Feature Article

XCOM Lead Explains Why Some Triple-A Games Fail

The precarious, unforgiving "tightrope" of triple-A development.

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As Mass Effect: Andromeda recently showed, even games with massive budgets, schedules, and teams can sometimes come up short. According to XCOM Lead Jake Solomon--a man whose own forays into triple-A development have produced highly successful games like XCOM 2--that's not too surprising.

In a talk Solomon gave last month at PAX East, he explained that failure is as much a tool as it is a stumbling block, that the lessons we learn from it outweigh the toll it takes. In the world of triple-A game development, however, it can still be a liability. We recently caught up with Solomon to take a peek inside his high-stakes world in hopes of better understanding the people and processes behind some of our favorite games.

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GameSpot: I wanted to start with something that you spoke about in your speech last month. One of the subjects you touched on was failure and how it's an important step in building toward success.

Solomon: Absolutely.

So my question is, do you think that triple-A development currently leaves room for failure? Is there time and money for people to iterate and experiment and fail on their way to creating something great?

Yes, I think so, but even in triple-A, the absolute top, most developers […] have some types of constraints and schedule and things like that, which of course makes sense. I think that there is an opportunity for failure, but I think […] the reaches that you take have to be planned to where anything you're innovating on, you have to plan for that type of failure in the schedule.

With sequels, typically, you don't have to reach as far. I think the real challenge is when you're either making something new or rebooting something. Just by the nature of it, you're going to have to take some really creatively risky reaches, attempts at things, and so when you do that, there's guaranteed to be big failures along the way. I think that the challenge is, I guess, having enough time.

But in terms of the industry as a whole, it's a tightrope. It is an absolute tightrope, I think because triple-A games are so hit driven. It's an interesting thing to think about. In this industry, I think your first failure is probably going to be your last one, too.

It certainly seems that way, yes.

It wasn't that way a while ago, but it's just the nature of [the industry]. And it makes total sense. There's nothing wrong with that. I think that if you're talking about tens of millions of dollars to make games, if you're talking about margins like that, then yeah, it's hard to recover from that.

"In this industry, I think your first failure is probably going to be your last one, too." -- Jake Solomon

You have to take risks, you have to innovate, otherwise you're not offering value and people will find it somewhere else. At the same time, those risks could sink you if you don't fail fast enough and get to the actual right answer, so I think it really is kind of a tightrope.

I think it's why people in my position typically don't stay relevant for that long. It doesn't bother me to say because it's just a fact. There are some people who stay at the absolute top of the game for a long time. Todd Howard's been making games for a long time, but you can think of any name from 10 years ago and you could say, "Oh yeah, they're not as big as they were 10 years ago, so in 10 years, what does that mean for me? What does that mean for a lot of people in my position?"

This word is going to sound harsh, but that almost makes developers sound disposable, to an extent. Is that true, and if so, how do you escape that mindset? How do you go into a project knowing, "Maybe this will be my last one; maybe I won't matter after this"?

I think that that is always my mindset. It's the sort of thing that I keep very, very present. It does not make for a really relaxed thought process, but it's something that I always try to keep present in my mind: the thought that when you're creating things, you're basically pulling ideas out of thin air. The only way you can offer value to people is coming up with something new.

When you try to come up with something new, failure is a big part of that, and so that means failure is a very big part of what I do. And so there's a very good chance that my failure could end up becoming big enough that maybe a game is my last game, for a long time or forever.

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I don't know if developers are disposable so much as... It's like any business, basically, except that ours has a lot of turn over, really quick, and I think it's because our industry's still kind of in the early stages. We're still trying to find out what it is that provides the most value to players. I think that you just have to keep in mind that if you don't innovate, somebody else will, so you have to taking those risks, knowing that inherent in those risks, potentially, is your failure as well.

That's why I think you just can't dwell on failure. You have to fail efficiently, and that means that you can't dwell on failure as a personal thing. You can't dwell on it as an emotional thing. You have to be very cold-blooded about it and say, "We are going to fail. I'm going to fail." The key is to fail efficiently. When we fail, look at it right in the eyes and say, "What did that teach us?" And we very quickly need to get onto our next failure because we've got to get through these failures until, all of a sudden, we have something that we say, "Okay, this is good enough."

