I was just messing around on my lunch break reading about XCOM 2 when I came across this interview with the lead designer of X-Com (Jake Solomon) on Gamespot.
He covers a lot of ground and explains a lot of the challenges game-developers face and why some big games inevitably fail.
I found a couple of his comments interesting and they made me think about some of the design decisions that lead to DoW III. At one point, the interviewer asks whose opinion matters more for what happens in the game. The response:
Unquestionably the fans, unquestionably. I always, always say that our players' values are our values. They have to be. I always have to project players' values onto my own, and when I'm designing a feature I have to try and say, "This is something they're going to appreciate or they're going to like," because if I don't, if I'm off this way, then the problem is, I'm going to have to readjust. It's not like the players are going to readjust what they like based on what I've said.
He then goes on to acknowledge criticism about X-COM 2's "timed missions", saying:
The problem is, some players didn't like that kind of pressure on them, and it's not for me to then defend my design decisions.** Another death trap for designers is to say, "Let me explain to you why I'm right and you're wrong."** Instead, the goal is to say, "Okay, if that's what my players' values are, I need to readjust." It's one of the hardest things, but I really have to force myself to say, "I need to find a way to make this work with my players' values, not my own particular opinion about what's the best design."
I think this is an important point to touch on, because we've seen a lot of disappointment/confusion/arguing about DoW III and how different it is from previous games (and how different DoW II was from DOW I). There's also a lot of white noise and contention around whether or not DoW III is a "good" or "bad" game (I'm certainly guilty of that), when I think Solomon has a better perspective on it than most:
When you make your first game, you feel like you have creative ownership over it. When you make games that have an audience already, then you shift the ownership over to your audience. And now you're in a position where you're sort of curating this game for your audience, and you can have this back and forth with them in terms of understanding what it is they want.
In this regard, I feel that Relic really slipped up. Thoughts?