Updated Mon, Sep 30, 2013 by ricoxg
But there’s more to this contest than just excitement. Portalarium developers are actually offering tutorials on how to produce better assets. As crazy as it sounds, they’re teaching you how to win the contests and earn the bounties offered on new assets. Yeah, Richard Garriott is crazy like a fox.
For one this is a win because once again, Shroud of the Avatar is creating a better community and environment just by existing. By educating the community on how to create a better product, they spend less time doing touch-ups and perhaps inspire more people to create submissions. So sure it helps them, but it also gives a lot of people a glimpse into what the world of video game development looks like to those who may never see it otherwise. Perhaps even more significantly, it offers a chance for some people to even get a little experience and resume fluff.
Even if a person weren’t interested in this particular game, I can’t see how anyone interested in the industry wouldn’t take the opportunity to learn techniques from the professionals. Watch videos on how they do their magic, submit your attempt and get a little feedback on it if it’s close to what they’re looking for. You’d normally have to pay a lot of money for this sort of thing, but these guys are giving it away for free.
With everyone churning out games cut from the proven mold, it’s been a little hard to get excited about a new MMO in the fantasy genre. I’ve been a Richard Garriott fan for years, but that didn’t keep me from being skeptical. Until now I have to admit that I’ve really only been that excited about Shroud of the Avatar because of the name attached to it.
My recent trip to Austin sort of started changing my mind, though. I’m a big fan of the open-source movement and what I see here is something cut from the same cloth. It’s not enough for the guys at Portalarium to just make a game, they want to empower the community around them, and that’s something I can respect.
It may seem odd to some folks for that to be the sort of thing to change a person’s mind, but to me it shows a guiding principle that I’m glad to see the game being built around. A game that empowers the players to take ownership of everything from development to eventually creating their own story is the sort of game that I’m really excited to see made. Plus, the spirit of community you find in the development team is definitely something I think worthy of a little support.
The development practices weren’t all that impressed me on this trip, though. Stay tuned next week as I go into the crafting system in Shroud of the Avatar and take a look at some of the ideas that might change how we think of crafting in future games. In the meantime, enjoy making a little cash on your own digital crafting.