Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Game Dev Quote of the Week: Sarah Stocker on Personal Blunders

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 3, 2014

Okay, if you make games, you are going to make some mistakes. I’ve made plenty. This week, I found a quote by game producer Sarah Stocker (Pool of Radiance II, Star Trek Deep Space Nine – Harbinger, Forgotten Realms: Bloodstone, Andretti Racing, etc.) from Neal and Jana Hallford’s book, Swords & Circuitry: A Designer’s Guide to Computer Role-Playing Games. She was asked about screw-ups she learned from and wished she could change:

“One of them that is very, very obvious to me know is in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Harbinger, which was an adventure game, not a role-playing game. We had a three-dimensional maze in this alien fortress, and you had to make your way through it to get a key power source.  In theory I thought the maze was a great idea because it was in three dimensions. You had to get up, and then get down, and it was very difficult to navigate. In those days mazes were quite the rage. I remember having a conversation with one of the other game designers on the product and saying, ‘Make sure when you’re laying it out that you have to go back through it to return to the other level. And anytime the player wants to go to the power source, they have to go all the way through the maze again.’ What was I thinking? Did I have a particularly bad day? Was I just letting my sadistic impulses run wild? It was just about the most evil design decision I’ve ever made. Unfortunately, by the time I realized it, the game was already on the shelves. So yeah, if I could go back in time and change something, I would definitely make that a one-way maze. That was just way, way too difficult” – Sarah Stocker

Making comments about her involvement in Pool of Radiance 2 would just obscure the point, I think. She has gone on to work on many more games since then. But in case you ever wonder what a game designer was thinking when they made some kind of design decision… well, sometimes the designer herself wonders the same thing.

To look up other classic game designer mistakes, I recommend Earnest Adam’s annual series, “Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!”

Filed Under: General - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • Anon said,

    Everybody makes mistakes. That’s human.
    Most intelligent people will learn from them and avoid them in the future.

    As for games I like games better that try something new – on the risk at failing in some aspects – instead of perfected monotony.

    On the other hand I don’t force myself to play games I personally don’t like which is why I stopped playing Harbinger pretty quickly – and now that I read this post I’m very glad I didn’t put more time into it. 😉