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Crowd Sourcing

posted Aug 19, 2012, 1:08 AM by Good Idea Games   [ updated Aug 23, 2012, 10:07 AM ]

It’s the wave of the present! Kickstarter has allowed independent developers to go direct to their fans for investment, and some of these startups are going one step further and putting development in their fans’ hands as well. Letting your stake-holders provide FREE content for your developing project is a powerful opportunity to provide diverse content for your game… as long as you are able to edit out the chaff, and still maintain control of your game.

Serpent’s Tongue is the subject of my musings today, and the release of their 3.0 play test kit. Successfully kickstarted a few months back, Serpent’s Tongue is an aspiring strategy combat game, where players build a deck of spells, and cast back and forth in an effort to out-wit an opponent. It’s reminiscent of Magic the Gathering, with cards being collectible and purchasable from boosters, and the developers are going to great lengths to ensure that the game’s structure is rigidly defined. Serpent’s Tongue makes itself unique by forcing players to interpret symbols and properly speak the multi-syllabic names of the spells they are casting, while holding up one of six gestures. This will in theory, create a very thematic game, helping players to feel like modern Magi, as they imagine spells hurtling back and forth.

 The developers have just released the latest revision to their rules set, and a card creation tool for their community. Having proposed hundreds of spell cards for their initial product launch (a bold move), I can see how they plan on going about it: Crowd Sourcing.

It's an interesting play, and as I watch from the side lines, I have a few thoughts on the matter. First, getting content from your fans is a great opportunity to build and empower a community, but unless it is tightly controlled, I'm afraid that it can also lead to fundamental destabilization. Most game developers don't ask for help from their fans, assuming that their fans don't really know what's best for balance and fun. That makes this Developer's move particularly bold. Maybe Serpent's Tongue was foolish to make such a loud call to arms? Maybe as a publicly funded game company, they felt that their investors deserved visibility into their process? 

I don't know how their exercise will end, whether Serpent's Tongue will be the thematic, creative battle game we're all hoping for, or whether it will collapse under the weight of the crowd. But I am fairly certain that at the end of the year, all that will matter is the quality of their game, but as far as I'm concerned, that's not all they will be remembered for.