Free Play 2007 – To Innovate, or Not to Innovate?

After a very early start to the day I managed to make it to Free Play 07 at ACMI in Melbourne.

The first lecture was by Jonathan Blow, an independent game developer and creator of Braid.

He gave an extremely good lecture on how he has succeeded in creating quality games, emphasising many times that innovation and prototyping are key ingredients to creating an original and quality game. He suggested always creating a prototype of your idea before going full-steam ahead on the project, and wasting valuable time on a game that may not play out as expected.

A couple of hours later was the “Independent’s Day” session. This consisted of a panel of 3 speakers and the chair mainly discussing what makes a successful game.

The panel consisted of Jonathan Blow (Braid), Paul Callaghan (Programming Teacher at AIE/past game programmer), and Robert J Spencer (Chief Operating Officer at Interzone Entertainment).

The panel members discussed what they each believed were key factors for making a good game, and debated the use of innovative creation as opposed to making a rehashed game.

What the views boiled down to was that if you want to create a game that appeals to a large market sector, then re-makes with slightly new ingredients thrown in makes for a profitable meal. Going all-out and creating a very innovative game pushes boundaries and leads the way for quality spin-offs, but you are likely to only be catering to a niche market.

Both sessions I attended gave me new insights into game creation that may come in handy in the future. The works Jonathan Blow showed were extremely innovative and inspiring, especially Braid, which should be checked out by everyone.

For more information about the Free Play event, visit