As part of a larger Gamasutra feature, Splash Damage's Richard Ham, creative director on the Bethesda-published Brink, explains how the developer hopes to control player behavior in multiplayer sessions.
The game, a story-driven class-based shooter, blends single player and multiplayer; essentially, the only difference between the two is whether or not you are actively online. When players do first elect to go online, the game helps to smooth out pick-up matches by offering suggestions via its "Squad Commander," which suggests minute-to-minute objectives.
"The Commander is primarily a tool to help coordinate strangers who may not be able to work together effectively. But once you've reached that level of socialness with others in Brink, you can get everything you need from them directly, and in some cases, the HUD."
"We want to eliminate all the bad stuff and just leave the good stuff," said Ham, when it comes to multiplayer. This includes leaving "VOIP off by default." Advanced players who wish to work as a tight-knit group can form their own teams and play together, but to avoid abuse, players who jump into multiplayer matches will not be able to by default speak over the network.
For advanced players, "We've found in those sorts of situations the Squad Commander takes a back seat to players communicating directly, which is totally fine with us," said Ham.
The game is the latest in a series of evolutions of how shooters function, and how they react to and engender certain behavior via underlying systems. "We've been working on Brink since before Left 4 Dead came out, but when the first one came out there were so many things in that game that validate and legitimize the kind of stuff we're doing," Ham said.
For more on the complex design decisions the team butted up against when creating this unique online/offline hybrid title, read Gamasutra's latest feature, A Missive From The End Of Genre: How Brink Works, which is live now.