In a new development video, the Resident Evil Village team highlights how its QA testers essentially saved the game.
The clip uploaded on May 21, titled “The Internal Struggle,” links the game’s original concept of “a struggle to survive” with the struggles the team faced while creating the next mainline Resident Evil game. After conducting a focus test, Quality Assurance Manager Shutaro Kobayashi remembers having “a really strong negative reaction” to the game.
“The game’s content was completely divorced from what the development team thought they had made,” he states. “The playtesters’ first impressions of Resident Evil Village were there are too many enemies, and they’re overly aggressive. Plus, there isn’t enough ammo. This made the combat uninteresting, frustrating and boring, and incredibly tiring to play.” With deadlines looming in the final stage of development, Kobayashi expected plenty of pushback to his observations.
“I think everyone was panicking. ‘I can’t believe they’re telling us this now.’ ‘Will it be that bad if we don’t fix it?’ ‘The game works fine as is.’ That was the general feeling,” says General Manager Makoto Kadono.
Even so, Kobayashi brought some of the most outspoken members from QA to a meeting with the rest of the development team. The team then set out to fix the problem, creating plans for the most efficient way to improve it. The developers focused on the idea of giving the player space, improving the pacing in the process. It was only until then that the game provided the feeling of the “struggle to survive” — that, in Director Morimasa Sato’s words, the team had “truly made a Resident Evil game.”
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It’s an incredibly welcome contrast to the usual ways in which QA departments are treated, especially at major studios: unacknowledged when things go well, and all but thrown under the bus when things do not. A recent high-profile example was Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red. In a “Commitment to Quality” video released after the game’s bug-ridden launch, Co-founder Marcin Iwinski said, “every change and improvement needed to be tested and, as it turned out, our testing did not show a big part of the issues you experienced in the game.”
Journalists (such as Kirk Mckeand at The Gamer and Chris Livingston at PC Gamer), developers, and thoughtful consumers were quick to call this out. QA testers certainly knew of the game’s technical issues before its release; that they were not listened to due to time constraints, reportedly poor management, and other factors is another matter entirely. The QA department at CD Projekt Red is surely extremely talented and had a monumental task ahead of it — one that its members must have tried their best to salvage within limitations.
It’s great to see a high-profile developer not only decline from selling “the usual wafty, artistic vision thing,” as GamesRadar’s Leon Hurley said on Twitter, but also spotlight their QA developers and support what has long been known: a studio’s Quality Assurance department is why any games see the light of day at all.
“QA wants as many people as possible to enjoy this game,” says Resident Evil Village’s Producer, Tsuyoshi Kanda. “They were able to look past their fears of people being upset or angry at them and were able to provide critical feedback. I think it was an absolutely essential part of this process in delivering a quality product.”