The Stanley Parable Helpful Development Showcase is our way of connecting you to the development of The Stanley Parable by giving you a small look at what’s been going on behind the scenes. Each week we’ll give you a tiny peek into what it takes to make a game like The Stanley Parable, the creative challenges we come up against in the course of development, and how to not judge yourself as a person for the quality of choices you’ve made in your own life. These are just a few of the topics we’ll cover in this incredibly useful blog series.
This week: Creating doors that don’t kill the player
Though doors are generally recognized as being the cornerstone that holds modern society together, what many people don’t realize is that the same principle holds true in video games. The Stanley Parable employs over a thousand doors (one thousand and two, specifically) and if a single one is not functioning properly it threatens the integrity of the entire game. That’s why we’re making sure to go through and test each door thoroughly before shipping it in the final game.
Today I’d like to walk you through the process of inspecting doors to make sure they don’t murder the player for sport.
Here’s an example of a door from The Stanley Parable, as seen in the Hammer level editor, which is being used to create the game:
At first it looks just like any door in any game ever.
everything appears to be perfectly in order! A 100% functional door! No need to do any sort of testing or inspection or further investigation of this door in any capacity, however small!
Oh little fox, how ignorant you are of the world. Let’s run this game and find out what would actually happen if someone were to play it.
Here’s the player just walking along. Doot da doo, just gonna go right through this door, that’s what I’m doing…
Just gonna go right onto the other side of – BAM!!
You see? Now do you see how wrong you were? About the door?
Oh my god, I didn’t know –
Shh. I don’t need your excuses. I need solutions. Let’s look at how we can fix this horrible problem that you would have ushered unto the world if you were in charge.
First we’ll open up the level editor. There’s the door! Hello!
Great, so far so good. Now we’ll double click on it to open up its parameters.
Aha! Here’s the problem!
You see? Its morality is set to “fuck humans.” With a setting like that you can expect a relatively low likelihood of this door treating humans like the clean, civilized, respectable creatures that they are. Why don’t we adjust this setting to something less unnecessarily hostile?
Much better! Crisis averted. Now comes the task of going through and adjusting this setting individually for each of the thousands of doors (4,258 specifically) throughout The Stanley Parable. It’s grueling work, but if we’re not careful it’s easy to overlook some game-breaking gaffs, like the setting on this door that almost passed under our radar earlier this week:
This door is a door. It is not a frog. Fool me once, as they say.
In the end, game design is about the details. If you’re not applying that razor-sharp attention you run the risk of your game being rude, demoralizing, or racist toward your players. That’s not the kind of game we make, that’s a very different kind of game, made by very different kinds of people. I don’t want to talk about them. You weren’t implying we’re like them, were you?
No, honestly, I never –
Save it. You had your chance and you blew it. That ship has sailed.
Oh my god, please let me out of –