The scary part is that you can never predict. Eventually I think, as a designer, you have this sense of, "This will work out at some point," but you don't know how many failures that's going to take, and you only have so much runway. So it is kind of terrifying when you're in the middle of the process and you're like, "This is not good. This feature's not good, but it must be good," and you're like, "We've just got to get through. We've got to keep trying to find the right way."

To circle back to something you mentioned a little while ago, it seems like, ultimately, what raises the stakes, what makes failure such a potential liability for a developer, is money, really. It's an economic question. Like you said, you're investing tens of millions of dollars into a game. From an economic standpoint, it's hard to question publishers' need for guarantees.

Not at all.

The question is, what does that money actually allow you to do as a developer? Is that trade-off worth it? Is raising the stakes to that degree worth that kind of monetary investment?

It's kind of an industry question. Whatever game you're making has to have the audience to support your investment, obviously. Certain games have massive audiences, and so that means that they can support [bigger budgets]. I'm more of a standard developer. We have limits on what we do, and we have to be efficient with what we do, and we have to think about, "Is this really going to provide value to our audience? Should we really be doing this, because it's eating up time?"

I think that you rise to, basically, a breaking point. This is just industry wide. Everything has changed so much. When I started, something like Civilization III, it probably sold a couple million copies or something like that, but it cost nothing to make. But then eventually, a certain standard of quality is expected and your teams get larger and they continue to get larger and the quality of titles continues to be expected to go up, and all of that means that as the cost of development's going up, you either have to increase the revenue [or] increase your audience. It's all a question of which game you're making, because your return does justify the investment--and if it didn't, it'll be the last time you do it.

"The only way you can offer value to people is coming up with something new. When you try to come up with something new, failure is a big part of that." -- Jake Solomon

It's interesting because the return on hits are so big that you can certainly understand why people want to make these big, big games. I don't know what the return on Call of Duty is, but I'm sure it's really f**king great, so you certainly understand why people would want to make games like that. There are so many other games that exist in the middle. I was talking to a designer who's a really good friend of mine. He's more of an indie developer. I said, "How you guys doing?" He said, "Well, if we sold half of what we sold we'd be out of business. If we sold twice what we sold we'd be rich." And I'm like, "You basically just described all of us."

I think that holds for most people and the vast majority of game development. And so the tension, obviously, on the business side comes from rising costs and how can you recoup that. Because you can't just sit there and costs can't continue to rise if you're not also increasing your audience or revenue. Business is a really big part of what we do. It's just not something we talk about because most people find it dry, I suppose.

It's inescapable, though. Games are a business. And to hear you talk about it, it almost sounds like game development is somewhere between an arms race and a gold rush. Is the current system sustainable? Where does this end?

The industry is so varied now; even indie games have a really high level of polish now. I think the problem is that, every time you make a game, you have to look at [all these different games] and say, "Wow, they did this thing, and wow, they did that thing," and then there are all these reasons you're like, "Yeah, we could 20 more people to do all these neat things," and then you have to balance that against, "Okay, is that really going to be worth it?"

I'd love to try making a game where it doesn't f**king matter and I can be like, "You know what? I want to add this feature and this feature and this feature." But a lot of us have to think in terms of, "This is the most valuable feature to our audience. This is what they love, so this is what we're going to focus on. We can't just throw everything in there."

You have to be real smart about that, and obviously, that's another place where you can't make mistakes. You can't say, "The big feature for this next game is X," and if your audience is like, "We don't give a shit about X," then you're like, "Oh s**t" because we spent a lot of money making that.

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Do you have a project or an idea that you would pursue if you didn't have to worry about money from publishers or even fan expectations?

Whenever I see people designing space sims and things like that, I'm like, "That sounds like so much fun." I think the best sim that's ever been made is Minecraft. Minecraft is so simple, but it feels so real. It feels so authentic, which is its power. I just think Minecraft is amazing, and I never would've been able to come up with an idea like that because I tend to think in incredibly complex simulations type stuff.

