For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system, less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel – a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance – and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle. These last lead lives, perform acts and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal; their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without, consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision. – Isaiah Berlin

After just watching, and deeply enjoying Indie Game The Movie it occurred to me that a primary difference between game developers and those of us writing enterprise or business software is that in order to be a game developer it seems you have to be one of Isaiah Berlin’s hedgehogs. You have to focus in a vision and hold to it, work at it, live and breathe it, for years at a time. While the rest of us fritter to this and that new shiny thing (Functional! MVC! Clojure!) you labor at your goal, a single task until after some period in the wilderness you appear with something that has exacted a toll upon you with the hope it will be well received.

The film walks through the development process and personalities behind some of the more well known independent hits published to XBox in recent years, primarily focused on Braid by Jonathan Blow, Super Meat Boy, by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, and Phil Fish’s FEZ.

Beyond instructive it’s got an sympathetic angle – one can’t help but feel the pressure, emotional rollercoaster, and joy behind taking a small idea and making a game out of it.

Truly inspirational stuff. And daunting too…

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. – Archilochus