Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Lack of Interaction

The internet happened, and in some ways, nobody noticed. We get very excited about things like YouTube and Facebook, but 99% of the time 99% of the opportunity for interaction afforded by this new medium is wasted.

I just watched an episode of Doctor Who on the BBC. My interaction with the content producers is amazingly limited. Did I like the show? Did I find it boring? was the music annoying? did the doctor overact? did it drag a bit? I have my personal answers to all of this, and yet I can’t get them to the BBC with a few mouse clicks. Why not?

Why don’t TV shows like doctor who allow you to REALLY make a total mashup or re-edit of the entire series? Why not ship DVDs of the series containing every single shot that was filmed. Not just what got past the editors, but the deleted scenes, extra takes, the raw studio footage without the CGI… Ship those CGI models too. If a bunch of fanboy geeks want to take the model of a sontaran spaceship and extend that scene, adding their own extra SFX, why not let them? Ditto the music, the sound effects…


Why doesn’t my fave band (Dream Theater) release their next album with every single track split apart into wavs for me to recombine and mix myself? Maybe I want the guitar louder, maybe I hate that intro and want to cut out the drum solo. Why not let me?

Games allow modding a lot more than these other media, but in terms of interaction with the content creators, they are still limited. How many games actually ask you what you thought of each level? outside of beta testing. Games are especially well placed to solicit user feedback and improvements, because we can change our product instantly. If 74.2% of the first 500 people to play Kudos 2 think that commuting is too expensive, I can patch it immediately, and the next person to buy it is already getting a superior product.

You have to be careful here, relying on the people who are most vocal about a product to help you tweak it’s design can result in pandering to that self-selecting niche with strong views. The aim should be to massively lower the barrier to entry for giving content feedback to the creators. Bands trying out new songs live can tell instantly what the crowd thought. Game developers trying out new mechanics are still relying on very crude methods (reading forums and counting sales) to get feedback on their new ideas. We can do better than that. How would you feel if a game popped up a question at he end of playing asking you to rate that play session (and insist on pinging that data anonymously to the web)?

5 thoughts on Lack of Interaction

  1. “How would you feel if a game popped up a question at he end of playing asking you to rate that play session (and insist on pinging that data anonymously to the web)?”

    I would not like it. If someone like EA tried to pull something like that, I would be like :”Sorry, mate, not getting through my firewall!”

    If it’s optional, like a button in the menu, saying “send feedback”, that might be nice to have (to send the likes of Molyneux to hell)!

  2. oh absolutely optional. No way should that sort of thing be mandatory, but the data itself is useless unless it can be sent back to the dev through a web link. The big question is do you default to trying to connect, or default to not trying…?

  3. If I’m told what’s it about, I usually connect. When my video player tries it without warning, unlikely. ;)

  4. For a band doing that, see nine inch nails. He’s basically started dumping his loop files (musical source) for people to remix his work.

    for games doing that, see half life 2 episodes, and most valve releases.

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