Few moment-to-moment experiences in games can so brilliantly nail tension. Days Gone succeeds in this area quite often, especially when a massive horde roams nearby. Tension is most notably felt when fighting hordes, where hundreds of Freaks run full force at a fleeing Deacon. But there is one problem—getting your bearings could becomes frustrating. Trying to swivel Deacon and/or the camera around doesn’t make it any easier, either. The option to press a button and quickly have Deacon look behind him would’ve helped. Unfortunately, no such mechanic exists in Days Gone. Apparently, it almost did, and the explanation behind its absence is pretty interesting.
Bend Studio recently took part in an AMA on the Days Gone Subreddit, answering a multitude of fan questions. One wondered why there’s “no button to look back when riding.” According to Lead Designer Ron Allen, the team did develop this very mechanic for the game, which would’ve allowed players to look back when on-foot and while riding the Drifter Bike. It wasn’t simple to keep in place, though. Several other necessary mechanics kept pushing the look back option to the wayside. Eventually, it landed on the cutting room floor.
Read Allen’s explanation below:
We went through lots of iteration with the motorcycle, including a look back camera not only for the motorcycle, but for on-foot as well. For the motorcycle specifically, we started with it on the R3 button but as the game developed, Survival Vision turned out to be a higher priority for that particular button. This was specifically because we show you pickup item locations, which means allowing you to drive near a building, hit the R3 button and then you can see if there are any items around that you would want to get off your bike and go get.
We tried it on the L3 button, but as you are backing up, loads of players pressed this accidentally while trying to use the left stick to turn. This ended up with more frustrated players than happy ones. For a long while we had it on the circle button, but that lost out when we created our ‘drift’ button.
The biggest issue for us with the look back button (and the main reason we didn’t include it) was that it not only caused you to constantly run into things in our dense world (trees, cars, stumps, rocks, etc), it took away tension. There is something to be said for not being able to see what is behind you and we thought it was the right call for the game.
It’s fascinating, really, how one seemingly small detail can get shifted around so much that, suddenly, it doesn’t feel so small. This kind of inside baseball information makes game development all the more intriguing. Hopefully, especially on the heels of Santa Monica Studio’s Raising Kratos documentary, this level of insight becomes even more common.
A Days Gone Look Behind Mechanic Almost Made the Final Cut
Days Gone is out now on the PlayStation 4. Free DLC for the title will roll out sometime in June 2019.