22 November 2009
Hi there! This is an old post that may reference technology or views I now consider outdated - or maybe even a little embarrassing. Enjoy at your own risk.
Sefton Hill, game director behind the super-polished Batman: Arkham Asulum recently granted an interview to Gamasutra’s Kris Graft. I want to do better at my job, so when a developer behind a hit game shares his insights, and the formula behind their success isn’t simply this industry standard …
… then I pay attention.
So how do you hang with the big boys and make a contender for game of the year? Here’s what I think stood out from the interview:
In short, they realized their constraints and worked within their limits. There’s something about constructing software that makes this is a very difficult thing to do. For video games I think it is even more challenging because of the enthusiasm we have for the medium. And it doesn’t help that programmers and designers have a bias that meets limitations with disdain – because we want to feel smart and creative.
But I think the true secret to masterful design, as exampled by Rocksteady, is to let the limitations and constraints guide you. For game directors like Hill, it forces you to make real decisions (in other words, be a leader) and find your true game, as opposed to perhaps an uncompromising visionary who doesn’t want to hear about budgets and schedules and hardware specs. That stuff’s a drag, man. Can’t you see I’m trying to make a great game here?
No doubt Rocksteady Studios is already back at work on what must be a sequel to their new hit game, and I’d imagine there’s new pressure on them to do more and more stuff this time around. (I for one wouldn’t mind tighter boss battles in the next game, for instance.)
That’s the curse of success, I guess, but I hope to see them stick with their less is more approach and maybe (please?) evangelize it to the rest of the industry.