The Pickford Bros are trying something a little different with the development of their next two games, by asking players to take an early look and offer suggestions and feedback.
“This is the future of original game development!” is how game developer John Pickford puts his new idea. What is he talking about? Well, the BAFTA nominated Pickford Bros are allowing players of their puzzle game, Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint, to download and play two prototypes of theirs. If you’ve purchased the game then you should receive a small update which will be a fast paced jumping play-control experiment ‘I Sent My Monkey To The Moon’, and radically redesigned gravity-based game mode ‘Squish’.
Depending on how players react to these two prototypes, they may each be developed into a new game mode within Blueprint, or a complete stand-alone game, or even be abandoned altogether. The development brothers think it’s a brilliant idea of theirs and encourage many other developers to pursue similar experiments.
“By making prototypes available the moment they’re playable we’re offering players an insight into how original games are designed, and how they change and evolve during development,” said Ste Pickford, “and having players involved and engaged at this stage of the process allows them to give us feedback at the earliest opportunity, guiding and influencing the way the finished games turn out. We’re not precious about our prototypes though – as game designers we regularly try out risky new ideas. If they don’t work we’ll abandon them, but if players respond positively then we’ll know we’re going in the right direction.”
The Bros have been so pleased with how this prototype experiment has gone that they don’t plan on stopping just there – making use of the painless update system of the App Store to turn their game Blueprint into an “incubator” for game ideas. They say they’ve already had lots of valuable feedback and will be releasing updates to these prototype ideas in a few weeks based on player feedback.
“A lot of indie developers are finding innovative ways to develop games with audience participation, from releasing games at the beta stage, like Minecraft, or following the ‘fail fast and early’ model of social games,” continued Ste. “Our ‘incubator’ plan is to make Blueprint an essential product that’s downloaded onto every gamer’s iPhone or iPad, not just because it’s a great game in itself, but because it offers players a unique opportunity to become involved in the design of future video games.”