Sefton Hill, cofounder and game director of Rocksteady Studios, spoke at this year's D.I.C.E. Summit about the secrets to Batman: Arkham City's success. These were broken into five rules, the first being "rapid prototyping." The shorter the gap between conceiving and implementing an idea, the better your game will be. Second was "smart foundations." This means picking a premise that lets you be flexible with your gameplay, such as Arkham City's Riddler victim rooms. Third was "constant reevaluation." Focus all your energy on your game's strengths--make them the best they can be--and remove the chaff. Fourth was "psychic powers." Despite the name, this point focused on not trying to guess the consumer's wants and instead design the game you want to play.
Finally, there was "The Arkham Recipe." This point was an example of how Rocksteady operates. With Arkham City, the developers created a fighting mechanic that was instantly fun, accessible, and featured deeper strategy through new enemy types and gadgets. They also wanted complementary mechanics, such as the predator gameplay and Riddler rooms, to add variety without breaking the game's tone. The last piece of the formula was authenticity: embracing your character's limitations and lettings those define that character.
The D.I.C.E. Summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) is a once yearly conference dedicated to exploring approaches to the creative process and artistic expression as they uniquely apply to the development of interactive entertainment. It is organized by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and hosts the annual Interactive Achievement Awards, which celebrate the best games of the past year, as voted by AIAS members. Comedian Jay Mohr will return to host the awards show, which takes place on February 9.
For more, check out GameSpot's coverage page, which will feature full video of every panel and keynote address from the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit.