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Get Me Vin Diesel

Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez

Imagine, if you will, a movie-game that doesn't suck. Now - and I know this is stretching it - try and imagine one that not only doesn't suck, but rocks copiously. All because one guy sat back and said "No, this part sucks, change it." He did that until it was good. And good it was.

If you're at all familiar with the Chronicles of Riddick game (Escape from Butcher Bay) and the character upon which it is based, then you know that Vin Diesel lent his likeness to the task; what you might not have heard is that he was heavily involved in the project in other ways, including quality control. Now, when I say 'quality control,' I don't mean playtesting for bugs or technical problems, I mean making sure the thing is actually fun to play. Whether that's an industry norm - having someone at the helm who more or less intends to actually play the game at some point - or merely an exception to the rule, the reason I bring this up is to point out that the end product is meant, ultimately, for one very specific purpose:

To be enjoyable.

Whatever effort is put into design, development, building solid play mechanics, writing a good story and dialogue, creating good graphics and so on, it always seems like there's one aspect of the game that keeps it from being ideal (and no, I don't mean perfect, that's subjective and we all know that); something holding it back, something that doesn't help it make the jump from 3 to 4, or from 82 to 92. An annoying minigame, poor character design, a lengthy and tedious dungeon or level, music that grates on the nerves... how did that slip by? Who thought that was a good idea? Obviously, someone did, otherwise it wouldn't be there, so is it a problem in execution, or is it simply a bad idea at the core that didn't get nixed when it should have?

Do game makers intend to play the games they make? I'd like to think they do, and yet sometimes it just doesn't look that way. And if they can't, or if they don't want to, or if they'd simply be too biased, shouldn't it stand to reason they should have someone doing just that? How many games would be better if, throughout development, there was a guy there whose sole job was to say "No, wait, that sucks. Do something different, make it good."? Not a technical thing, not a "the lighting needs adjustment here," or "those bullets should move a little faster" thing, just a "yeah, but is it fun?" thing.

Sure, it's a cliche to talk about fun in gaming, but it's a cliche for a reason, that reason being that we play games to have fun, to be entertained. Now maybe I'm wrong on this, maybe gamers play games not to be entertained; if so, it'd be news to me. Be that as it may, if nobody's looking out for the suck that occasionally sneaks into these games, then are we to just settle for a product that isn't all it could be? Well, there's not much choice there, is it?

What's my point, then? Look at the title. We need guys to do what Vin Diesel did. We need people watching people who make games, just to gently remind them when that good idea they had walking into the office today doesn't work so well in the game. We need people to be there that say, "That sucks, cut it out and try again," until it is all good.

That shouldn't be too much to ask for, should it?

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