I played through a lot of Borderlands. Were you guys annoyed when that came out? I mean, because you'd been planning this for a long time, and there are a lot of similar elements? A lot of driving, a lot of shooting, linear with mission-based side branches -- the internal structure of the game is extremely similar.
AC: Yeah. I sometimes wonder if it's like when, maybe five or six years ago when every military shooter was based in World War II. And I think that just happens. Technology moves along to a point where it's like, "Hey, you know what? Technology is at a point where we could do a post-apocalyptic game."
And we can't be the people that came up with the post-apocalyptic genre, so it's just a matter of, I think, different studios reaching this same sort of goal, and using that as a jumping off point. And when you jump off from post-apocalyptic themes, obviously Road Warrior is going to come into it, you know? That's the big one, and then…
As we've noted, brown is one of the easiest colors to put in everything.
AC: Brown? Quake is famously brown, and I would say with Rage, the palette is more orange.
Did that come naturally or were you looking at the trend of popular culture now, as with the orange/blue trend in films?
AC: Not really. I mean, I think we had a lot of great concept artists, and when we were doing initial concepts and prototypes for the game that's generally just what we leaned to. Our artistic eyes move along with pop culture as well, so if it seems to be looking like a trend, then that's probably why.
Yeah, you're just getting swept along by the zeitgeist.
Is the entirety of the game relatively linear, as I have experienced in these two and a half hours that I played?
AC: The story itself is linear, obviously, but there are moments where you can just have fun, and go off and make money. I've seen people just do races; I've seen people at this press event just do races, and races, and races, because that's what they like to do. So in that sense it's what we call "open but directed."
TH: There's a main story arc, but the gameplay isn't necessarily directed, or dictated, by that. There's a narrative that goes through it, but then the game is sort of built around that. There are story branches as well, that you can either play on the main path to completion of the game, or you don't necessarily have to participate in.
And then there are also aspects of the game that, as Andy was saying, kind of have an arbitrary nature -- like, how many times do you want to race? Is it really important for you to get first place, because that's the type of player you are? Because all the game requires you to do is finish in the top three.
Yeah, although I did come across while playing at least three or four instances where the game was like, "Nope, you're not going that way right now!" I can see that it is not entirely linear, but I did feel like I was being strongly gated -- usually by getting murdered.
TH: It's not like, "just wander around," and that's on purpose. I mean, the point of the game isn't to [wander around]. And in fact we looked at it as we were building the wastelands. Part of the reason why you have a car is sort of the same thing -- we have these vast environments. If you're just walking around through the wasteland, I mean, that's one of the bad things that happens.
If you die out in the wasteland, we put you back in a town, or whatever, and you have to rebuild your car, and stuff, because we didn't want people just like, "Oh, now I'm out in the middle of nowhere! I'm going to get it handed to me by all these guys in cars, and towers with guns, and stuff." So we try to make the wastelands more like -- some of the experiences like running a gauntlet to get through from point A to point B, as opposed to just going where you want.
And that's kind of the idea: that it's open, there are meaningful choices that you can make, in terms of what you want to do. There's not necessarily a predetermined order of, "this is number one, this is number two, this is number three." You may have multiple missions that you can do at the same time, and the order in which you choose them is up to you. Now, it may be more or less challenging based on the way it was intended, but it's not necessarily dictated.
But there are aspects of the world that are only opened up to you once you do certain things, and you cause the bits to happen, and yeah, we don't open the whole thing. For example, once you go from the Wasteland One part of the game to Wasteland Two, you go forward; you can't just go back and forth between the two.