Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 31, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 31, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Finding the fun fast: How rapid prototyping shaped Evolve Exclusive
Finding the fun fast: How rapid prototyping shaped  Evolve
June 16, 2014 | By Kris Graft




Turtle Rock Studios' Left 4 Dead is one of the best online co-op games in the past decade, and the studio's upcoming four vs. one game, Evolve is shaping up to be another hit.

One of the keys to Turtle Rock's success is its emphasis on rapid prototyping -- find the fun first and iterate and build from there.

"The game is what is today because we've been playing it for the past three years," said Turtle Rock creative director and cofounder Phil Robb in an E3 interview.

"The basic idea is to get the game up and running as soon as possible in its crudest possible form," he said. "Not that we intend it to be crude, but you use what you've got. The nice thing about working in the CryEngine is that it's real easy to make prototype stuff look pretty."

For example, he said when prototyping the first Left 4 Dead, the studio just used terrorist and counter-terrorist skins from Counter-Strike, just playing around with the mechanics, design and enemy behavior.

He said Turtle Rock narrows down the core elements of the game. For Evolve, it was about designing for four vs. one, co-op vs. single, and having a monster that evolves and becomes more powerful over time.

That's the frame of the game that was in place when prototyping began. The result is a game that pits four hunters, each of a specific class and skillset, against a monster that becomes more powerful over time, across three evolutionary stages.

"The hunters are sort of even all the way across [Robb traces a horizontal line in the air], but the monster starts low [on the graph], then crosses that line," he explained. "Stage one he's lower, stage two he's even, stage three he's got a bit of a numbers advantage. Those are things we tried to get in asap."

Robb added, "The whole idea behind the rapid prototype is that we don't want to spend a lot of money on something and not know if it's fun.

"I've known tons of people, and I have even been on games where you couldn't play the game until the end. That seems like a huge, crazy risk to me. You'll see a lot of games that came out that clearly suffered from that. It's like, 'wow, they should've been playing this from the beginning.'

"So that's what we try to avoid at all costs -- we get it up and make sure that it's fun, and then start iterating and building aspects to it. You add the depth as you go."



Turtle Rock is open to Early Access for future titles

One of the most notable trends in the video game business is the rising popularity of selling games as alphas and betas. Steam Early Access has been a key factor in this trend.

Asked if Turtle Rock would like to release an Early Access game at some point, Robb replied, "Dude, I would love to do that, and Chris [Ashton, cofounder and design director] feels the same way. Who knows, I won't say 'never,' but I can't say 'yes' for sure.

Robb said it would've been fun to break down that barrier between developer and player, letting their community take part in and inform the way the game is developed and designed.

"Even on [Evolve], as we were playing it all these years, the game changed a lot, and there'd be features that'd go in, features that'd come out. We always kind of lamented the fact that we couldn't take the community along on that ride.

"On Left 4 Dead it was the same thing," he added. "We had weird Infected in the game that we ended up yanking out -- we'd have fun with them for maybe a month or so, but ultimately they weren't right for the game. But even then, we think about those instances, remembering how they were messed up, but fun to play around with."

And that's what's appealing to Robb about Early Access -- enjoyment of the game transcends the game itself. Of course, changes to an Early Access game -- like removing, adding or tweaking features -- might annoy or upset players, but that'd be part of the deal when taking part in development of a game.

"For us [when playing the game internally], that always keeps it fresh always keeps it new. 'Hey we're trying this, let's check it out.'"


Related Jobs

Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[10.30.14]

Senior Sound Designer - Infinity Ward
Treyarch / Activision
Treyarch / Activision — Santa Monica, California, United States
[10.30.14]

Multiplayer Level Designer - Treyarch
Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
[10.29.14]

Producer
InnoGames GmbH
InnoGames GmbH — Hamburg, Germany
[10.29.14]

Community Manager The West and Tribal Wars (m/f) on -site










Comments


Jennis Kartens
profile image
Getting this one out via Early Access may not be the worst idea. I am still a bit sceptical on how the 1 vs 4 turns out to be, since the nature of online multiplayer is quite difficult in that perspective.

Like what happens, when the player controlling the monster just drops out?

Kris Graft
profile image
To be clear, Turtle Rock isn't talking about taking Evolve to Early Access, rather they would be open to doing that for future titles, if it made sense to do so.

Jennis Kartens
profile image
Oh, okay. Thanks for the heads up, it did sound like they're considering Evolve.

Rob Wright
profile image
Great read. As a L4D fanatic, I'm hyped on Evolve. One thing I'm glad I didn't see in this article is the word "balance," which I think is becoming one of the most over-used terms in co-op/MP. Balance means nothing to me if the playable characters aren't compelling to actually play. That's what I love about L4D -- it's not really balanced, but it's incredibly fun to play on both sides, even if you're playing as the survivors and facing the long odds.

Matthew Cleere
profile image
Ghostbusters! Don't cross the streams...


none
 
Comment: