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Public blog or private? August 31, 2009

Posted by shersego in Question of transparency.

Over the past two months I’ve been pondering whether it’s a good idea to post every aspect of designing this game in a public blog.  Typically a new game concept is closely-guarded, proprietary information.  For this reason, I have not posted anything since Catherine and I presented the concept in June. One possibility is to keep this blog private.

Meanwhile, as part of a summer class in Game Analysis at UTD I wrote a formal design document for Dancing on the Holodeck. It details the game mechanics, technology, characterization, aesthetics and narrative.  On the one hand I feel strongly about what this game is about and how it should be designed.   But part of me wants to see what happens if the design process is shared transparently from start to finish.  What if the evolving thoughts and developments were publicized through this blog and other social media?   Could its creation be a mass collaboration?  Or would the idea simply be stolen?  Could this idea be stolen?  (And if the outcome of the stolen idea is better-produced, would I care?  I would probably be first in line to play the game.)

The technology required to make any of this happen isn’t available yet, though potentially it is not too far off. Once it is here, creating a significant library of dances is an ambitious task that could take a lifetime.  This definitely requires serious involvement with subject matter experts like Catherine and other dance history colleagues.

It is not possible to design this project single-handedly.  Ideally, there would be an open-source template for teaching a dance.  This means capturing the essence of movement, animating it, endowing its agents with artificial intelligence and defining movement algorithms needed to measure player accuracy.  With such a template, new dances could be added perpetually in a sort of Wiki model.  Social dance teachers and dance historians could publish nuanced versions of popular dances like the Whip (Houston) vs. Push (Dallas) in western swing.  A universal template makes it possible to include dances from around the world.

What is the commercial potential of this game?  There are no metrics for it at the time being.  Dancing on the Holodeck is a thought experiment that both Catherine and I care deeply about because we want it to exist.  I’m sure there must be other people who are brewing a similar concept.  My goal is to get it done meaningfully well whether I am directly involved in the production or a contributor in a sea of suggestions.

While I consider to think about how much to share of my own game ideas, this semester I am studying the history and theory of emerging media.  It is an opportunity to explore the ramifications of  open communication using the internet and its social media outlets.  I will be blogging my analyses of class readings and sometimes this may seem off-topic for a blog about a dance game. However, it is a social dance game afterall.



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