People Can Fly Interview

Adrian: (Continued) A lot of people think it’s similar to Painkiller or Serious Sam, but the thing is; why don’t you say the same thing when you see in Modern Warfare multiplayer that you kill a guy and you get a little ‘+10’ above his head? Nobody calls that arcadey, right? The reason is that you know it has this big singleplayer experience and it all makes sense within itself. Painkiller on the other hand was great fun, but made no sense whatsoever. Clowns in a monastery? It’s crazy. The monsters were pulled out of the developer’s ass. If it was fun, it went in regardless of if it made sense or not. Players: shoot everything that moves and if it doesn’t move then shoot it just in case.

In Bulletstorm we have none of that, at all. We’ve spent tonnes of time working on making this whole new universe, because that’s what we want to present to the player. We spent time thinking what it would be like in the 26th Century. Every enemy has a context and makes sense. There is a reason why they look the way they do and behave that way. Believe it or not even the skill-shot system we have is a part of the story. It’s not a gameplay element that’s there no reason, like when you see regenerating health in World War II shooters, it actually makes sense. I can’t go into the details right now, but it does make sense.

Painkiller was our tribute to old-school, a kind of ‘Thanks and goodbye’. Now we’ve moved on to a more modern design. However, we did take something away from Painkiller which is this creative mayhem on the battlefield; the option to just go crazy and have fun killing people. It’s what we call Satisfaction from the Kill.

Bulletstorm Interview People Can Fly Interview
There are tonnes of combos available through the skillshot system

So, what we’re trying to get through to gamers is that if they’re looking for something like Serious Sam or Painkiller…that’s not Bulletstorm. If they just want that certain spirit, the fun killing and which isn’t totally dead serious…that’s Bulletstorm.

BT: You said you put a lot of effort into imagining the future, but a lot of what we’ve seen so far has been quite conventional. The weapons, for example, are all grenade launchers and shotguns. Why didn’t you take it the other way and have laser rifles and so on?

Adrian: That’s a very good question. Especially within the context of the game, where your enemies are these feral people who somehow have access to Confederate weaponry. We could argue that bullets in the future can travel between planets but still fit in your gun, but because most of the enemies you are fighting are feral a lot of the guns are homemade for them. They are very primitive, because the savages are trying to use whatever they can find to make these junk weapons.

Some of the weapons we have, like the Bolo (which fires two grenades connected by a rope), are based on old tribal weapons. I think the original bolo was an aboriginal weapon. So, we will have some high-tech weapons, like the Leash – which is a high-tech tool for grabbing enemies and items – but also we’ll have some homemade and low-tech stuff.

BT: One of the things we’ve liked about Bulletstorm is that it has this sense of physicality, like your character really feels like he’s actually touching the world and really kicking enemies and so on. The last game I remember which really felt that was Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

Bulletstorm Interview People Can Fly Interview
Grayson's Energy Leash lets him pick enemies up and throw them around

Adrian: Yes, I remember that – it had that same interactivity with the world that we have.

BT: Was that hard to accomplish? You really don’t see very many games that pull it off that well.

Adrian: Yeah. Oh, yeah. It was very hard. That was the whole reason we went for the first person perspective – we wanted that closeness and immersion. So, when you kick an enemy in the game then you don’t think ‘Ok, I’ll press this button and then I’ll get this function’, you kick with your mind almost. It’s very hard to get the sense of immersion, so you feel like ‘yeah, I’m in the game doing that.’

There’s tonnes of tricks and tweaks that you have to do to make it work right too. For example, if you have proper gravity – like, real 1:1 Earth gravity – in the game, then objects won’t appear to behave like you expect them to or as they do in real life. In order to get good dynamics we had to increase the gravity three times.

There’s lots of other things to try and understand too – like, what type of kick is it? Is it a Spartan kick like in 300 or is it a kick in the balls? Which is better, which works best in the game? Little things like that took us three years to do because you’re just constantly polishing and prototyping and trying again and trying again, until you forget about it because it works how you want. So, you’re kicking, you’re shooting, you’re sliding.
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September 18 2020 | 18:30