Rhett Dashwood, an Australian designer, has combined elements of scale modelling, social and communal interaction and gaming in his Bitscape project, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. The idea behind Bitscape is to create a virtual online-city, where users can create, maintain and develop property – both land and buildings – to their liking and according to their needs, whether they be marketing-based as for companies, architectural reference structures for any aspiring designer’s resume or just simply individual creations for the fun of it. These can then be managed according to the user’s needs – sold, rented out, renovated and so forth based on what the goal of the particular player/participator/creator is.
Besides the individual aspect, the aim is also to commit users to work together in the areas where their respective buildings are resided as members of that particular sub-community. Therefore Bitscape is basically something of a hybrid of open-source ethos, communal thinking, online-gaming, Habbo Hotel, open art gallery and SimCity. However, because this project is featured here on 3DPI, there’s obviously a 3DP-related angle to it as well: Rhett is planning to 3D print the entire city to be placed (assumingly initially) on his desk.
Watch the video below where the designer himself explains his intent behind Bitscape.
Based on the video and the written description on the Kickstarter page, it seems that the gaming factor is intended to be the core function of the project, even though the other approaches, as previously mentioned, are still valid and possible to a smaller extent. The strategic elements and operating models needed to succeed in the Bitscape world – basically to hoard more capital (type of in-game bitcoins called bitcash), property and thus power naturally are very reminiscent to that of our real world, so it’s an understandable decision to rely on that factor to have the most appeal to the users in general, but it also sheds a bit of strange light on emphasizing the other non-gaming oriented possibilities – but it is of course still a project in development.
I might be a little skeptical here, but if Bitscape’s Kickstarter campaign proves to be a success and find its share of users, the concept might still need some revamping at its core to be a coherent and consistent service. Overall, bringing the 3D printing aspect to the whole project seems kind of superimposed, perhaps having more relevance and basis as a hype-builder and a branding element, than being an actually relevant and fundamental part of the game itself. For example, it’s difficult to see how in practice the assumingly ever-occurring changes in the landscape and city image would be 3D printed in case of hundreds or even tens of users. Therefore the 3D printed version sitting on Rhett’s apartment desk might not be more than just a curiosity and reminiscent of the world (in online-scale) long gone. At least in my opinion such an element is far too static to be incorporated into a game living and breathing the capitalistic air of constant change and development.
Funding-wise Rhett is looking for an initially hefty-sounding $48,000 for Bitscape, including everything from designing and developing costs to 3D printing the initial city (but surprisingly no 3D map, just a static 2D image at first). The project still has a long way to reach its goal – with 22 days to go, the current backing is still short of even $600.