A Sign of Better things to Come

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This is Kovax Nobo the Astro Hobo, the newest fan-designed champion to be announced for Smashmuck Champions. It’s a free to play MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game that aims to provide players with a friendlier, more action-y, experience than that of similar games such as League of Legends. While it is indeed fun, what really grabs my attention is the level of involvement the game’s fans are enjoying.

Fan/player involvement has been highly emphasized in the development of the game thus far, to the point where several features advertised on the website derive from it in one form or another. The game features community created content, and makes item crafting and customizing a fairly important aspect of the game. This has all been done before of course, after all even mainstream releases like the Halo games feature community driven content.

So why is this important? Well for me at least, this is the first time that I’ve seen the community driven and player involvement aspects of a game held up as a feature, as an important part of the game. It’s not just Smashmuck Champions either, a large portion of the indie developers I talked to at PAX held up community as a nearly indispensable aspect of development. It kind of felt like an unofficial theme now that I thing about it. There wasn’t as much of this seen among the major console releases, but this really has me psyched for the future of gaming.

These smaller developers know the communities that surround their games and they know what involving that community does to help a game’s image, reception, and potentially its success. These people know that we want to be closer to the games we play; and you know what? These are the people that will be in charge of the next generation of games, and I don’t just mean the next console generation.

With so many developers in the business that see real value in their fans, I can’t help but be optimistic about the future of gaming!

What’s your take on community involvement in game development? Good? Bad? or perhaps even Fad?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. simpleek says:

    I think community involvement to help shape a video game isn’t such a bad thing, but it should be within reason. Opening the line of communication between developers and the fans is a wonderful thing, especially if developers care about what the fans would like to see in a game. They can compile all the best opinions they’ve gotten from the fans and then apply them to the game as they see fit. The developers should still have the final say on the final product and the whole development of a game shouldn’t be driven by solely the community. This could be a new step in game development if there’s a right balance of both.

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    1. Hatm0nster says:

      I agree that fans can’t be given too much sway over the development of a game; it’s not *our* game, it’s the developer’s. What you’ve described sounds like the ideal situation. Fans get to put ideas forward, and the developers make use the ones they feel fit the game best.

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  2. duckofindeed says:

    I agree with Simpleek. Fans should certainly be involved. I always appreciate when game developers actually take our opinions into consideration. We are the ones who will buy it, after all. Having the community actually design things is an interesting idea, too. At the same time, I also think the developers, of course, should be the main ones in charge of the creation of a game, but influence from the fans is certainly a good thing, as long as they don’t influence it too much. (I know of lots of games that were changed because of what the fans wanted, which made the games better. I think within certain bounds, content created by fans could be good, too.)

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