Do you worry at all about the vision of the designers and the developers getting distorted by this audience participation in the development cycle?
That is another very common question I get, and no, I don’t. Because we all have versions of it, you know. Even doing the tiers, right? I’ll give you an example which was early on we said, “How about we give the backers a special ability that non-backers don’t get?” Well that sounds pretty good on paper, right? Isn’t that cool? Guess what? They hated it! They hated it. They want the same experience for everyone and they don’t want to change for them or for anyone, even if it gives them a benefit. Now to me, that is slightly counter-intuitive, but I understood where they were coming from. And we didn’t do it, and I am glad we didn’t do it. Now if you take that extrapolation to the game design there are lots of things like that which are minor in the details which they have a very strong reaction to. I think as long as you are working with them on broad strokes type stuff, they kind of know what the product is, but if I was going to introduce something new or radical or go for a graphic look that is completely different than what they are expecting, then we need to be in communication with them.
Now once we have established those key points, we’ll go silent for a little while, but then we go into beta test, right? Well what is beta test? It is just audience participation. I don’t think Blizzard is afraid to do beta test. I don’t think Valve is afraid to do beta test. And they have to make changes based upon that input. So we’re not going to get in there in the beginning and say "Do you like the way this sentence reads?" you know? "Do you like the way this music sounds?" We’re not going to go there. We’re not going to go into every nuance of the detail. But they are going to get their input on the first pass, which is the broad-stroke vision of it all, and then on the second pass they are going to get in on the specifics of the game and majority rules. You know, if I put a – even if it is a song and 85 percent of people chime in and go, “We hate that song,” well, why fight it, right? There is no point. But I find that when I work with the fans as a whole, they are pretty smart. There are always the outliers that say things that you can’t do, but as a whole I find them to be very smart and they tend to fall in the places where I think they are. I’d say 80 to 90 percent of the time my instincts are kind of in line with where I thought they’d be, but then there’s the things like I mentioned earlier about “Don’t give us something extra,” little things like that which catch me off-guard. And again, I don’t think that affects the experience negatively in anyway.