We’ve heard time and time again that video games are extremely hard to make — there are just so many moving parts. Recently, a writer shared a story on Twitter that highlighted just how careful game makers have to be when it comes to including even the tiniest details in a scene. Even something as small and simple as a purse can cause a ruckus.
Sarah Arellano, who works for Volition, developers of the Saints Row series, had an idea for a scene in a game where a character takes something out of a purse. Simple, right? But as she explains on Twitter, this small scene “caused a shockwave through like six departments.” She explained the reactions from the studio in a Twitter thread:
Project Management: The purse is not on the asset list!— Sarah Arellano (SugarVenom) (@TheSugarVenom) August 14, 2019
Concept Art: Should it be a basic purse or a couture purse? Is anything else in the purse?
Animation: Does the purse need to move? Do we need a custom animation for her reaching in and removing an item?
In short, by mid-development on a project, you must consider with care all verbs, lest you make animators cry, and eliminate all nouns, lest you set back production for two full days.— Sarah Arellano (SugarVenom) (@TheSugarVenom) August 14, 2019
I left out the part where one concept artist suggested a Juicy purse and there was a whole discussion on whether Juicy is still relevant as a brand and whether we could legally make a Juicy bag... https://t.co/SMvLQ8GSaA— Sarah Arellano (SugarVenom) (@TheSugarVenom) August 14, 2019
In a Twitter DM with Polygon, Arellano said she was “appalled” that something like this purse scene would require so many emails and meetings, especially since the moment wouldn’t be that important to the overall game.
Shockwave, she added, might be a hyperbolic word for what happened in this specific instance, as she was describing somewhat of a typical game development scenario. Even so, it’s eye-opening to see how details we may not even notice require a lot of coordination between many different groups behind the scenes.
After everything was said and done, the purse may not even make it into the final game, Arellano said. Instead, the game developers are thinking about other ways to make the scene work, which may add more depth to the character.
“What’s cool about something like this is, you get to find an even more meaningful way to do something,” Arellano explained. “If she snatches something out of someone else’s hand instead, that says way more about her character.”
And, of course, all those people won’t need to come up with a plan for that purse.