It’s easy to delude yourself into thinking that passionate people on the internet are representative of passionate people on the whole. Resident Evil 5, for instance, was subject to great derision on most Capcom forums, but went onto become the best-selling Resident Evil to date (wonder if Resi 6 will clock it?). Bulletstorm, conversely, sold peanuts despite enormous enthusiasm online. And funnily enough, not everybody hates the Auger in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Like Battlefield 3’s executive producer Patrick Bach, Treyarch’s David Vondehaar is well-used to getting outraged feedback on gun balancing that’s entirely out of whack with what telemetry tells him about how players use weapons. “The Auger is the most popular gun for people to complain about statistic-wise,” he told OXM at a recent preview event, discussing the game’s wall-penetrating sniper rifle.
“In Black Ops 2 right now, people are saying that the millimetre wave scanner isn’t strong enough. Again, we’re in alpha, we’re still tuning, that’s important – but if you walk around the emotional reactor, some people think the scanner needs to pulse faster. ‘I need to see guys through walls better’.”
“But the data doesn’t bear that out,” Vondehaar went on. “That thing is badass and guys that use it are badass with it. There’s always a balance between your emotional and visceral reaction for how something feels, and the truth about how much it helps you or not.
“I have the fortunate or unfortunate position of being judge, juror and executioner on all those decisions, and it puts me in an awkward spot. Because I have to look at people who think very passionately that it should pulse faster, show targets for longer, or maybe it shows them even when they’re moving.
“All these are things we can tweak and tune, and they’re telling me this, and I’m looking at them, saying: “I appreciate your feedback young man, but the data shows the truth about this.” And that’s game design and part of being a game designer, and it’s fucking hard.”
Have you ever given way to your “emotional and visceral reaction” when giving a developer feedback on a game? If you were a developer, how would you go about managing such feedback? Fire up our latest Black Ops 2 multiplayer hands-on for more on Treyarch’s latest.