That would probably be the thing I'd work on. I joke about that, even with other developers I joke. That's what I would do. The kind of person I am, I would be happy spending 20 years working on some obscenely complicated universe simulation and then never release it, probably, and go f**king crazy by the end. I'd be the guy with the hair, pissing in bottles, telling people, "Er, go away. I'm working on the space simulation." There'd be websites about "Whatever happened to Jake Solomon?"

So what you're saying is, you're not going to make a space sim?

No, no. I'm not going to because I don't want to go crazy.

Your most recent game, XCOM 2, is a strategy game. Strategy's not really known for being a big triple-A seller. How do you approach making a triple-A strategy game knowing that it's not traditionally a high-selling genre?

XCOM would never exist without Civilization, because Civ is the proof. They're a very non-standard triple-A game, but they do amazingly, amazingly well because they have a loyal audience. I think that's what's important about strategy, and that's why I like making strategy games. Not only because I love strategy, but we have a relationship with our audience and it's probably more important to us than a lot of other titles.

Having a very distinct, loyal audience makes it easier as a developer to focus on, "Okay, this is what they like. This is what our relationship's like," and you get to a point where, when you're making Civ or when you're making XCOM and you're making sequels, the ownership shifts from me as a designer.

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When you make your first game, you feel like you have creative ownership over it. When you make games that have an audience already, then you shift the ownership over to your audience. And now you're in a position where you're sort of curating this game for your audience, and you can have this back and forth with them in terms of understanding what it is they want. I think that that's how you have to approach a game like XCOM, or even a game like Civ--you feel like you have this shared ownership.

At the end of the day, whose opinion about what happens in the game is more important: the fans or the developers?

Unquestionably the fans, unquestionably. I always, always say that our players' values are our values. They have to be. I always have to project players' values onto my own, and when I'm designing a feature I have to try and say, "This is something they're going to appreciate or they're going to like," because if I don't, if I'm off this way, then the problem is, I'm going to have to readjust. It's not like the players are going to readjust what they like based on what I've said.

For a specific example, in XCOM 2, a lot of the missions are timed--like, you have to complete this mission in this many turns. And I did that because I was just thinking, "Okay, objectively, that's a better design because it forces players to make sub-optimal decisions. They don't have all the time in the world, so now they have to take risks." The good thing about that is that when players take risks, they have varied experiences from mission to mission. There's no optimal way to solve a mission. You can't just sit back and be real defensive.

The problem is, some players didn't like that kind of pressure on them, and it's not for me to then defend my design decisions. Another death trap for designers is to say, "Let me explain to you why I'm right and you're wrong." Instead, the goal is to say, "Okay, if that's what my players' values are, I need to readjust." It's one of the hardest things, but I really have to force myself to say, "I need to find a way to make this work with my players' values, not my own particular opinion about what's the best design."

At the same time, though, most fans are not developers. They don't necessarily know what's going to work in the context of the game. So if you're turning creative control over to people who don't know how to make games, could you ultimately end up with something that doesn't work or make sense?

Oh yeah, [but] I think the mechanics are up to the designer. It's more the broad strokes of, if the players don't like something, you're like, "Okay, well this is what I want to achieve, but if they didn't like this mechanic, I need to come up with another mechanic." Again, you just have to make sure your values are aligned with your players.

"I always, always say that our players' values are our values. They have to be." -- Jake Solomon

Again, it goes back even to the thought of money and development. The only things that matters are the things that bring players value. It's like if an artist was modeling a table and they spend a s**t load of time modeling the underside of the table and the player never sees the table. All that time is just money poured down a hole. That's the kind of thing we have to be careful about. Because if you're doing that, you're just wasting time. They'll never see it. They'll never care.

The only way to get around it is to make sure you understand your players' values well enough to say, "You know what? We shouldn't waste time on that. They're not going to give a s**t. We shouldn't worry about that. We should worry about this thing that they really care about, that they spend a lot of time on." That's why understanding your players is so, so important.

