Possibilities. It's possible. It isn't impossible. If Robin Hunicke would have you carry away anything from her talk, it is that.
As the resources required to make a game decrease, and the demand for smaller tablet-based games increases, the playing field becomes more even for indie games to be competitive. Publishers are no longer the mandatory gatekeepers to success; indie developers have begun to consider themselves part of a crowd sourced ecosystem of game development, a community driven only by the desire to make what they love.
As an indie developer, the bottom line is so much lower than for a massive budgeted and heavily invested game. Have you paid for the cost of creating the game? Do you have a roof over your head, and food? Great! That's it. And in such an environment, we as developers can for the first time truly focus on doing nothing but making games that are worth making.
"Making a game is a relationship, with the game itself and with all those who are helping you make it. You don't start a relationship just for the payout at the end."
Hunicke describes the journey (no pun intended) of creating Journey as being one of constant conceptualization, scrapping bad ideas, testing, and always asking whether or not what they were making conformed to their initial vision-the romantic experience of embarking on a journey with another human being. She's grateful for all of the mistakes that they made along the way, because each mistake allowed them to revisit the core idea of what the game was about, to be reminded of it, and to discover new ways of accomplishing that vision. Characters in Journey originally had hands; play testing showed that if the characters had hands, the players would lose focus and try to climb around and explore, and the game became something different. Giving the characters an armless, almost winged appearance focused the player in on the actual experience of gliding from place to place.
"Trying to find some niche 'opportunity' game with the right combination of old ideas is marketing, not game design."
Create the game that matters to you. Create a game that you would be okay with someone else making, as long as it gets made. Independent development allows this. Find the feeling within your idea, the purpose for your game to exist. A game built around a feeling will truly be novel, experimental, and ultimately interesting to play. You'll have a much better time making it, and who knows? You might just create the next big thing.
It's been just under two weeks since Robin Hunicke announced the foundation of her new independent game company, Funomena, based in San Francisco. There's much excitement over what they will create-so far they've revealed that they are working on a children's game that uses pedometers to encourage physical activity and fight obesity.