ES: Obviously, we're a shooter. This is not an interactive documentary. We're not going to debate that. But if you're interested in that sort of thing, it just informs you of what's going on. And even if you just want to blow stuff up, I think gamers know when an environment has really been designed and thought went into it.
It's lots more work for our environment artists, but it's just cooler. And it's not a cutscene you can skip. Container City clearly was never planned to built the way it is, but suddenly the sea started rising, things went badly wrong, they moved to the middle of the ocean, tens of thousands of refugees turned up, and they lost contact with the outside world.
Or at least, that's what they're told. No more flights are coming in. There's this high-tech airport, and ever since Brangelina flew in for their photo-op and flew out again, no one has been there since. I don't want to go too much into the story of the stuff, but it's there if you want to find out about it. It is primarily a shooter. But there's something at stake.
CR: Deus Ex is an interesting influence for a Splash Damage game to have, considering your background, and you've mentioned all the hiring up you're doing to support this new game design. Has it been a big adjustment working on a game where you're creating all this fiction?
ES: Well, to be fair, id let us do what we wanted with Quake Wars. They really let us reimagine it. And this is part of the challenge as a studio. Can we create an original title? This is not based on any existing IP. It's not based on another game. We've had a lot of success with that.
I keep stressing this, but we got a lot of praise for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. It's still sometimes in the top three most played online PC games, which is fantastic. We're very proud of it. A lot of that was down to how good Return to Castle Wolfenstein was, and the work Grey Matter did. Some of the stuff that we put in was stuff they were thinking about but weren't able to put in.
The thing that we really added was the RPG elements of character advance. I mean, it seems crazy now. Was that really the first FPS to have XP? Now, it's, "Of course you do that, and then you get to spend the XP in a variety of ways."
CR: That style has become very predominant over the past few years.
ES: And I really think this is how it's going to be with [modes]. It's going to seem crazy. In a couple years time, people are going to look back and say, "Really, there were separate single-player and multiplayer versions of that game? That's crazy. Why would you do that?"
Okay, there were some technological issues -- memory and network code and so on. Yeah, it's hard, but we're just at that point. This is what's next. This is what's next for the genre and what's next for the medium, scrubbing this stuff and turning it into a consistent gameplay experience. It doesn't matter what you call it. The difference between solo and cooperative is whether your buddies show up or not.
KG: What about the community aspect? Are there going to be some more social aspects in the game?
ES: That's a very good question. A lot of that has to do with Bethesda, so I can't answer that definitively now. Clearly, that's not stuff we're going to deliberately neglect because we can't be bothered. In every way, we want to be building on our stuff.
Also, we've had such a good time with the communities of our previous games. They've been such good company and good support. Sometimes they've been harsh critics as well, but they know the game better than we do. We would be idiots not to listen to them. [laughs]
CR: What tech are you using for this game? Is this internal, or id?
ES: It's based on id Tech 4. All our games have been id Tech. We have a lot of experience with this. It's id Tech 4, but we've pretty much overhauled every single aspect of it.
I can see why other developers aren't doing this game or haven't done it already, because there are major barriers to entry. It's hard. It's taken us a long time to get the expertise and the technological solutions to make this fly, but it seems to be working.
We're pretty bullish about it. We're pre-alpha now. We're going to be launching spring 2010. We can do it. We're very confident we can offer gamers something they haven't seen before or haven't realized they haven't wanted before, but hopefully it will just become standard. In the future, this will not be a special feature. It will just be, "Well, of course. It should do that out of the box. There's no reason games can't do that now."