Open Development

I’ve been thinking about switching to open development for Volo. Open development, in short, means that you make the development process very transparent. There are several things you can do, including:

  • Maintain a publicly available, detailed log of all important developments.
  • Keep in close contact with the community, by all means available.
  • Make some or all of your game’s  assets (code, models, textures, etc.) available online. (Under GPL licence, and for preorderers. People still have to pay for the actual game.)

By doing this you sacrifice privacy for exposure, which is something any small-time developer can always use more of. By being so open you can maximise the chances of serendipitous events happening. You can make a lot of friends, grow a community before the game is out, and people can support the project in all kinds of ways. For example, people can create their own modifications, and fix bugs that you’ve missed.

Anyway, Wolfire (developers of Lugaru and the upcoming sequel Overgrowth) have a more detailed post about this, so I’ll let them explain it: Wolfire’s PR Tips.

The reasons I’ve started thinking about opening up Volo’s development process are numerous. Here’s some of the important ones:

  • The game needs to grow a lot if it is going to survive. And it will not do that as long as it stays within the confines of my bedroom.
  • Some prominent indie developers have succesfully used open development to make a name for themselves. Look at the Humble Bundle to see what I’m talking about.
  • I like sharing. If people can learn from my work then let them. If people can contribute to my work then let them.
  • Unity does not support an easy way to facility game modification, even though it should. This means you cannot, for example, use the Unity Basic edition to write a new multiplayer mode for the finished game using Unity script. This limits my options for allowing mods, unless I integrate my own scripting tools, or go open source.

So what do you think? I know that you like to know what’s going on in my work-shed, I know that you really want mods,, and I know that some of you would be delighted to contribute some content to the game. Also, would you consider paying for a game that’s not nearly finished for a chance to play with the source code, or just to support a smalltime developer?

  • Murcuseo

    I for one think this is an extremely good idea, it obviously has its pros and cons but if you approach it in the right manner the possibilities for both you and the development of the game could be explosive.

    After reading through Wolfire’s PR Tips it really puts a new spin on what indie games company or even lone wolves like yourself need to do in order to get some recognition in such an ocean of an industry.

    If i were you I would use that blog as a bible in regards to getting the game out into the public domain.

    The Offsite PR Implementation section was a very interesting read for me, a lot of the games I follow from the bigger companies do this exact thing with updates sometimes daily from the developers or other staff members.

    I’d say if you were planning on taking this as far as it can go and making a name for yourself in the process this is an excellent idea. Persoanlly I’d get in direct contact with the guys at Wolfire … even if you get the ole’ cold email yourself a few times, if you make enough noise they’ll listen!

    With confidence I’d say you should go ahead with this idea, do your research and chat with Wolfire crew if you can.

    Once you’re sure you know what you’re doing, go for it!

    • Cool, that means a lot. I’ll try to talk with the Wolfire crew to pick their brains a bit, should be good. 🙂

  • please go open with it and yes im begging for a beta to play with also have you considered o making this an android app?

  • Oliv

    The project is 2 years old and still haven’t a playable demo, it’s too bad 🙁 I think a lot of people and skydivers (including me) would be glad to donate for Volo. And even contribute to it, like I do.
    I think you must go open development for the game to survive. You’ll have a lot of benefits 🙂

    Blue sky !

    • Heya Oliv (and everyone!), sorry for all the confusion. I’ve been away from Volo development for a long time, because quite frankly it scared me! I did a lot of things wrong the first time around, and so now I’m biting the bullet and have started to rewrite a load of stuff.