Far Cry 3 Devs Watched Testers Die (in Game)

Far Cry 3 Devs Watched Testers Die (in Game)

In testing the open world of Far Cry 3, designers used an extensive system to track the playtester's experience.

Designing a game is tough, and it keeps getting tougher. Back in the early days, it was one thing to track a player's linear path through a screen or level, but in modern open world games there are a near infinite number of possible actions a player can take. It's the job of the studio to run such a game through its rigors, and Ubisoft Montreal did so for Far Cry 3 with vigor. Mark Thompson - Level Design Director - explained how they used special software tools to record every movement a tester made through the island setting, allowed designers to look at all that data to improve the game, and even watch video of what the players were doing as their avatar perished.

"This tool is called DNA," Thompson told Kill Screen in an episode of its Creators Project series. "It's super-super powerful. I've never worked with anything as cool as this before. We can see the actual physical paths that players take to get from one mission to the next."

Thompson said it was his goal from test to test to remove the straight lines of players running from mission to mission, and have them be replaced with an explosion of scraggly lines - representing the varied paths players took to explore their surroundings. He asked his designers to entice the players to the enjoy the game around the story of Far Cry 3.

"It's basically their job to distract players as much as possible," he said. "Another thing that's important to understand is why people died."

Thompson used DNA to call up a video of a player who was driving a jeep at night before crashing in a ravine. Even with all that data, it's important to recognize what's a problem in design and what is just a crappy decision by the player.

"There's not a lot we can do to help this guy except hope that he'll learn from his own mistake," he said.

As games get more sophisticated, it's important for developers to have more sophisticated tools to analyze the habits of players. It's cool to see the back end of how all that works for a game that engineers fun as well as Far Cry 3. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat some mushrooms and shoot a tapir.

Source: Creators Project

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Well this is interesting.

this is awesome. strangely it makes me appreciate the game a bit more...

Greg Tito:

Thompson said it was his goal from test to test to remove the straight lines of players running from mission to mission, and have them be replaced with an explosion of scraggly lines

That's exactly what I did to be honest. I guess the designers did a good job then. Really easy to get sidetracked in FC3.

"Oh, Ill just get 2 more animal pelts so I can craft something before I go to the next story mission. Okay, I guess I can liberate those two outpost too while I'm here. Oh well that Radio Tower is right there, might as well explore that. Ohh.. the tower just showed me a cool crashed WWII plane, I wonder whats in there."

For some reason, it's amazing to see all my self-thought out rock climbing routes and various crocodile-punching escapades were all pretty much founded by evil genius' at a computer desk.

I think I gained a phobia of crocodiles because of this game.

I've always said getting your DNA everywhere enhances the experience!

I'm not sure why this has been presented as in some way groundbreaking. We've been data-mining QA and focus groups for years now. Pretty much any game with a decent-sized budget does it.

DiamanteGeeza:
I'm not sure why this has been presented as in some way groundbreaking. We've been data-mining QA and focus groups for years now. Pretty much any game with a decent-sized budget does it.

If you bothered to watch the video (or even just paid attention to the article, really), you'd see that's it's a different QA system.

DVS BSTrD:
I've always said getting your DNA everywhere enhances the experience!

I see what you did there -.-

This makes me more curious about the game. I got Far Cry 2 for cheap on Steam before the game came out and HATED it. I couldn't risk paying $60 for what probably would have ended up being "more of the same". But this makes me think it will be worth getting... when its on sale on steam for under $20. lol.

Mimsofthedawg:

DVS BSTrD:
I've always said getting your DNA everywhere enhances the experience!

I see what you did there -.-

This makes me more curious about the game. I got Far Cry 2 for cheap on Steam before the game came out and HATED it. I couldn't risk paying $60 for what probably would have ended up being "more of the same". But this makes me think it will be worth getting... when its on sale on steam for under $20. lol.

Let me put it this way. I thought Far Cry 2 was one of the worst games I've ever played. I felt Far Cry 3 was decent. It's a blast in the beginning, but the side missions begin to get stale around the half-way point, which is more than I can say for FC2 because those were just boring off the bat, and I've never felt the main storylines of shooters justify $60, considering how they're so short. FC3's is a little bit longer, I think, but not up to RPG standards. And it actually does have a really good and interesting story. Though, the ending, or one of them, is fucking bizarre and jarring(with disturbing implications), which is still better than FC2's non-ending, but I guess you can't really hold that against FC2 since it's difficult to end a story that doesn't really exist.

Get it on sale, imo.

All this tech, and yet their goto method for bossfights were quicktime events, and scripted bossfights.

