Pitchford Talks Borderlands

By Jim Rossignol on June 11th, 2009 at 8:36 am.


Gearbox big chief Randy Pitchford was grabbed by GameTrailers and he unloaded his explanation of Borderlands, which you can see below. What’s interesting about this is how the pitch for the game has subtly changed. Originally it was much more “co-op shooter with loads of guns”, and now it’s “concept art shooter with RPG elements”. Pitchford flags up Fallout 3 and Bioshock, but the game footage that accompanies his chatter demonstrates that the game is nothing like either of them, in fact it’s got more of a multiplayer feel going on, and I wonder to what extent the FPS-Diablo-with-guns principles of it are actually going to make the game into a kind of co-op dungeon crawl. The persistent character stuff still intrigues me, and although I’m less excited about this game than when it was announced, I’m looking forward to the October release.

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44 Comments »

  1. Andy says:

    Not sure how you can be less excited about this! ;)

    Seriously though, I was quite surprised it’s actually coming out this year since I’ve been waiting for it for so long. I personally think the persistant character idea will be fantastic, I just hope the playable story is interesting enough for replayability. I mean, how often will anyone be willing go go over the first bit again and again with different people?

    Anyway, really looking forward to this – far more so than a not-to-be-named sequel to another online co-op shooter fps…

  2. Dood says:

    “Player demands satisfaction from Player”
    Does this mean I get to slap my friends with a leather glove? That would be great.

  3. Howard says:

    I still don’t get the point of cell-shaded characters in a normally rendered environment. It just makes them look low quality, 2D and highly aliased. Most odd.

    Beyond that I still don’t see what this game is offering. Style aside what makes this different from everything? Hype like the “half a million guns” is just tat and collecting weapons sounds, as Jim says, more Diablo than anything. So I ask again: What is this game supposed to offer me?

  4. JohnArr says:

    Threw some phat shapes listening to that.

    Nice to see gameplay, looking forward to this!

    @Howard; Both characters and environments use the same rendering process; can’t you see that in the video?

  5. Howard says:

    @JohnArr
    Having watched it again, yeah I can. I think that’s what’s wrong tbh: it just looks a mess thanks to the cell shading. Maybe this is because the video is from the console version but so far I really do not like the way this looks.
    Fast paced FPSs need to be nice and clearly rendered in order to just not be messy, its one of the main design considerations in online shooters. Borderlands seems to have missed this IMHO.

  6. Count Zero says:

    I see the style of this as similar to the approach in the recent Prince of Persia, but it’s not done quite as well. Prince was my favorite game of last year visually because it took implausible but beautiful environments, and used the same concept art approach. Cell shading works best with something that is visually interesting and audacious in its design, like Prince or even better Jet Grind Radio.
    Borderlands on the other hand is mostly featureless desert, something that could be done better in a more realistic engine, much like Id’ Rage.
    We’ll wait and see, I’m also really curious about the multilayer approach, for some reason I expect it to be similar to Diablo II’s multiplayer.

  7. Meatloaf says:

    Hmmm… It looks good. Not fantastic, but good. I’d like to know if there is any ragdoll in the game, as punching someone with the aforementioned hulky-fellow wouldn’t be nearly satisfying enough if they can’t fly off a cliff/into a wall/into other enemies.

  8. Ian says:

    These elites/badasses he mentions… I wonder is it like in WoW where if you try to a solo one of these enemies and they’re of the same level as you or above you’ll likely get creamed or if you play it smart (given you have guns and tech and stuff) can you take them down?

    I hope the latter.

  9. Bobsy says:

    It’s interesting you say that Count Zero. One of the most notable tales from Borderlands’s development was that it was considered (by the devs as well as press) to be rather unexciting in its original, “realistic”, non-cel-shaded iteration. The change of artistic direction was a way of giving it a bit more soul

  10. hoppipolla says:

    Looks fantastic, eagerly anticipating this.

  11. Alex says:

    Before they unveiled the new art direction, I had forgotten/focused on other upcoming games, Dragon Age might be lowering my expectations, but this one’s bounced back up to a nice level.

    This interview didn’t really bring anything new to the light, though, other than the way Randy Pitchford talks. He sounds so breathless that I keep feeling like he’s going to need to gasp for air at the end of each sentence.

    I’m not sure if the standard background techno adds to the effect or not…

  12. Ashurbanipal says:

    I like the look a lot.

