Author Topic: The Crowdsourced Game  (Read 320241 times)

bluemonkmn

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The Crowdsourced Game
« on: 2012-03-28, 05:45:26 AM »
OK, I don't think I'm going to be getting any more sleep this morning with this idea blooming in my head (or is it this bloomin' idea in my head?).  For lack of a name for this project, I am simply going to title this post "The Crowdsourced Game", but will likely proceed to use this thread long after the project has a name.  That will be one of the first things to decide on, though, and in the spirit of the project, I don't want to be the only one with input on the name of it.  Let's gather a few suggestions for names and then I can post a poll to see what names people like.  I don't think we have enough people to consider this crowd-sourcing yet, but it's in the same spirit at least.

As I said, this idea is blooming.  I had a couple thoughts this morning that really allowed the idea for this project to start to take shape.  For those who don't know what I'm talking about, I suppose I should begin with some background -- what is this idea?

The idea is, as the subject suggests, crowd-sourced game development.  Instead of placing the entire burden of developing a game on one developer or a small group of developers, I would like to run at least an experimental project to see what kind of success we might get out of a project that allows anybody to contribute to a game, and merge the best of everyone's contributions into a "super-game".  We have a crowd-sourced encyclopedia, crowd-sourced genetic research in game form, crowd-sourced movie production, crowd-sourced news and crowd-sourced general discussion of what's interesting, and there apparently even has been crowd-sourced game development in the past, but, as far as I can tell, not in a form that continues to evolve and improve over an indefinite period. Little Big Planet is probably the closest thing I can think of to what I'm thinking about.  However, it has more restrictions than I imagine in "my" (or rather "our") experiment/project. The main restrictions I'd like to experiment with removing are:
1. Confinement of each user's content: I want a game where anybody can integrate their content anywhere into the game rather than dividing the game up into discrete units where each person only managed their own worlds.
2. Limiting the type of content contributed: I want a game where people can contribute their own fundamental content rather than being limited to just level design.  People should be able to contribute new and improved artwork and code affecting the fundamental behavior of the game.

Impossible? It sounds pretty far out, but I want to give it a try and see what happens.  And the idea that has been blooming in my head this morning has made this all start to seem much more realistic than I was previously imagining. The idea is that SourceForge may already be designed for this sort of activity, if we use it right. Source control software is designed for merging code changes from different version levels and releases... perhaps it's possible we could use it to merge changes from different users.  It allows us to "label" code so you can retrieve a specific set of code despite what other code has been contributed on top of it... perhaps it's possible to use that to mark candidates for playing and review.  Scrolling Game Development Kit 2 can output all the graphics, code and level design to a single file (in HTML or SGDK2 format) while retaining the independence (as far as source control merging is concerned) of sprites, rules, map layers, plans, and many other aspects of a game that users may want to contribute.  Source control merges are line-based, and SGDK2 files (and HTML files) are currently designed to maintain separate sprites on separate lines.  So two users could add two different sprites to the same project, and, theoretically, have their changes merge together nicely.

As I think about it more, I think that the SGDK2 file format is almost the ideal form in which to maintain a crowd-sourced game, to which people of a wide range of skill levels can contribute equally.  User One user wants to update all the graphics; he or she can submit an edit in which the SGDK2 file's graphic sheets and framesets are all updated (so long as the ordering of the already-existing cells and frames are not affected).  User Two wants to add some new graphics; he or she can submit an edit which introduces new frames from a new graphic sheet into the same frameset, so that level designers have a larger palette to work with. User three wants to design a new level; building on the work of users one and/or two, or without the help of either, he or she can add new maps, and link them in by adding plans to existing maps to transport the player to and from the new maps.

Certainly there will be some changes that can't be merged.  Editing tiles within an existing map won't be merge-able with other changes to the same map (although a manual merge would be practical if the game is being checked in in HTML5 format where the map data is readily view-able and directly editable in a text editor).  Editing graphics within a graphic sheet likely won't merge well with other edits to the same graphic sheet.  But with the magic of  SGDK2 framesets, hopefully we/users can find a good way  to update individual tile and sprite graphics without editing existing graphic sheet images -- just add new graphic sheets and then replace the frameset frames using the new cells instead of directly editing the existing cells.

But it's not time yet to get too far into the details.  We need to begin by naming the project, exploring the forms of source control that are available that could support this, and formalizing the high-level plan. I think I should write a more formal description of this project that can entice new users to explore this idea with us, and help them understand what it is we're going to play around with here. As always, this document too will be subject to everyone's input. I want the most interesting-looking page I can have to make the first impression on a new potential user.  Then we can post that on the project's SourceForge web site homepage.  Or perhaps the homepage should be a wiki, further inviting improvements to the project at all levels.

