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Interview: Splash Damage's Richard 'Rahdo' Ham


Immediately following our demo of Brink, we were able to sit down with Splash Damage creative director Richard 'Rahdo' Ham and grill him some about the game. He came to Splash Damage following work on Fable 2 for this project, and has quite the gaming resume. But, following the demo for Brink, we were left with a lot of questions, and luckily Ham didn't mind answering them. He couldn't give us everything, though, as he failed to answer some of our more serious questions (Coke, or Pepsi?). So, head past the break and check out our chat with Splash Damage's Richard 'Rahdo' Ham!

Gallery: Brink | 16 Photos

Joystiq: During the presentation for Brink, you guys talked about persistence in your single-player character being carried over online -- versus? Are we looking at 32, 16?

Richard 'Rahdo' Ham: Right now, we're looking at 8-on-8. Specifically, if you go back, that's what Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was. It was a real sweet spot. When they did the second one -- Quake Wars -- it went up to 16-on-16 and we were kind of building up. It was one of the first things talked about, you know, we could jump into the next one 32-32. And very early on, this was actually before I came here -- I was still on Fable at the time -- they decided they wanted to go back to basics. Because, you know, there's just more intimacy.

We put so much time and effort into all of the customization, to make sure that everyone really stands out. We wanted to make sure you'd have a more memorable thing if you didn't run into the same person more often.

Let's get into the class-based stuff. We saw customizable weapon loadouts that didn't pigeonhole classes into certain weapon sets ...

To me, that's a really important thing. You go back to Dungeons and Dragons, and Gygax -- it's like, "Why, because I put on a pointy hat, can I never pick up a sword?" We're basically going for a fairly standard four classes of soldier, medic, engineer, and operative/spy. So even though Paul shows the shotgun, because he loves the shotgun, I didn't want you to be under any obligation to do that. It's all about you creating different combinations.

There are also three different body types: normal; small; and big, Swarzenegger size. And those three body types, multiplied by the four classes, tend to create, I think, 12 completely different types of play style. Because it's kind of obvious, if you pick a big Swarzenegger guy, you're going to slow down ...

Well, it's one thing to have character customization, it's another for it to have a real effect ...

The body type is the main one that makes a big, big difference. It slows you down, it speeds you up, it lets you carry big weapons, so having a big weapon is not based on class, it's based on you. So you can be a big tank medic, if you want. Going smaller gives you more and more access to the ability to climb -- you can climb up twice your height, and jump farther.

We try to limit you as little as possible, and not have any arbitrary "just because" kind of rules.

The transition from single-player to online, obviously when you're playing single-player or co-op, you're affecting the game world and changing it. Is it something where we'll see that online, or is it a case of choosing from a set number of maps or modes? You know, CTF, deathmatch, that kind of stuff?

As far as I'm concerned, there really are no modes like that at all. When you first start the game, there isn't going to be any choice to play online or offline. That doesn't exist at all. There's a continuity across all of what you'd consider the game's modes, you just play the game. So, you know, I decide I'm going to go into Container City, I'm going to do that mission, and you go through in a traditional, story-based kind of way, and you could do that alone or with up to seven of your buddies, or you could play that as a full-on multiplayer deathmatch.

"You won't hear anybody's voice except for someone on your friend's list."

So we expect a lot of players are going to be like me, going along, having a good time, and there will come a point if we recognize you are online, we'll actually stop you between missions and say, "You're doing really well, you may not have noticed, you've accumulated a lot of stuff, so you may want to go online. We're not going to make you, but if you do, we'll pay you twice as much experience." So the players will try, because they'll find things exactly the same. They'll really be much more comfortable than they have before. And, we're putting in a lot of stuff to totally obliterate the anti-social stuff. For example, you won't hear anybody's voice except for someone on your friend's list. There's other things, like guys that block the door, we're letting you pass through, and there's a bunch of those things.

That's a really smart implementation, the voice stuff. What else?

Another big thing you saw was the objective wheel, and at any given time, at the very least, there's five or six -- usually a lot more -- specific things you can do to help out. But, if you're like me, and you enjoy shooters, and don't want to be on the front lines, there's tons of stuff for you to do. Those command posts, you can go off and capture them. Or somebody else is capturing them, and you can take them back. Depending on what kind of class you are, you can upgrade them. There's also other ancillary objectives that are popping up as well, so it kind of caters and lets you feel valuable. In the demo, Paul went off an interrogated somebody, and it gave him experience points. But, in doing that -- for the rest of the team, if he's playing multiplayer or even single-player -- they all get the benefit of that. Inadvertently, just for having fun, going off and doing your own thing, you can still help.

Something else we noticed -- and this is likely for the E3 build -- all of the weapons had infinite ammo, and all of the weapons were unlocked. What's the progression there? How will players unlock these weapons? Will I use a pistol so much so that I get better at it, and improve that weapon?

That's one of the things we're talking about right now. That's the kind of big assumption everybody made, and you look at it in things like Team Fortress 2, where they added all of these objectives, and everybody just started grinding for upgrades, completely invalidating what [Valve] wanted to do. These are supposed to be rewards for what you'd be doing anyway.

It's a whole unlockables procedure, and we're still working out the particulars, but the number one goal is to ensure that it doesn't take away the fun.

Thanks for your time!

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