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Is Crowdsourcing the Next Big Thing In Game Design? 47

An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard about user-generated content for games that have fixed toolsets — but this interesting piece on Develop has got me thinking about the idea of games production being opened to a community before development finishes. A new iPhone game (Aztec Odyssey) did that with its soundtrack; could someone do it with the game's art assets? Or level design? A great comment under the story says that LittleBigPlanet would have been more interesting if it was just shipped as a toolset with no pre-built levels. I'm inclined to agree!"
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Is Crowdsourcing the Next Big Thing In Game Design?

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  • RPGMaker (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shikaku ( 1129753 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:32AM (#28324625)

    Let's look at that as an example. What a great success that was. (This is sarcasm guys)

  • Potentially (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sylos ( 1073710 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:36AM (#28324653)
    In certain circumstances, this could be an amazing and powerful tool for creating some truly genuine creativity. However, with all that power comes a metric ton of suck. This will take off like "player made" MMO's have taken off.
  • I hope not (Score:4, Interesting)

    by courseofhumanevents ( 1168415 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:38AM (#28324671)
    The problem with allowing the general public to make content for a game is that you get content the general public makes. If you really want to play in Penisworld, be my guest, but as for me, I prefer content with coherent design beyond the capabilities of Joe Nobody.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plover ( 150551 ) *

      While I agree that it would up the ante for crap games from 90% to 99%, there would still be more novel games overall. They'd be harder to find, hiding amongst the crap games like "Goatse: Hunt for the Treasure", but word of mouth would spread them around quickly.

      ( Trust me, you do NOT want to go looking for that secret level. )

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grumbel ( 592662 )

        The trouble with crowdsourcing is that you might get a handful of cool levels, but you won't get a complete game out of it. Games are fun because they work as a whole, have a carefully crafted difficulty curve, carefully introduced new items and abilities and a story on top of that. With user contributed levels you always have the problem that they start with the assumption that everything is available from the start, progress doesn't happen, the whole game loses coherence, its no longer a game, but just a

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Some of the best CTF maps for Unreal Tournament were and still are community made.

      That said, you can't rely on community content to pick up your game. Epic, I'm speaking to you.
      They released UT3 for the PC as a console port, complete with giant text that covers your screen when you hit DOMINATING etc.
      But worst of all they butchered the UI (you have to disconnect and click 3 times now before you get back to the server browser-- no more server browsing and loading up the data files for a map you don't have wh

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I started writing a reply to your post and I have a lot of interesting points to make in this subject:

        -pc game communities tend towards more technical people that have the ability and interest to create proper game additions, not to mention inherently catering to people who play the game on the same platform that they have access to development tools on.

        -lower the barrier to entry creates the "1 tweet" syndrome, or massive massive amounts of cruft that is next to impossible to sort through. OK so you "crowd

    • If you really want to play in Penisworld, be my guest, but as for me, I prefer content with coherent design beyond the capabilities of Joe Nobody.

      Yes, after searching for hours for decent user created content on little big planet, I came up with roughly as much content as one level of the actual game levels. The quality on the Ico level was about equal to the game's included levels, but that was the only one in the same ballpark that I stumbled across. There were undoubtedly great ones that I didn't find, but how long would I have had to look to find it?

      You could play any number of tasteless 9/11 simulators, few of which even worked right (I was cu

    • Community ratings with a blacklist system, to keep Penisworld out of G-rated games no matter how many trolls think it would be cool to get it in there, would take care of this quite nicely. You won't see much crap float up to the top with a good ratings system. People could still browse the bad mods, but they could also choose not to have to sift through them to get to the good ones.

      The main challenge (after advertising of course) is to make it easy for the musicians, level designers, texturers, modele
    • I agree that if you open up game design and asset design to players you will tend to get a metric ton of crap, but there is a good argument for opening up the design process for commentary by players.

      There are a lot of frustrated designers out there with a lot of ideas, and a lot of people who have played a ton more games than me. When I'm considering how to proceed with a part of the design for my next game, I tend to blog about it and canvas opinions. I get a lot of very well thought out design ideas and

    • Yeah, I'm glad I don't surf user-created content all day.

      For example, what if I surfed a comment system all day where I read options from Joe Nobodies? That would suck! Think of all the shitty opinions I would have to read! Oh wait...
  • by Ransak ( 548582 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:52AM (#28324725) Homepage Journal
    ... more flying penis attacks. [] Won't someone think of the children?
  • LittleBigPlanet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:58AM (#28324743) Homepage Journal

    A great comment under the story says that LittleBigPlanet would have been more interesting if it was just shipped as a toolset with no pre-built levels. I'm inclined to agree!"

    And I'm inclined to disagree. I enjoyed going through the pre-made content, more than any platform game I've ever played.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by east coast ( 590680 )
      You mean you actually enjoyed the content made by the people who originally envisioned the how the game should work and built the engine around that concept?

      How does that work?
  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @01:06AM (#28324761)

    Its fine to take suggestions and inputs from the audience but asking the audience to create the game for you is insanity (pun!). You will always need the team or the leader or the person in control of "the vision" to make the tough calls when there is no right decision to be made. One of the weaknesses in "crowd sourcing" is that everyone is ready to offer their idea too few are around for the repercussions.

  • For the last time, YES.
    • FINALLY the wave that ZZT started is really picking up steam with Little-Big Planets. And Myth 1,2,&3. And Unreal Tournament (and such). And Civ 1,2,3,&4. And Thief 1,2,&3. And Tenchu2. And everything by Blizzard. And counter strike, but I'm not sure you can really count that as it started as a fan-made branch from half-life. Fan-made art and sound are more rare, but fan-made levels are, well, a common feature now. Those game without one, and some form of downloading the top ten maps/whatever,
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Or to summarize, the non-PC crowd has finally discovered what the PC crowd has been calling "modding" and working on in a large organized manner since about doom.

