With their Kickstarter over in less than 3 days, Wasteland 2 developers, inXile Entertainment, have taken to Reddit to answer the community’s questions regarding the game’s development. It makes sense for a game funded by the community to have these sorts of open, anyone-can-join Q&A sessions, and what better place to have them than Reddit? Brian Fargo and Chris Avellone fielded questions surrounding production and design in yesterday’s AMA and without a publisher looking over their shoulders they were able to answer whatever questions they felt like, without filtering their answers through the typical corporate public relations filters. So while freedom from publishers may be a good thing for development, it seems even better for developer/fan communications.
Of course one of the major benefits of developing a game without a publisher is that now the team at inXile Entertainment can actually voice their honest opinion. When asked if any “Big Ass Games” companies have tried to get on-board now that the Kickstarter has been successful, Brian Fargo says “OF COURSE,” they have. He even had one group interested in funding some or all of Wasteland 2’s marketing, but Fargo explained to them, “that we have an ARMY of fans who are better than any marketing company.” When asked if it was satisfying to tell off a large company like that Fargo replied, “maybe ;).”
Normally when a company is asked question regarding development this early in the process, most of the answers involve some form of “we haven’t discussed that yet” or “we will decide that at a later date,” but Fargo has no problems giving real honest answers. When asked about the game engine, specifically if the game’s view would be top down or isometric, Fargo said “There will be limited zooming but unlikely for full rotation.” He added, “Straight down for that may suffice but I want to experiment to see if there is a nice look we can achieve with a more isometric angle on that perspective.” He also mentioned that early iterations of the game would most likely be subjected to some sort of community feedback.
It’s no surprise for a game getting made out in the open for there to be more honesty in their answers than we are accustomed to. Later in their AMA session Fargo mentioned that “publishers would be far better off these days if they spent a little more time listening.” Given the how long their AMA actually is and how open they have been regarding the game’s development, it seems Fargo is taking his own advice. The game itself most likely won’t be finished for at least another year and a half, but the developers are taking stock of what the community wants now, instead of paying an enormous PR team to do damage control once the game is released *Cough* Mass Effect 3 *Cough*.
Can we expect more of this? With more developers turn to Kickstarter for funding, can we expect to see more transparency and honesty from the people who make our games? I think so. In only a few months Kickstarter has grown into a legitimate way of doing business, and now it’s already begun to transform game development into a collaborative effort between developers and fans. The question isn’t whether or not publishers will be able to adapt, they question is whether or not we want them to.