ESG Interviews Splash Damage On Brink
With E3 right around the corner, it can be quite difficult to keep track of all the exciting games coming in 2010. One title we believe everyone should be excited about is Brink. Brink is currently being developed by the independently-owned studio Splash Damage, and will be published by Bethesda Softworks. We had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Splash Damage’s Richard Ham to get all the details on what makes Brink so unique and why you should be excited to get your hands on this title later this year.
ESG: Thank you for taking the time for our interview. Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what your role in the development of Brink is.
Richard Ham: My name’s Richard Ham, and I’m the Creative Director at Splash Damage.
ESG: Can you please share with us some of the company history and how your relationship with Bethesda came to be?
Richard Ham: Splash Damage has been making PC shooters for almost a decade now, including Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars, both of which have won multiple game-of-the-year awards. When we decided that we wanted to move into shooter development on consoles, we approached Bethesda because of the fantastic work they’d done bringing the Elder Scrolls series from PC to console. We knew any publisher with that kind of track record would be a great partner for us.
ESG: Prior to Brink, Splash Damage was known to be a PC-only developer, how well did the team handle the transition now that you are a multiplatform studio? Were there any difficulties to develop for a specific platform?
Richard Ham: We’re really lucky to have some great, experienced console developers on board. It could have been even tougher, but we’ve got a great blueprint for gameplay that we’ve been developing for years now, so we knew exactly what we wanted to make when we set out.
ESG: Splash Damage is best known for both Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory as well as Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars, Your latest title Brink, is quite a radical departure to your past games. What was the inspiration behind Brink?
Richard Ham: Actually, we think of Brink as an evolution of the types of games we’ve been making for years now. Our shooters have always been known for their deep multiplayer gaming, rich character advancement, class-based teamwork, and objective driven gameplay.
With Brink, we’re building on all of that and adding more to the mix, including things like the SMART system and the blending of single player and multiplayer gaming into a smooth seamless experience.
ESG: What can you tell us about the world of Brink and its storyline?
Richard Ham: Brink is set on the Ark, which is an artificial man-made, floating city that was built around 2010. It was meant to be a prototype for mankind’s green future, but when the Earth’s sea levels suddenly rose, it became a refuge for thousands who were looking for a home.
Now, it’s 20 years after the thousands of immigrants came to the Ark. They’ve lost all contact with the outside world and resources are in dangerously short supply. The entire place is on the brink of an all-out civil war, and that’s where you come in. You’ll choose which side you want to fight on in this war and that choice will affect the outcome of the game.
ESG: What would you say makes Brink unique when compared to other FPS’s (first person shooters) out in the market?
Richard Ham: There are a lot of features, but probably the most important one is how we’ve taken the best of multiplayer gaming and single player gaming and fused it into a completely new experience. You can go from playing solo, to co-oping with up to 7 of your friends, to full competitive versus within a single mission, all while following the same storyline and building the same character
ESG: There has been a lot of talk about being able to customize your character in Brink. To what extend can you customize your character? Is it purely aesthetic or can you customize certain physical characteristics that could affect gameplay?
Richard Ham: There are a ton of options to make your character really unique. We kept it all aesthetic because we didn’t want players to feel obligated to choose this shirt or that helmet because it would give you some kind of bonus. We want players to design the look of their characters to make what they think is cool.
There is one customization feature though that does affect gameplay: body types. You can make your character normal, big, or small, and this has huge impacts not only on your look, but also on how the game plays.
ESG: Tell us about your innovative “SMART” system that you have implemented for Brink.
Richard Ham: SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) was designed to take the guesswork out of FPS navigation and let you focus on the fun part: the shooting. Basically, if you tap the sprint button it works as you’d expect from any shooter. But if you hold the sprint button, that’s you signaling to the game that you want your character to vault over, jump across, climb up on, or slide under whatever gets in your way, so we make it happen for you. However, if you decide you don’t want the game doing that for you, you can always do all the climbing/vaulting/jumping/sliding actions yourself by performing well-timed combinations of the jump, crouch and sprint keys. And if you do so, you’ll find you’re actually more efficient at moving through the world and you’ll even find some shortcuts that the SMART button wouldn’t have revealed.
ESG: Will there be any other differences between platforms (i.e., graphically or gameplay wise)? Will there be any multiplayer differences for each respective platform as well?
Richard Ham: We’re working on all three platforms simultaneously in-house here at Splash Damage to make sure that each of them offers the best experience possible. The actual gameplay will be the same across all of the platforms, and visually the game will look fantastic no matter which version you buy.
In addition to the control differences, the PC version will have dedicated servers and a server browser while the console versions will have the streamlined automatic matchmaking that players have become used to.
ESG: Most PC gamers tend to worry when a PC developer goes multiplatform. Gamers tend to worry that gameplay has been tweaked to make a game more accessible, or that graphics have been toned down to fit console restraints. What do you think about these concerns? And what have Splash Damage done to ease gamer’s worries when it comes to Brink?
Richard Ham: It’s a valid point, but we didn’t want to compromise on anything for Brink, so we haven’t. For instance, Brink is an 8v8 game by default. This wasn’t because of some sort of console limitation… we chose this because we knew it would be the right number of players for the type of intense, up close and personal warfare we wanted, where everyone is a valuable member of the team and can swing the odds in their favour.
ESG: As PC editor here at ESG I must ask, are there any plans to support modding for the PC version?
Richard Ham: Both Bethesda and Splash Damage have a pretty strong history of doing so, but right now we don’t have any announced plans. If we have news to share, we’ll be sure to let everyone know.
ESG: What kind of plans do you have for DLC at the moment if any?
Richard Ham: Right now our focus is completing the game and making it available for our fans.
ESG: Finally, do you have a time frame for release yet?
Richard Ham: Right now, we’re shooting for Fall 2010 release for all three platforms.
** We would like to take this time to thank both Bethesda and Splash Damage for taking the time to conduct the interview with us. ESG wishes you nothing but the best!**