PandaNam to Ac1d:
-Dude, did you see the new releases in the shop?
-Yes. Already bought the skin for Euryale. After the last three updates without a single thing for her I started to think they didn’t care, but this makes up for it in every way. I’m so happy right now.
-Hahaha. Yeah soon as I saw it I thought oh yeah Ac1d is going to want that for sure
This is in the early days of LBR. After Linear knew they wanted try and make a BR, but didn’t know exactly how it was going to look. Coming off the heals of Fallen Suns, a real time strategy game, this was going to be a big departure for them.
“Alright. Topic of today’s meeting is LON…GEV…I…TY.” Todd writes the word on one of the white boards with a black dry-erase marker, then underlines it a couple times. “How do we make a game that people want to keep on playing and—just as important, maybe more so—a game we want to keep making?”
“We listen to our fans,” says JAX.
“And critics,” adds Marcus. “Love ‘em or hate ‘em, many do know what they’re talking about.”
“Many are blithering morons.” Todd turns back to the board, jots down: Listen to fans and critics (NOT all). “Start tossing ideas out, people. What’ve you heard when you watch streams or play games yourself? Give me stuff from a player’s perspective, what causes people to lose interest and move to a new game?”
The replies come rapid-fire. “Lack of content,” “Unresponsive devs,” “Not enough different,” “Boring,” “Too much balance,” says someone.
“Too much balance?” Todd looks for the speaker. “Elaborate on that.”
“Ah, well,” says Sachen, one of the animators, “in a lot of games there’s this ongoing battle between a team of a hundred, three hundred, whatever, and a few million.” This comment garners tilted heads, furrowed brows, looks of confusion. “Think about it, any game you’ve played. How many devs are working on it? WoW, CoD, PUBG, Fortnite, Destiny 2, whatever, you pick the title. There is never going to be more people working on the game than are playing it. The ratio isn’t even close. Let’s say a million people log into one of these games each day, how many developers are working on Destiny 2 over at Bungie? A few hundred? Say five hundred, but it might not even be half that. How about WoW? A thousand? Hell, let’s go nuts and say with freelancers it’s five thousand for a big patch—it’s not even close to that, but let’s be silly. That’s a minute fraction of the people playing the game.” Sachen sighs. “What I’m trying to say is we will never, ever beat the mind—the collective mind—of the players. We can test things internally for a year, throw tens of thousands of hours at the game, and a day after release the players will have figured out damn near everything we did—and more. I recall stories about Dishonored bringing in play testers and they were mixing Corvo’s powers in ways the devs had never even considered.”
“Okay, so what’s your point?” Todd asks.
“My point is that we shouldn’t be too concerned with balance.”
Todd writes: Fun > Balance on the board, everyone nods. Within a week there’s a mural painted by a local graffiti artist on one of Linear’s halls with this slogan. It’s a motto they’ve stuck to ever since.
Two years later LBR is the most popular game on the planet, played by nearly two million people a day.
A message appears on screen: Final ring activation commencing in two minutes.
“Where do you think they are?” Panda asks.
Ac1d opens his map, scans. “Not a whole lot of places left they could hide. Maybe Tower? See if they’re in there, if not hold tight until we spot them.”
”Dicey, it’s right on the edge. If we have to move for the next ring it’ll be bad.” Panda groans. “Alright, sure, I’m not seeing anything better.”
”I’m going to look for some med gel and arrows, I’ll join you in a minute.”
”Don’t take much longer than that.”
”I won’t.” Ac1d heads into what’ll soon be an active minefield while Panda makes his way towards a towering skyscraper.
This planet, Havved, is a collection of one massive factory after another. Machines for war get built here. What war, where it’s being fought, who’s in it, are all unclear. LBR’s active community of fans researching the game’s lore has been digging around into that very thing. So far they’ve concluded that there’s a three front intergalactic war taking place. Each of the three factions has many allies, but what’s being fought over is still unclear.
But for Panda and Ac1d that’s neither here nor there, they don’t play LBR for the story, they play it because it’s damn fun. And if a game isn’t fun no one will care to pay your story any mind, no matter how clever.
Fun > Balance