David Perry wants to equip a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters

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David Perry, the man behind such gaming classics as Earthworm Jim and MDK, is an astounding guy. Once, in a bar, he boasted of his ability to wrestle live dinosaurs, only to spend a month cloning an adult tyrannosaurus from DNA found inside of a stone, then pinning it for a three-count in front of thirty thousand people at Madison Square Garden.

Of course, all of that was a lie, but his newest project is only a hair less ambitious than that. 

Gamespot has a piece up about Acclaim’s Perry-led MMO, Project: Top Secret, which they unveiled earlier this month. MMO’s are a dime-a-billion these days, but what differentiates P:TS is the level of community involvement built into the game at a fundamental level. The game itself will receive all aspects of its development (sans genre) from discussion with the community, and everyone involved in the discussion will receive credit for their part in the game. On top of that, one of these would-be developers will be chosen by Acclaim to direct one of their future MMOs.

Hit the jump for snippets from Gamespot’s interview with Mr. Perry regarding Project: Top Secret.

GameSpot: How much of Top Secret do you have planned out already?

David Perry: It’s a very complicated thing as you can imagine, because very soon we’re going to be running the biggest video game development team in the history of video games. There are no books I can buy to sort of give me a plan of attack. We’re having to literally just think about all the issues we expect to come up. How is this going to work? If we have hundreds of people going off with different ideas in different directions, how do we keep it all under control?

I think the clear plan of attack is to lay out the first game in a very clear and straightforward way. We’ll say, “Here’s the genre we want to go for and here are some ideas to start the discussion.” And then let them go from there.

The moderators will pull them together as far as keeping them focused. We’ll take votes on it, sometimes we’ll have people coming in to help decide the winner of something. The most important thing is we’ll be directing this so it’s not just a crazy forum of people talking about random stuff. The goal is to try and keep them all going forward. We’ll be working through the individual milestones just like a professional game. We’re starting with a prototype and they’re all going to get copies of that, like a build so they can play at home, and get more ideas and talk about that as we move forward to get to the next milestone.

GS: Is there a concern about running into a problem of game design by committee, of not having one unified vision guiding the development of this all the way through?

DP: Yeah, that’s really why we have to have the director running the project. As you can imagine, people come up with the most crazy ideas and what we want to do is say, “this one we really like, this one’s a little too weird.” And we’ll focus on that one and we’ll move forward and get a whole bunch of new ideas. The design-by-committee thing is definitely going to happen to some extent, but it’s going to be controlled. And that’s why it’s absolutely essential to have a director, and that’s also why we’re offering the directorship for the second game. They’re going to be required to pull it off and get their game done as well.

God only knows how well this gamble will pay off, but one cannot deny the appeal of an MMO with tremendous amounts of community input. The best MMOs (WoW especially) have always relied heavily on community feedback, and this seems to be the next logical step. Regardless of how this turns out for Mr. Perry and Acclaim, it should make for interesting news throughout its creation, and for that, The Robot smiles upon Mr. Perry.

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Earnest Cavalli
I'm Nex. I used to work here but my love of cash led me to take a gig with Wired. I still keep an eye on the 'toid, but to see what I'm really up to, you should either hit up my Vox or go have a look at the Wired media empire.