We’d like you to be part of our development. We really would. Even when it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. There’s a reason that we started putting our game developers’ meetings on line . We started a “tourist visa program” for people to be able to drop in as we build our virtual worlds.
Why do we do all of that?
A big reason is we feel that the tech world in general, including us, can benefit from more input from a more diverse group of people. We don’t just mean Native Americans (although we have a Native American story line in three of our games and Native American staff, consultants and beta testers) or Latino (although we have a Latin American history story line in one of our games and Latino staff, consultants and beta testers).
We believe game development can be done better by people who are diverse in their experience, age and background, not just someone who thinks exactly like us but comes in a different color.
That’s probably true of all kinds of technology.
Our early testers have come from towns as small 360 and as large as 3.8 million. Our youngest so far was six and our oldest was 82.
This diversity means we debate a lot. I wouldn’t say we argue among ourselves or with our users, because that implies being disagreeable, which we are not, but we do disagree.
Our development process involves people who have incredible experience playing and developing games, and people who may have downloaded and played an app once.
Why are we interested in people who don’t play games very much? Because we want to know why. What would make them want to play games to learn? What is it that they don’t like about the games they played?
Diversity means not everyone will be happy all of the time. It also means we can learn from one another.
We deliberately release early versions of our games and try to do a major update every year. Why? Two reasons:
- Because we honestly want feedback from YOU – from teachers, parents, middle school students. Releasing a completely finished game and asking for your opinion is really just asking for approval, because by then it’s too late and too expensive to make changes. With everyone, our artists, beta testers, we start with a rough cut and ask for feedback so we can incorporate their ideas as we go along.
- Speaking of education, I think it is super important for more people to know how software is made. That’s why this blog has a dog food category – basically, letting you watch us make things. If more people were aware that EVERYONE’S first draft is buggy and imperfect, maybe we’d have less reluctance to join in software development. It’s okay if you are feeling your way – we all are.
If you don’t have our games, they all run on Mac and Windows and you can get them here. This month, we’re throwing in a free version of the beta version of Forgotten Trail. You’ll get the link in your email after we process your order. Our first iPad game will come out next year and we have all kinds of new technical innovations on the way. Just watch!