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Opinion Game Dev Developers doing what they want vs. what fans want, what is the right balance?

Jubenhimer

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There's been a recent interview with Paper Mario Producer Kensuke Tanabe on Paper Mario & The Origami King. While the game so far has been mostly well received, there were a few choice quotes that annoyed old-school Paper Mario fans. Namely how the team prefers to do new ideas with the series than just retreading old ground. Which sounds disappointing to those who wanted something that's like The Thousand Year Door instead of Sticker Star.

This brings me to an interesting point. Developers (or creators in general) making the game they want, VS. bowing to fan pressure and sacrificing your creative vision. This is one of those conflicts that's more complicated than it looks. As a creator, you want to make the game exactly the way you envisioned it. Yet, you also have rent to pay, and a line of fickle consumers wanting to give you money.

Normally you'd want a good balance. You can make your own game with your own ideas, but also hope that those ideas resonate well with fans. Going back to Paper Mario, the problem with the last two games wasn't that they weren't like the original and TTYD. The problem was that even on their own, they weren't really that great of games. The story was non existent, there were no actual characters to get attached to, and the battle system based on one time consumables with no benefit from them was just baffling.

The Origami King looks to fix most of the issues with Sticker Star and Color Splash. It gets rid of the world map and chapters and goes for an semi-open world structure, brings back partners with unique personalities, and introduces a battle system that if nothing else, at least looks more fun than the last two games. But there are still some unanswered questions and potential shortcomings regarding the game. Do battles actually amount to anything, or will they again, be of little consequence? Are the NPCs going to be nothing but Toads again, or will there be some variety? Changing up a series substantially isn't bad so long as the changes are well executed, which they weren't in the case of the last two Paper Mario games.

Developers should also keep in mind that whatever game they make, may not resonate with everyone unanimously. Death Stranding is one of the most polarizing experiences that ever released this generation. You got people who enjoyed it for its story and Kojima-style weirdness, and you also have people disliking it for its boring "gameplay" and confusing structure. Most importantly, even if players don't like the game, developers should NOT, under any circumstance, attack fans for it, who are at their core, paying customers giving you and your bosses money to keep the lights on. Neil Druckmann from Naughty Dog doesn't seem to get this, as he's been attacking anybody who dares criticize his super amazing masterpiece, The Last of Us Part II, as Bigots or Haters, even coursing the powers that be at Sony to take down any video that even mentions the game's pre-release leaks using YouTube's broken copyright system for him, all because he can't accept that he made a flawed game. At least Kojima knows that Death Stranding isn't for everyone.

While I can understand the want for developers to listen to fans and not make things different from what worked before, I also think people should also have a bit more sympathy for the creative side. Some people aren't really satisfied with doing something that's already been done before, and want to do things they think are cool and interesting. And so long as those new ideas are well implemented and fun, that shouldn't be a problem. But if you're just replacing the stuff that worked with things that don't, making things that people don't really get, or attacking fans for not feeding your ego, then don't be surprised if there's an angry mob at your door.
 

theclaw135

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Sticker Star is a case study in going too far to address criticism. Super Paper Mario was outlandish in the wrong ways, and that's saying a lot for a Mario game.
 

Danjin44

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For me devs should always have the freedom to do what they want, in my opinion best games comes from when developers have complete freedom. Most of the time its a huge mistake to listen to fans because 90% of the time they don't know what fuck they want, fans are their own worst enemy.
 

Jubenhimer

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For me devs should always have the freedom to do what they want, in my opinion best games comes from when developers have complete freedom. Most of the time its a huge mistake to listen to fans because 90% of the time they don't know what fuck they want, fans are their own worst enemy.
But, I do think there should be somebody at the top to keep them in check to make sure whatever they're making is... you know good. I agree with allowing developers to be free range. But that can be intoxicating, and too much freedom gets you things like The Star Wars Prequels.
 
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Danjin44

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But, I do think there should be somebody at the top to keep them in check to make sure whatever they're making is... you know good. I agree with allowing developers to be free range. But that can be intoxicating, and too much freedom gets you things like The Star Wars Prequels.
Developers also human, they can make mistakes but most of the the freedom bring better games, I also highly, highly against the idea about let fans tell developers how make their games. No developers should never ever never listen to fans.
 

Jubenhimer

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Developers also human, they can make mistakes but most of the the freedom bring better games, I also highly, highly against the idea about let fans tell developers how make their games. No developers should never ever never listen to fans.

True, but learning from those mistakes is also important. I do agree that 90% fans just complain for the sake of complaining, but taking that 10% of legit criticism and addressing it is also important. You're never going to please everyone, but I believe developers should try to make the best games they possibly can.
 

Danjin44

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believe developers should try to make the best games they possibly can
thats always the goal with all developers, but to me should never be about trying to have "mass appeal" or trying too hard to "please fans".
 

Jubenhimer

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thats always the goal with all developers, but to me should never be about trying to have "mass appeal" or trying too hard to "please fans".

I mean I agree. Developers should be free to make what they want to make. But like I said, you also need some kind of higher up or colleague to play the bad guy so that you can keep things in check and refine ideas to make a quality product. 100% creative freedom, sounds like a nice fantasy. But in practice, it's a recipe for disaster (again, see the Star Wars Prequels). 90% or 85% creative freedom is a much more reasonable compromise.
 
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Jeeves

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I think a good way to approach this for series would be: As the dev, you make the first game in the series however you want; forget the focus groups, just make what makes you happy.

