Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Love and Care, Forcefully Removed

My story isn’t a happy one.

Sometimes you find yourself on development projects. For me it was one of those AAA reboot titles for a series that hasn’t been around for years, and was still in development for an indefinite amount of time. You find yourself playing the game over and over, slowing learning the plot as new levels are finished. You get familiar with the characters, you spend all day interacting with these characters, learning their story, living their lives. Never did I expect to find myself *caring* about the game I’m working on. (You can only be so attached in QA after a couple months of the same project)

It’s rare to find yourself on a game that is truly a labor of love by the developers. You can tell they’ve all been working on required sequels and rehashed yearly releases for decades. This was a time for them to shine.

Then it starts to happen.

Crunch time comes and some producer steps in and decides the game needs to be streamlined. The next day you come in and realize the reverse is happening. Your character’s personalities are changed and new voice work is integrated. Whole levels and worlds are condensed and combined, whole story arcs removed.

The game isn’t streamlined. It’s gutted. As it gets closer to release more and more people are excited, you bracing yourself for impending disappointment. When you finally walk away you find yourself really upset. Some producer destroyed the characters for the sake of making it more “friendly” and mainstream. The developers you thought were lazy all this time were actually dealing with the heartbreak of releasing a shell of their former product.

It’s upsetting, but it’s how it goes sometimes. It’s why good developers leave good jobs to make games that aren’t trying to make a buck.