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butterworth

Scott Butterworth

Yes, his mother is Mrs. Butterworth.
XCOM: Enemy Within

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jenovaschilld

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Edited By jenovaschilld

I cannot help but disagree with alot of XCOM Lead Jake Solomon's interview points but not the entirety on the whole.

Basically: his softening to why games fail fall entirely on the developers and publishers but mostly on the developers even if they are pushed to make changes that are not what the consumer wants. There are simply too many amazing, groundbreaking, AAA, ... piles of shit that are getting out the door. From new IP's to sequels - which many of these are designed with an audience in mind by polls and focus groups long before the game is even out of alpha. Jake wants us to believe that developers are artists with the gamers heart in mind, but they are just like anyone else who needs to work, needs to keep the lights on and will pander to even the worse ideas - like tack on multiplayer or vapid sequels.

Still though even a well made game that is a failure (like ICO, Shadow, Last Guardian) will create enough of a rabid fanbase that will allow developers and publishers enough money to keep on creating sequels. A few more like DReamfall, planescape, and those pier and atelier games - which did not make big profits if any, still carried enough push and fandom to fund more games down the road. Yes those were AAA games at the time. While broken games like Andromeda above and AC Unity will probably not see a sequel in that world at least.

PLEASE DO NOT FEEL SORRY for developers, as the gaming industry closely mirrors that of consumer entertainment similar to movie studios of the same time. The average dev salary is $85k, the avg salary of anyone in the gaming industry is $46k to $90k depending on what country you live in. Developers are not Doctors, Scientists, Nurses, Teachers, Civil Servants, etc they create entertainment. There is no licensing, there is no degree, - where a very talented creative 19yr with a vision can still be a multi-millionaire. When AAA games fail - these folks are not living on the streets, or not able to feed their children. It is like when a blockbuster movie fails, the studios ..... will be alright. Developers and studios will quickly move onto the next project or have to move to where the next project is being created.

Like any form of consumable entertainment media - there is risk, but the rewards more then make up for it. Why anyone still likes the fast and furious franchise causes small aneurysms in my brain still yet, but they know what their dumb inbred fans want, and they give it to them. Who would have thought their would be as big an audience for Downtown Abbey or the Minecraft franchise, sometimes creating something awesome in a vacuum with alot of courage is the only way to go- fans are not always right, publishers are not always right. The above article is more of a masturbation interview for developers and not a real insight into the industry. If you want real dirt on what developers think and what publishers want - goto gamesindustry.biz and or read the post-mortem articles on popular games and games that bombed or even did good. Like FF13 and RE6 . These are long reads but more interesting than the puff piece above.

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butterworth

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@jenovaschilld: Have you ever worked in game development?

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jamesindigital

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Edited By jamesindigital

@butterworth: It should be pretty obvious from the comment that they don't work in the industry and probably don't know anyone that does.

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RhyminGarfunkle

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Am I the only one who loved the turn timer? I actually found the non-timer missions - bases, the final mission(until the very end), etc - relatively boring because I could just turtle my way through without taking any risks. Ability cooldowns lost their meaning when I could just overwatch for five turns and continue like nothing happened, and an unconscious unit lost all drama when I didn't need to make a choice between saving the unit and completing the mission. These games, from X-COM to XCOM 2, are all about making hard choices and I thought it was a very effective way of adding weight to each choice. The thought of playing through an XCOM 2012 campaign again kinda bores me, even with the soft meld timers.

Also, from these comments it seems like a lot of people who didn't like the timers didn't actually play the game and are under the impression that the timers are "You have 90 seconds to complete the turn" rather than "You have twelve turns to complete the mission, but you can spend as much time as you like on each turn".

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velcroboy

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@rhymingarfunkle: I absolutely liked them. I wouldn't want them on every mission but it was a new challenge and I enjoyed that very much.

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digitalheadbutt

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@rhymingarfunkle: I liked it too, XCOM2 was the game I spent the most hours on last year. Good game.

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so_hai

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They misread their audience just like any other sector can...

