Would Mario’s mous­tache sur­vive a 2015 fo­cus test?


“For Viewti­ful Joe, we brought in some kids to a fo­cus test and asked them, ‘What do you think of the char­ac­ters?’ And all the kids said, ‘Oh, his head’s too big,’ or ‘Sil­via’s an­noy­ing – I just want to kill her.’ They were just trash­ing the game, so I just got pissed off and said I’m not chang­ing any­thing.” Plat­inumGames’ in­tractable Hideki Kamiya there, re­veal­ing his dis­tinc­tive ap­proach to player feed­back. That was nearly ten years ago, but we’re talk­ing about a de­signer who uses Twit­ter’s block func­tion the way other peo­ple play Whac-A-Mole, so it’s un­likely that he’s work­ing on the forth­com­ing Scale­bound with a more open at­ti­tude. Sim­i­larly, it’s hard to imag­ine that Hideo Kojima is putting any­thing other than him­self into Me­tal Gear Solid V – es­pe­cially when you see his name against the roles of di­rec­tor, pro­ducer, writer and de­signer in the game’s cred­its se­quence. But these at­ti­tudes are on the wane. To­day, shut­ting play­ers out in­creas­ingly feels like the ex­cep­tion rather than the rule – and the im­pli­ca­tions run deep.

Know­ing when to lis­ten to play­ers, how to do so, and what to do with your find­ings have be­come fun­da­men­tal con­cerns for stu­dios work­ing in all gen­res. In Crit­i­cal Mass, we look at the tan­gled is­sue of how mod­ern games are be­ing shaped by com­mu­ni­ties as well as their cre­ators.

A sense of open-mind­ed­ness seems to be ex­tend­ing in­ter­nally within de­vel­op­ment stu­dios, too, as il­lus­trated by this month’s cover game. When it made the de­ci­sion to con­sider some­thing new rather than con­tin­u­ing to it­er­ate on its 11-year-old Kil­l­zone tem­plate, Guer­rilla Games in­vited ev­ery one of its em­ploy­ees, not only those with the word ‘de­signer’ in their of­fi­cial job ti­tles, to con­trib­ute game ideas. In our lead fea­ture, we dis­cover why it chose the vic­to­ri­ous sub­mis­sion and pulled the trig­ger on Hori­zon: Zero Dawn, a game born from an un­con­ven­tional source.

Not ev­ery­one will ap­prove of shak­ing up old con­ven­tions like this, of course. “To try to please fans, you can do EV­ERY­THING,” Kamiya once pro­nounced to the world via Twit­ter. “Great the­ory. To­tally against mine.”

Sam­ple two free is­sues of our in­ter­ac­tive iPad edi­tion – search ‘ Edge’ in the App Store

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