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Too Much Time and Money Can Make a Video Game Bad, Gearbox Says

Illustration for article titled Too Much Time and Money Can Make a Video Game Bad, Gearbox Says

What would games look like if the developers behind them had an unlimited amount of time to work on them?

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I'm not talking about an unlimited time in development hell, like Duke Nukem Forever. I'm talking about the luxury of not having a publisher breathing down your neck to crank a game out by the contracted time.

So what would Borderlands 2 look like if the Gearbox team had no time limitations? Would it look different than what they anticipate it currently will?

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"No. It would look the same," says Sean Reardon, senior producer at Gearbox Software. But why?

"I don't buy into unlimited time. As a producer, I think the thing that creates quality is the focus on time. If you have unlimited time, you're going to have no constraints. The boundaries are too ill-defined for me to do anything creative in that space. I need something concrete to be creative. If we had infinite time, we'd still be dicking around on that very first decision. There'd be no game."

What about infinite money? Surely you could use infinite money for glamorous cinematics, high-end voice actors, motion capture, promotional campaigns, anything?

Nope, not that either. "If I have infinite money, where's my passion? If I have no creative boundaries, I have nothing to do. I have no challenge. I'm not saying, ‘Work for money,' I'm saying, ‘Use money to solve interesting challenges.'"

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DISCUSSION

I think he exaggerates to a degree, but he is right in the majority of counts. The reason I say he exaggerates is simply because, a lot of games are pushed out far too soon these days and could use a LOT more time. I'm not saying he's disagreeing with that, necessarily, but he downplays it a bit too much.

That said, he's 100% right that you need those limits and constraints to really push yourself to the limit. I mean, even developers that are notorious for taking forever and a day to get a game done, like say... Blizzard, follow very strict timelines within the studio. They don't have infinite time or money, and they know that. Things aren't meandering or crazy, and that's by design, because otherwise the product you get would show it.