Top Secret Interview
Ten Ton Hammer Interviews Project Top Secret's Rusel DeMaria, Assistant Director for David Perry
by Cody “Micajah” Bye
Dubbed as a “reality show” for the MMOG
enthusiast, Dave Perry’s Project Top Secret has been slowly
gaining momentum since its announcement earlier this year. For those of
you that aren’t familiar with Top Secret, it’s a
contest being run by Acclaim to single out one individual who has the
design knowledge and ambition to eventually produce a game of their
own. A dream come true for many MMOG aficionados, Top Secret has
attracted attention from every part of the Internet.
Although the contest has been running for a few months,
it’s hard to tell what exactly is occurring without browsing
through the website. One look at the href="http://www.videogameteam.com/joomla/">Top Secret main
site and the links to the various href="http://www.videogameteam.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page">wikis
however, and you’ll find that hundreds of posts are being
uploaded every day! Being very interested in the progression of the
contest, the Ten Ton Hammer team tracked down Rusel DeMaria, assistant
director for David Perry and author of several gaming-related books, to
answer some of our questions concerning Top Secret.
alt="Dragon Rider by Elkhornio / AnjelusX"
title="Dragon Rider by Elkhornio / AnjelusX" name="photo_j"
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A Dragon Rider by Elkhornio / AnjelusX
Ten Ton Hammer:
While the winner of the competition will get the opportunity to act as
the official Game Director / Design Director of Project Top Secret,
will there be multiple opportunities to get hired onto your team by
showing exemplary work ethic / ideas?
style="font-weight: bold;">Rusel: To be clear,
the prize being offered in the contest aspect of the project is for the
director’s position in yet ANOTHER game that we will begin
developing AFTER the Top Secret Project completes. The Top Secret
project is all about the community creating the design for the game,
with guidance from me and David Perry. As far as other opportunities,
DP hired one person from the forums within the first week of the
project. Still more opportunities may come, though nothing is announced
or predetermined. We’ve certainly found a fantastic pool of
talented and dedicated people already, and we have a long ways still to
go, so there’s still plenty of time to join and have a
positive impact – and be noticed.
Ten Ton Hammer:
Can you give some details on the two individuals that you hired from
their work on Project Top Secret? What are their jobs now? How did you
find them in the crowd?
style="font-weight: bold;">Rusel: David hired
Michael Liebwein from the forums by posing a challenge to the
community. Michael’s response blew us away and David hired
him on the spot. Michael lives in Germany, by the way. Our team is
truly international. Michael is now working with us as our
“point person” on the design of a future game, as
well as our go-to guy for all kinds of charts and organizational
have also found a couple of people who we invited to be moderators,
AnjelusX and Palleon. We found them quite easily, because both of them
were taking the time to inspire other people in the project, and it was
clear that they were having a positive impact. We also have a
reputation system that allows people to offer positive or negative rep
to other members. Anj and Palleon were the two top-rated members at the
time we approached them, and what’s very interesting, and
often misunderstood, is that their rep played no role in our decision.
We chose them based purely on the quality of their posts and their
impact on the forums, which was also how they gained their high
positive reputations. Palleon ultimately got promoted to the role of
Community Liaison, for which he dropped out of the contest voluntarily.
Both he and AnjelusX, who is still helping the forums as a moderator,
continue to be very valuable to the project.
alt="Quietas Riders Landscapes"
title="Quietas Riders Landscapes" name="photo_j"
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Some landscape concept art. - No artist name given
Ten Ton Hammer:
In order to point out some of the more knowledgeable individuals on the
boards, you’ve created a reputation system that allows them
to rise above the crowd. How did the reputation system come about and
how do you see it eventually working? There are several members of the
boards with high reputation, but are getting that rep mainly for
drawing artistic assets and not lending ideas…is that an
appropriate measure of rep?
style="font-weight: bold;">Rusel: The rep
system was established to give people a way of letting others know how
they felt about their actions in the forums. If someone posted a very
inspiring message or a great idea, or even a bit of very constructive
feedback, they would likely get some positive rep points from other
members. On the other hand, if they were negative or insulting to
someone… well, we have very little of that anyway, but that
would be grounds for a negative rep. Interestingly, some of our highest
rated members now ARE artists, which is understandable, because the
artists can take someone’s idea and make it real. Some of the
artists have worked very hard indeed, and with many of our members, to
help bring their ideas into graphical form. However, there are many
people with high reputation who are not artists. We’ve found
that the most constructive and helpful people tend to get the positive
rep, so the system works. David always says, “Don’t
bring me problems. Bring me solutions.” Our forums are very
solutions oriented, and a great way to get positive rep is to provide
solutions and point out positive directions, even for someone
else’s original idea.