Publisher Roundhouse Interactive's new project, The Game Cartel, is an ambitious plan to create a game based wholly around the decisions of a community of gamers, that, as it happens, will be financing the project as well.
Roundhouse Interactive, recently in the news for adding WWE "diva" Trish Stratus to its team, is taking something of a gamble for its next game, thus far only known as "The Game Cartel." They're taking the idea of design-by-committee to the next level by building the game mostly around the decisions of what they hope will be a large community of gamers.
"It's going to be a democratic voting system and society," Roundhouse president Mike Montanaro told CNET. "We place a bunch of ideas out to the cartel members, and they get to decide the direction it goes, everything from the name of the game straight to what platform, the genre of the game, storylines, playability (and) controls. We're going to guide the consumer through the full development of the game."
The way it works is that during apparently every step of development, "cartel members" get a set of options. Just like a real democracy, people vote and the majority rules. Programmers then implement the community's decisions, effectively turning users into game designers. "It basically gives gamers the opportunity to participate in the creation and direction of a full-scale game," Montanaro said.
Trusting the design of your game to gamers? Sounds like a financial disaster in the making right? Not exactly. The catch here is that in order to join "the cartel," you have to fork over a $50 fee that'll guarantee your membership and a copy of the game, which is scheduled to be done by next December. Montanaro is hoping for 100,000 people to sign up, which would net his company a cool $5 million before the game's even finished. With a planned budget of $3 million, there'd effectively be money in the bank even before the game hit store shelves.
Would you pay $50 to help design a game? Montanaro expects you to. Gamers are drawn to the idea of being part of an exclusive project, he thinks. "They don't want it to be something that just anybody can be a part of," he said.
This could either be a comically epic disaster or maybe something genuinely innovative. We'll just have to wait and see.