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Zloth2

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"The problem is, some players didn't like that kind of pressure on them, and it's not for me to then defend my design decisions."

Yeah, that's our job - the forum posters! We'll tell them exactly why they are wrong in a respectful yet firm tone. Then we'll sometimes postulate on the effect their procreation efforts could have on the world-wide gene pool. ;)

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Otterbee

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I think another problem is developers thinking they can "mail it in" on a game. For example, you look at developers like Gearbox and the Aliens:Colonial Marines debacle. They decided they didn't have the resources to do the game so they outsourced much of it. They were too focused on their current "breadwinner" (Borderlands series). I heard that BioWare did a bit of outsourcing on ME:Andromeda. I'm sure it wasn't for the same reason (unless they've got some projects that are unknown to the public)...and it was probably more that they felt the pressure of wanting to make a great game, and thought the risk of outsourcing some aspects was going to pay off for them. But, it failed miserably.

I've always been a firm believer in "do it right the first time, and you won't have to do it again". (Thus, it won't cost you more in the long run)

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HallunX

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Games like Doom, Quake, Skyrim are triple -A. Rest is just overpriced crap with tons of DLC. I was a fan of Civ but then you release Beyond The Earth and it was last time i spent 60e for your games.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@hallunx: AAA indicates budget, not quality.

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jdc6305

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If there's one thing I want out of a game it's a complete polished product. That's something developers can't seem to do now. If you're trying to sell a half assed I'll patch it later game with dlc game you can go screw yourself. EA Activision and Ubisoft can go screw themselves for this very reason.

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f-chopin

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Not sure what to think on this or if i like it.

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Ultramarinus

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Good to see that Jake took the lesson of "time-constrained strategy gaming is bad" to heart. XCOM2 disaster won't be renewed again hopefully.

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Zloth2

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@Ultramarinus: Yeah, right. That 'disaster' got a 9/10 here on Gamespot and sold very well.

That turn constraint is really needed. Back in the original reboot, you could turtle along by putting everyone in overwatch then moving one single soldier forward. The strategy works very well but is also very boring. So players use it, get bored, and blame the game for being too easy and slow.

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Ultramarinus

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Edited By Ultramarinus

@Zloth2: Gamespot has been giving a 9 to something lost meaning a long while ago.

Gamer scores across Metacritic and Steam (which is actually worth something since it involves paying for the game) has dropped noticeably since the first game and arbitrary time constraint is the main reason to that. Save that "fast-paced" crap to MOBAs and shooters, let people play strategy games with the strategy they want to play, not the strategy enforced upon them.

Previous game has much better scores from gamers so your claim is false.

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RhyminGarfunkle

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Edited By RhyminGarfunkle

@Ultramarinus: XCOM has a 89 on Metacritic, XCOM 2 has an 88, essentially identical. User scores are 8.2 to 7.1, not exactly huge differences. Personally, I think that people just latch on to the most obvious difference between a game and the sequel and complain about it - when XCOM 2012 came out everyone said it was terrible and ruined the perfect original X-COM because it got rid of time units and gave you a single base. When XCOM 2 came out, everyone complained that it ruined the perfect XCOM 2012 because most missions have to be completed within a certain number of turns. When XCOM 3 comes out I'm sure everyone is going to complain that it ruined the masterpiece that is XCOM 2 by giving you multiple cumbersome bases to manage, rather than a single mobile base.

It's interesting to think, though, so many fans say they love Terror from the Deep more than the original X-COM. Terror from the Deep is, famously, just a reskin of the original X-COM - the publisher wanted a sequel fast, and there wasn't time to do anything except make a new set of graphics and bump up the bad guys' stats. The fact that it's identical to the original game except harder is what makes so many fans love it and makes others, including Julian Gallop, the developer, consider it an artistic failure.

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Ultramarinus

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@rhymingarfunkle: Steam scores down from 95% to 78% and even that's only possible with advancements like procedural levels which was a big demand.

And yeah, Firaxis XCOM is a step down from the original UFO Defense, a watered-down game crafted with irrelevant focus group whines being the judge of game features. Yet, it was still decent if you managed to forget how better the predecessor was.