Full:
I think I gained a phobia of crocodiles because of this game.

Me too. The first time I encountered one was the worst thing ever. I didn't know there were crocodiles in the game, and I was hunting a tiger across a river. It ran out of sight, so I sprinted into the river to get to it. The second I was in I was attacked instantly, and I nearly had a heart attack. It made perfect sense though, since that's how most crocodile attacks happen - a stupid tourist blindly splashing in the water.

As great as the video is, it actually contained a bit of a spoiler for the story. Two, actually. I'm a bit annoyed now. One of the endings is already gone for me, thanks to an idiot on these forums already.

Ah, it's what Valve has been doing since 2007. Not exactly new technology but I'm glad it's still being pushed and I can't wait to play FC3.

Why do I have an image of a dev smirking as he watches a tester get mauled by a tiger/shark/crocodile

So it's basically a metadata recorder of what the player does with then the devs can filter out such as order of missions, points of death, hotspots, favored weapons in said hotspots, etc.

Full:
For some reason, it's amazing to see all my self-thought out rock climbing routes and various crocodile-punching escapades were all pretty much founded by evil genius' at a computer desk.

I think I gained a phobia of crocodiles because of this game.


for reference, fast forward to 6:46 and don't stop watching

LetalisK:
Let me put it this way. I thought Far Cry 2 was one of the worst games I've ever played. I felt Far Cry 3 was decent. It's a blast in the beginning, but the side missions begin to get stale around the half-way point, which is more than I can say for FC2 because those were just boring off the bat, and I've never felt the main storylines of shooters justify $60, considering how they're so short. FC3's is a little bit longer, I think, but not up to RPG standards. And it actually does have a really good and interesting story. Though, the ending, or one of them, is fucking bizarre and jarring(with disturbing implications), which is still better than FC2's non-ending, but I guess you can't really hold that against FC2 since it's difficult to end a story that doesn't really exist.

Get it on sale, imo.

Thanks for the explanation, i hated FC2 and didnt want to risk it again with FC3 (i actually liked FC1, but that was a TOTALLY different game). glad i coudl finally have a confirmation of FC3 being decent from a perosn that hated FC2 as well, because the world for some reason seems to be populated by people who thingh "FC2 had a good story".

On topic: Ubisoft is doing something i like? what is this? apocalypse?

-Do you expect me to play, Thompson?
-No, subject, I expect you to die.

Valve have been doing this a long time ago :P . Still, its good that they have such good tools and are using them well. Honestly, Far Cry 3 was GoTY for me.

Phlakes:

DiamanteGeeza:
I'm not sure why this has been presented as in some way groundbreaking. We've been data-mining QA and focus groups for years now. Pretty much any game with a decent-sized budget does it.

If you bothered to watch the video (or even just paid attention to the article, really), you'd see that's it's a different QA system.

If you'd bothered to read my post, you'd see that lots of developers have been doing this for years. This is nothing new at all. None of it: the data mining, the who-died-where-and-why, player paths, the time-coded video, everything - the industry has been doing it for ages.

dessertmonkeyjk:
So it's basically a metadata recorder of what the player does with then the devs can filter out such as order of missions, points of death, hotspots, favored weapons in said hotspots, etc.

Basically. The recording is part is easy and a developer can record whatever data they like (I know some that studios go absolutely crazy with the amount of data they collect) - it's the displaying it in a useful fashion that gets interesting. The top down player/weapon/action heat maps have been pretty standard for many, many years, and there are a few third party apps that do a good job of showing the extra data in an informative and useful way.

A few years ago we added the time-coded recording of not only the player's console output, but also a camera looking at them so we can record what their emotions are doing at any given point (is this bit too frustrating, for example, or is the player having a blast, and so on). Some developers even go so far as to hook up heart-rate monitors to the players to try to ascertain excitement level!

Systems like this are also good to balance weapons in MP games.

I hate gators already and playing Far Cry 3 does not help; I live in Central Florida so gator attacks can happen, and does not help that my house is 50 feet from a small lake. (My mom swears she saw one there.)

I wAs NeVeR hErE:
I hate gators already and playing Far Cry 3 does not help; I live in Central Florida so gator attacks can happen, and does not help that my house is 50 feet from a small lake. (My mom swears she saw one there.)

You're in luck! Far Cry 3 doesn't have gators, it has Crocodiles! Which are like a million times worse but hey... semantics!

"Gator" is what "we" say in the backwash South for Crocodile or Alligator
(Yes I know the differences, but I thought people would get the jest of it...)
Also, Alligator taste better

 

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