Earlier this Summer, I attended a great IGDA panel featuring several members from the God of War III team. Great presentation, and what a really cool team! A couple things jumped out at me:
1) Going after an idea based on play value in prototype without a clear or exact understanding of how the final technical integration will work (and that’s an understatement).
I really admired the effort to get the incredible Titan based levels (the ones where you’re battling on the surface and interior of the Giant!) working quickly by prototype so that the playability could be demonstrated immediately, you could learn early, and start to refine.
We always learn late, and that’s a killer.
It was obvious engineering had other ideas towards a more elegant solution that never came to pass – but, hey, it works and damn is it fun! Plenty of challenge I’m sure both for art fabrication, integration and tools/setup requirements for getting Kratos working his punishing magic on this moveable surface.
Personally, I’m always bummed when prototyping just isn’t possible due to resources and schedule as seems to happen every time I’m at bat.
Make it possible if you want above average results.
2) Using a team of fan playtesters to really drive milestones.
For those of us who have written a bazillion milestones that the team kind of half-heartedly observes for 10 seconds and reluctantly commits to vaguely while shuffling their way back to the grind, the refrigerator, or the foos ball table — it was interesting to hear that playtesting was used as a direct milestone driver.
“Have your level section working by Thursday at 4pm next week – or see a bunch of disgusted people experience your game in a really negative way and watch them cry and text their buddies not to bother waiting for it.”
I can absolutely see how this works as a motivator. The ugliest thing in the world is someone wincing or crunchy faced playing your game, nose askance, like it’s sitting on a trash can behind the liquor store. You want smiles and screams and button fury, and this pushes you further than any paper graph on the wall ever will.