Fighting the Prejudice of XBLA

Greg Tito | 23 Jun 2011 12:30
Interviews - RSS 2.0

TEM: Do you ever get frustrated that you must consider such things? Do you just want to make the games you love without having to worry about selling them?

Norton: Personally, I actually enjoy just about every part of making a game, including the PR part. Designing solid weapon mechanics is a very different challenge than designing an entertaining 30-second game trailer, but each is enjoyable in its own right. But that's really just me; I'm the kind of person that likes working in a number of different arenas and enjoys each of them for their unique challenges. I love solving problems, and I just look at marketing as a different type of challenge to tackle.

TEM: While the single-player campaign is fun, it is short and the focus for Prejudice seems to be more on providing replay through the multiplayer modes. Why was that the case?

Norton: That came from our vision for the original Section 8. Our vision for the original Section 8 was building a strong multiplayer component with the single-player taking a back seat (besides a general story and setting). We're big multiplayer fans, and big shooter fans, so that's ultimately where we put our focus for the first game. Not to say we didn't want to do a more elaborate single-player, but multiplayer was always first in our books, so that's where our time and energy went.

With Prejudice, we knew we had more room to grow in the single-player element, so our focus shifted. We pushed ourselves to re-invent our technology and pipelines to allow for a bigger-and-better narrative experience. The development team didn't want to reduce from the importance of multiplayer, but we knew it was important for the growth of the franchise to develop a stronger narrative element.

TEM: Nowadays, shooters are forced to provide both a stellar story and a completely balanced multiplayer experience. What do you think about splitting development time on these two sometimes conflicting modes of play?

Norton: It takes a lot of time and energy to split your attention and accomplish something great on both ends. While visually the two components look a lot alike, the design and programming behind each element are often radically different. Ultimately, you wind up needing almost completely separate single-player and multiplayer teams, each with their own goals, but still working together to leverage as much of the same code and content as possible.

This, probably more than anything else, is why we see game development teams grow in size. Gamers continue to demand more breadth and depth in their games, and as a result, teams need more and more capable developers to handle all of the different, unique elements well.

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