A worse game is worse and better game is better. Check Persona 5. Both critics and players think that it's an even better game than previous Personas, even though it changes stuff. It changes stuff for the better though, no focus group involved. That's success.

P.S: I'm one of those who dislike TFTD.

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EMPTY-V

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Failing never sounded so enticing before. Maybe I should file for bankruptcy too, in an "efficient" way.

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gregrout

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Sadly, most of the failures rest on the marketing and publishing side of things. When it comes to low sales, it's usually the developers that get screwed. I won't touch the New Mass Effect game. I know for a fact that the EA/Bioware Business Model is going to give me a rushed game followed by a crap load of DLC/Season Pass content. The longer I wait to buy that game the bigger the payoff will be. I'll get a fully patched game, all the DLC/Season Pass content for $10-$20. This customer behavior isn't really the developer's fault; but, they'll get saddled with all the blame.

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Zloth2

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@gregrout: I did that with Dragon Age: Inquisition. Worked very well!

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gregrout

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@Zloth2: I jumped on that title as well. It's just makes more sense that way. When you think about it, you're basically "renting the experience" when you purchase a video game. Day Zero buyers are almost for certain going to have a worse experience than someone that waits for the fully patched game of year edition.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

1. Throwing more people at a project does not automatically make it better. Often, the opposite occurs. A solid vision rather than design by committee or design by focus group usually produces the better game.

2. Talent matters. A team of 50 people at one dev is not going to automatically produce the same caliber of results as 50 people at another.

3. Greedy publisher demands often screw with developer visions. Forcing tacked on multiplayer modes and microtransactions can tank a project fast.

4. Listening to fan demands, especially those of your own Twitter and industry clique echo chamber can disconnect you from your audience and reality.

5. QA matters. You might think that patches allow you to just fix anything after release, but if your game released half finished and half broken your review scores will tank fast in addition to word of mouth spreading to keep far away from your game, and they will NOT be corrected if you fix your game later.

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Otterbee

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@Thanatos2k: I agree almost entirely with your points, except for #4. I'm not a user of Twitter (or most any social networking media), but I'd like to get some clarification on "fan demands". Is there a better method that you feel directly connects the developer and their consumer? Or, are you saying that people responding on Twitter aren't necessarily direct consumers of the game? How does Twitter result in a "disconnect between audience and reality"?

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Thanatos2k

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@otterbee: The kind of people you would get responding to you on Twitter or your forums is not representative of your audience as a whole.

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iandizion713

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Edited By iandizion713

I agree you have to innovate. But yeah, even innovating can get you into trouble due to fan feedback that becomes very pessimistic. I think a big part is marketing. Some games can market above the blow-back. Breath of the Wild is a perfect example. Nintendo was able to hype it so much that the massive blow-back couldnt stop it. The same could not have been said for other games.

Its a tricky business. Companies must continue to diversify and challenge themselves to break new ground in game development and marketing. Nintendo Switch is another awesome example. Coming off Wii U and a lot of hate from gamers who dislike Nintendo. Nintendo has been marketing to innovate and combat such pessimism. Theyre fun to watch, i love how they change the game and overcome such challenges.

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nurnberg

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Nothing annoys me more than a AAA, high budget game that is released full of bugs and glitches.

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deactivated-593f8155cc406

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@nurnberg: For the full price.

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Shelledfade1

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Edited By Shelledfade1

This is why sequels that do new things generally fail. The developer or new developers thinks they're adding something new (like timed-missions in this case) but its just forcing the player to play the sequel that they're looking forward to in a way that they never wanted to do and never imagined.

I think developers need to ask themselves, if I put this new feature in the PREVIOUS game, would it have been better, or worse; OR, if I removed this feature from the PREVIOUS game, would it have made that game better, or worse. I think that mindset also makes sense.

For example with mass effect andromeda, the companions skill trees are tiny, there is no customization there because of how small the skill tree is, and you can't equip them with any armor or weapons so why are we going around in the nomad looking for so many damned resources for stuff? Using Solomon's example, what these new devs should have asked themselves is, if we reduced the skill trees drastically for companions, and removed the ability to equip companions with armor and weapons, would that have made mass effect 1, 2 and 3 better?