I have a day job to get to work on today, but I do hope to get back to this soon, and start developing this idea if not developing any actual code. I have been slowly working on the CleanGame project to try to make it HTML5 compatible. I'm making some progress, and I do think (thanks user to #Sharp) that is a good place to start. When that project can be played in HTML5 form, then not only can anybody contribute to the project in SGDK2 format or HTML5 format, but anybody can pick up their own set of modifications by merging whatever set of changes they like, and post it wherever they like to play on a wide variety of platforms. Brought to you by Open Source :)... no pay-to-play HTML5 game editor is going to give you this.  Let the evolution begin... and proceed without restriction!

bluemonkmn

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #1 on: 2012-03-28, 05:58:48 AM »
Now that I think about it, I was mainly thinking about SourceForge's source control piece (Subversion or Mercurial) when realizing how this project could proceed. I suppose any site that hosts a source control system could work just as well. SourceForge (Subversion/Mercurial) does not currently seem to support fine-grained permissions on the source control, but it is something under consideration. I should keep looking around to see what other source control is available. I imagine fine grained source control permissions will be necessary to help control the incorporation of "up-voted" code into "higher" branches.

bluemonkmn

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #2 on: 2012-03-28, 06:52:23 AM »
I've posted a question on StackOverflow to see if anyone can help by recommending a version/source control system to look into to support this.

v6v

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #3 on: 2012-03-28, 02:36:49 PM »
I'm not experienced in source control- but I'd like to leave this comment to say that I'm in on this. I'll start to participate whenever it shifts towards my skill set. :-)

You should really look this up. It was pretty popular on TigSource.

http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=22939

bluemonkmn

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #4 on: 2012-03-28, 03:56:42 PM »
Do you have any ideas for a project name?

v6v

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #5 on: 2012-03-28, 06:11:48 PM »
I was extremely fond of the name you came up with.
 (It's on another thread, I'll find it in a moment)
In the good spirit of Democracy- I vote for that, or something that seems very Dreamlike.

But hey, how about even the best idea. Just name it, Creation.
It's easy to remember, right?

bluemonkmn

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #6 on: 2012-03-29, 04:44:40 AM »
On the one hand a common word is easy to remember. Other the other hand, it's easy to mix it up with other things using the same term. The benefit of an obscure or unique term is that it uniquely identifies the project. Then a web search, for example, won't be nearly as ambiguous about leading you to where you really want to go.

Vincent

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #7 on: 2012-03-29, 05:49:41 AM »
I have a hard time coming up with a name.  I fond it easier to name a project with the content or the scenario of the game.  It's not easy to name a project when you have no idea how it's going to turn out...  "Creation" seems like a good name to me because it's short, easy to remember and could eventually turn out to represent not only the concept of the project but also the content of the game.  Maybe we could add another word to the title, a word not usually found near "creation" in a usual sentence, that way search engines would find the game right away.  Something like "Creation-X" where X would be other other word.  Now, what could this other word be...

Oh, by the way, I'm interested in this project. :)  I don't know how much time I have to invest in this, but I'd like to be a part of it.
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v6v

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #8 on: 2012-03-29, 03:21:09 PM »
When in doubt, resort to another language.

I vote the word Avis, in french.
 
Thought, idea, interpretation - Opinion

Monde is also a good one, but it doesn't roll off the tongue. It's a shame the name can't be as fluid as the concept, and people can't just make the name themselves.

There's a word in German that I love. It's Gestalt. It means form- but in normal conversation it has a definition that revolves around the concept of a whole being greater than its individual parts.

If push comes to shove, you could do what some devvs do, and name the project from your last name :P

Hey Vincent. Glad to hear that you're in.

bluemonkmn

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #9 on: 2012-03-29, 05:58:39 PM »
Actually there may be more than one thing to name here, depending on how I/we decide to host this project. There could be the whole idea/project of crowd-sourced 2-D game development. And it might involve multiple games. The first game on which we will run the experiment will probably be the "CleanGame", which I have long thought to name something like "nanoBots". That too is too common a term, though, so I may need to add a word like Vincent suggests -- "nanoBot Creator" or "nanoBot Builder", both of which return only 5 results on Google when searched as a phrase. But those words are somewhat mundane and maybe don't invite enough imagination. I think "nanoBot Evolution" sounds more exotic. But that phrase returns 461 Google results. I like the ideas of the words Gestalt, Avis, and possibly Monde (though I don't know what the last means). But I don't know how to turn them into a title. I remember coming up with the name TechnoVenture for a game I worked on a long time ago. I just wrote down a list of possible names, showed it to a friend and he picked one. And something about the word "TechnoVenture" flows right. Whatever name(s) we come up with should "roll off the tongue" as you said.

I return to the wikipiedia page for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for some more vocabulary ideas that might embody what I want to convey. The word "orthogenesis" looks good, but might have to stand on its own because it's already a word of multiple meaningful components. Genesis is a good piece by itself, though. Also, in reviewing the term "noosphere", although I like the word, I fear people would have trouble with the consecutive "oo".

"Nanogenesis" is taken... cognostruct has 0 results on Google, and it conveys an essence of mind/intelligence and complexity/structure, but I'm not sure it rolls off the tongue very well.  As it turns out cognos by itself means nothing.  But there is a Latin word cognosco which means "I know".  And a related English (latin-derived) word cognoscente is a person with expert knowledge.  So I'm pondering terms like Cognosconstructor or Cognosconstruction.  But the hard g makes the word somewhat unappealing/unflowing like the "t"s Gestalt. And those are kind of long. Resorting to obscure word lists I see noogenesis is a very interesting word, but it has double "o" again.

