It’s no secret that asking for community-driven content or input is a popular way of not only a creative way to build a fan base, but also a product. Sites such as Machinama thrive on the content created by their users, from video shorts to entire productions. Schell Games has recently launched their community driven endeavor, Puzzle Clubhouse, where users contribute not only ideas for games, but art prototypes as well.
An entire game is produced over a six week period, from conception to the finished product. Users are free to submit ideas, offer design decisions and even contribute artwork during the first two weeks. After this point Schell Games takes over and begins to code the game over four weeks period and, on the first of each month, a new game is released.
The first episode, titled LazOr Frogz, is available now and can be viewed for free. Schell Games has created scheduling in a manner that allows for the community to submit final art for one game as it nears completion, while simultaneously submitting prototypes for the next title. This way, the final two weeks of one project overlap with the first two weeks of production of the next title.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with studio head Jesse Schell at PAX Prime last week and he filled me in on a number of details, including the driving force behind this innovative program. “Games you can beat on your lunch hour was our primary inspiration,” he told me, while wearing the orange fez he is so commonly seen with. As gamers continued to waltz up to his booth which he shared with the team at Extra Credits, Schell signed copies of his book, The Art of Game Design, and again began to answer my questions.
“Exposure to the Schell Games developers was another component that lead to idea,” he explained, mid signature. Some studios are clearly more accessible than others, so this transparency is excellent for budding game developers who are looking for a bit of insight as to how games are created.
When I asked whether or not these games, or episodes, would be connected in any way, Schell confirmed this notion, stating that it would be one constantly evolving story, but that it wouldn’t hinder the creativity and whimsical attitude for which the studio is known.
The community is open for anyone, although a membership at $20 each year is required to submit content and ideas. We’ll be following along with the program’s progress, so be sure to check back here on the 1st of each month as new episodes go live.