Something pretty fascinating happened over the weekend in gaming: Game designer Jennifer Scheurle, who currently works for developer Opaque Space, tweeted an open call to all game developers: “Hey #gamedev, tell me about some brilliant mechanics in games that are hidden from the player to get across a certain feeling.”
The tweet caught on and received many replies from other developers, some of whom worked on the biggest games of the last few years. If you’ve ever wondered if game physics and AI ever cheat, the answer would appear to be a resounding YES — but it’s all meant to give you a better gameplay experience.
Developer Chevy Ray revealed something that is true for a lot of games out there: they compensate for some players’ poor reflexes. “We have a term called “coyote time” for when the player walks off a platformer ledge and presses jump too late, but the jump still works.”
Tommy Thompson confirmed what you always suspected about Alien Isolation: “The Xenomorph has two brains: one that always knows where you are and gives hints to the second that controls the body.”
Paul Hellquist, designer for Bioshock, confessed this: “If you would have taken your last point of damage, you instead were invulnerable for about 1-2 seconds so you get more “barely survived” moments.”
Jane Ng, a programmer for Firewatch, admitted “In [our game] a player not responding to dialogue prompt is a noted choice…the game reacts to non-response, and it helps create a feeling that ignoring someone has social consequence and the other person is ‘real.'”
From Ken Levine: “First shots from an enemy against you in BioShock always missed…that was the design, think it got fully implemented. No ‘out of blue!'”
Then thee was Alex Towers, designer for the racing game Hi-Octane on the PS1 back in the day, who dropped this bomb: “Not a mechanic persee, but in Hi Octane we simply displayed different stats for vehicles without ever actually changing them under the hood.” That got him an immediate rebuttal from someone who said “You did WHAT? I TRUSTED you! I used to school my friends about their choice of vehicle being poor and brag about my vehicular knowledge!”
Read the full conversation here — it’s long, and full of juicy scandals.