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Ex-Cryptic employees' indie studio, Mob Rules Games, has no idea what it's doing


Three former Cryptic Studios employees have founded an independent, open and honest game-development studio titled Mob Rules Games -- and they have no idea what they're doing. Literally. Rick Dakan (Cryptic Studios founder, original lead designer for City of Heroes and former Joystiq freelancer), programmer Jonathan Wills and artiste Austin McKinley have three game ideas that are all apparently so awesome that they can't decide which one to make first, so they're having the players choose for them, via the trusty old fundraising platform, Kickstarter.

The three games up for development are Guerilla Gorilla, Haunts and The Last Second, all of which are detailed in the above video. For every $1 you pledge on Kickstarter, you get 10 votes that are good for the life of the company, meaning you can provide input to Mob Rules for more than just this one round. Mob Rules plans to make all of its content open under Creative Commons, and will release the source codes for every game after its release.

But don't trust us -- hear more about the philosophy behind Mob Rules from Dakan himself in the brief interview below:

Where did the idea to let the donors choose the game come from?

It really did start from the fact that I had four ideas for games and couldn't pick between them. I had been out of the game design biz since I stopped working on City of Heroes back in 2005, but I'd been paying a lot of attention to and writing a lot about games that whole time. And of course playing a ton of them. Then some old friends of mine started Blue Mammoth Games and I wrote some background material and quests and such for their Flash-based game Dungeon Blitz. I got the bug. I started writing up other ideas for smaller, fun games that a small team could do and release digitally.

Then Mob Rules came into being, and from the beginning we knew we wanted to run the company itself more democratically and interact directly with our players as much as possible. So, we started talking about ideas. One of mine, a sword-fighting game, was too big for our small team. Another, a game about conspiracy theories, only ever sounded like fun to one person (me), so we nixed those two. Jonathan Wills, our programmer, wanted to do an asymmetric game, where each player has a very different experience. We came up with the idea for Haunts along with Guerrilla Gorilla and The Last Second, which were from my original flood of ideas and both of which people really responded well to. At that point we knew we wanted to do crowd funding for the project as much as possible, and since we couldn't see an obvious choice, asking our supporters to make the choice for us.

We're not asking you to play favorites, but of the three, is there one game you'd really like to develop (We're totally asking you to play favorites)?

For me, I swing back and forth. It really depends which one I'm working on any given day. I spent a lot of last week on Haunts and right now I'm really excited about that still. But this week I've been doing the promotional content for Guerrilla Gorilla and so now I'm anxious to see that world come to life. I know Austin McKinley, our artist, feels the same way. Jonathan likes them all, but he's a Haunts man through and through. If you watch our Kickstarter video, we each did the intro for the game we tend to favor.

Why Kickstarter?

My friend Jason Scott is a documentary filmmaker who has funded several projects through Kickstarter, so I'd seen it work really well for him. We wanted to bring as many people in as possible, to build the community and the games at the same time, and Kickstarter seems like a great way to do that. It's certainly not the only way we'll fund games. We've been toying with a kind of wacky but intriguing pre-sale model that I'd like to try after this. And we have had some interest from investors (although we only accept investment in projects, not the company, and our compensation model is a little different). But Kickstarter seemed a great way to get things going -- it has the built-in rewards and community-building tools, a fair number of people already know what it is, and they've had some great success stories.

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