The obvious answer to that question is no. Your companions are supposed to be one of the most important features of the mass effect games and pulling a feature like that out also reduces the connection that you have to them. I have never seen ANYONE ever complain about the fact that they have to manage their companions armor/gear/skill tree, not in dragon age and not ever in mass effect. Building your companions that you want to take with you so they work well together and with your own character build is not tedious, it is a strategy mechanic. It deepens the gameplay of the game. I've never seen anyone ever say that they wanted those features changed or removed. Only added to. Same with the dialogue choices, they had plenty of feedback from inquisitions failure regarding it, and they did the exact same damn thing while at the same time removing the previous games design with paragon and renegade. Anyone who's played ME:andromeda knows their entire dialogue system gives the illusion of choice, unlike the previous games.

This is just a couple examples. If they did it because of a time-constraint then they should have delayed the game. I mean what could have possibly been a time-constraint in the first place when they had so many assets to work from? you have mass effect 1, 2 and 3 to build on , and the feedback that inquisition got. They took all that information and literally dumbed-down features or straight up removed features that made the previous games great. That isn't design-decision, that's either budget-cutting or just straight up BAD game development.

In other words, bioware montreal simply sucks. This is what happens when you give a major project to a 2nd-rate division of a company that was in charge of the previous games multiplayer aspect, while most of the devs that made the previous bioware games no longer work for the company. It should have never happened, and they should not have released the game in its current state because 5/10 or 6/10 (at best) for a mass effect game is a damned travesty. It can't be explained, the only logical conclusion is that the wrong people worked on this game. Plain and simple. RPG is clearly NOT their thing.

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Thanatos2k

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@Shelledfade1: Well, simply put, most story heavy game series should never go past three games. The sequels following the first game should be "the same but better."

After that - pack it in. Start a new series - don't try to cash in your brand recognition with "experimental" changes that are not likely to be well received.

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Irritatedstick

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"According to XCOM Lead Jake Solomon--a man whose own forays into triple-A development have produced highly successful games like XCOM 2--that's not too surprising."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

X-Com, highly successful and triple-A? Oh man, thank you so much for that. It's the funniest joke I've heard maybe ever. If I had the money, I'd buy every used copy of that piece of crap in existence if it would spare just one poor soul from playing the most cheap, cheating POS game I've ever played. I need to go wash my eyes with bleach after reading that.

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velcroboy

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@irritatedstick: Looks like somebody missed a 99% headshot...

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@irritatedstick: Trying a little hard there buddy. : \

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Irritatedstick

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@Mogan: Nah, it's a understandable reaction to such a hilarious sentence.

Xcom fans on an Xcom article, go figure. I'd be more surprised if there were gamers with good taste on GameSpot :)

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EMPTY-V

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@irritatedstick: Xcom haters clicking on an Xcom article, go figure. I'd be more surprised if there were gamers with no irritatedsticks up their ass on Gamespot.

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Irritatedstick

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@EMPTY-V: ...that makes no sense.

Sure gets the sycophants in a huff when someone points out a game they like is objectively and inherently bad. I've actually never seen anyone defend Xcom before, but here we are. Logic doesn't seem this boards forte rotflmao

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EMPTY-V

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Edited By EMPTY-V

@irritatedstick: Yes, I will defend Xcom while also sort of agree with you about the game sometimes "cheating". I'll even admit that I suck on any other difficulty higher than normal. But I love the Long War mod so much. I'm not in a huff because of your opinion of the game, I would have gray hairs if I cared about that stuff all the time on the internet -just how you see yourself as someone with superior "taste" and "logic"above every single person on this site for enjoying this game. Maybe you're just joking. But if not - expect a middle finger from me over complacency

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Irritatedstick

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@EMPTY-V: I really feel you may reading a little too much into a comment thread. My initial comment was mostly a joke that... escalated quickly. Lol

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EMPTY-V

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Edited By EMPTY-V

@irritatedstick: You're absolutely right, Irritatedstick - I accidentally typed a dirty comment towards you like a fart I've been holding for a while. I couldn't let it out somewhere else where no one would be able to smell it after reading your original comment.

