This column was way harder than I’d anticipated it would be. Constructing it turned out to be a fairly complex logic puzzle.
* Between four and seven companies.
* Companies must appear in both lists, which means the companies I choose must have exceptionally strong points and weak points.
* Because I don’t want to thread-jack my own joke, I should stay away from controversy if possible. For example, my hatred of Rockstar’s gameplay is not universal and so including them in the bad list for gameplay would just muddle things. Same goes for Bungie and other hot-button developers.
In order to make this comic, I had to make a chart with all of the possible properties (gameplay, marketing, QA testing, voice acting, etc) and fill it in with the names of companies that would be exceptionally good or bad at those things. Then I had to trim it down to attributes which had both good and bad entries. Then I had to try to build a list that formed a closed loop where a set of companies would appear in each list exactly once.
There were a lot of companies I wanted to work in there but couldn’t. For example: In Hell, Zynga would be in charge of marketing. But adding one entry like this creates two dependencies. First, Zynga must be exceptionally respected for something else so that they can appear on both lists. And then I need to come up with another company to do the marketing in Heaven.
I had a few companies in both the good and bad lists, sometimes for the same thing. You can make the case that id Software could be listed for gameplay in Heaven. (The rampant popularity of Quake III Arena.) Or in Hell. (Doom 3’s monster closets.) I did this because it made it easier to construct the loop when I had a lot of possible candidates. At first I didn’t want to list someone for the same thing twice because it felt like cheating. But eventually I remembered that I was trying to write a joke and not solve a puzzle, so I ran with it and listed BioWare for dialog on both sides.
I really wanted to include id Software for “technology” in Heaven. In my chart I had it so that id could be in charge of “story”, “dialog”, or “character design” in Hell. I could include Bethesda for “technology” in Hell, but then what would Bethesda do in Heaven? And then who would do that in Hell? I went round and round on this. I had a few lists that nearly worked but required eight to ten companies. I had a good list constructed, except that it needed a company that was awesome at story and horrible at technology. (And Obsidian was already used elsewhere in the list.)
Still, fun puzzle. Take a crack at it if you’re so inclined. As a reminder, here is mine:
Cutscenes: Square Enix
QA Testing: Valve
Release Schedule: Capcom
Story: Square Enix
QA Testing: Obsidian
Release Schedule: Valve
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