Here’s something interesting: there’s a studio trying to have their audience design their next game. The studio is called Roundhouse Interactive and for some reason or another has former professional wrestler Trish Stratus on its board. The idea is that customers pay for the game up front which finances the development and then the studio receives user-submitted ideas which are voted on day-to-day.

While the process itself is an interesting experiment (can they really get 100k subscribers without giving them anything right away?), I have serious doubts about whether they can make a compelling game with this model. Every memorable game in history comes from a clear design direction, usually with one lead designer steering decisions to comply with that vision. Can a committee achieve the same focus? My experience with design-by-committee says no. So either the studio is signed on to make a mediocre game in order to have an innovative process or they plan on manipulating the votes or massaging the questions in order to get the game they want to do.

Naturally, designing a poll and putting it out there for votes and discussion takes time and often important design decisions need to be made at the drop of a hat once the game is actually in production. So my thoughts are that they will only ask for input on time-insensitive and low-risk items: what should the character look like? What kind of gun should he have? What is the world’s name? Which box art do you like? &c.,

The linked article doesn’t have comments, and the developer’s site is behind a regwall, so I’m interested in what people think. Can this work or is it just an exercise in process?