Originally every player appeared in game as a white bald guy. We were still in the early stages of development and had other things to focus on. Recently, though, we decided to change this. We decided that we didn’t want players to pick their own appearance. We felt that player customisation had got a bit out of control in other games. And we didn’t want to spend six months making a player customisation tool – we wanted to concentrate on the game. We also wanted the appearance of the players to be consistent over time. A survivor shouldn’t be able to attack another then come back later with a different gender or race and befriend the same player. They should be recognisable consistently and long-term – so anyone likely to commit a crime would be more likely to wear a balaclava or a face mask.So you could have opted to make your characters aliens. Or monsters. But no, you wanted human protagonists.
So...you came to this conclusion? And now you're upset that others have called you out on it?
Inevitably, there are people who like it and people who don’t. Some players have praised what we’re doing. Like us, they think that who you are in the game, your race and gender, makes no difference to the actual gameplay – and are happy to have the diversity. Others aren’t so positive. They feel that playing a gender or race that doesn’t match their own is detrimental to their enjoyment.And it seems you've calculated that there's not enough of the latter that you can afford to piss them off. Hmmm. Not sure I'd make that call, but it's your company.
Here’s one of the many messages we’ve received from disgruntled male players: “Why won’t you give the player base an option to choose their gender? I just want to play the game and have a connection to the character like most other games I play. Not have some political movement shoved down my throat because you make the connection we can’t choose our gender in reality so let’s make it like that in game too.”Sounds like a fair cop to me! But no, no. Of course, it's all about the gameplay. Isn't it?
Ultimately the decision comes down to gameplay. We don’t believe that letting you choose your race and gender would improve the game. On the other hand, randomising everyone’s gender and race meets all our requirements. We get an even spread of races and genders that make players more identifiable – while at the same time making the social aspects of the game much more interesting.Note the emphasis: we, ours. Sod the customer, they'll do it our way, or the highway!
Which may well prove to be your undoing. See, I prefer - given the option - to create a female avatar. But, if the game's good enough, has a rich enough story, have no problems playing as Takkar, or Geralt of Rivia, or Gabriel Knight. Just as plenty of chaps have no problem playing Lara Croft.
But survival games are ten a penny these days. Why should I not simply play someone else's game instead?