“We would have had a game that was slightly more boring”: Matthew Armstrong’s Genius Saved Borderlands from ‘Wrong’ Feedback That Could’ve Doomed the Franchise

Much to any modern studio's surprise, hearing feedback from gamers can actually result in a immensely popular franchise.

matthew armstrong, borderlands

SUMMARY

  • Borderlands is a popular video game franchsie directed by Matthew Armstrong and Gearbox Entertainment Studios.
  • It was revealed in a past interview how the studio had a "Truth Team" dedicated to interpreting the feedback of the testers of their game.
  • This helped them create a very popular franchise by allowing them to fix what gamers felt wrong before the title was even released.
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There are a lot of stages a development house goes through when making a video game, and not following each one of them perfectly can ultimately result in the title becoming a failure. This is something that Gearbox Software, the makers of the Borderlands series has always kept in mind, and is also the reason why they have a dedicated “Truth Team” assigned to make sure one particular step is being followed to the tooth

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Gearbox entertainment
Gearbox Entertainment

One of the most significant phases during a game production is the one where gamers get a hands-on experience with it, allowing the studio to receive honest feedback and get to know where improvements need to be made. However, it is equally important to ensure the feedback is interpreted correctly, something Matthew Armstrong took extra care of while making the video game series.

Feedback Taken Right – How Matthew Armstrong Managed To Set The Borderlands Franchise On The Right Path

The secret to Borderlands’ success has finally been revealed| A still from Borderlands 3

As stated before, one thing Gearbox Entertainment did right was having a dedicated team to interpret what the testers really meant to say while giving feedback for the game. This includes finding out what the players actually mean when they talk about a certain element of the title, allowing the franchise to have a long run, and letting the studio have something up its sleeve to surprise the fans, including a possible return of a fan-favorite character in the fourth game.

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A fine example of how this helped make the game better was mentioned by Matthew Armstrong, the director of Borderlands, who stated at SXSW Interactive, as noted by Polygon, how the number of skags was tripled in Skag Gully after a tester noted it felt way too clustered for the player to run into at the time.

“In that example, the problem wasn’t that there were too many Skags, it’s that the pacing was bad, but the tester might not have known how to say ‘The pacing is bad,’ so we had to figure out what they really meant. If you interpret everything your testers are giving you as straight fact, our solution would have been to remove all the Skags, and we would have had a game that was slightly more boring.”

The director revealed how the team was able to realize the issue originated from the pacing of the game rather than the clusters of Skags in the stated area. He further discloses how taking the tester’s words as they came out their mouth would have been a fatal mistake, as removing the skags would have made the already existing pace even more boring.

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How Borderlands Ended Up Being Tremendously Successful

Borderlands first look poster
Testers played a huge role in making what Borderlands is today | A poster of the Borderlands Movie

While many would think the story ends at the Skag Gully, they would apparently be wrong, as there are a lot of other areas of the game that improved with the help of gamers consistently testing out the title before it was released for everybody else. Additionally, the series is appreciated for its offbeat humor and cartoonish graphics, capturing a huge player base around the globe who has a knack for these exact specifics.



Coming back to the present, the franchise is in the spotlight once again, as its growing popularity has prompted producers to make a live-action adaptation of the video game series, which is proving to be as splendid as its source material for many watchers. The adaptation also features none other than Jack Black as the voice of Claptrap, which should be a reason enough for fans to get on the series right now if they haven’t already.

Aaditya Chugh

Written by Aaditya Chugh

Articles Published: 379

Aaditya Chugh is a Gaming Content Writer at FandomWire. With a passion for everything gaming, he's the one you turn to for the latest insights and reviews straight from the industry. Whether he's diving into timeless classics like the first ever Doom or staying up-to-date with the newest releases like Helldivers 2 and Stellar Blade, he provides whatever you might need to stay in the loop.