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Gamasutra compiled a big list of the best developers of 2014. There are a few known names and some unexpected surprises as well. To become a part of the list the developer has to influence the industry as the whole, not necessarily by creating a game. Without further ado, here’s the people and companies that made the most for the game industry.
The studio behind the Halo franchise got into the list for bravery. This company was brave enough to drop Halo and create a whole new ambitious series – Destiny. The game was not perfect but it was by no means a failure. This huge multiplayer project combined different elements of MMOG, shooter, RPG. We will hear from Bungie in 2015 for sure. Destiny is a breathing living world with millions of players and hundreds of locations to explore. There are DLCs and sequels on the way.
This small Swedish studio became a sudden success after releasing Goat Simulator. Many considered this product to be an April Fool’s joke, but suddenly the game became a hit on Steam and gathered a huge community of players. One of the keys of the company’s success is a very cool usage of viral YouTube videos. Goat Simulator sold over 1 million copies and is now being ported to consoles. Coffee Stain Studios also helped the local students to publish an Unreal Engine first-person-puzzler A Story About My Uncle. Suddenly a simple goat became the leader of the Swedish gamedev (sorry, Starbreeze Studios).
Facepunch from Great Britain is another example of a very smart indie developer. This company rose into prominence in 2004 with Garry’s Mod, which later sold over 6 million units. Its next game Rust became an even bigger success.
Gamasutra states that the strengths of Facepunch are in its attitude to game development. The company doesn’t hide its mistakes; it leads an absolutely transparent development and explains all its choices. This is what makes this studio great – it has an unbreakable connection with the community. The company constantly updates dev logs, visits forums and has a public Trello project where players can contribute their own ideas.
80Days has been regarded as one of the best games of 2014 by several leading gaming websites. This mobile masterpiece was created by an independent studio Inkle. This small company was formed in 2011 in Cambridge by Jon Ingold and Joseph Humfrey. The developers wanted to create a project that combined “beautiful visual design with intelligent story”. 80Days seems like a perfect example of high-quality interactive fiction with excellent visuals and high-quality gameplay. There’s half a million words to read, hundreds of images and a cool board game-style mechanic to entertain gamers. Inkle Studios created a new kind of experience that could only be born in the mobile era.
Mojang obviously made it into the list of the best studious of 2014. This year the company was sold to Microsoft Corporation for an astounding sum of 2.5 billion dollars. This is huge for a humble indie studio that has only one game (you’re not serious about Scrolls, are you?). Markus Persson became one of the biggest developers in the world. With infinite possibilities ahead of him he really shows very little interest in game development. He doesn’t want to create popular games anymore. As for Minecraft this game is about to change dramatically, so you’d better buy a copy now. Who knows what Microsoft is going to make with it?
Vlambeer is a small company founded by Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman. This year the studio produced a couple of exciting games including Luftrausers and Nuclear Throne. The company deserves a place on the list not for its games however, but because of its help to developer’s community. Vlambeer made marketing of indie games easier. This studio created presskit() and distribute(). They are also big fans of open game development and share their knowledge with the rest of the community. Nijman also helped to organize 7 Day FPS Challenge.
Laralyn McWilliams is a veteran game developer who defended women in the industry, during this year’s Gamergate.
Creator of Flappy Bird from Vietnam was shocked by his game’s popularity. However this didn’t stop him from earning a handsome amount from the in-app ads and release a diabolically difficult sequel Swing Copters. Flappy Bird showed that the mobile audience is mature and is ready for more hardcore experiences.
Sora Ltd. / Masahiro Sakurai
These people created the best fighting games of the year: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The games are accessible, complex, visually captivating and most importantly fun. If you are looking for examples of great gamedesign, these product are absolutely worth buying.
This is a new star of indie game development. She programmed weather satellites, but then started to make game and just couldn’t quit it. She made 52 games this year, organized a cool event Train Jam, where developers were making games for 50 hours while being on a train.