Why bad games are bad

A developer speaks out.

A lead designer at High Voltage Software (the people who brought us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude) has spoken out on on what makes bad games bad - and why it's not always the fault of the developer.

In an article for PopCultureShock, David A. Rodriguez wrote: "People think that all bad games are the result of the people who make them not knowing or caring about what they are doing. While this is surely the case in some instances, it isn't always how it goes down.

"I’ve been involved with or have watched other games that were on a track to possibly be a good game, slowly get churned into a giant steaming piece of crap through no fault of the people directly working on it."

Developers, Rodriguez argues, generally want to make great games - and will work jolly hard to achieve that aim. "But sometimes no matter how hard you work, someone more powerful than you is going to come in and stick their d*** in your peanut butter."

So why does Rodriguez put up with it all? Why not just get a nice job in a shop or something? Well, it seems he's reached a conclusion which allows him to be at peace with the situation, and it is this: "I'm not an artist... An artist gets to do what they want, how they want, when they want. That’s not what I do. Someone comes to my company with a contract. They give us money to make something. I make it. They take it and sell it. I don't work in art.

"I work... In customer service. And fortunately or unfortunately, the customer is always right. That means that no matter how bad I think an idea is. That means no matter how unreasonable the request or how STUPID the last thing they said was, in the end they write the cheque, so they get to decide.

"I can voice my opinion. I can tell them what I think because that's what they are paying me for, but ultimately, if they decide that something must be in the game... Then you can bet your sweet ass it's gonna be in the game."

Now, you might be thinking that all this relates to the game Rodriguez is currently working on, which is 50 Cent: Bulletproof - G-Unit Edition for the PSP. However, according to Rodriguez, when he started working on the game, he "didn't know that it would turn out as well as it has.

"But I can honestly say that I am very proud of the current state of the game and how it's being received so far... Sure I had a few run-ins that ruffled my feathers but I kept in mind that I was hired by these people to make their game and that even if I disagreed with them I was committed to finishing it."

And Rodriguez has a final piece of advice for us gamers: "Next time you’re playing a game that makes you wish the developer would go to hell, just remember it's not always their fault."

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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