Splinter Cell: Blacklist developer Ubiusoft Toronto wanted the game to be easy to pick up and play, but to teach players not to run-and-gun via difficulty spikes.
Ubisoft Toronto game designer James Everett told GamesIndustry he didn’t want to water down the Splinter Cell stealth action formula by taking anything out.
“At a root level, at a gameplay level, we took nothing away. We just made everything easier to get at, and we made it feel better. I think if you take the things people love and you find a way to amp them up without diluting them, I think that’s probably your best bet,” he said.
Everett said that the early portion of the game allows players to take a generic shooter approach – making it accessible to series newcomers – and then introduces the heavy enemy type to ensure they have to start using Sam Fisher’s other abilities.
“The heavy character was brutally hard if you run straight in like a shooter. We needed that moment of something hard to shake people loose a little bit from maybe how they’re used to playing a standard third-person game,” he said.
This was one of the ways Ubisoft Toronto hoped to challenge players without frustrating them, and it sounds like Everett was inspired by games like Dark Souls, which he described as “fascinating”. Players always know it’s their own fault when they die in Dark Souls, he said.
“If Dark Souls was genuinely frustrating, you wouldn’t go back to it. I think frustration’s something to avoid. Challenge though – even the hardest challenges, so long as player feels and knows that they can learn from each failure, and that the challenge is surmountable in some way, shape, or form, those are the best games in some ways,” he added.
For more on this topic, Blacklist game director Patrick Redding is scheduled to give a talk at GDC 2014 called Make Things Worse: Enabling Setbacks for Consequential Play, in which he will explain why players should “suffer occasional setbacks in stealth games”.