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Developers can “get into a lot of trouble,” worrying what the audience thinks, says Gilbert

Tuesday, 17th July 2012 16:05 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Double Fine’s Ron Gilbert has said game creators should have “no responsibility,” to the audience. Instead, developers need to fail or succeed on their own accord.

Speaking with The Gameological Society, Gilbert said “anybody creating anything,” should have no responsibility when it comes to managing audience expectations.

“You have to do what you want to do, and you have to do what you think is the right thing to do and what you think is the best thing to do,” he said. “People who like what you do and are fans of your work are just going to like what you do as long as you do something true to yourself.

“You can get into a lot of trouble when you start to worry too much about what people are going to think because then you start to get into this weird self-censorship cycle. You do something that might be interesting and different and unique, but you become too worried what people are going to think, and you censor it.”

Gilbert said when creating, no matter what they are,”books, video games, whatever—if they’re really good, they have lots of pointy little edges, and that’s what makes them interesting.”

“It’s all these pointy little spikes and all these little things you can cut yourself and prick yourself on, that’s what makes creative work interesting,” he continued.

“If you get into self-censorship mode, you start to pound all those pointy edges away because you’re very afraid of offending somebody or worried what somebody will think of it. And then what you’re left with is kind of blah, just not interesting.

“I think you just need to do what you think is the right thing to do, and hopefully people like it.”

Gilbert’s Double Fine game, The Cave, will release on PC and consoles in early 2013. He and the rest of the studio also have Double Fine Adventure in the works via its successful Kickstarter.

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8 Comments

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  1. roadkill

    Yes, you’re right! DON’T listen to your audience! LOL!!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Edo

    Can’t tell if serious….

    #2 2 years ago
  3. LuLshuck

    I agree and Bioware is a big example of where listening to your audience can make your game shit

    #3 2 years ago
  4. traumafox

    Listening to fans = trouble
    Giving in to publisher demands = no problem

    Whatever planet Rob Gilbert lives on must be a nice place.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Maxey

    He meant not trying to make games that appeal to everyone, which ends up watering down the game from its original vision.

    What he’s trying to get at is, if you have an idea for a game, then stick with it and don’t worry about what people might thing. Make the game you want to make and if some people don’t like it, then, well, that’s their own problem.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. OrbitMonkey

    Complete bollocks. It’s by listening to its audience that Bioware have the happiest audience… Oh wait…

    #6 2 years ago
  7. OlderGamer

    I have to agree with him.

    I can give you one very good example of how a dev listened too much to its audiance and the game in question was complete crap and even killed the franchise.

    Day One Studios/FASA developed MechAssult for the Xbox one. It was 3rd person(mech) shooter and it played online. The game was very arcady, and it worked. All most people wanted was more of the same, more mech choices, more stages, a longer campaign, etc. But like most games, the game had its forums.

    And there was the problem. And we see it all of the time. The very vocal minority lobbied for and got near exactly what they wanted. I remember reading in horror, but the devs were so damn proud of themself. The game was hyped and launched. Initial sales where brisk. And within two months more players could be found on the first game then the second. And the second game was dead little after a year.

    What the hell happend?

    The game was geared for a vocal yet smaller % of the games population. the gameplay experience was finly tuned for two clans to slug it out online. And while play testing at the devs office it was brillant. While in pvt alpha and beta it was brillant. But when you put the game in the wild, and you removed those closely matched clans you got games so lopsided that one or the other team almost always left.

    The testing nor the hardcore dedicated clan players never took into account what would happen is a 12 yr old played? What might happen if someone got into the dropship(to carry supplies to the front line) was controled by someone that couldn’t fly it? In short what would happen when someone that wasn’t at their skill level was matched against someone that was.

    It ruined the game.

    I fully believe you must maintain your integrety and do what you think is best. As a dev, your going to live or die based on the decisions you make. Might as well make those calls yourself.

    And the trouble with games is that you often only hear those dedicated enough to go to a website and speak up about the game. They aren’t always, infact most times are not, represenitive of the whole pool of players.

    There are exceptions, esp where MMOs are concerned a game like that will have a long term life of its own. Also in sports games, same thing, long term life of the franchise.

    I just think it is really important to have an idea of who it is your listening to.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. silkvg247

    Actually this makes sense. I was just starting to doubt myself as I’m nearing the end of development on my first game. The cause of my woes are that I’m worrying too much what the audience will want. Will they hate my game?

    When actually I shuold be crafting a game that I want, completely of my own style and passion.

    If people like it, great, if not, then it’s a fun hobby of mine. :)

    #8 2 years ago