Any of these thoughts inspire or agree with anybody?

v6v

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #10 on: 2012-03-29, 06:52:13 PM »
Whenever working with units, change the unit. :)

PicoBots? Femtobots?

The flowing off the tongue is the most important part.

Vincent

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #11 on: 2012-03-30, 06:05:17 AM »
Well, it may be because I'm french, but "avis" doesn't appeal to me at all.  The sound isn't so pretty and it is such a mundane word.  There's also a car renting company with the same name that does absolutely bad tv commercials, so...  By the way "monde" means "world".  It seems more appropriate, but it's going to get a lot of results in search engines, for sure.  "Gestalt" does sound nice, but I can't shake the feeling that I heard it used for another game before...

I have an idea for the name.  I know the word in french, I don't what it is in english or in another languge.  "Courtepointe", google translates it as "Quilt" (don't think I ever heard that before).  A "courtepointe" was a kind of group project where women would weave a blanket (or sheet) together or one after another.  One would start off by making a small square which could be a small picture or something abstract and then she would pass it on to another woman of the family (sometimes this project was passed on from mother to daugther) and the other woman would do another square representing something else, and then pass it on, and so on until they achieved a complete sheet that was the sum of all those little squares.  Each part was a piece of art by itself but was ultimately only a part of the whole project. 

I like to think that this is a similar project in spirit.  And I certainly never heard of a game called "quilt".  Furthermore, I think it's short, easy to remember and sounds great.  (Well, it sounds good in my mind at least, I don't know if I pronounce it right.)  If it gives too much results in search engine, maybe we could add another word?  Or (I'm brainstorming here, please don't laugh), we could change the word to "quilters", as we are the ones doing the "quilt".  I don't think this word exists, but it's still easy to remember and sounds fine.

I don't know...  What do you guys think?
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bluemonkmn

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #12 on: 2012-03-30, 06:25:17 AM »
Quilt is a well-known English word, but I think many people don't think of it the way the French do. When I hear the word "quilting" I get a similar feeling to "knitting", and I think many people feel like it's an activity done by grandmothers. But you're right that it does embody the idea very well of having little patches of art stitched together. If we combine it with another word to help people get past their initial impression of the word by itself, I think it could be a very effective term. Perhaps "Game Quilter" would be a good name. I like it because it has a similar meaning to Creator, but it's much more specific with lots of additional specific meaning in the use of the word "Quilter" instead of "Creator". I think it's a great idea. Game is kind of a generic term, but "Quilter" is such a great word to put with it that maybe it doesn't matter. Game Quilter might be good enough for me, but let's not stop here. If you have any more ideas, we can keep rolling. Maybe GameQuilt is even better, because we are naming the site and not the people. The people would be Game Quilters.

Edit: By the way, I don't have anything against grandmothers, but I do think people have a hard time associating them with computers. That's why I think the addition of another word to relate it to games or computers will perfect the term.

Edit 2: Interesting that you should mention quilt because it's similar in concept to mosaic, and I just this month made a mosaic picture of my grandmother (HTML5 browser required). Perhaps Mosaic is another term we should consider -- and other similar terms like collage.
« Last Edit: 2012-03-30, 06:38:25 AM by bluemonkmn »

Vincent

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #13 on: 2012-03-30, 06:55:50 AM »
You're right, it is quite grandmotherly and it's very similar to a mosaic.  By the way, nice work with the mosaic.  Your grandmother's clothes are very colourful so the mosaic is really flashy.  :)

I like GameQuilt.  Or "WorldQuilt"?

Mosaic and collage seem less grandmotherly, but they don't sound as good with another word (GameMosaic? GameCollage?).  Unless we use only "Mosaic".  But wasn't there an early internet browser with the same name?

I'm still thinking.

(absolutely no connection with this conversation whatsoever)
Hey btw, I gotta ask: why the is the never-ending talking smiley called "canadian"?  Do canadians have the reputation of talking too much in the US?
Edit: Btw, don't be afraid to be honest with the "canadian" thing.  It won't piss me off, I'm just curious.
« Last Edit: 2012-03-30, 07:13:34 AM by Vincent »
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Vincent

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Re: The Crowdsourced Game
« Reply #14 on: 2012-03-30, 07:27:07 AM »
@#Sharp: Thanks! Yeah, I'd like to be a part of this project.  But like I said, I don't know how much time I can put in: I have another personal project at the same time.  I have to learn Java to open up new opportunities at work, so I started working on a game in Java.  Well, it's not much of a game right now, it's more like a tool to create dynamic 3D skies, but I'd like to turn this into a game eventually.  I didn't want to talk about it here since it's not SGDK2 and I don't want to look like a traitor.   :P  I miss working with SGDK2 and I'm very fond of it, so I'd be glad to help in this project. :)
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