TSA: What support do you have planned for the game, going forward? It would seem you have the scope for more than just plain old map packs.
Ed: Sorry, right now we’re just focused on getting Brink finished.
TSA: Infinity Ward have (recently) announced that they can’t rely on the PS3’s security, following the system hacks and subsequent fiddling about with MW2. They said that they’ll at least consider crafting their own security from here on in. Is that something you guys have looked at? Are you concerned?
This is more a question for our publisher Bethesda, but as you can imagine we’re certainly following this issue with some interest.
TSA: It seems to me that the straight-up arcade shooter (with some competitive multiplayer on the side) has reached a kind of creative nadir. Many of these are highly polished, great-looking, fun titles, that are currently selling by the bucket load, but they offer nothing new. Can you see their appeal lasting?
An awful lot of players are buying and enjoying some awesomely polished shooters at the moment, and they’re not wrong. The genre, and the medium of games as a whole, will inevitably change and develop over time. The challenge is to innovate and evolve while still satisfying the audience’s basic expectations of the genre.
We looked long and hard at some of the potential problems with online shooters. It seems like too many players spend too much time dead, not playing the game. And often that’s a result of something they could do nothing to prevent. I don’t mind being killed in a game if I know who did it and how and what I could have done to avoid it. If there’s really no counter, or no skill was involved, I tend to get weary.[drop2]Brink’s grenades do a little bit of damage (possibly enough to kill you if you’ve already taken some hits) but mainly knock you down and leave you momentarily vulnerable to a follow-up attack. But you can still fire while knocked down. So if you grenade me, and knock me down on my arse, and then run towards me to try to finish me off, I can still shoot at you the whole time (albeit with reduced accuracy, as I only have one hand on the weapon).
That said, if you do manage to perform a melee finishing move on me, fair enough, you have earned that kill.
Oh yes, another thing: no sniping. No, wait, before a red laser hovers between my eyes, let me explain. I’d define sniping as you having a weapon with such superior range and damage to mine that you can safely kill me from distance and I cannot deal a single point of damage to you.
One of the problems with our previous game, Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars, was that you’d get one sniper having a great time and the entire other team not really getting to play the game. They just spent all their time dead. So with Brink we’ve brought the engagement range right in, reduced the average kill distance to a much more intimate medium-short melee range, and turned snipers into support gunners.
We don’t hate snipers, it’s an awesome skill to master. But by design there are no one-shot kills in Brink (at full health, that is), other than if you as a player choose the Light body type, because as we make clear, you’re opting for extra agility and mobility at the expense of health. Snipers are still doing vital work, taking 50% of an enemy’s health away with one shot, 70% off another.
This gives that enemy player a brief moment to run away, use the SMART movement system to slide behind cover and let their health regain – but the sniper will have won that tactical victory, forcing an enemy to retreat, or leaving them so vulnerable that a second shot or follow-up attack with a secondary weapon will finish them off.
Also, by default Brink’s scoreboards rank players in a match by XP, and the game gives far more XP for doing objectives and buffing teammates than for just killing the enemy. Rank players by kills and you tend to get Medics who don’t heal anyone but themselves, or Soldiers who don’t give anyone else ammo.
But give players XP incentives to help their teammates and (as we’ve seen repeatedly at shows like E3, GamesCom, EuroGamer and PAX) you get complete strangers falling over themselves trying to keep each other alive and topped up with ammo. It’s just way more fun to play that way, so we have the mission wheel to make it really easy for players to cooperate and coordinate as a team.
TSA: Conversely, do you ever worry about innovating too much? Brink is a game that’s picking up a fair bit of buzz from the specialty press, precisely because it offers something new.
But are you concerned Brink may stray too far from the CoD blueprint for your average punter? How do you balance the desire to innovate and shift as many copies as possible?
What I said above, plus there’s no point us making the same game as everyone else. We’re trying something new with Brink, and from the reaction of the press and gamers at public events, people seem to be open to something a little different. Brink has been designed from the ground up to introduce several different profiles of gamer to our flavour of class-based MP shooters.
Whether you think of yourself as Gamer-with-a-capital-G, consider yourself a hardcore PC /console gamer, don’t really identify as an online or MP shooter fan, or have never even tried going online, Brink is going to make it very easy for you to have a good time.
We thank Ed for his valuable time. For more on Brink, click here.