The second day of QuakeCon started out with a bang, as I had the pleasure of sitting down with the always-awesome Tim Willits and discussing all things Doom 3: BFG Edition. You can bet your butts that I’ll be posting that full interview in full in the not-so-distant future but, for now, the most memorable moments of our chat revolved around the reality of what Tim called “the Call of Duty effect”; an effect, it seems, that’s possible to ignore in this day and age. It tied into a comment that John Carmack made in my day one wrap-up about how gamers used to be more hardcore, and basically tapped into the undeniable impact that Call of Duty has had on the gaming medium.
Of course, that’s somewhat out of context, and you’ll be able to read Tim’s full thoughts once I publish the interview. Next up was the first QuakeCon panel: The Game of Making Games. Attending experts included Jens Matthies from MachineGames; Raphael Colantonio, the co-creative director on Dishonored at Arkane Studios; Ted Price from Insomniac Games; and a guy you may have heard of from Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim game director Todd Howard. As with yesterday’s post, here’s a bullet-point breakdown of this panel.
The Game of Making Games
- Todd Howard doesn’t believe in overdesigning games.
- Ted Price is a big fan of “proving stuff daily” with a focus on nailing down the all-important fun factor before getting too far into designing things such as weapons.
- Raphael Colantonio’s development philosophy is, “Supporting what’s cool and fixing what’s not cool.” Cool.
- Jens Matthies is a firm believer in team conflict resolution, creating a team that works well together in order to “row the boat in the right direction.”
- Raphael stated that the development process involves a willingness and comfortability with throwing out a lot of things.
- Ted believes it’s best to, “Focus on one thing and do it better than anyone else.”
- Todd pointed out that there’s very little fans can say about a game in terms of positives or negatives that the team hasn’t already considered. He also believes it’s essential for a dev team to, “Find that core mechanic and iterate on that.”
- Minute-to-minute gameplay is a core focus for Todd.
- For those looking to get into the development side of thing, Ted believes that it’s essential to first figure out what you’re most passionate about.
- Raphael added that prospective newcomers should build a mod and present that to developers.
- When asked to summarise his feelings into a single word once a game has been finished and is out the door, Jens put it rather poetically. “It’s obviously the word ‘fuck’. You always want a few more months to polish.”
- Raphael also wanted to use Jens’ word, but settled on, “‘Pressure’. Until the moment it ships, you never know how it’s going to be received.”
- Ted went a different direction with his word. “’Next’. You always have to think about what’s next.”
- And what of Todd Howard’s word? “‘Exhaustion.’ Is it going to do justice to what everyone wants?”
- In fact, such was Todd’s exhaustion at the end of Skyrim, his wife had to show him how to go food shopping again because he didn’t remember where anything was in the supermarket.
- Raphael offered an interesting Dishonored titbit. Apparently, the team started out with 20 powers, but whittled it down to 12.
- “You don’t want to release a game that’s less than incredibly awesome.” Well said, Jens.
- “We definitely want players to love our games.” That’s a solid tact, Ted.
- On the topic of DLC, Ted also added, “DLC helps keep the game in the public eye.” Moving forward, Insomniac hopes to be able to release more DLC for its titles.
- Jens kept the hits coming with, “As a developer, all you really control is the quality of the product.”
- On the topic of bugs influencing game design, Raphael offered, “Some of the bugs, it’s not like we keep them, but we improve them.”
- A core component of the Bethesda interview process is asking potential employees what games they play.
- Talking about the day-to-day work as a developer and whether he ever gets sick of games, Ted offered this closing thought. “It’s more about making games; it’s about being creative.”