Wednesday, January 27, 2010

AAA Indie & the shape of things to come

My friend John tipped me off to this new game in development called Interstellar Marines, being developed by Zero Point Software out of Denmark and using the Unity engine.

At first I was impressed with how they were pushing the technology, making a competitive looking FPS game with only a small (8 man) team. But then what I found really interesting was their development philosophy and strategy for funding the game whilst retaining independence.

From the website, Zero Point describe themselves as 'AAA Indie'. They explain this as;
1. AAA Indie is AAA games done independently from publishers
2. AAA Indie is the gamer and the developer, no one else
3. AAA Indie is development with open doors, so gamers can track games in development
4. AAA Indie lets the gamers 'vote' for the games they want to play - simply by expressing their interest
5. AAA Indie is open for anyone with a dream a the will to deliver on that dream
First off, I love 3, the open kimono approach to development. I've discussed this approach with fellow game makers. Could there be a way to engage and build a community by opening up the development process, exposing it to that community and even soliciting feedback throughout the dev cycle? Well they are doing it. I will be fascinated to see how it works out and hope it succeeds.

As I checked out the site more, I became more and more impressed. These guys are not just building a game. They've build a robust infrastructure to attract and engage community and most critically, solicit investment dollars from the community to fund the development of the game!

I have talked about micro-funding game development before, and there are few examples of this in the game space. The Zero Point gang seem to have really thought it through and implemented some strong hooks into their development site to make it a compelling investment. Some highlights for me;
  • You can contribute between $5 - $39.99 to the development of the game
  • $39.99 gets you special 'Spearhead' status, preview access to content and beta deliverables, and free copies of the game when (if) they ship. They limit this to 75,000 people which, even though I doubt they are in danger of hitting that number, gives you an extra feeling of exclusivity in singing and feeds that impulse to get in 'while you still can'.
  • You get a personal logon profile, which gives you status on the forums and allows you to save progress and achievements on the server. Similar to Rocketbird Revolution but one step further.
As an indie, I'd love to see these guys succeed in developing a community funded game. I believe this funding model could open up new opportunities to get games made in an industry that desperately needs a broader range of ways to fund game development.

I signed up for the Spearhead package and look forward to seeing what my investment helps brings to market! Viva AAA Indie ! :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Videogame stats

Videogame Statistics
Source: Online Education

Always a sucker for good graphics, and stats.

What Motivates Us

Dan Pink gave a great TED talk on what motivates people, that I featured in a previous post.

Yesterday he was interviewed on Forum, a public radio program on KQED, talking about what he calls Motivation 3.0.
  • Autonomy - feeling trusted to do the work and giving some degree of freedom about how to get it done.
  • Mastery - a sense that the work is providing learning opportunities to grow.
  • Purpose - a sense that the work being done has a higher purpose that we can feel passionate about.
There is much here of relevance for the games industry!

I also recommend his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.