Why the Dead by Daylight devs balance multiplayer by avoiding ‘knee-jerk’ reactions
Keeping players happy when you’re expanding a multiplayer title that pits one supercharged killer against four would-be victims isn’t easy. Just ask the folks over at Dead by Daylight developer Behaviour Digital.
You see, what one player views as a balanced tweak might be seen by another as a game-breaking mechanic. It all depends on their play style, but how do you reassure those who feel hard done by? After two years of iterative development, the Behaviour team might’ve figured it out, and they dished the dirt a recent interview with PC Gamer.
“It’s a matter of timing,” explained game director Mathieu Cote.”We learned our lessons on how fast we can react to comments, especially when we make a change or release a new killer.
“That’s usually the big thing. We release a new killer and within five minutes, there’s going to be a bunch of all-caps threads saying ‘this killer is unplayable, it’s garbage, you can’t win with it’ and then there’s another one right underneath saying ‘this killer is OP, there’s no way to survive.'”
Indeed, after pushing out an update that included a playable version of Freddy Krueger, the team were hit with negative feedback. Players were struggling to acclimatize to the new addition, and couldn’t figure out how to survive matches involving the Elm Street slasher.
Two days later, they decided to patch Freddy to rebalance the character and bring him more in line with player expectation. Looking back, the team admits it was the wrong choice.
“It was a knee-jerk reaction, and we learned from that,” continued Cote. “Whether our changes were good or bad, it doesn’t even matter so much, because two days is not enough for people to test this and know if they like it or not.
“Now when we [roll out an update], internally we say, we’re not going to do anything about balance for a week or two at least. We’ll fix glaring bugs and issues, obviously. But anything about ‘he’s a little too strong’ or ‘this perk is a little overpowered’ we’re just not reacting until at least two weeks later. It just makes more sense.”
To hear more about the development of Dead by Daylight, be sure to check out the full interview over on PC Gamer.