Insomniac claims focus testing didn't dilute the game
Insomniac Games is working on more content for its recently released Fuse, but it won't just be downloadable content. According to studio head Ted Price, the team is already prototyping some substantial new stuff.
"For you, our fans ... for those of you who dig what we do with crazy worlds, characters and weapons," said Price, in full PR mode, "for those of you who check out Fuse and enjoy a co-op romp through a very “Insomniac” game, this is what I have to say: we’re just getting started.
"We've already begun expanding what we've begun with Fuse. Right now as I write this we’re taking the core concepts behind Fuse and prototyping new stuff ... stuff that leverages this bizarre alien substance which is at the heart of the game. No, I’m not talking about DLC. I’m talking about new Fuse experiences altogether."
Price also vaguely addressed concerns that Overstrike was turned into the more generic and unremarkable Fuse due to coldhearted focus testing.
"After our re-reveal of the game in summer 2012 we continued to make adjustments to the game, adding more color; making sure the humor came through in emergent dialogue," he said. "No, we didn't make aesthetic changes because of a 12 year-old’s focus test comments. We did what we thought was right for the Fuse universe. In particular we focused on creating co-op weapons and gameplay that we think work better than any other co-op shooter out there and allowed that to drive the game."
He then goes on to talk about weapon creation without ever addressing why the game went from an energetic, funny and unique looking IP to the drab, flat, charmless shooter we actually got, or who thought it was a good idea. This is particularly concerning to me because, when I specifically asked Insomniac what on Earth prompted the change, if not cynical marketing pressure, I was told Price would explain it in this blog.
The denial certainly seems to contradict an interview with IGN, published after Overstrike became Fuse, in which Insomniac specifically said the "cartoony" look wasn't going over well with focus groups, and that the post-change delay was a specific reaction to the assessments of 12-year-olds.
I'm not sure why anybody would be so keen to debunk one of the more rational explanations for why Fuse is the disappointing non-entity it is. At least subservient reliance on focus testing offers a glimpse of raw, if misplaced, logic. Other explanations would make Fuse the product of insanity or demons.