Brink will ‘end the genre as we know it’ say developers

Bethesda Softworks and Splash Damage have released a third developer diary about their upcoming first person shooter Brink. (You can watch a previous Brink developer diary over at Gabe’s Train2Game blog.) This latest Brink developer diary is titled ‘Brink: The end of the genre as we know it’ in which the developers discuss Brink’s ‘unique meld of single and multiplayer modes’ which form the basis of the game.

This third Brink developer diary begins with Creative Director Richard Ham telling us that the squad based shooter bridges the gap between single player and multiplayer games. Brink Game Director Paul Wedgewood echoes this theme by adding “We’re finally blurring the lines between offline gaming and online gaming” Splash Damage certainly want to let gamers know that this is the unique feature of Brink!

The Brink developers are very keen to push through that the game doesn’t have a pre-set path, with the player being able to choose their own story whether they are playing online or offline. Completing team based objectives in both modes will earn Brink players experience points which they can spend on customising their character with their own unique selection of clothes, weapons and other accessories.

Brink does look very impressive and it’ll be very interesting to see if the amalgamation of the single player and multiplayer experiences work when Brink is released in Spring next year.

Train2Game students can watch ‘Brink: The end of the genre as we know it’ below.

So Train2Game, do you think the idea behind Brink is a clever one? Or do you believe it might fall flat in reality? Are you looking forward to Brink? And do you think you could combine single player and multiplayer experiences into one whole game?

You can leave your thoughts on Brink here, or on the Train2Game forum.

The Developers Dilemma …

Lets just come out and say it; the reason you’re on a Train2Game Games Designer, Games Developer or Games Artist & Animator course is because you want a job in the industry. You want to graduate with your TIGA Diploma then get paid to do something you love. That’s fair enough at the end of the day – the reason I’m here producing this very blog is because I love video games and writing.

Like most things in the industry it seems, selling games used to be fairly simple. A developer would produce a game which, if successful, would go onto sell large numbers of copies with the retailer, the publisher and the developer all receiving a portion of the profits.

Now, with the second hand market apparently eating into profits, developers are looking at a variety of new ways to keep making profits. EA, for example want to introduce a system wherein those who buy titles like FIFA 2010 second hand have to pay a one off fee in order to play it online. Of course, DLC which provides extra content for games is another way in which studios are attempting to turn a profit. It seems so long as the extra content – with the Fallout 3 DLC packs providing a good example of this – is good enough, then consumers are more than happy to pay for it.

However, if you push your audience too far they’ll start to get agitated. The Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package was not well received by large numbers of gamers, who felt that the £10.79 asking price was far too expensive for just five maps. Still, millions of Call of Duty fans bought the Stimulus Package and the more recent Resurgence Package has also sold successfully – and is still yet to hit the PlayStation 3 or PC.

Activision seem to be very good at making money out of the Call of Duty games. From a developers point of view, they are bucking the trend and should be applauded. However, it seems that despite their success, Activision are still looking at ways to increase their profits.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Activision boss Bobby Kotick said that if he could do it, he’d make Call of Duty subscription based. When asked “if you could snap your fingers, and instantly make one change in your company what would it be?” he replied:

“I would have Call of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow. When you think about what the audience’s interests are and how you could really satisfy bigger audiences with more inspired, creative opportunities, I would love to see us have an online Call of Duty world. I think our players would just have so much of a more compelling experience.”

What do you think of Kotick’s ideas? As usual, add your comments here and on the Train2Game forum.

Real money or digital currency?

With online gaming becoming an evermore-prevalent cornerstone of the games market, many developers are also turning to the Internet for publishing. As mentioned previously in this blog it’s Valve and their online digital distribution service Steam that are the current masters of this art – you pay your money you get your game.

Now many other developers are seriously looking at the prospect of online only publishing and this includes Realtime Worlds, the developer behind Crackdown and APB. The latter is an action orientated MMO which when purchased comes with 50 free hours of online play. After this, 20 more hours can be bought for £5.59 or if the player prefers they can buy a 30 day unlimited package for £7.99.

It’ll also be possible to buy this extra play time using an in game currency, RTW points, which can be bought in large amounts with real money or made through selling custom items to other players. In an interview with Develop, APB Lead Designer EJ Moreland said it’s a system that’ll also be implemented in the developers’ future titles.

““Realtime Worlds is transitioning from being a developer to being an online publisher, [and] RTW Points is going to be the currency for all of our games in the future.”

One of those games is a yet unannounced title and Moreland’s comments seem to suggest that the Dundee-based studio will be producing another online title.  Of course, through self-publishing a title online the Games Developers, Games Designers, and Games Artists cut out the middle man in the form of needing to cover the costs of physical discs and retail. This may very well be appealing to Train2Game students looking to break into the market.

However, one has to wonder if people will use the currency to buy extra playtime. Paying for RTW points with a debit card will take some time, then will the whole process have to be repeated in order to pay for the actual product? Though perhaps the use of RTW points will strengthen the APB community, and ultimately encourage them to play for longer – and thus pay for more content. Maybe players with large amounts of RTW points will play future titles too, seeing as they’ve already stocked up on the currency needed to buy it. We’ll see.

What do you think is the best system for a developer to use when publishing a game online? Real money or a specific type of in-game currency?