Video game development is a mammoth endeavor that often requires huge teams working together over the course of several years to make a single game. Just try sitting through the credits of games like the awesome Red Dead Redemption 2 and you’ll get an idea of just how many people it takes to make such triple-A games.
Not every game costs millions of dollars to produce or is made by companies with teams that comprise hundreds or even thousands of employees – sometimes it is much, much less. This is certainly the case with indie game development, where single-person teams are not unheard of, especially considering the advanced tools and assets at the disposal of such individuals today. So what follows are just some of the more popular games you probably had no idea were developed by a single person.
Minecraft might be owned by one of the biggest software companies in the world (following Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang in 2014), but it had originally started its life as a single-person project.
The original Java build of the game was developed by Markus “Notch” Persson back in 2009 before he’d gone on to establish Mojang Studios, and the game soon became the best-selling video game of all time. And while the game has evolved a lot since those early days, its core gameplay loop can still be traced back to those humble beginnings.
This was following a five-year development cycle by its sole developer, Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, who had famously worked on the game during his free time. The game would also receive ports for Nintendo platforms like the Wii, DS, 3DS, and Switch, with help from the indie development studio, Nicalis.
A game where you play as an immigration officer might not sound all that compelling, but that is precisely what you do in Papers, Please, a puzzle simulation game that was released for Windows and Mac OS X in 2013.
It was developed by Lucas Pope, a former Naughty Dog developer who was inspired by his own experiences with immigration officers during his travels. The game would go on to receive ports for Linux, iOS, and PlayStation Vita, and was considered one of the best games of 2013 by several publications and awards bodies.
Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania game that was developed by Thomas Happ, an American indie developer from the Las Vegas-based indie development studio, Petroglyph Games.
Released in 2015 on the PS4 and Windows, the game would prove popular with critics and fans of the genre, receiving a Best Independent Game nomination at the 2015 Game Awards. It would later receive ports for the Vita, Wii U, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A sequel was also recently released on Windows, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4.
Bright Memory is a first-person shooter/hack-and-slash action game that was developed by Chinese indie developer, Zeng “FYQD” Xiancheng.
The game was originally released in 2019 on Steam through Early Access, before being ported to iOS and Android, as well as the Xbox Series X/S, where it was a launch title. It is currently being reworked into a full-length game retitled Bright Memory: Infinite which will be released on the Xbox Series X/S and Windows.
Spelunky is a 2D platformer developed by Derek Yu, an indie developer. Originally released as a freeware title for Windows in 2008, the game was later ported to the Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, and Vita, and most recently with a Nintendo Switch version.
The game would prove influential in the roguelike genre, by bringing those elements into a side-scrolling platformer. A sequel was released for Windows and the PlayStation 4 in 2020, with a Nintendo Switch version on August 26, 2021.
Undertale is a 2D role-playing game that was developed by Toby Fox, a video game designer, and composer. It was released on the Windows and Mac OS X in 2015, before being ported to the PlayStation 4, Vita, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
The game was well-received by critics and was nominated in several Game of the Year categories on a number of gaming websites, and has since grown to attain the status of a cult classic along with a spiritual successor.
Developed by Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone, Stardew Valley is a simulation RPG originally released for Windows in 2016. It was subsequently ported to consoles and mobile phones.
Inspired by the games in the Harvest Moon series, the game has you controlling a character that has to take care of a farm you’ve recently inherited while interacting with the numerous inhabitants of the neighboring town to forge lasting relationships. It was nominated for several awards, winning the Breakthrough Award at the Golden Joysticks, and has since gone on to sell more than ten million copies.
Originally released in 2008 on the Xbox Live Arcade, Braid is a puzzle platformer that was developed by Jonathan Blow. It was later ported to Windows,…
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