Showcasing Transparent Design Process:
"The making of." Its a promised feature from so many dvd, blue ray, or collection edition bonus feature disk. When you hear it, you get these lofty notions of getting the chance to peak behind the curtain; to see how a thing gets created from the ground up. You love things, so naturally your curious about just what it takes to inspire and make that thing come to life.
Then of course, you actually sit down to watch the "making of" feature and it turns into a 30 minute interview of a developer giving you market talking points of the product, which is odd because you've already bought the thing. Confirmation bias maybe?
There actually have been several big name creators out there, specially on the 'indie' side of things, who seem much more genuine in their intent to show us the intimate parts of their design process. Some of which is happening pretty soon, so I thought I'd take some time to highlight a few to share.
Developer moJam Session
Update: The live game design marathon finished at 4pm, February 19th. You can watch portions from it at Twitch TV here, and pick up a copy of their finished products by donating to the bundle for a limited time.
Team Mojang and the "Humble Bundle" people are teaming up for a 'game jam' this weekend. Similar to the '24 hour' game challenges, where an individual or small team race to make a game from scratch in either a 24 or 48 hour period; Mojang's crew is planing on spending 60 hours over the weekend to make a new game based on a user voted style and theme. The winning entries was a Real time strategy / shooter set in a steam punk ancient Egyptian setting.
And the entire thing will be live streamed on the Humble Bundle home page. In addition to watching them make the game people have voted on, they plan on having a few interviews with the developers and also doing a few fun events if they meet certain donation milestones. Anyone who donates gets to download the game at it's various stages of completion. All the proceeds go to support charities including Child's Play, Red Cross, Charity:Water, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The cool thing about this, is that a company is letting their developers have fun like this. Setting aside some time for the employees to work on their own thing, or take part in fun little projects like this, can have a huge impact on overall performance. Google has been known to allow their employees 1 day out of every week to work on their own projects in whatever way they wish to, and these projects end up generating 50% of the ideas and products that Google has put out as a company. There have been several other companies that have adopted this to various degrees as a business model, but it will be interesting to see it live in action.
The Humble Bundle is a site that packages several different indie games together and lets you set the price you want to pay for them. (As little as 1$, with added content for payments over 10$). Team Mojang is of course the original indie developer turned 'rock star' who created Mine craft.
Can I interest you in these Double Fine leather Jackets?
Double Fine founder, Tim Schafer recently started a kick starter you may have heard about. With their five times over funded project, they intend to spend the next 6-8 months creating an old school point and click adventure game. They decided that since this was going to be a crowed source funded project, they wanted to make the entire creative process as transparent as possible. In fact that is one of the main focus of their entire project.
"2 Player Productions will be documenting the creative process and releasing monthly video updates exclusively to the Kickstarter backers. This documentary series will strive to make the viewer as much a part of the process as possible by showing a game grow from start to finish, with all the passion, humor, and heartbreak that happens along the way. Double Fine is committed to total transparency with this project, ensuring it is one of the most honest depictions of game development ever conceived."
With even the lowest tier reward backers getting the behind the scenes peak for their new game, this will be a really interesting look at a work in progress done by some of the cleverest minds in the industry.
And some explosions for good measure
Freddie Wong uses his knowledge of cinematography and special effects to make a full time living off his YouTube channel. Every week they release a short but impressive quality video featuring some sort of special effect gimmick. The videos range from combat action to video game spoofs to combat action spoofs to... the just plain weird...
Each video he makes always comes with a separate behind the scenes video which is sometimes even longer then the original. These behind the scenes videos provide commentary about how they shot the video, and how the special effect stunt featured in the video was pulled off. It's like a step by step guide of what exactly you shouldn't be trying at home.
There are actually a few youTube video FX groups putting out content with this type of model as well. It's like its become this big scene when I wasn't looking; I might have to research and write an article about it in the future.
These are just some of the examples of transparent design processes from various mediums. I know I've seen some other impressive ones out there as well, like a stop motion capture of artist creating detailed paintings or computer graphics before, and I'm sure there are examples from lots of other professions out there as well.
If you know of any other good examples, I'd be happy to hear about them in the comments. If I get enough I'll do another showcase article in the future.