Setting up a CollaborationCollaborative Unit
Before plunging head-first, into the collaborative brief, I decided I would very much like to use this as an opportunity to – believe it or not – collaborate.
Let me start on a little tangent:
What you are looking at here is one of the last desperate attempts to save the Tony Hawk videogame franchise from its inevitable descent into obsolescence. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater used to be one of Activision’s highest grossing properties in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The success of the early games prompted Activision to annualise the games (also known as the ‘beating the horse until it’s dead and then beating it some more’ strategy) until the market was over-saturated as the increasing complexity of every new installment alienated players. After that, the original developer was dissolved and the brand landed in the hands of Robomodo – a smaller, stupidly underfunded and sadly unqualified studio.
The game depicted in the video was the first project developed by Robomodo. The intent was to streamline the game (and perhaps capitalise on the entire motion controls mania a few years after that entire fiasco ceased to be relevant). The project ultimately became an appalling failure and turned out to be the shot in the head the franchise was begging for at that point (which didn’t stop Robomodo from developing 3 more entries, each one worse than the last).
Which brings me to the reason why I’m even bringing this sad story up. While a horrifying example of corporate greed and a lesson in running your franchise into the ground in the name of short-term insustainable gains, the development of Tony Hawk: Ride (and to a lesser extent the whole series) benefited from – at least in theory – a fantastic collaborative structure that I would like to try and replicate.
Tony Hawk is a beautiful example of a collaborative effort working on several levels and built around a tribe. A collaborative structure is inherently tied to game development after all- designers working with artists, programmers, animators and others on the same project. Neversoft (and later Robomodo) expanded this to a direct and active collaboration with professional skateboarders who provided not only motion capture and expertise on how skateboarding works on a technical level, but also a gateway to the skateboarding subculture, from aesthetics to lifestyle and the place of skateboarding as an activity within their lives. This by itself is already close to the tribes brief in terms of the dynamics of collaboration. But then Robomodo took this a step further.
Even though a failure when judged as a piece of interactive entertainment, Ride brought with it a unique motion and pressure-sensitive controller which needed to be developed alongside the software. This piece of physical interaction design was driving the development of the game and both of these needed to be developed in unison, one being built around the other.
What interests me in this is the idea of working together with another course on a single project that draws from both mine an their research and is built around a second layer of collaboration with my chosen tribe. I can use this multi-layered collaborative effort to help build a larger body of research that complements and enhances the initial research on tribes.
I have talked to Adam Curtis from the MA Games Design and he has agreed to bring our collaborative units together. If everything goes as planned, we should be seeing results of the collaboration soon.