Game Development Reference
around. But during development, the designers discovered that the closer
the camera got to the action, the more the game improved. They pushed
this further and further, until eventually they put the camera inside the
protagonist's eyes. This strange development path was not a mistake—it
was essential to the game's success. Halo was known for innovations in
large-scale multicharacter battles, vehicular combat, and open outdoor
environments, all of which were carried over from the game's roots as a
strategy game. Nobody could have planned that result, and nobody did.
BioShock is about exploring an underwater city built in the art deco
style. The city, called Rapture, was an attempt at creating a utopia based on
the principles of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy. By the time the player
character arrives in 1960, the utopia has failed and Rapture has descended
into civil war. The game was famous for this rich and unique world nar-
rative. But at its inception, BioShock didn't take place underwater and had
nothing to do with Ayn Rand. It was a science-fiction game set in a space-
ship. Later, it moved to an abandoned Nazi bunker infested with mutants.
It was only several years into development that the game shifted into an
art deco undersea city and gained its failed Objectivist utopia theme. Its
designers did not plan that world on paper; they developed it through years
of work on the game itself.
The Sims began development as an architecture game. Originally, Will
Wright did not plan to put a family in the house. The game was about
building houses and no more. The player would experiment with different
house shapes, colors, and furnishings in a completely sterile environment.
It was only when Wright dropped a simple character in the space that
he discovered how fascinating players found it. Wright followed the op-
portunity he saw, and the game became more and more about the human
characters until they became the focus of the game. He didn't plan this
result; he discovered it.
Entire designs change, as happened to Halo , BioShock , and The Sims .
But even the tiniest piece of a game can yield surprises. For example,
when I worked on puzzle levels in the downloadable content for BioShock ,
my level had a room that had a row of rocket-launching turrets along one
wall. I wanted the player to know about the turrets without being killed by
them. So I used an old trick for communicating danger to the player: as
the player entered the room, I spawned an enemy and had him run at the
player, only to be blown to smithereens by the rocket turrets. I played it
and it worked perfectly. The enemy screamed and exploded; there was no
mistaking the row of turrets. The problem seemed solved. Then I watched
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