Year 11 2010
I didn't get laid off over Christmas! That's a nice change of pace!
So, the sequel to SAW was being developed. Once again, I was tapped as the trap and puzzle artist. We still had no designer so our producer continued to act as designer. I contacted the studio heads asking if a designer was planned to be hired any time soon and they pretty much said, "If the producer wants to." which I took as meaning "No." Like I had mentioned previously, the producer's main job is to make sure the game is done on time and on budget. Remembering the issues we had with the ESRB with the first game, the decision was made to not push the envelope at all for the sequel. In fact, we didn't touch the envelope with a ten-foot pole... the violence in SAW II was pretty laughable, as far as SAW standards go. Electrocution seemed to become the preferred method of death as it was very gore-less.
So, once again, SAW fans were bound to be disappointed with their SAW game. Isn't that who were supposed to be making this thing for?
As the puzzle designs began to come across my desk, I lamented... they were all casual game puzzles again! Stuff you could find for free off of the internet! And not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different "pipe flow" maze puzzles... Ugh! Other then that, a matching colors minigame, a classic "lights out" minigame, and hardest of all for our testers... a math game. Really? A math game? Come ON!
Meanwhile, combat design seems to be spinning its wheels. The tiresome QTE combat "mini-game" has been in the game for months, and I'm begging for a different system. Yet every system the combat programmer is coming up with, the producer is shutting down and rejecting. As the months go by, it becomes very obvious that the game is going to ship with this awful QTE system for combat. So, we took the biggest complaint about SAW and made it WORSE in the sequel. How does that happen?
I start begging the animation department (all 2 of them) to start making more varied animations for the QTE combat so that it's not the same exact motion over and over again. I don't know if it's due to them not having time (they were animating for more then one game) or if the programmers didn't incorporate the change to allow for variation in the combat animation... but it never happened. You go through the whole game and each and every time combat occurs, it plays the same animation sequence.
And once again, the puzzles are over used, causing ever more repetitive gameplay. Weapons are neutered to where it no longer matters what weapon you have since it's all in the QTE. No more thrown weapons or ranged weapons (except for your enemies of course). To add insult to injury, the moment your character actually acquires a gun, it's out of bullets. This is despite the fact that the enemy you took it from had an infinite supply.
Again I'm seen as overly negative about our project. And let me take a moment here to mention, they're probably right to some degree. I got SO angry during the development of this game, that I even had a bit of an outburst with our Producer's Assistant WHILE Konami was visiting the office which caused me to be taken aside and have a talking to to calm me down. That's not a good situation. And it's something that I strive to change in future projects.
I should say here that, I wasn't alone in my views. Most everyone I worked with agreed that the game's design and direction was awful. But what could we do? We couldn't do anything to change it. Others at the company who were working on other projects saw us as a bunch of idiots. I remember the creative director (wish we had one of those for our project...) saw the math puzzle I mentioned before and commented "You guys are expecting your players to do math in your game?" It's a good question to ask as it was a very difficult puzzle. But it stayed.
In the final months of the project, I looked over the credit list for the game. There, under Designer was credited "The Entire SAW Team."
Are you kidding me?