An eight-minute documentary on Capcom's recently-released Resident Evil Village candidly displays the doubt surrounding the game's quality, and how QA feedback saved the day.
It's a short but insightful peek at a game development rollercoaster that so many developers can relate to. Despite the ups and downs, within four days of release Village had shipped 3 million copies worldwide.
"Basically the combat was terrible...I remember having a really strong negative reaction," said Village quality assurance manager Sutaro Kobayashi. "The game's content was completely divorced from what the development thought they had made."
What the team was trying to make was a game where players felt a "struggle to survive." Following focus testing in which playtesters found the game's enemies too numerous, overly aggressive, and gameplay that was mindless, team leaders looked to QA for feedback.
"The development team had a lot of confidence in their work," said Kobayashi. "Every day they poured their heart and souls into it. It's only natural that when you provide critical feedback, it's generally not received very favorably."
A strong reaction is also natural when the game is in the final stages of development, and the team is forced to accept the fact that the game is missing the mark.
Producer Tsuyoshi Kanda is quoted as saying "no one will like it," reflecting the panic the game dev team was feeling when they realized they needed to make major fixes.
"We didn't think it could be fixed," said general manager Makoto Kadono. But eventually he came around. "We're going to fix it! And if we're going to do it we need to do it right."
Once the development team was able to identify what was broken and what needed fixed, they created a plan ahead: enemy numbers were reduced, and aggression was toned down, encouraging a level of paranoia in players which actually made the game more psychologically engaging.
Kobayashi acknowledged that truthful feedback can be difficult and painful to deliver and to hear, but he said it was crucial in making the game Capcom wanted to make.
Kanda said, "QA wants as many people as possible to enjoy this game. They were able to look past their fears of people being upset or angry at them. I think it was an absolutely essential part of this process in delivering a quality product."