  • Anything that takes power out of the hands of game designers and puts in into the hands of executives will do very ugly things to games. Not only will crowdsourcing increase executive meddling but they'll have a ream of expensive bullshit to back up their own personal bullshit. Since they paid some knob to get them that ream of bullshit they're damn-well not going to ignore it. Every project will start to resemble game of the year X because that's what the crowd is infatuated with at that time.

  • Personally... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I hope the next big thing in video games is another video game crash and another NES like resurrection where gameplay quality is more important.

    • Won't happen. The video game industry is a lot more mainstream and diverse than it once was, so the idiocy of a single company would probably just be like a single goat that was buried under a stampede of goats. Sucks for the goat, but the stampede goes on.
  • A great comment under the story says that LittleBigPlanet would have been more interesting if it was just shipped as a toolset with no pre-built levels. I'm inclined to agree!

    You go right ahead. I buy video games because I want to play them, not because I want to make them and then play them. If I wanted to do that, I'd still be collecting Lego sets.
    • ..If I wanted to do that, I'd still be collecting Lego sets.

      There is an important difference between lego and game creation. Lego is fun.

      But if I paid money I want something thats "finished".

  • I don't want to sound elitist, but artists are good at what they do because they have a gift for and they practice. I used to know a writer for Valve way way before he ever hit it big time and the guy just had talent in spades. He was just an artist through and through and everything he did he imprinted with his own style that was usually just pretty damned funny. While it might be nice to think that anyone can go and create a great experience given a good editor, the reality is that these things are real

    • And any artist who actually contributes nicely to a good mod will be able to jumpstart a career in that field using their mod as part of their "portfolio." If they can't find a job with what they made, then they probably weren't that good to begin with. So a lot of people who achieve any real success in the mod community, will probably end up dropping out of it because they are so skilled.

      For an average Joe, getting good at any part of modding takes hard work and isn't immediately rewarding. Most peop
  • At that rate you may as well just sell programming books and IDEs instead of games. While I do enjoy some fan work it's rarely up to the same standards as the people who've spent hundreds or thousands of hours building a game and understand the full dynamics of the game engine.

    I know someone is going to point out something like CounterStrike or Theif's Dark Loader but let's be honest, these are a bit more than simple level creation and they happen to be a small fraction of everything out there today. There
  • The future! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Useful Wheat ( 1488675 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @05:43AM (#28325483)

    There is a recurring joke told by the person that runs Kingdom of Loathing, and he tells it (or references it) weekly in his podcast, and it goes something like this:

    My development group is banding together to release a new MMORPG called "The Future". In "The Future" all content will be user created, because according to everybody user created content is the future. Everything will be provided by users, characters, classes, npcs, quests, art, even the combat system, spells, magic, and theme of the game. The game itself will ship as a large gray box in which users will be given the tools to create whatever they want.

    And after a few months when the design has settled down, in "The future" players will be represented by cocks and balls, where they will travel around landscapes of cocks and balls with cock and ball trees and animals. And they will kill monsters shaped like cocks and balls with their penis swords and penis spells. Because as any person who has ever been on the Internet knows, this is what people with the spare time to create this stuff will do.

    And that's "The Future".

    I'm not saying user created content can't be an excellent source of entertainment, I just don't think letting users create the entire thing will work.

    • There are loads of models of user created content working when there is an element of control exercised - open source software, wikis, and forums with user moderation (like this one).

      I think a huge mmorpg world where everyone is on the same "server", and where most of the content is user created with strong user moderation could be really cool and work well.

  • I mean look at Street Fighter 2. One of the main complains were throws existed at all and quite a few gamers tried to unofficially ban all throwing. Doing that pretty much wrecks the game since once they were gone it became next to impossible to really hurt a player who went completely defensive. (If they got any sort of a lead they'd just do defense the rest of the round and win by a timeout.) Of course to make things more insane alot of these people weren't against strikes that turned out to be unblockabl
    • Or you could play a superior game that has counters for throws and for unblockable attacks, instead of sticking with SF2 through Turbo and all that crap.

      • See, that's a good way to expand on throws. (Give the player options) Of course SF2 is pretty old so it's not much of a surprise it didn't have counters but really the solution the average gamer came up (throws are illegal) was a stupid idea.(Because it wrecks the game.)
  • This is simply open source development.
    There are lots of games out there made that way, and they simply suck. Probably because of the lack of a big name that puts people together.

  • Civilization IV took an approach which at least overlaps somewhat with crowd sourcing. They prioritised modding when designing the game, and have subsequently included fan-made mods in expansion packs and converted fan-made unofficial patches into official ones (though they did additional work).

    The benefit of this approach is the community does a lot of the work for them. Not just in generating ideas and the actual production, but in filtering out the crap.

    The Aztec Odyssey example in TFA does not sound mu

  • I'd say that most popular first person shooter games that support user created conten

    Take Paintball 2 [1], a Quake based shooter comes with some maps created by the designers. Some of these maps are rarely played online because they're not good maps. Instead players have created maps and these have entered global distribution due to good gameplay. Players are the best judge of fun!

    'Crowdsourcing' is here to stay. Knowing what makes a game fun and implementing games are different things and this is why play

  • Kongregate is an online game portal with several neat things available to players and devs. They just added the Kongregate Collabs: [] I can't wait to see what comes out of there.
  • So.... a bit like the same thing EA games has been doing for years?

    Oh wait, no, they don't take suggestions or user generated content back, and they rarely even fix the bugs...

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