Building immersive-sim games is no easy feat, yet somehow that’s the ground that Arkane Studios has staked out for itself. With Prey coming out right on the heels of Dishonored 2, we took some time today to chat with lead designer Ricardo Bare about how he approaches designing simulation games.
It was a helpful chat especially if you’re a designer looking to make games like Deus Ex or Dishonored 2, games Bare has spent a lot of time on. For those of you seeking some helpful highlights, here are a couple of the subjects Bare went over with us on the stream (which you can see up above.)
Upending the tutorial area was risky (but the payoff was worth it)
Prey’s opening minutes include a faux-tutorial that imparts some traversal information to the player, but really doesn’t teach any of the game’s major systems in the way even Dishonored (another Arkane Studios Game) would. Bare attributes this design choice to creative director Raphael Colantonio, who wanted to pull the rug out from players, but you should know he primarily thinks it works because there’s a lot of humor to help sell the fake-out.
If you’re going to work on your own sim-type game, think about systems in loops, not fixed outputs
We quizzed Bare on what his advice for aspiring sim developers would be, and while he suggested simply just getting your hands on some game design tools and messing around with systems, he also advised trying to use those tools to create flowing loops instead of hard outputs or scenarios with fixed results.
Restrictions are good for designers
Later on in the discussion, we asked Bare about how he and Colantonio were able to balance their ambitious ideas without burning out their coworkers, and while he couldn’t tell us any specific ideas that got cut, he did say that listening to the restrictions placed on him by producers and artists helped him create some of the game's most unique encounters. (Which, for spoilers’ sakes, you’ll need to watch the video if you want to find out what ones those are.)
If this discussion was helpful for you, we’d suggest following the Gamasutra Twitch channel for more developer interviews, editor roundtables and gameplay commentary.