Epic drew inspiration from a variety of sources when designing Gears of War 3.
"The first thing we do is always pay attention to forums and Twitter and social networking, that's a good temperature check," designer Cliff Bleszinski told Gamespot while discussing fan feedback.
"The second thing we use is metrics; we've found sometimes there's a difference between what people are saying in the forums, and what's actually going on in the wild."
Bleszinski cited an example: Players had nominated the sawed-off shotgun as the most powerful weapon, but looking at statistics, Epic found it wasn't actually that efficient.
"Then the final thing we use is our gut. If we can't trust that we might as well pack it in," the designer added, noting prone stance and peeking over cover as two idea the team though of implementing but found didn't feel right.
Bleszinski described what he called the "I did not sign up for this" lesson of gameplay design.
"In Dead Space, [there] was that asteroid sequence. I signed up to kill Necromorphs and be scared, I didn't sign up to play Asteroids," he explained.
"The same thing applied to Gears 2 with the damn tank on the lake. Most Gears fans signed up to hear the story of Marcus, Dom, Cole, Locust, and chainsawing and cool weapons, and awesome set-pieces. They didn't sign up to drive a tank over slippery ice that breaks. That's one of the very important lessons we learned."
On the subject of other games, Bleszinski mentioned that while Gears of War 3's story has a lot of personal meaning for Rod Fergusson, Lee Perry and himself, he didn't feel he could ever approach a subject as personal as relationships.
"I've had my share of ups and downs, and good and bad relationships, but I don't think I could ever pull off a game like Catherine," he said.
"I applaud them for going in that direction. Catherine is the first game to touch on themes of stress, infidelity, and uncertainty in a relationship since Silent Hill 2, and that's an area I wouldn't even want to touch, because they're tricky."
Gears of War is an Xbox 360 exclusive due on September 20.