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Irritatedstick

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@EMPTY-V: To argue with a fool is like lighting candles for the blind.

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EMPTY-V

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@irritatedstick: Yep. You don't want to argue with this fool. It would be pointless

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Firelo

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Mass Effect: Andromeda fails because Bioware is immoral.

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Zenrocker480

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@Firelo: LOL ... anyone aware of Bioware killing animals and blood sacrificing babies to make their games?

ME: Andromeda failed because bad writing, poor contents, and mediocre, old rehash game play ... Add the bad science make bad science fiction ... all add up to a bad game.

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Spaced92

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Edited By Spaced92

"XCOM would never exist without civilization." You mean it would never exist without X-COM lol. I think Civilization back in the day was fairly non standard because there was no standard for sim games to aspire to, really. Even today a lot of sim games are fairly unique when you look past the truck simulators. There's no standard template.

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Heqteur

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While people would say tight schedules are ausing unnecessary pressure on the devs I have to say they are also a must for AAA titles. With the development budget those have the game HAS to release eventually release if the dev doesn't want to choke to death after draining all the money. One of my friend created an indie development company a few years ago. He and his associates had that "no crunch time/game will release when it's ready" philosophy and, well, both their first game (both AAA attempt) ended up with very poor sale even though he could manage to interest the gaming medias into making covering on his games. Now, he's been working on his 3rd title for god knows how long and while his idea is totally cool, his game will end up being outdated before it even releases and it will make poor sales again. What's sad is he had to beg for grants from our government to avoid shutting down the whole business and abandon his project. All because he's sticking to his plan and won't do anything to try and make money with some smaller titles before going full AAA with some decent man power.

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Khasym

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@heqteur: I think the problem with schedules, is the "Why?" Why have a schedule and force developers to stick to it? Now, if the reason is to control the budget, keep the team focused and clear about their time-management, that's a good thing. There's tons of creative mediums where talented people get lazy about a piece of work when there's no deadline. Since they can indulge in ALL their whims on an idea without fear of a time limit, they just spin further off point or into a black hole of minutiae. A good deadline that can give people a goal to hit, can motivate them to curate their own ideas well and present the BEST ones, not just ALL of them, good or bad.

But it turns rotten as hell, when it's about marketing or hitting this date to beat a competitor or nail that Christmas window. Because that's when the deadline becomes a deadLOCK. Those same talented artists who are working on a project know if they're going to HONESTLY come up short on time. Not listening to them and saying "We'll patch it later" is precisely what turns a good game into a dud on arrival. Game after game has been released over the past four years, that desperately needed a pushback for more polish, more tweaking and more just plain WORK. But the higher end of the command structure always think to their own safety first. If they are the ones who are gonna get chewed out by investors over a pushback or a delay, it's almost a guarantee they'll take cutting the game off at the knees and shove it out the door. Any problems after that, can be blamed on the artists and coders, who didn't manage their time better.

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Ultimate_Noob

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While I can understand that Jake doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds, I dislike it a little bit that he basically says he had to swallow his own design philosophy because players wanted to Overwatch-turtle for +5 turns in XCOM 2.

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Zloth2

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@Ultimate_Noob: Well, be careful here. He's not saying let'm do the turtle thing. He's saying the turn limit wasn't very popular. There are other ways to encourage people to stop playing like that. In fact, Long War 2 does one: reinforcements. Just make those show up faster/bigger as time goes on.

Some still won't like it, of course. They really want to cheese the game by using that tactic and winning the game at far higher difficulties than they can really handle. It took JRPGs a long time to shake off the tactic of levelling up your character in an early area for hours (sometimes days) so the player would out-level everything in the rest of the game.

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Khasym

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@Ultimate_Noob: The problem is that it really doesn't create good gameplay. I'm not saying that the solution was better, but he was at least trying to find a real solution to a real problem in X-COM.

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