Here is a more descriptive link list, crafted from the finest bullets.
Freeware Games and Developers
- Anna Anthropy: Prolific creator of “scratchware.” Author of Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, which is probably the most important book about game creation for its own sake.
- Cave Story: One of the titans of freeware. Developed by one man (Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya) over a span of five years. You can purchase newer, more robust editions on a variety of consoles, and you can still play the original for free.
- Christine Love: Author of stunning, audacious, engrossing text games/visual novels. Her commercial release is Analogue: A Hate Story.
- Dwarf Fortress: Brilliant, opaque, maddening, beautiful. Another titan of freeware. Released in 2006 from a development team of two (Tarn and Zach Adams). Will probably be in development forever. You must play this before you die.
- Emily Short: Active in the interactive fiction community. Author of Bee, which is wonderful.
- Iji: Daniel Remar’s platform shooter. Full of secrets, clever design, and choices that matter. Remar has described Iji as System Shock 2 in 2d.
- Jonas Kyratzes: His work is sensitive and poignant, and it stands upon walls of wonderful words.
- Michael Brough: Impressive depth and range of work. I’m most partial to his cerebral, short-form puzzles.
- Molleindustria: Subversive, political and persuasive. Explores internal and external conflicts with an acute awareness.
- Nicolau Chaud: Challenges the medium. Does not skirt controversy. His Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer is unsettling, but undeniably engaging.
- Pippin Barr: Has a puzzling penchant for delighting players with frustration. His blog is great too.
- Richard Hofmeier: Cart Life is one of the most important, affecting games I have ever played.
Criticism and Coverage
- Arcadian Rhythms: Intelligent writing that is shamelessly entertaining. Apparently they like to drink, which I like.
- Brainy Gamer: Packed to the brim with useful, thoughtful analysis and my favorite games podcast on the internet.
- Critical Distance: Posts a weekly compilation of some of the most compelling links in games criticism.
- Electron Dance: Some of the most consistent high-quality games writing. PC only.
- Free Indie Games: The only site I know of that exclusively covers freeware and browser titles.
- Gnome’s Lair: You haven’t been anywhere if you haven’t been to Gnome’s Lair. Wordsmith with a soft spot for adventure games.
- IndieGames.com: The place to go for indie coverage. They link a lot of freeware titles.
- Play This Thing: Smart writing and coverage that reaches farther than most. Lots of freeware here too.
- Rock, Paper, Shotgun: PC Coverage. Good at making words. You know who they are.
- Towering Journo: Clever writing and solid independent coverage.
- AGS Games: An archive of adventure games. Most of them free.
- Global Game Jam: An enormous annual game development jam that challenges developers to make games in a single weekend. Fair warning, that link contains an ocean of games.
- Jay is Games: Browser games.
- Ludum Dare: Another weekend-long jam that takes place three times a year.
- Minecraft the Card Game: Betcha didn’t know there was a free card game, did ya?
- Newgrounds: More browser games.
- What Would MolyDeux?: When parody becomes reality. A jam in the spirit of absurdity.