I sort of like this new Cliff Bleszinski — the one that works for no-one and just blogs about all these crazy topics — I assumed — in his underpants without censoring himself. His latest post, which looks at the difficulties that come with developing sequels, is a truly insightful look into the creative thought process. How do you balance pushing forward whilst maintaining the feel that made the original so successful?
In his blog he discusses, as an example, the reaction fans had when Epic reduced the firing speed of the shotgun by 50ms. The fact that fans noticed this, and complained about it, is incredible — but it's an idea I'm familiar with as one of those annoying Halo players who just wants their pistol back.
In a game, the users are used to the cadence of the experience. However airtight each game mechanic is. They are, quite literally, learning a new “language” with each new game that they’ve never laid their hands on before. (Case in point: From Gears 1 to Gears 2 we changed the firing speed of the shotgun by 50ms. Barely the blink of an eye for most people. However the die hard fans who loved that weapon felt it immediately. You can’t fool them. Muscle memory is a powerful thing.)
In a sense, if they like the game, they’re experiencing what is most likely the mental equivalent of falling in love while under duress. They’re discovering a whole new world of mechanics, characters, sounds, musical themes. If they love what they’re interacting with then that love runs EXTREMELY deep and is a very powerful thing. Think about your first visit to Rapture, or the Mushroom Kingdom, or Hyrule.
What I find fascinating is the tightrope developers have to walk — the experience must be familiar, yet new. It's a conundrum and sometimes there appears to be no easy answer to the multiple different questions that fans, the press and people who are new to the series will ask.
Well worth reading.