Hard Edge Creativity: Defining Borderlands 2
November 7, 2011 Page 3 of 3
Very often when you see concept art, and then you see what the game actually looks like, there's a really big gap there. I'd guess there's not as much a gap here, but I was wondering if you could talk about that.
SK: Man, this game, I mean, I think when you see the model for our antagonist -- Handsome Jack -- it's like a spitting image of what I drew, just way better looking. [laughs]
We really pride ourselves, and a lot of times we'd shown people an image of the characters next to each other, and sometimes they couldn't tell what was the in-game art and what was the actual concept art.
For me, it's really awesome because I'm watching these super talented guys take my scribbles and turn them into these amazing... It's amazing to see. And it's really rewarding for me.
AB: I think production and design-wise it's really useful, too. Because we have an awesome guy named Kevin Duke doing concepts for the new gun art, and when he makes a mockup of a gun and shows you like, "This is what a screenshot might look like," you don't have to mentally leap at all, and be like, "No, how would that really look when we put the models in?"
Because the concept art style -- it looks like a screenshot; it looks like exactly what it's going to look in the real game. It's super useful for getting feedback, and all that kind of stuff.
SK: It's fantastic, and that guy is a beast.
I want to ask about the five year gap in the story. Why, narratively, was the decision made?
AB: We wanted to bring the Vault Hunters into a new emotional place. We wanted you to feel a little bit surprised about where they find themselves, and to basically show how Handsome Jack has changed this world.
Because we want to show you Pandora, but show you a Pandora that is not 100 percent untamed, not 100 percent no civilization anywhere. Borderlands is still very much sort of a Wild West -- you're not going to meet too many friendly people -- but we wanted to have this presence of Handsome Jack.
So when you look at the moon, and there's a big Hyperion Base, you can never forget that Handsome Jack is screwing over the moon. That five year gap gave us the time we needed to feel like that's a reasonable amount of time for the world to have changed, and for all the original players to have changed circumstances.
And everybody's got a different grudge against Handsome Jack, and you'll get to find out what those grudges are as the game goes on. And what's even better about that is you get to learn about who the Vault Hunters are as characters now because you're not controlling them. So you can see like, "Oh, how did Roland bounce off?", or "What's Mordecai's story?" or "What's Brick's story?"
It's about giving the story some breathing room, so you can do different stuff with it.
AB: Exactly, yeah. Because we want to be like, "Okay, exactly after Robot Revolution, this is what Roland did." Like, "Really, all that stuff happened to him in the 30 minutes after I put down Robot Revolution?" You'll see the Vault Hunters in very different circumstances than we last saw them, and we needed those five years to justify that.
It sounds like there's a tremendous amount of content compared to the original game; it sounds like a much bigger game. Is that accurate?
SK: The physical size is larger than the last game. The one thing that we're really trying to do, though, that we're priding ourselves on, is that there's so much more diversity inside of that, and there's so much more life. When you're talking about enemies, you're talking about guns, environments.
I feel like we've created more art already for this game than we did for the entirety of the last game, at this point in development. We've got a monumental amount of new stuff in the game, and that is really impressive to me. And we're really trying.
AB: Even more so, I think, than just the sheer amount, the bulk of it; it's about making sure those environments are really dense. So you saw on top of the dam, I think, you know all the bloodshot decals, and the bandits themselves look very different. You saw all that environmental storytelling of, where you just walk around a corner and a loader just impales the guy on its arm, and that kind of stuff. Making sure that the world just feels much more alive, and the experience feels like an immersive, cohesive adventure, rather than just like, "Let's do a shit load of assets and find a spot for them."
SK: Yeah, and the way that we build the environments is, we just take these elements and start jamming them together. And that's kind of like the ramshackle nature of Borderlands -- it's very "I don't know, how would you fix this? Well, I have this piece of sheet metal and I got a couple two by fours!" And that really allows us to get creative with the props that we make. And I think you'll see, in this game, we've really sort of upped the ante, as far as the visual interest around the game. Not only in that, but like Anthony said in the life of the world in itself, and the density of it.
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