"Hey devs: put in achievements for not firing guns in your game. Folks who complete it will use your other mechanics more fully, and having the achievement in there will prevent those flat cutscene-only kill-the-guy-in-slow-motion moments."
- Campo Santo programmer Ben Burbank on how devs can encourage players to problem solve without guns.
In an interview with Waypoint published last week, Campo Santo programmer Ben Burbank shared how developers can design their games to encourage players to play without firing a realistic weapon after a gunman threatened his family a few years prior.
Since then, Burbank decided to avoid pulling the trigger in games, choosing to find alternative methods of clearing a level without the use of a firearm.
To him, it's more challenging and rewarding as the player to look at an environment and figure out how to traverse the space without the use of guns. Even before the incident Burbank maintained a relatively pacifist play style when it came to shooters.
"The Call of Duty games are honestly pretty fun and challenging to play without shooting, though they generally require a few cutscene-only gun moments," he explained. "And even then it's not exactly pacifist, there's still lots of punching.”
Even in shooters that don't feature realistic guns, Burbank suggests that devs design other ways for players to complete an objective that would otherwise require lots of shooting.
“I haven't ever worked on a game with realistic weaponry but I have worked on a few sci-fi games with shooting mechanics," he noted.
“On the team I was known as somebody who would push for solutions to most problems without shooting, and it led to some interesting design discussions."
Allowing a player different ways of doing the same thing mechanically creates a sort of puzzle to be solved. "We ended up having many supplemental mechanics that made it so you could complete the game without shooting if that's your preference," Burbank added.
To read more about Burbank's pacifist playstyle in games, be sure to check out the entire piece over at Waypoint.