Gears of War 3's design director says that Epic listens to what fans have to say and then tempers it with cold, hard data.
You might have helped design Gears of War 3. You might not realize that you did, but according to design director Cliff Bleszinski, if you've offered your opinion on the Gears games on a forum or Twitter, your feedback could have helped push the Gears 3 towards its final shape.
"We use a multi-tiered system [to meet audience expectations]," Bleszinski said. "The first thing we do is always pay attention to forums and Twitter and social networking, that's a good temperature check." Of course, online chatter isnt the only thing that Epic checks. Bleszinski said that it was often the most hardcore fans posting online, and they didn't always represent the more casual player who represented the bulk of the Gears player base. Epic used data pulled directly from the games themselves to, in essence, fact check the information gleaned from forums and see if it needed to tweak anything.
"There was a big perception when the [Gears of War 3] beta came up that the sawed-off shotgun was the best weapon ever, but then we looked at the backend and found that four times as many kills were being had by the Gnasher shotgun as opposed to the sawed-off. It's just the fact that those guys who were used to getting through a match without dying once because of their shotgun proficiency, were occasionally getting killed by the Digger Launcher or the sawed-off," Bleszinski explained.
While none of this is exactly rocket science, it does highlight how important it is to keep forum traffic and Twitter posts in perspective. Not everyone who posts online about a game represents the typical player, and what the hardcore players want isn't necessarily going to be something that the majority will enjoy.
Gears of War 3 comes out for Xbox 360 on September 20th.