Console vs PC in a shooter?!? How are you going to balance that?!
That is exactly what the design team for Shadowrun was thinking when they realized they wanted to have cross-platform play between the Xbox 360® and players using Windows Vista. In this article they'll walk you through the process they went through and some of their general design philosophy.
Sage Merrill, one of the game designers for the cross-platform shooter Shadowrun writes:
"So how do you balance a shooter where console and PC players can play against each other? Controller vs. mouse plus keyboard, which is better? It's a question that has been on gamers' minds ever since shooters started appearing on consoles. Obviously the mouse is superior, right? I mean the mouse is designed as a hyper-sensitive pointing device and has been refined over the years specifically for that purpose. We all know that the most important element in any shooter game is the ability to quickly get your crosshair over the enemy and pull the trigger. So given that, it's obvious that the mouse will win every time in a fire fight, regardless of the game, right? Wrong. Don't misunderstand me, that is exactly what every single member of the design team thought, including me, until we actually tried it. So, what actually happened when we played our first cross-platform game? The controller players trounced the mouse/keyboard players. It wasn't even close; the mouse players got stomped on. Over and over. So what happened? Did the mouse players just suck? Or was the controller actually a superior aiming device? Short answer: the mouse is better at aiming, but the controller is better at gaming. Long answer: read on."
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