I think “the developers vision, as talked about by game hobbyists” usually means whatever the particular game hobbyist likes or believes in most. To my knowledge, humans don’t really have the ability to read other humans’ minds with any accuracy, so actually knowing what the dev team’s vision was during development is essentially impossible for those on the outside. Instead, most gaming hobbyists will project their own desires and thinking onto the dev team because most people are not very good at trying to see things from alternate perspectives.
In my observation, the more vocal pundits like to imagine a “heroes vs villains” scenario where the noble development team is fighting against the dastardly publisher at every turn in order to bring their pure vision of gaming goodness to the masses while being foiled by the publisher’s selfish and greedy demands. There’s no room for nuance, like budgets, schedules, technical limitations, resource limitations, licensing requirements, and the like within this story. This oversimplified fantasy is where the imagined “developers’ vision” idea usually comes from. They want to believe… so they do.
In reality, the developer vision for the game necessarily changes because it has to. Maybe the original idea didn’t work out the way we thought it would, maybe it couldn’t fit into the schedule, maybe the team didn’t have the necessary expertise to make it work, maybe we found something else along the way that we decided worked way better. There are a thousand different reasons that development chooses to pivot from what we originally set out to do. Without being privy to that context and those decisions, it’s really impossible to say with any accuracy whether the shipped game matches the developers’ vision.
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