Supergiant's PlayStation 4 isometric action game, Transistor, features a powerful and mysterious weapon that can speak to the game's protagonist Red.
In testing, the developers found that when the weapon spoke, some players were confused about who or what was talking. Tweaks were added to make this clearer, including one, involving PlayStation 4 controller, the DualShock 4, that brought the weapon much closer the player.
"The DualShock 4 has this light bar on it, which can be programmed to display just about any color," he wrote. "When Sony revealed the controller, they suggested this light bar could have a variety of uses, such as visually distinguishing between four players in a cooperative game and stuff like that. Sony didn't suggest it could be used to indicate when an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin was speaking to you.
"We soon found, however, that the light bar works really well for that. We got it to match the exact turquoise hue of the in-game weapon, and the flashing effect was in perfect sync. When I played with this for the first time, it felt a little more like the weapon was right there in my own hands."
He added that Supergiant, best known for 2011's Bastion, is also looking at new ways to utilize the controller, including its audio capabilities.
According to Kasavin, little innovations can make a big difference to the player's appreciation for a game. "Our use of the light bar took nothing more than a quick conversation and maybe a couple of hours of engineering time. But to me it's a microcosm of our development process. If we can pull together little touches like this spontaneously and often, then Transistor will be filled with them.
"I feel strongly that the small stuff in games — those fun and interesting little details you notice in your favorites — are just as important as the big stuff."