Finalists have been announced for the ambitious Project: Top Secret competition, held by designer Dave Perry and MMO firm Acclaim – with the winner to be selected from the 20 final candidates in just a week’s time.
Described by the organisers as ‘the first large-scale user-driven game design project in video game history’, Top Secret invites the games playing and amateur development community to drive the production of a full-scale online title.
One of the contributors will be picked as director of the game, which will be published by Acclaim and executive produced by Perry. Over 60,000 signed up to take part – but just one of the shortlisted developers will win.
Acclaim has also confirmed that development of the game will also be handed over to the community once the winning team is named, a change from previous plans whereby the firm expected to hand development over to a ‘professional’ team.
“Working with these dedicated gamers for nearly a year and a half on this project, I have come to appreciate not only the efforts of literally hundreds of participants out of this huge field, but their range of personalities and individuality,” commented Rusel DeMaria, assistant director to David Perry. “In helping to pick these finalists, I kept remembering all their persistence, creativity and passion. Limiting the list of finalists was very difficult, as there were always more people I wished I could add.”
Added Perry: “To be hand chosen from 60,000 means every single one of these people are field tested and proven. To be honest, we are having a very difficult time pinning this down to just one winner."
The 20 finalists hail from a variety of backgrounds. The shortlisted directors, and their bios (with their online username in brackets), as provided by Acclaim, are as follows:
Kim Bartlett (Reyaughi) just completed her undergraduate studies in Game and Simulation Programming and will be completing a Master’s of Level Design in early 2010 as part of her studies for becoming a game designer. Kim says she has truly enjoyed being a part of Project Top Secret, where she contributed to several areas of the project in the early stages, but her primary passion was the development of beasts, where she developed concepts for mechanics and created a plethora of concept art.
Robert Brown (Knight1b) is a 27 year old single parent with 2 small daughters, has served on the Top Secret Advisory Board since its creation, and is the producer for Coin shop items. He says, "I’ve learned a lot about how games are made and what a pain they can be sometimes, but I’ve had fun learning."Adrian Clark (Aclark) is an Australian who describes himself as a "typical I.T. Jack of all trades, who loves to design, play and create games". While acting as producer for Breeding Systems, Guilds, and the Social System, he found the Top Secret experience to be absolutely priceless, a project which seriously opened his eyes to the gaming industry, and introduced him to some of the world’s most talented and amazing people.Frédéric Corneau (Elkhorno), 31, is an illustrator from Quebec, Canada. Although he left the project months ago, he left behind an amazing catalog of art which has played a central part in the design work for Top Secret, particularly mounts and tracks, and his drive and skill helped fuel the early days of the project.
Flavio Creasso (Creasso), 33, is a 3ds Max Instructor from Brazil who came to Top Secret for the opportunity to showcase his skills to industry insiders and participate in a real game project. His time on the project gave him some solid game production knowledge, and gave the project some of its most amazing art.Kris Davidsohn (Brokentrain), 24, works as a Software Engineer, and says, "I’m very much into gaming, and have always wanted to develop them, particularly in the areas of game and systems design". His other hobby, drawing (mostly comics), led to his Top Secret positions as Co-producer for Concept Art and Art Style/Direction, and co-producer for Rank Systems.Bryan Dong (Klyfarthfa) is a programmer who hails from San Mateo, CA. As a member of the Advisory Board since late 2007, he has worked on Items, Items systems, Environmental dynamics, and Crafting systems.Matthew Edwards (Matt58) is from the UK, where he works as a lead web developer, and, although he’s always been interested in game design as a career, will soon be graduating from university with an Archaeology degree. At the start of the project he contributed a lot of design ideas, was eventually appointed to the Advisory Board, and has used his programming knowledge to work on the more detailed and technical aspects of the design tracks, while also serving as the co-producer for social systems.Steven Egan (Wordweaver), 22, is a Computer Science major who has worked on Cards, UI, Breeding, Ethnicities, the Wiki, Stats and was one of the leaders in designing the concept of Rankings. Mostly I now have experience dealing with people and a better idea how projects can and should be run.Robert Florio (Robflorio) is a 26-year-old game design graduate, a quadriplegic mouth artist, and a motivational speaker specializing in game accessibility advocacy. He co-designed Top Secret’s accessible controls and user interface, contributed a good deal of concept art to the project, and feels that Top Secret has helped him take his passion for game design to new heights by giving him the opportunity to gain greater knowledge of the industry as well as how to design a game right.Joel Haddock (Zargonx), 29, is a website manager and writer from Baltimore, as well as a recent newlywed, having just been married in May. Joel joined Project Top Secret as an opportunity to engage in his passion for game design, and also to take part in an interesting community experiment; as such, he has worn many hats during the course of, with a focus on skill system and character customization designs, and as the project enters the next phases, he looks forward to working even more with the community to bring this dream to fruition.
