforms combined. Not everyone who owns a cell phone play games on them, but enough do.
I went to the GDC and E3 last year, and I noticed a big change from the previous decade. Companies were now once again interested in product submissions from outside sources. That's becuase they recognize it is possible for a clever smalll group of individuals to put together a very compelling cell phone game! There is no longer a requirement for large productions... in fact.... small software 'footprints' are premium nowadays!
This also shifted the game design mindset from being graphic-centric to gameplay-centric once again. And simplicity and cleverness have always been the way to go for FUN games (in contrast to EXPERIENTIAL games, such as 'World of Warcraft'). Puzzle and arcade games are now back in play.
So, I would love to get in touch with anyone out there who considers themselves a 'lone wolf'...cause I know I'm one... and even lone wolves like to travel in packs! :)
My website: http://www.colab-games.com