Then in subsequent games for the series, calibrate your adjustments/additions by taking into account feedback from people who liked the first game, and ignore the haters because the series wasn't meant for them to begin with. Don't blindly follow fan feedback either, but take it into serious consideration.

I think that's the right balance.
 
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BDubsLegend

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Fans don't make games devs do. So fan input should be limited. Sometimes people don't know what they like until you give it to them.
 

Metroiddarks

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In my opinion is always important hear constructive opinions (not from fanboys or haters) but that doesn't mean you have do everything they want
for this reasons:

-Is your game, your vision maybe is not perfect but still be your vision and that is which give identity to your game
-They want your game be like other games they also like, for example why in the TLoU I cannot be a hero like Horizon
-They will not agree on almost nothing, example Halo Infinite some people want a game similar to Halo 3, other Halo Reach others a totally new experience
-Many times they complain about something but don't know how to fix it, example open worlds with many hours necessary to explore, they like but sometimes
they got bored because has too many content
-Some people are just haters so its opinions are not worth it
-In other side the fanboys see everything perfect even when you see is something wrong
-Now is more usual to see some mechanics or even part of history you know are not make it to be liked for a normal user but they think this is
a defect
-Almost all the users who said an opinion doesn't have a close idea of how to make a game

The problem with the last one is they usually request things which are not realistic like "I want my game looks like God of War but running to 60 fps in my PS4" also
"I want to destroy every part of level in the new Zelda in Switch" and "Why take so many time to Halo Infinite to be released if CoD every year".
 

Bryank75

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Devs should have full freedom.... HOWEVER, if they want to build a franchise they need to realize what makes their games popular. If there is a reeeeally popular character and you kill them off....there may be no franchise left.

You have to be able to take feedback or else be able to come to terms with the fact that you may have killed the potential of the IP. If you're making a game in a series, you should try to be faithful to the tone associated with that series.

You know.... there are things to contemplate in general.... you have the freedom but you also have the responsibility.
 

TheSHEEEP

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The best games are always the result of a strong vision without listening too much to "fans". Of course you have to listen to feedback and criticism, but you have to filter - a lot - what is actually useful for the vision.
 
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But like I said, you also need some kind of higher up or colleague to play the bad guy so that you can keep things in check and refine ideas to make a quality product.

This is really under appreciated, but it's even clearer in movies and books. Look at George Lucas or almost any self-published book. It's surprisingly easy to get too wrapped up and lose touch with both your audience and reality.
 

StreetsofBeige

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Gaming is probably the only industry where the studio welcomes so much feedback, interaction, and gamers chime in in huge numbers.

Every other industry the company does what they want with some focus groups, and that is enough to steer the ship.

If devs want to be blatantly open to feedback, then listen to it. If not, then close up communication and just release what the studio wants to make (with limited focus group feedback) and just accept what gamers have to say when it releases.
 
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BlitzerRadic

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Developer should make the game they want to make. If the game is bad, then let the market decide by not buying the game. Of course you have people who say not buying doesn't work but look what happened to Ghost Recon Breakpoint. That game changed some things that the market did not like and resulted in disappointing sales. Guarantee if/when UBI decide to make another GR they won't be making the same mistakes.
 
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theclaw135

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You've got to be able to translate what fans claim they want, into what they'd actually enjoy. Taking feedback literally is another road to ruin. Pokemon deserves comprehensive quality improvements. The dexit extremists getting their way can only lead to games with more recycled content (gradually ever more each generation as the total number of Pokemon grows).
 

Paracelsus

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"if they listened it would be bad"
I can't remember when was the last time a developer actually listened to the core fanbase for any new game, which is why it's baffling to me when someone says that. How do you know?
It feels more like they give you what nobody asked then spend the rest of the time trying to convince you that was what you always wanted.
 

StreetsofBeige

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Another thing about listening to gamers and feedback also heavily depends on the game.

There's a big difference in gamers saying an RPG has a shit story and bad leveling up system, vs. a bunch of shooter fans where one side says snipers are OP, then snipers say no they aren't SMGs are OP, then another group says shotguns are OP. In cases like that, most of these whiners are self serving and trying to gimp other gamers using different class set ups than their own.
 
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Gtafans93

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But, I do think there should be somebody at the top to keep them in check to make sure whatever they're making is... you know good. I agree with allowing developers to be free range. But that can be intoxicating, and too much freedom gets you things like The Star Wars Prequels.

But giving the fans what they want gives us the Unimaginative, uninspired, disgusting Sequel Trilogy. At least the PT had a heart and an identity
 
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Jubenhimer

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But giving the fans what they want gives us the Unimaginative, uninspired, disgusting Sequel Trilogy. At least the PT had a heart and an identity
Exactly, which is why you need to find a good compromise with creativity. Even the Sequel Trilogy had its moments of creators lashing out at people giving legit criticism.
 

Gtafans93

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Exactly, which is why you need to find a good compromise with creativity. Even the Sequel Trilogy had its moments of creators lashing out at people giving legit criticism.
I've always believed in balance. Do what you wish with the first installment/ Idea but if it gets big enough for a sequel be sure to look at what the fans love, hate and use that Constructive criticism to enhance a sequel. Keep learning, evolving and creating. Make comprimises if you can. But I also agree that it's the creators story and as a creator you should NOT change it for the fans unless you know what your creating will be divisive
 
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Whitecrow

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The thing is, if you are making a Mario game, and you creative vision includes killing Mario,your creative vision can **** off.

As long as your creative vision is still giving fun to the players its ok.
If its to earn badges and fuck your fans, is not ok.