Our very first meeting at GamesCom this year was with FutureMark, a company best known for creating benchmarking software but which was now making a foray into the world of game development with Shattered Horizon.
Shattered Horizon, as we discussed in our earlier hands-on preview, is a multiplayer game with a twist – it’s set in space, in a completely zero-gravity environment. The levels are shockingly innovative and fun to play on and the game, which is currently in closed beta, looks to be one of the most interesting shooters of this year.
The game so impressed us in fact that we found ourselves paying a second visit to the FutureMark booth at GamesCom, sitting down with FutureMark’s marketing man James Gallagher, Shattered Horizon’s Lead Designer Antti Summala and Producer Jaakko Haapasalo and blasting them with questions. Check out the transcript below.
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bit-tech:OK, the first question is the obvious one – why are you actually making a game to start with? FutureMark is known for its benchmarking stuff and hopping suddenly to game development is an unusual and sudden leap.
James: I think that...well, for ten years we’ve been making the 3DMark stuff and all that engine tech and we were actually founded out of Remedy – who made Max Payne and are making Alan Wake now.
So, there’s always been this games culture within the company. There’s always been a noisy group of people in the company who’ve been pushing us to do it. It just felt like the time was right. We had the engine for DirectX 10 out of 3DMark Vantage, so since we had the technology all we needed was an interesting idea.
I guess, most studios would say exactly the same thing and that getting the ideas isn’t really the hard part. There are loads and loads of really good ideas, but it’s building up to go ahead and do it as a business that’s the hard bit. We’ve done OK though, founding the studio in 2008, showing first at Leipzig last year and now we’re hopefully just a few months away from release.
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BT:So, you’ve got your idea and chosen this rather unique and difficult setting – but why? If you’re going to make a game it must be a little risky to do something so unconventional as a multiplayer only zero-gravity shooter.
James: I can answer that fairly easily from a marketing point of view, but I think the design answer is really the interesting one.
Antti: Well, you wouldn’t really want to make a cookie-cutter game. Nobody wants to work on just another shooter. So, we looked at the options and we had a lot of different ideas, and we went for something that hasn’t really been done. Or, rather, it has been done but very differently and only really in singleplayer games a long time ago.
Really, we chose something that piqued our interest and that looked like a challenge and was something we’d like to try ourselves. That’s the short answer.