    And if the shootering is fun enough to maintain my interest, I see myself totally getting compulsive with the diablo-inspired mechanics. I love being able to invest in a character like that.

  13. dr_demento says:

    Having twenty different guns, ten different scopes, three clip sizes and an optional laser sight does not equal one thousand two hundred guns. Hopefully Gearbox have figured out a way to make all of their half-million guns noticably different. (that said, if it’s just a thousand very different guns with five hundred minor changes to each, that’ll still be great).

    Cell-shading is NOT “concept art style” OR “unique” OR “new”. It may be very pretty and make the game look a lot nicer than otherwise, but they really, really shouldn’t hype it as a major feature.

    Taking your character into another player’s game through online co-op, and reaping the rewards of XP and money that you find there? Well, Fable 2 did exactly that, and all Borderlands is doing is letting you take your equipment and appearance across too. Again, DO THE RESEARCH.

    This game looks and sounds brilliant! Their PR department infuriates me! Why aren’t they talking about stuff like the split-screen multiplayer or the vehicles or the sandbox RPG idea? So far everything they’ve emphasised is poorly-researched inaccurate back-of-the-box quotes. Give us details, examples, and talk about the actual gameplay and not the trimmings.

  14. CMaster says:

    Dunno, co-op dungeon crawling sounds pretty good. I really enjoyed those sort of maps in Synergy (co-op HL2 mod), seeing as nobody ever manged to make anything taht resembled actual HL2 setup for it.

  15. catmorbid says:

    I think cell-shading might be just a way for them to try to circumvent the violence factor: “Look it’s cartoony! It’s not tha bad I rip the guy’s head off!!” Not real = Everything is possible.

    Also, I expect we have the publisher to blame for both the PR decisions and the cell-shaded graphics, not the developer.

  16. Supraliminal says:

    I take my earlier words back. This is looking damn good again.
    The art style is oddly intriguing and really boosts the visuals over all other shooters (and well all other games (except for APB maybe))

    Hopefully that bersercer character was low level, cause seeing them just fall after a punch is sorta lame. They should explode oldschool Doom style.

  17. teo says:

    @dr_demento it’s not cell shaded

  18. Rabbitsoup says:

    Umm am I the only person who saw the footage and thought it looked generic and slow as far as fps gameplay. I think this is going to be a decent RPG, but I feel a good fps needs smart enemies and hand eye challenges as well not just tougher enemies and weapon selection challenges.

    so its a RPG with fps interface rather than FPSRPG

  19. Wirbelwind says:

    @teo, to nitpick – the correct term is cel-shading.

    While Borderlands does not use most of the coloring techniques of cel-shading it’s easy to spot quite a couple artistic shading features like the outline.
    @Dr_demento, it’s called artistic shading. Has more akin to concept art than standard realistic shading techniques.

  20. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    The gameplay footage shown here has left me cold; I don’t think I’m excited about this game anymore.

  21. Tom says:

    I wish he would stop shouting at me

    and also shouting generic rpg things like ‘invest in your character, and it’s really cool, and you can have a pet, and it’s really cool, and that pet develops skills, and it’s awesome’

    It makes it sound as though Borderlands will be totally unoriginal if that’s all they can shout at us… but then, there do seem to be some interesting elements to this game

  22. dr_demento says:

    @teo & @Wirbelwind

    I always thought cel-shading was about the black outlines – everyone called Crackdown cel-shaded even though it used high-res textures and parallax mapping on objects (their cars were amazingly shiny and textured). I was obviously wrong on that point, but my point still stands – it’s not unique or new and it’s a long, long way from the most interesting thing about the game.

  23. autogunner says:

    will probably be good, i like the idea of persistant characters (which hasnt been done in an FPS before)

    also its NOT cell chading, its concept art directly scanned in and applies to the models and at high resolutions it looks awsome.

  24. autogunner says:

    this trailer shows the look a bit better

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-09-borderlands/49924

  25. MetalCircus says:

    So its diablo 2 with guns? I can get into that. I’ll keep an eye on this.

  26. Wirbelwind says:

    Black outlines isn’t cel-shading. Cel-shading usually refers to a specific coloring technique.

    Outlines on the other hand can be fit with/on anything. It’s done by comparing a point (like say, your eye) to triangles and if the surface face area heuristic of both triangles have different signs (product is negative) you draw an outline. Basically this means that the triangles are facing ‘differently’ from that viewpoint and hence form an edge.

