Interview: Borderlands

Interview with Randy Pitchford, President of Gearbox Software

Why did you decide to change the original look of Borderlands to the Concept Art Style?
I don’t really know. Seeing the cool artwork we had we were talking all the time about how cool the game would be with those graphics. I think a huge component of what makes the Borderlands art direction look so unique is the graphics technology and the blending of hand painted content with realistic rendering models.

How supportive was 2K with the decision? How much extra development time is needed as a result?
At first they were a bit shocked of the drastic change of direction. But they were instantly taken with it and could see how it might give the game a new and fresh identity. We didn’t really need that much new time to achieve the new look.

A new look and feel definitely attracts more customers. I have seen many traders liking fresh and new concepts and they are also ready to braze new automation software. With Fintech Ltd, their minimum expectation is better strike rate and it happened. It is interesting how look and feel could change the exposure!

We are talking here about an RPS, a role-playing shooter? Can you tell us something more about it?
It starts as a first person shooter, if you played any shooter you are going to put the controller in your hand and you are going to be immediately comfortable, but you are going to something you haven’t done in a shooter before. You are going to receive XP and are going to level up; picking a character class, collect loot and accomplish over the 100 missions.

Between which classes can you choose and what are their special abilities?
There are four character classes and the safest one is the soldier. He can specialize in three different spec. There is an infantry spec which grants him the ability to wield any weapon. There is the Support spec which is about having enough ammo and equipment and the last one is a medic spec. This allows you to heal yourself and your friends and other interesting abilities. Another character class is the Siren, she has an ability called phasewa, which allows her to become invisible to the enemy. And move very swiftly. The third class is the hunter. He is of course the master of sniping. He can develop abilities especially for sniping and assassinating. The last class is a heavy one, a berserker. He is just a big big meatball and his specialization is bruser, which makes him a very close combat fighter.

There will be a co-op mode in Borderlands. Does it include Offline splitscreen? And with how many friends can you join this experience?
Yes the game supports split-screen! It also support online co-op and system link co-op. So really every way is possible to play with up to four friends. It was something we really wanted to integrate. At any moment a friend can jump in with his character and his level and equipment. The difficulty of the game will then change according how awesome the party is. The monsters become more difficult and there will be more of them.

I suppose there will be no trophy or achievement linked for collecting all the weapons. Can you tell us something about the mechanics behind the half million weapons?
Haha, no, there will be no Trophy for collecting all weapons! The system is really a true slot machine. You never know what you are going to get and everything is generated randomly. The weapons will be all looking differently but it’s not only the looks that changes, but also the accuracy; the power, the recoil, the amount of ammo, etc.