That made me think about something, which is that players will ruin the game for themselves if they find a convenient way to move forward, even if it's boring, even if it's tedious. But if they find something that works, they'll stick with it even if they are ruining the game for themselves. I do it.
MS: Yeah, I do it. I do. And how do you stop the player from ruining the experience for himself? It's a crazy challenge, but I think if you playtest it enough...
Even designers, I think, what we tend to do sometimes is, you leave in that exploit for yourself that you like to use. Then maybe what you should do as a designer is look at the exploit that you've provided for yourself, and fix it, or address it in a different way. Don't leave it in as an exploit for yourself that other players are going to find, and they're going to use. And it takes the experience and goes from this really wide, "Hey, I'm going to try to find all these ways to complete this," to "I'm going to only use this one perfect way to do it." There has to be something to counter that.
If it was in a versus situation it's "this thing combats that", then this isn't the only one exploit that you can do all the time. Like if you were going to do a turret, the nice thing about a turret is that it has a limited line of sight, of how you can look left and right, it has range that you can move left and right. Although anything that gets in front of it has this like incredible killing power, right? But the limitations are you have no idea what's coming from behind you. You can only turn it so far. You're stuck and you're locked into one position.
If you don't provide, as a designer, a way for the other players to flank the guy who's using the turret, to potentially stay away from that guy, and then come up when he can't see you, then you've made that the all-powerful thing that everybody will exploit. So if you have one of those, you have to look at it and go, "There's got to be a way that you can Kryptonite this thing." And I don't know if it's possible to do that for everything that you do in a game, but I do think that that's the challenge of game design, is to make sure that you are doing that in as many places as possible.
Now, that being said, my guess is that Jason McDonald talked about square, square, triangle. And that's something I think that even [former combat and systems lead] Eric Williams would say, where you need to be able to do a specific, very simple and basic combo in order to get through the game, and not require the player have to do the uber-powerful specials in order to get through the game; he's got to be able to do the most basic moves, because they want him to be able to progress.
So yeah, we still probably have that low level; you don't have to do the most complicated moves in order to defeat creatures in combat and get through the game. But the challenges, essentially the combat puzzles that we're going to put in front of you, require you to fight a boss that there's no way that just square, square, triangle is going to get you through it. You're going to have to complete other challenges when you fight him.
God of War III example, Hades, you went into this sequence where you were chained up with him and you were fighting against him. It was unique and you might've been pressing square a lot, but you were also moving the analog stick to stay back, fighting your way off of the edge before he pulled you down into the river so he could kill you. And if you got past that and not died, you completed a challenge that wasn't just "I pressed square, square, triangle to defeat this creature."
So is it more about providing situations with variety, or are those also teaching experiences about mixing up the gameplay? Like the battle you just described, is that about teaching someone that there's something else they can do? Or is it just more about taking them out of the context where they can just spam the same attack.
MS: I think, in boss battles, it's definitely about variety of challenge. And we've come to be known for that. We want every new boss encounter to be different than any other boss encounter that's ever been done before. And we want it to be unique. We don't want to copy anything that anyone's ever done before; you want to try something new.
So that's where we spend a lot of time and effort, trying to provide new experience, new challenge, and something that, when you get done with playing the game you remember that sequence. You might not remember the goat fight you had, the goat captain outside of this arena. That was more of a challenge that was similar to a lot of other challenges in the game, but you sure as heck remember that fight against Hades.