The Dual Nature of Crowd-Sourced Input
Posted on Friday, June 13 @ 16:30:00 PST by gil_almogi
In this year's Indiecade booth at E3, Please be nice :( and Choice Chamber, caught my attention. Each one is built on utilizing input from players and spectators in order to guide the play experience. However, the results reveal a dichotomous push-pull between player choice and developer control worth considering should other studios consider employing this kind of mechanic.
In Please be nice :(, Aran Koning started his game with a simple prototype: players can use the WASD keys to move a simple block to a goal square, marked by a checkered pattern. The first player who completed the first version of the game was asked to recommend a feature for the next version, which could mean having certain characters, weapons, or other zaniness added. So it has gone for dozens of versions now and the end is nowhere in sight.
Now, I like this concept of taking player input to build a game—you’ve already heard a handful of publisher talking heads tell you how they’ve “really listened to the community” on their new games. And of course, this could mean anything or nothing as is often the case. Here, Koning may have embraced too much input. In one version, I was controlling a Nicholas Cage sprite shooting turtle turrets (hard to explain) to knock down rainbow-colored walls while dodging spiky balls on my way to the goal. It was a mess... albeit an entertaining one.
In this case, user input has quite apparently led the game astray. It is a mockery of its former self, and players with tongues planted firmly in cheeks are petitioning Koning to develop the game until it collapses under its own feature list. Admittedly, this is an experiment, and no money is being paid for this “service,” so the harm being caused is dubious. Players are getting what they asked for.
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