Christopher Honour (Asurael) lives in Santiago de Chile and is studying for a Business degree, but says videogames are his real passion; "All my life I’ve dreamt about making games for a living, and PTS has given me the chance to do just that, I’ll always be grateful for this experience. I’ve met some cool people, made some good friends and learned more than I thought I could from this." He’s served as the producer for Mounts, and co-producer for Concept Art and Art Style/Direction, and also been a moderator.Martin Juricek (Mjuricek) is a 30 year old computer scientist, father of three, and an amazing internet ferret. He has managed the development team contestants, created project tracking programs and charts, and recruited needed talent by casting his ferreting skills across the entire internet.Nikita Logachev (Naereus), 21, is from the UK, holds a BA in Psychology, a PG Diploma in Artificial Intelligence, and hopes to create a life-altering game. He spent the first months of the project as a moderator and idea pitchman, working on design refinements and task creation assistance, and most recently has been instrumental in refining the track environments. He also provided the initial design for one of the core tracks and feels that Top Secret gave him "a taste of the difficulties in coordinating large-scale teams, and a few insights into the game design creative process".Yana Malysheva (Yanamal1) is a 24-year-old math/computer geek, originally from Russia who enjoys playing RPGS, making up weird game systems, absorbing information, telling people what to do, and Heelys. She managed her role as Top Secret’s producer for Riders, Professions, Weapons and the Rank system by relying on great organizational skills, good sense, and the Yanabot 3000 (play the game to learn more about that one!).Michelle Montierth (Tandy), an urban planner and the mother of two college-aged sons, found her job as Co-Director of the Top Secret Advisory board, producer of Tracks/Environments, Towns, World Economy, Game (Race) Modes, Rider Personal Space, a rare and invaluable opportunity to learn how the design process works from start to finish. She also served as Lead moderator, Lead mentor, editor of the design doc, wiki, Joomla site, and credit tracking project.David Newsome (Slayermon), 32, is and electronics technician and computer specialist from Germany who works part time while looking for a job in the video game industry or stipendium for game design college! He is credited with a number of game design concepts, including the concept behind one of the Daz3d Competition winners, sees himself as someone who thinks outside the box, and feels that this project helped him learn to put personal issues aside to get the best out of an idea. It also increased his desire to get deeper involved in game design.Rasiel (Rasield) is a college student from the eastern US who hopes to enter the game industry professionally and eventually become a game creator. He has used his wide ranging art skills, traditional and digital, to create numerous concept pieces for several core areas of the game, has served as a mentor, and is the brainchild behind the Community Spotlight feature which showcases a high profile community member in a Q&A dialogue.Ryan Richards (Ryorev), 26, currently attends Cal State Long Beach as an illustration major with a minor in Graphic Design. He is one of the project’s top mentors, has designed three of the four ethnicities, created numerous beast designs, and has influenced many of the core concepts for the game.David Slauenwhite (AnjelusX) is a 29-year-old father from Nova Scotia, with a uniquely creative mind, a flair for writing and web design, and a prolific blogger. He’s the producer for Top Secret’s Storyline as well as Music and Sound, a leading moderator with terrific community management skills, and the creator of the Oceanus epic story and track, which will mold the entire flavor of the game.T Michael Vang (Segua), 25, is a retail associate, a Top Secret community member since April of 2007, and as one of the team’s most dedicated system designers, has been a regular contributor to almost every aspect of the design. He’s also been one of a few dedicated team members willing to help those who just joined the project find a warm welcome, along with helpful info.
Mike Zummo (Doran), 34, is a usability expert and avid gamer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has served as co-director of the Top Secret Advisory Board since its inception in November 2007. Mike presides over many meetings and writes a weekly What’s Going On section and has contributed steadily to the Top Secret design.