You can’t weigh features by how much you want them in the game, you have to consider how many development resources it takes to create them. The tram? A couple of days from one of our FX guys and it’s finished… very low risk, very low complexity (using entirely existing tech), and adds a nice visual punch to the neighborhood. I can’t recall ever scoping against FX… they always have time to be adding more stuff.
Our FX folks submitted their own long list of things they wanted to work on because there wasn’t enough for them to do. Now, you can’t take the FX team and ask them to add pools to the game. They don’t have the work skills to do it; neither do I. Pools, toddlers… they’re extremely complex features that require months of man hours of work across multiple disciplines and introduce significant risk.
If we were to have added one of those to the game, there would have been two choices for us… cut many small features, or cut one other significantly large feature. And again, it isn’t equivalent – you can’t just cut a large feature and expect it to line up; you have to cut enough to get all the numbers for each discipline in the green, which means cutting extra to get to the point where the hardest hit discpline has enough time to do their necessary work for it. Now you’ve created free time for other disciplines who previously had work, but are left twiddling their thumbs… so you need to find work for them to do that only impacts the areas that you have time to spend in.
If you look at one weird aspect of the game and wonder why it took priority over something that seemed important to you, it’s entirely possible it was something that the right people had time to work on without disrupting the busy people. Game development is a constant puzzle where you’re matching headcount and skill sets against features, schedule, and budget, and you’re trying to make everything fit just right with as few gaps as possible. Unfortunately time isn’t like money; you can’t go into debt on time and pay it back later.