What XBOX Community Games Can Become
When I first heard about Microsoft’s plans to allow anyone to make games for the 360 I was very excited. I, like many others have dreamed about making video games since my first experience with them. Luckily I also have an interest in computing and when XNA 3.0 was released I had a rudimentary understanding of programming, and through copious use of the tutorials on the community site I was able to create my first game and release it onto the XBOX 360 YAY!! :)
Back in November 2008, I think the gaming community was holding their breath, waiting to see what this community games experiment would bring to the world of gaming. Sure, there are plenty of PC based gaming communities that function in a similar manner to the creators club, but none of them have the potential audience of the 360, or can recreate the playing conditions. Which usually involve relaxing on the sofa with friends and family.
I like the creators club, I really like the connect issue system for feedback. I am sorry if I abused it, but when I get an idea into my head, especially one concerning games and how they affect society, it’s all I can think about. I still believe that allowing for more gamers to take part in the playtesting process, and implementing quality controls on the games will have excellent results. I also have a lot of patience, which might not be completely apparent at the moment.
From my perspective, game development with XNA was fairly easy, there are still a lot of things I need to learn about, and 3D games development is a long way off for sure. But for someone who has never taken the time to understand how computers work and has simply just played the games their entire life it’s doubtful that they will be creating a game with XNA anytime soon.
You might be saying that XNA isn’t really meant to be an application that allows every gamer to make a game and then release it to the rest of the community. Perhaps, but every gamer has an idea for a game. It would be nice if there was an application that allowed them to create it. I don’t know what Microsoft’s plans are for the future of XNA, I hope they are for increasing the ease with which we can create games.
I think there definitely needs to be more community involvement in every aspect of the community games channel. I don’t think a small group of programmers can ever understand the whims of the masses. It seems like every day someone brings up an issue with the structure or processes involved with getting a community game onto the channel, and the issue is continuously disregarded. Usually the response is yes we know, that’s not how we do it. And then the thread is locked to further debate. Only to be restarted again the next day by someone else. It appears that this has been going on since November.
Here I will now outline the two simple suggestions that I have been pushing, perhaps too much in the last two months.
Let everyone with an Xbox live account playtest the games.
First the negatives
Most posts tend to describe piracy run amok, or the idea that since everyone can get our games for free, no one will ever buy them. There are millions of potential users of community games and I really doubt that all of them are going to become super playtesters overnight. Perhaps the detractors of this idea fear the currently small buying audience of community games, and the knowledge that its users are generally tech savvy, and would be more likely to join just to download all the games for free? I am a bit saddened by the state of our audience as well.
This will plunge the forums into such chaos that they might never be able to recover. This isn’t really mentioned as a possibility much, but it certainly is one.
I think that’s it for the negatives, please add some if you think there are any.
Now the positives
This would increase the community games userbase by orders of magnitude with future ramifications that are currently unpredictable. But since we want more people playing our games, the general feeling is that the future would be good.
Giving more people insight into what is involved with making a game, by contributing feedback during a games creation will surely get them more interested in making their own. This is what I thought the whole point of this experiment was.
It is sometimes easy to ignore the criticisms of one person, but when a large group of people all have the same issue with a certain feature of your game, you would be more likely to take that criticism into consideration when working on your game.
I am sure there are a lot more positives, please add some if you think of any.
The second suggestion is to put quality control checks into the peer review process.
First the negatives
I can’t think of any ;)
And the positives
Giving more power to the community regarding what games make it onto the channel will breed responsibility in the creators club members.
With an increase in quality, there will surely be an increase in the number of people who decide to check out the community games channel.
These two ideas, by themselves are fairly simple, but together they can drastically change the community games channel. Change it into something that everyone will enjoy and have fun with.
We understand that this article mentions nothing about implementing these two ideas. Implementation will actually be fairly easy, the problem is getting the XNA team to understand that the negatives posted above are not really negatives at all. Nothing that gets more community members involved in something peaceful and fun can ever be negative.