Which is just something that I wish the rest of the industry would come around on.
There are some developers who understand the primacy of gameplay feel and experience when it comes to making video games- Nintendo, of course, are the primary candidates here, always emphasizing how their games play over how their games look (to the extent of even downplaying the tech in their systems). But there are other developers who understand this all important point, too- the primary point of a video game is to be video game, which means that how the game plays is the most important bit of it all.
Not Respawn, however. The developers of the just released excellent Titanfall 2 seem to understand that how the game feels as you play it is far more important than putting more pixels or lines on your screen. Speaking to Glixel, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella revealed that the studio focuses on gameplay over all else.
“It’s just that we focus on it,” he said. “We make decisions based on it. Our animations are interruptible by movement. Some games have animations that you have to wait for them to finish before the next movement that you’re doing. So the movement feels sluggish and sloppy. On screen, to somebody who’s watching you play, they might think that looks slightly better. But it doesn’t feel right. It feels like you’re playing in molasses.”
Zampella drove the point home, stressing that he would easily sacrifice visual fidelity and graphical acumen if it made the game play better.
“I would sacrifice visual fidelity for gameplay experience. It has to feel good. It has to play right. It has to be fun,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in first person. The Star Wars game is a third-person action game. It’s going to be more about the character and their experiences. You can see them and identify with them a little differently than you can in a first-person game where it’s all about seeing it through your own eyes. But it still has to be about feel and fun.”
I absolutely agree with him- a beautiful looking game that plays poorly isn’t going to have any staying power whatsoever (just ask Ubisoft what happened with Watch Dogs, or Warner Bros. about Batman: Arkham Knight). It needs to play well enough that players find it fun to return to- that’s the secret formula to success, but one that most game makers, sadly, still can’t wrap their heads around.