It seems it has taken more than a week for me to fully recover from the invigorating madness that was the Game Developer's Conference. Hypnos has already given a sufficient recap, so I have little to add. I would like to express my excitement over Whirled, however. The possibilities for the game are nearly endless.
The key for Whirled, from the presentation by Cleaver and Sheriff Mike, is accessibility. The instant access and possibility for player-created content is a combination that is ripe for growth and depth. As the internet has shown there is an economy of scale if everyone can provide content. The nature of fan fiction, amateur music and video, and free webgames means that there is almost always something out there to entertain, if you don't mind looking a bit. Since the output potential from the general public is so much greater than any collection of companies, there's a much wider range to choose from and hopefully some of those things will stand out as products of exemplary quality.
While I am not keyed into the maturation of the Internet as much as some, I can see that a definite trend is to make it easier and easier for anyone to show up and make something. While things are not yet at the point where one can point and click to create a game, the creation of venues such as Whirled do give me hope that someday I may be able to overcome my lack of even meagre programming skills.
Similarly, accessibility is a consideration for the GCPP. When we envisioned the project, one element we wanted was to increase the traffic of Game Gardens, which is a nice site of free games with almost no players. The nature of the site also had the games programmed in Java using the toolkits and source libraries that are used on Puzzle Pirates. In an ideal scenario, any puzzles that were created could be added to Puzzle Pirates with relative ease.
While the first round of the GCPP had a successful response, it seems clear that we overestimated the desire for programmers to participate. A number of talented players did step forward and deal with the difficult task of putting the designs together in a playable format. However, it remains true that even with open-source libraries and a convenient site to upload the games to, programming in Java is still a difficult task. A few players had expressed a desire to try and learn, but the time and energy required were something of a barrier to this good will.
Thus, a change has been made for the project. Simply put, any format for the designs are fine, provided there is a clear understanding of the scoring and the format is playable online. Similar to Whirled, this allows players with other skill sets to make a contribution without waiting to see if there is a programmer available, although Game Gardens remains an option if anyone desires. I hope to see some designs as little Flash games to go along with the designs that are little Java games. And I hope that this allows more designs to be considered.