Stace Harman and John Robertson founded Indie By Design Ltd in 2015 from a shared desire to provide meaningful game coverage that seeks to promote understanding of the goals and design philosophies behind them.

They create high quality video game content in the form of books, podcasts and videos that explore video games and their creators. They believe that in order to best comprehend and critique an artistic work it's necessary to first understand the desire and motivation of its creator.

Combined, Harman and Robertson have two decades of game industry experience; from game design to writing, critiquing to investigating. Through Indie By Design they bring that experience to bear to cover games and their creators with the simple aim of getting more people talking about games.

Independent by Design by Stace Harman and John Robertson

Independent By Design: Art & Stories of Indie Game Creation is a celebration of independent video games, presented through a deluxe hardback book that chronicles the experiences and vivid design of over twenty of the world's most revered and renowned indie game developers.

It combines inside stories focused on specific studios and individuals, informed by tens of hours of original interviews, with compelling pages of original artwork and concept documents. The likes of Vlambeer, Failbetter Games, Dennaton, Lucas Pope, Adriel Wallick, The Chinese Room, Introversion Software, Tom Francis, Subset Games, inXile Entertainment, Chris Hecker, Messhof, Croteam, Roll7, Dean Hall and Frictional Games are included, their histories, motivations and philosophies uncovered and celebrated.

Independent By Design has been conceived and produced in collaboration with top UK design agency Rock Kitchen Harris, the result being a book that is as valuable for its imagery as it is for its words.


"EBOOK EXCLUSIVE: Converted to eBook just for StoryBundle, this giant tome that was the subject of a successful Kickstarter in 2015 talks to Lucas Pope (Papers, Please), The Chinese Room, Introversion and a host of other indie game developers on the creativity behind their beguiling games." – Simon Carless



  • "There's an uncompromising quality to the book."

    – The Sixth Axis
  • "A massive, beautiful looking book."

    – Eurogamer
  • "Thank you for literally documenting a part of the history of the medium and the creativity that throughout it, its art and the creators."

    – Rami Ismail, Vlambeer
  • "Hmmm, I'm not a very eloquent man... The book is important, but I don't have the word-library to explicate myself..."

    – Teddy Lee, Cellar Door Games



Authors' Foreword

Independence in creative fields is the foundation of originality and progressive action. The output of those who have the freedom to act independently often challenges our ideas about the status quo, causing us to question our perspective of the past and re-assess our potential future. Without creative independence you are beholden to the whims and wants of others, your creations determined by, and serving the goals of, entities other than yourself.

In recent years, the medium of video games has seen an explosion of originality and progress prompted by creative minds seeking to establish their place in this vibrant creative space. The rise of the independent developer has given new meaning and importance to the role that interactive digital experiences can play in promoting self-expression and challenging our vision of the world. Independent By Design: Art & Stories of Indie Game Creation is both celebration and exploration of this dynamic frontier.

The game design outliers and pioneers who grace these pages have collectively taken emotional risks and intellectual chances, flirted with financial ruin and sought to redefine what a video game might be and how it might be made. Their influences and goals are disparate and their ideologies sometimes conflicting, but what connects them all is a passion for the potential of video games and success in channelling that passion into the conception and construction of something worthy of examination and discussion.

The independent development community has established that disruption of standardised approaches to game creation leads to dramatic evolutions in the quality, value and variety of output. To further understand this, we have conducted extensive interviews with the independent studios and individuals featured here and examined their design notes and concept documents, some of which have never before been revealed or discussed publicly. At the heart of this work is our desire to provide insight into the processes and motivations that have resulted in some of the most iconic and unique examples of artistry that video games have to offer.

Our hope in documenting this stimulating slice of video game creation is that readers might be enthused and inspired to embrace the potential of independent development as a means of self-expression and a way of attracting and challenging new audiences. Whether you're a budding developer or an established entity, an avid gamer or a student of cultural history, we sincerely wish for you to enjoy this book and take something useful from it. We hope, also, that in perusing these pages you derive some of the same pleasure, understanding and inspiration we experienced throughout their creation.

By crowd funding this project, and receiving the support of so many passionate backers, we were able to emulate many of the developers that we spoke with by working autonomously and with complete creative freedom. We would be honoured if you feel that this is demonstrated throughout the book. As with the independent works of creative expression referenced and considered herein, now that this work exists in the wild it no longer belongs to us as creators, but to you, its audience.