A Game by Gamers

iona_rosin_small The following is a guest post written by Iona Rosin. Iona (pictured right) is the Lead Game Designer at Lockpick Entertainment, the creators of Dreamlords and the recently released  Dreamlords — The Reawakening.

It’s with pride we describe our game like that at Lockpick Entertainment.

Dreamlords – The Reawakening has truly evolved through the minds of creative visionaries and passionate gamers; we all play games, love games, breathe games.

I believe that a person who develop games truly must love what she does, and love her product as well. She needs to understand the medium she’s working with, its possibilities and restrictions, and how to force it to the next level.

But that’s not really enough, is it? The developer is not the first to please; it’s the actual players – those who sacrifice their time and money to try out the world she has created, exploring its story and gameplay. The importance of players’ approval is quite obvious from a financial point of view. But even though the game industry turns over millions, the majority of developers are hardly the ones to dive in piles of money. A game developer’s job often include working nights and weekends, but it doesn’t really scare us off since our passion for games overrides everything else.

So in other words, approval from players has a greater purpose. I’m talking about inspiration, improvement and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done a good job.

At Lockpick Entertainment, we keep a close relation to our community – a community that we (if we may brag) believe is one of the best in the world. I constantly get amazed over our players’ loyalty, enthusiasm, inspiring ideas and never-ending commitment. Some players have been around for a very long time and I actually remember them from our early work with our first game Dreamlords.

Unfortunately, we can’t invite or players and put them on a flight to our office like other great companies, even though I believe it’s a really cool and admirable undertaking. Due to our limitations as a small company, we use communication channels like forum, chat and mail. Every time I log in to Dreamlords, I meet surprised and grateful players who say that they’ve never seen a developer in-game before.

Well, I haven’t done that either, do be honest.

In an early article of the original Dreamlords, the reviewer said something like this: “I’ve never seen a producer spending so much time in a game chat before. Doesn’t he have anything else to do?”

Well, talking to the players, listening and considering their feedback is crucial. It’s as important as anything else like fixing bugs, tweaking or adding more content. It’s very rewarding too. If ten game experts claim one thing and the majority of the players something else – I rather listen to the players. It should be quite obvious: who would know better than them when it comes to experience? Still, communication with the players can so easily be neglected when people are swallowed up by work – or are naive enough to believe that they know it all.

The communication with our players has become a central part of our progress and concerns the topic of this text. Dreamlord – The Reawakening has truly become a game by gamers. It’s not only shaped through the minds of the developers, it’s shaped through the minds of our players as well.

And that’s what I believe is true game development.