  27. El_MUERkO says:

    does that mean there wont be loads of guns any more?

    /removes from list :(

  28. Dr Gonzo says:

    It does remind me of the latest POP but what let that down was awful, awful character designs with completely wooden faces in contrast to a beautiful world. To me this looks to have a better overall feel, the world and guns and characters fit to together well I think.

  29. Duoae says:

    I don’t really understand the ‘hook’ of this game. I’ve not seen it mentioned anywhere… so far it’s: guns, style, co-op with your character. How is the game played, is it a squad-based rpfps where you have no control over your squadmates in single player? Or is it a single player game until you hook up with someone else?

  30. CMcAfee says:

    @ El_MUERkO,
    …does your comment have any context or basis? The dev in the video goes on about how this game has more guns than every other game combined, and you ask if this means there won’t be loads of guns any more? Huh?
    I really love the look of the game. The art style looks pretty fresh to me, and when viewed in larger screens with higher resolutions I think the game looks wonderful. Cant wait for October.

  31. Lack_26 says:

    This video disappoints me, I know it shouldn’t, but it does. I like the art style, I just don’t think the game looks that fun in motion.

    I was really hoping when it was first announced for some serious vehicle based combat, like groups of players have their own customised rigs, gun turrets, extra plating and loads of cool things. But all based round a solid first person shooter with lots of guns.

    Oh well, can’t have it all. If there’s a demo out when it’s release, I’ll try it and see if I like it. Until then, undecided.

  32. h4plo says:

    A bit too much of the, “WoW and this game have X, and so do we! Only we call it Y, and it’s BETTER because it’s a CURSE WORD!” for me.
    Still looks fun, though. Mostly want to see the AI corporations.

  33. Alex says:

    I’[m pretty sure ‘AI CORPORATIONS’ was just the extreeeeeme way of saying the weapons are created by some generative system.

  34. Grey_Ghost says:

    @Lack_26 : Well before the style change of the graphics, there was a trailer that showed some vehicle combat. One guy was driving with another gunning, and they could swap positions in motion (complete with animation). However, I’ve no clue if vehicles are still in or not.

  35. Wazzle says:

    A bunch of people have been complaining about generic, slow, easy gameplay in this video. All I can say in defense is that, from what I saw, the character being played was level 2, so this was literally RIGHT at the beginning of the game. I wouldn’t worry about it being “slow” or something. Also, I’m very impressed with this one. I sure hope it stays true to the end.

  36. Omny says:

    what else can u do besides shoot and fight? explore? how big is this map? hunt? resource gathering?

  37. negativedge says:

    The game continues to look reasonably interesting, but the guy in this video is trying his hardest to make me never look at his game again.

  38. Jetsetlemming says:

    The electro effect looked awesome. Kinda reluctant about the clear console focus though, which just seems wrong for a game building off Diablo’s mechanics.

  39. Resin says:

    This is actually quite less impressive than just the still shots which looked much cooler.

    All the game design features this guy is so excited about seem rather boring to me.

  40. EyeMessiah says:

    I’m hoping this is crazy awesome. Kind of hard to tell from the gameplay footage. The melee looks pretty unfun.

    I didn’t think much of Randy’s pitch though. Despite all the seemingly-strained enthusiasm and the “OMG its got a combat skill tree!” you can practically hear him ticking the boxes. I found it a bit off-putting. Maybe its not Randy’s fault – maybe its that dreadful muzak.

  41. EyeMessiah says:

    Also I couldn’t care less about the art style. Looks fine to me.

  42. Sunjammer says:

    Randy Pitchford is just a really sympathetic guy. Hearing him talk about his game, it somehow becomes easier to really trust that he believes in his vision.

    I’m up for it :)

  43. EyeMessiah says:

    Well there you have it.

    Either randy is totally unsympathetic, or really sympathetic!

    You decide.

    Hooray internets!

  44. darthfunkeymonkey says:

    You do have a couple of points. But I still disagree with some of them, the guy is correctly stating that no one has ever made it so you can bring you character and play online and earn things with THIS type of game. Fable II is medieval, Borderlands is future.

    As for why they are making claims and not telling you about stuff you really want to here? Well, if your intrested enough about that then it’ll give you a(nother) reason to buy the game I mean, seriously.

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