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As part of our ongoing Theme Week for January of 2016, we are looking back at some of the good and bad things about 2015. This time we wanted to take a look at some of the developers out there that are worthy of praise—those that go beyond just making a great game. Here’s some of the praiseworthy developers our writers thought to mention.


CD Projekt RED by Kindra Pring
CDPR is the phenomenal development team behind The Witcher 3, considered by many to be one of the best games of 2015, and possibly of all time. It is enough for most to make a fantastic game, but the Polish team constantly impresses gamers with just how in tune with the community they seem to be. The Witcher 3 seems to understand the importance of the community in the industry, hosting their own contests for Witcher mods, offering their own kit for players to create mods and even their own games in the Witcher world, and even as simple as including a letter of gratitude in every physical copy of Witcher 3 and the promise of 16 free DLCs for everyone who purchases the game. There’s very few AAA companies as trustworthy as CDPR, or who still truly seem to understand their audience. 
Even with the massive success and deserved success of The Witcher 3, CDPR seems to have remained down to earth and dedicated to what truly matters: making fantastic games for players of all walks of life. They never back down, and they don’t stifle their creativity and mission for money or politics. They’re out to tell the stories that are important to them, and there isn’t really anything more important than that. 
Konami logo
Konami by Don Parsons

Heading into 2015, Konami had a problem: they had an overpriced game, a slow developer, and a group of artists who weren’t getting anything done. Many companies have folded under this pressure, especially with auteurs who are notoriously picky and like to toss away their own work they declare less than perfect. Buckling down, Konami started by forcing their studios to focus on one title instead of splitting their effort on their big title and some weird experimental stuff they were doing. When that led to a fight, instead of backing down, as often happens, Konami took a brave stand against the bully who was trying to run over everything and visibly slapped him across the face by removing his name from the box of the upcoming title.

However, there was need to further get everyone to actually get work done, and for that Konami began to implement a brave new program. By removing artists’ access to the Internet they made them actually do their work instead of lollygagging around on company time and failing to release the products gamers wanted. Emails were intentionally obscured to help ensure people didn’t run around the bans or talk with others—again to force the focus inwards to deliever the product gamers wanted.

It worked with a stunning success in Metal Gear Solid V, which received near universal acclaim. Konami saw what worked with its artists and applied it to reviewers, putting them in a closed time period to make sure they didn’t waste their time looking for little gnarly textures or minor points around. They realized gamers don’t care about minor points and that instead it’s about knowing how the game feels and plays quickly without worrying about auxiliary details like story. This time limit worked beautifully to force focused reviews, and worked in conjunction with a staggered launch—similar to how they implemented their new office policies—to avoid letting crybabies create too much of an uproar in general.

If you didn’t figure it out … that was satire.


DICE LA by Alex Santa Maria

Some developers in our industry are rockstars. They have a defined identity carved out from multiple releases, they have a personable creative lead who appears on podcasts, or they have nostalgia on their side. These are the companies we think of when E3 rolls around, the developers who have a rabid fan base or even their own codified lore. DICE LA is not one of those developers.

DICE LA is a support studio, formed partially from the remnants of Danger Close following the failure of Medal of Honor: Warfighter. They have so far been tasked solely with maintaining Battlefield 4 while DICE proper moved on to Star Wars Battlefront and the inevitable Battlefield 5. It was an unenviable task, especially considering the state Battlefield 4 was in at the beginning of 2015, and the fact that another Battlefield game was just months from release. Yet, here we are a year later, and Battlefield 4 is more popular than Star Wars Battlefront and Hardline among shooter fans. A combination of free DLC maps and weapons and updates that are vetted by community leaders has turned the game around, and it’s all because of this skeleton crew chugging away in the corner of the EA machine.

There are plenty of these studios across the industry, supporting the massive shooter franchises and aging MMOs that run in the background while the press is focused on all of the newest releases. They’re the type of crew that have a thankless job, and that’s exactly why they’re worthy of praise. Here’s hoping that EA lets them try their hand at a game all their own when the time is right, because they deserve a bit of the rockstar lifestyle.


Scott Cawthon Games by Kindra Pring
Say what you will about the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise, the little indie horror title that exploded on the Internet in 2014 and has since become a meme beloved by some and loathed by some others, but no matter how you swing it, the man behind the game is hard to criticize. It’s an interesting case because while many see the continuing FNAF games as a cash grab, the actual actions behind it seems much more innocent. Less the case of someone trying to cash in on a popular thing, and more the actions of someone excited to see a piece of work they enjoyed creating be celebrated and shared among a massive community. Any other person would more likely take the near millions earned from the first game, and leave it at that. But to hammer out four games in the span of a year as a one-man development team is pretty impressive, each with varied mechanics, new models and settings, and some with convoluted levels of secrets. 
The tipping point was actually the beginning of 2016 though, after the release of the disappointing FNAF World, Scott Cawthon actually did the unthinkable in the video game industry—he admitted to a mistake, gracefully accepted the criticisms towards the new title, and pulled the game to be improved. On top of that, he himself worked with Steam to ensure everyone, no matter how many hours they put into the game, could get a quick and easy refund, and promised the game would be re-released on GameJolt with improvements, all for free. Regardless of your opinion on the franchise, this is bold and should be celebrated. In an age where some developers refuse to even acknowledge player complaints, and even games with huge budgets can seem hollow and incomplete, any act of good faith by developers no matter how small is something that should be acknowledged and praised. 

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.