Pursuing Open Development

In my last post I gave some detail on my vision and philosophy for what makes my ideal game and in this post I'll be talking about how I plan to make that vision a reality. What I'm going to focus on though is less about the logistics of programming, art or tools and, like last time, more about the philosophy of how I'm going to go about it.

Open Development

…for development to move forward hand in glove with players as early as possible

I recently came across the concept of Open Development in a GDC talk by the creators of Desktop Dungeons and when I did it immediately resonated with me as a profoundly right way of going about the business of building a game. Now Open Development doesn't appear to be a particularly well defined proper noun but that hasn't stopped me from taking the principle to heart in my own way. The most important part of open development as I see it is a desire for development to move forward hand in glove with players as early as possible. To me this is about sharing the vision of the game, opening it up to feedback and adjustment and ultimately relinquishing some amount of creative control to the player community. If done right I think it's a straightforward win/win for both sides of the equation. The players get to be heard on creative direction and receive a product tailored toward their desires. The developer gets validation of ideas, playtesting / balance feedback, bug reports and (hopefully) a community that loves and evangelises for the game.

This is perfect, I think it would be the height of foolishness to dictate the perfect game from on high, I want to share my vision with others and bring them along for the ride as I move it forward into reality.

Practical Steps

Rhetoric is all well and good as long as it aligns with underlying actions, so what concrete steps am I going to take to pursue open development? At this stage I'm only 2 days into working full time so I'm still building my own idea of how to do this, but there are a few things I can see already that it's highly likely that I'll pursue:

  • Continually write about the game philosophy and progress going forward
  • Write and share as much about my development process as possible
  • Frequent updates and releases, fast turn around on player requests / bug reports
  • Active engagement with players AND other developers of similar titles
  • A public bug tracker / place to view planned features
  • Community location to act as a gathering point for discussion etc
  • Expose development tools (down the track a ways)

Right Now

…final updates to what I have and release the first version in a couple of weeks!

Fortuitously, I already have a game in a more or less playable state as it currently stands (although gameplay is still basic). To get the open development happening sooner rather than later my plan is to make some final updates to what I have and release the first version in a couple of weeks! In the meantime I'll be looking at providing public access to my bug tracker and I'll continue to write down my thoughts on here in a regular way (hopefully 2-4 times per week). That's probably the limit of scope that I have time to tackle before I release the first version and I'll adjust as I move forward beyond that.

Feedback on the approach I've laid out is welcome 😉

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