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Force Majeure

Design Accessibility

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.


Posted by BrazenBecky

Is this game going to have the same standards for "adult content" as Puzzle Pirates? My young teens love this kind of thing but I have found so many similar games are full of players either talking about or soliciting sex. They love the writing/socializing/creating but I want to protect them from innapropriate sexual content.

March 20, 2007 at 03:31 PM PDT | permalink

Posted by Bia

I honestly could not say. My knowledge of Whirled is largely what I took from the GDC. I expect there will be more details in the future. As Cleaver has said, the game is still in the very early alpha testing stage.

March 21, 2007 at 12:33 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Iamdaking on the Viridian ocean! (join Viridian's Most Wanted today!)

i'm 15 and my parents still watch me play Y!PP sometimes.. so if a few unfiltered bad words come by, im grounded =/

March 21, 2007 at 12:59 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Yamorg

You know, the way you write about it, it seems a lot like Spore (I won't link, but those who know about it... well, know what I'm talking about). The only difference is that Whirled is without the entire RPG process.

March 21, 2007 at 02:54 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Lowatch

It doesn't sound *that* much like spore, the simularities between the games ends at the fact that they're both sandbox games.

That is a good thing to wonder about, in whirled though, how some level of decency will be kept in the game, especialy if it becomes really popular. When people are free to submit what'ver they want some pretty bad stuff can show up.

March 21, 2007 at 03:22 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Bia

While I am also excited to try Spore out, Whirled is very different from what I understand.

March 21, 2007 at 07:59 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Hypnos

I think part of the beauty of Whirled is that we will see entries and creations that range from the hideous to the sublime.

It IS the Internet. Ha! How can one appreciate beauty when there is no ugliness? Perception is everything.

That said, we are planning to have a complaint/flagging system for obscene or copyrighted content. We shall have to see!

March 21, 2007 at 07:03 PM PDT | permalink

Posted by Antonia

Can't wait to try it out!! sign me up!!

March 22, 2007 at 10:16 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by erinbunny

i really really want to go on this game and i can.

April 13, 2007 at 04:09 AM PDT | permalink

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