Game Developers Reveal 8 ‘Extremely Hacky’ Secrets Behind ‘Elden Ring’ and More
make video games is a lot of work. With everything from level design to QA testing, there is so much going on at once that needs to come together for a product to deliver in playable condition. Game developers are very resourceful people, and a recent Twitter thread had developers sharing some of their favorite tricks behind the games they make. They highlight the creative problem solving that comes with the job. Here are some of the best stories from the thread, including a shocking amount of the prevalence of unseen creatures in your favorite games.
Out of sight, out of mind – The tweet that started this all told a story by developer Arthur Bruno about the development of Titan Quest. The team ran into an issue where there was no way to delay a quest action once it was triggered. A QA tester discovered a solution: “It ended up using those squirrels we had as ambient creatures as the animation timer, and they became the default timing mechanism.” To make this improvised clock system a little less noticeable, all the squirrels have been made invisible.
This story started making the rounds on Twitter and other developers started participating in their stories. “Casual discussions of developers sharing extremely hacky fixes and methods that made their games work are easily my favorite things to come out of game development Twitter a mile away,” one Twitter user wrote.
One thing became clear immediately: invisible creatures are a universal constant.
“Exploding barrels [in Star Wars: The Old Republic] are filled with shrunken invisible people as only people are a valid source of damage,” the Ubisoft producer shared. Shovel Hoffstein. To make matters worse, these people were initially complex models that would lower the frame rate of the game. Some solutions cause more problems.
A dark souls modder revealed that “when you interact with a bonfire, you are actually talking to an unseen figure who is standing in the middle of the bonfire.” This system has proven so successful for FromSoftware that it’s still how grace sites work in Ring Elden.
But no discussion of invisible animals and game development would be complete without the infamous rabbits of World of Warcraft. Many people have mentioned the horde of invisible bunnies that hold the game together. They are used for everything from casting spells to completing quests. There is a list of each rabbit in the game and those not classified as “critters” are invisible bunnies pulling the strings behind the curtain.
Smoke, mirrors and duct tape — While Invisible Creatures are an industry favorite, there was no shortage of other creative solutions. Josh Sawyerdirector of the next Obsidian game Repentanceshared information about Fallout: New Vegas: “The ending slides were made in an actual game level with the 1st person camera locked.” In other words, the player simply watches a slideshow in a room as if stuck in a boring lesson.
Obsidian likes closed rooms and slides. Technical designer Taylor Swipe added a note on a much more recent game: “In The Outer Worldswhenever a character appears on a monitor, that footage is captured live in a small diorama just outside the level, with a wallpaper designed to resemble where the character is broadcasting from.
Although most of these are creative solutions to problems, some developers have reached the point where the best option is to just completely hide the problem.
This was the case with Settlers III, which had huge desync issues with online matches during development. “The coders spent weeks trying to find the bug,” localization expert Rolf Klischewski revealed. “One day the error disappeared, no error message. The coders were congratulated by the CEO. Few of us knew that one of them had just memorized the error message. In other words, a team member made sure that the error message did not appear even though the problem persisted. This is the state in which the game was delivered.
My personal favorite story comes from the original Assassin’s Creed. The horses in the game were “just a fucked up human skeleton”, shared developer Charles Randall. “Thumbs up to the amazing animators and riggers who managed to make this guy look like a horse!”
In the end, it’s a miracle that any game ships in a playable state. But because of the crazy solutions that the developers come up with, we get these experiences and a good story. As the tweet that started this thread says:
“Yeah, that’s game development.”