Let’s have a bit of fun. If you could choose a mix of different development studios to create the perfect game, who would you choose for each part and why?
Every developer specialises in something, whether they're the best at creating believable replicas of real-world objects or places, or they're really good at making a bullet turn a virtual head into crimson mush.
But there are also areas where studios could improve. Quantic Dream, for example, excel at creating people that look and sound real, or replicating the way the rain beads down someone’s face. However, when it comes to the actual playing of its games, interaction is simplistic, scripted, and you are essentially following prompts, never testing the boundaries.
Collaboration between studios is becoming slightly more common - developers assisting with their specific specialisation on other projects. Only recently, Bethesda announced Rage 2, an open-world FPS that will feature explosive destruction courtesy of developers at Avalanche, assisted by the FPS experts at id Software to hone the game’s shooting. Likewise, Ubisoft is working with a company called Sperasoft to help with seasonal updates for Rainbow Six: Siege.
So, let us just imagine there aren’t any barriers to this kind of collaborative effort, we had infinite money, time, and influence, and let's go wild.
With that in mind, here are our development studio choices for our imaginary dream game:
Melee combat - FromSoftware
I suspect a lot of my peers might have opted for PlatinumGames here, but there’s something about the pace of the Souls games that I prefer. FromSoftware’s combat design is all about precision.
You don’t have to remember combos or special moves - instead you think about positioning and timing. Rather than eating attacks, you dodge, you parry, and you block - all while managing a stamina gauge. FromSoftware excels at making melee battles that feel like a proper duel.
Systems design - Arkane
Arkane’s developers are masters at creating weaponry, powers, and gadgets that are useful on their own and devastating when used in a clever way. Every single player ability is crafted to interact with every other system in the game, allowing for creative solutions to problems that even the developers perhaps didn’t anticipate initially.
This design ethos makes players feel like they are experiencing a collaboration with the developers, or even outsmarting them. Something as simple as a door - an object that serves a simple function in most games - becomes a dilemma: do you walk through, find a vent, blast your way in, or hop out onto the window ledge?
Vehicles - Codemasters
It was tough to choose between Codemasters, Slightly Mad Studios, and Playground for this section, but Codemasters win out for me because the studio really nails the weight and physics of a car.
Even when you opt for arcade handling in the Dirt series, you really feel every bump on the track. I’m imagining how fun it would be to see this kind of unpredictable, seat-of-your pants driving in an open-world game where you can also explore on foot. My mouth is watering.
World - Rockstar
It was a close call between Rockstar and Ubisoft for the creation of my imaginary game’s world, but Rockstar win out because I can still navigate through Los Santos in my mind. If I think of a Ubisoft game, I remember buildings and the texture of the roads, but I can picture Rockstar’s rendition of LA in my head like a mental map.
Rather than simply recreating a real place, Rockstar’s developers are the masters of making a world that burns into your brain. The placement of landmarks, or how a road crests to reveal a new vista makes every place the studio creates more memorable than anything else. While we’re at it, let’s bung in Rockstar’s Natural Motion-built character physics because they lend an unmatched unpredictability to the world.
Sound - DICE
Whether it’s the pew pew of laser fire or the vwoom of a lightsaber charging up, DICE’s sound designers always prove they are some of the best in the business.
Even when they are not working with an extensive, established library of sound effects, the sound design still shines. The way Battlefield’s bombs and bullets are mixed is almost enough to give you shellshock if you are sporting surround sound headphones.
Cutscenes - MachineGames
It helps that MachineGames has some of the strongest video game writers in triple-A, but the cutscenes in Wolfenstein 2 are some of the best in the business. The way they are directed allows you to empaphise with its characters, even in this ridiculous, unbelievable alternate history world.
The comic timing, the delivery, the slapstick moments - it's all perfect, and you find yourself rushing through the shooting just to get to the next scene.
Writing - CD Projekt Red
There are loads and loads of indie studios that house amazing writers, but for the purposes of this stupid exercise, I’ve decided to stick to triple-A developers.
Since we’re sticking to triple-A, it would be rude to not let CD Projekt Red take the lead on my imaginary game. When you strip The Witcher 3 down to its mechanics, it isn't that special, really. Luckily, the writing elevates it. There are so many memorable, poignant scenes that listing them would be an article in itself, but I'd like to give a special shout out to the Bloody Baron and Gaunter O'Dimm.
Guns - Treyarch
This one was tough, but it all comes down to the type of game I’m envisioning. Arguably, Bungie and id Software are better suited when it comes to firearms, but I like it when people fall down when I shoot them in a game.
I don’t want bullet sponge enemies, okay? I want to snap a weapon up, get a head in my crosshairs, and drop them with a pop as the red mist flies off their bonce like dust from an old cushion you just slapped.
Multiplayer - Ubisoft
Ubisoft gets a lot of undeserved flak, but there is no arguing that the company’s various studios create some of the most interesting multiplayer experiences around. At a time when developers were being forced to slap on uninteresting multiplayer components, Ubisoft was casually creating some of the best multiplayer modes to ever exist.
Remember Spies vs Mercs for Splinter Cell, a mode where first-person mercenaries attempt to hunt down agile and all-seeing spies? How about Assassin’s Creed’s underrated multiplayer, in which players must blend into and become a blade in the crowd? Okay, what about the seamless multiplayer in Watch Dogs, where other players can invade your world to steal information from you while disguised as an NPC? Ubisoft has proved over and over that it has incredible ideas for multiplayer modes, so let’s lean on that particular strength for this imaginary game.
Now it’s your turn
Obviously, there’s much more to a video game than the components I’ve listed here (if you ever wondered what it takes to make a game, here is a good list of game development jobs and what they entail), but I wanted to leave some ideas open to you, our lovely audience.
Let us know your choices and the reasoning behind each in the comments. No console war bullshit, keep it civil, and let’s just have a bit of fun.