Ten Ton Hammer:
Choosing the racing genre for the Top Secret MMO was pretty gutsy. I
think a lot of people questioned your judgment, but from what
I’ve seen on the message boards concerning the game, it looks
like your gamble paid off. From what I can tell, there’s
going to be more of a pseudo-fantasy / sci-fi feel to the game, with
bio-beast creatures being the mounts and player characters being the
drivers / riders. Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome.
When you see excellent ideas, like this one, do you let the Top Secret
team know, or do you leave them to their own devices?

href="http://tth.tentonhammer.com/modules.php?set_albumName=album320&id=snotshot_slingshot&op=modload&name=gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php"> src="http://media.tentonhammer.com/tth/gallery/albums/album320/snotshot_slingshot.thumb.jpg"
alt="Snotshot Slingshot by Tyrannical"
title="Snotshot Slingshot by Tyrannical" name="photo_j"
border="0" height="113" width="150">
A Snotshot Slingshot by Tyrannical

style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Rusel style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">: Oh, we definitely give lots
of feedback to the community. We are involved, both as cheerleaders and
guides. And both DP and I are totally impressed with the creativity of
our project members. We actually had a worked-out high concept design
for a racing game before we started the project, and we scrapped it
before starting Top Secret. I have no regrets. What we have now is way
better! It’s a game that both DP and I agree on. We both want
to play it.

Ten Ton Hammer:
How much “control” do you actually have over the
forum members? Can you influence their decision in anyway, or do you
keep quiet until the vote has been cast on who is the winner of the
design contest?

style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Rusel style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">: We try to keep our role as
guides… not co-designers. The idea here is to give the
community a chance to learn what it’s really like to design a
game, and to find the creativity and vision that we know is out there
among avid gamers. However, this is a different sort of project than
your average in-house or indie team project. We have people randomly
coming together, with different backgrounds and skill sets, different
styles and different ways to focus on a problem. So we do sometimes
have to poke them with a little advice. And, so far, we have been the
ones assigning the tasks they need to complete, to keep the design
going in a logical sequence of development. However, it’s our
intention to phase that decision making more and more into the hands of
the community. Our first step toward that transition is happening right
now with the formation of the Top Secret Advisory Board, made up of 6
members and 3 moderators.

Ten Ton Hammer:
Do you think you’ll ever have to use your
“Veto” power on any idea that goes out? If you do,
how do you think the community is going to respond? What happens when
the team gets into the nitty-gritty details of the game that requires
actual assets to be created? Will the team be smaller by then?

href="http://tth.tentonhammer.com/modules.php?set_albumName=album320&id=Female_with_Flowing_Skirts&op=modload&name=gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php"> src="http://media.tentonhammer.com/tth/gallery/albums/album320/Female_with_Flowing_Skirts.thumb.jpg"
alt="Woman with Flowing Skirt by mjuricek77"
title="Woman with Flowing Skirt by mjuricek77" name="photo_j"
border="0" height="150" width="96">
A woman with flowing skirts by mjuricek77

style="font-weight: bold;">Rusel: Our veto
power does exist, and we have to use it rarely, if a design direction
is not technically feasible, economically viable or if it is not
appropriate for our target audience, which is male and female 12-35
– a wide range. For instance, a purely hardcore solution that
eliminates more casual players has to be thought through. However, we
rarely say no, absolutely, to an idea. We always offer them a way to
show us how it would work for our intended audience.

hope to expand, not contract, the community as we begin to produce
actual assets and working prototypes. We will have more to say about
that soon. As much as possible, this will be a game for a wide range of
gamers, built by gamers.

Ten Ton Hammer:
When is the actual cut-off point to the Top Secret Project, where
you’ll be choosing the winner of the competition? When will
this fall? Once all the ground-work is laid out, is that when the
contest ends? Or does it go almost all the way to launch?

style="font-weight: bold;">Rusel: I can
honestly say that I don’t think about the Big Prize or who
will win it. To me, this is a day-to-day process. I get to know every
active member of the community by the quality of their interactions and
contributions. Over time, people do begin to stand out, but there will
be no decision, and no consideration given until we complete the
project. The exact day to determine the winner will be announced at
some future date, but probably not until the game is almost ready to
ship. What I can say with total confidence is that DP and his team will
know the winner, not by some checklist of criteria, but by what we call
the “X Factor.” We know it when we see it, but,
like the sound of one hand clapping, it’s hard to describe.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016