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Designer ego vs. player agency in Broforce Exclusive

April 11, 2014 | By Mike Rose

April 11, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Design, Exclusive, Video

Over-the-top platform shooter Broforce hit Steam Early Access this week, and it's got quite a kick to it. Players are able to destroy pretty much anything in each level, and essentially forge their own path through the world, rather than necessarily sticking to the obvious route.

But making a game where players can simply burrow from A to B, rather than traversing the level as in a traditional platformer, brings its own issues -- if a player can potentially just blast a hole all the way through to the exit, how do you encourage them to play the game in a more fun and satisfying way?

"For us it's about designer ego vs. player agency," says Evan Greenwood, creative director at Broforce studio Free Lives. "Sure, players could just break their way through, but to us freedom of expression is more important than curating the experience."

For this reason, while Greenwood says playing the game in a specific way certainly leads to more fun, his team was not into the idea of forcing players to follow set themes and level design.

This possibility of drilling your way through a level also brings up another potential issue -- the protagonist is clearly very overpowered, and is able to mow down enemies like they aren't even there. So how do you balance an experience like this, such that it's not such a cakewalk but rather it slowly ramps up, instead than presenting the player with difficulty spikes?

"There are a few difficulty spikes in Broforce," Greenwood admits, "but we try to not make them insurmountable. We give a lot of lives, checkpoints and other boosts to assist the player."

"But mostly if it feels like there are few difficulty spikes in Broforce, its because we've tried to situate the difficulty in the player's tactical choices and their caution," he adds, "and these factors are both within the player's control.

For example, it's notable that very few enemies actually engage with you until you cause a ruckus around them. "This might be 'stealth' in another game," he notes, "but in Broforce, it's a way for players to not be overwhelmed."

Broforce is available now on Steam Early Access.

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