[How showing gamers behind the scenes can bring them closer to your game and your studio. It may even help inspire the next generation of budding developers.]
When DVDs reached mainstream popularity we saw the explosion of bonus features. With more memory and better software, movie makers could now deliver additional material to supplement the movie.
Now it is fairly standard for a movie to have a making of and directors commentary. These give valuable insight to the viewer and create more value with the owner having more reasons to watch multiple times. Not only does this reduce the chance of them selling the disc second hand it also can make them closer and more involved with the film.
As many games reach million pound budgets and million pounds of success it is very surprising that many of these behind the scenes features are so rarely used.
It would give the player another reason to play through, create a closer connection between developers and their audience as well as increasing peoples knowledge and understand of how games are created.
The recent remake of Monkey Island 2 features a commentary mode that when prompted allows the player to here some insight into the scene they are playing from the original games creators. For me this was a huge selling point for re playing the game and has given me interesting insight into the games inception.
Players and reviewers will often question designers decisions and may even provide some of their own solutions. It is usually the case that many of these problems and potential solutions had already been discussed and had very good reasons to not be included.
But without any of these points being addressed by the developers it can often leave players feeling disenfranchised with the studio. By giving the player a making of documentary or in game designer commentary it would give the player a much better understanding of why the game is how it is.
Some would argue this content can be time consuming to make for the relatively small amount of people that would be interested. I however think that much of this can be implemented relatively easily and be an invaluable insight to a growing number of players.
At the very least every game studio should get its key designers to talk through important moments and decisions to be used as commentary on the final game. The more interesting and useful content the player is given the more likely they are to continue playing, not trade in the game and tell their friends about their experience.
Beyond Monkey Island and Valve’s directors commentaries there really aren’t many other examples. If you are developing a game right now think about how you could implement such a feature and really enhance the experience for your biggest fans.
[Check out my blog Heaven Twiddling for more games design highlights.]