January 5, 2023

How Game Designers need to validate their ideas

Horizon Zero Dawn is an incredible game.

But 2 years before shipping testers labeled the game as "BEYOND DISAPOINTING".

Here is what Eric Boltjes from Guerrilla Games thinks makes Game Design a difficult job.

The Challenge of Playstesting

2 years before shipping Guerilla did a playtest of 20 players playing the full game for the first time.

They had setup analytics, their surveys were ready and they had the best possible build of the game. It was gonna be amazing.

But feedback was brutal.

The response was really negative.

    • The game felt unbalanced.
    • There were bugs everywhere.
    • The core mechanics were bad.

After 4 years of development, Horizon was in trouble.

Designing games is a difficult job.

It requires that at the start of the project you convince people that your ideas are good.
And even if you do, then you need to work to get them into the game.

If you are lucky you get to make prototypes, but then...

Feedback starts.

And it's usually negative.

You only get to show a little glimpse of what your idea is with the resources you have for the prototype.
And the negative feedback usually creates doubt that last the whole project.
Did I do the right choice, is the feature as good as it can be?

This doubts can even last more than the whole development and continue even after launch.

That being said, today we know that Horizon is a great success. It has critical success and acclaim.
But most importantly.
Players love the game.

The hard work of Game Design is worth it.

As we see, even the most successful games have had times where the designers doubted.

The job of a Game Designer is to believe in their ideas and then receive all the possible feedback.

And with that feedback polish their ideas until they shine bright.

If you enjoyed this post follow me on @QuodSoler for more info on Game Development