Brink Developer Diary #3 — Ed Stern


In the first two Developer Diaries for Brink, Game Director Paul Wedgwood introduced you to Brink and the team behind it, while Art Director Olivier Leonardi talked in depth about the direction of the game’s art style.

In this third diary, Lead Writer Ed Stern explains how Brink’s environment communicates the game’s narrative.

Here’s Ed!

The Writing on the Wall

At Splash Damage, we believe that a game’s environment is the best narrative medium we have. Compelling environments allow players to pull in information from their surroundings without having to be held hostage by an NPC lecturing them on The Way Things Were. We knew we wanted to use our game environments to tell the story, so they’d need to be packed with detail.

We created a design goal internally called IDC:  Instant/Deep Context. Basically it’s the old axiom “Show, don’t Tell”. If we get IDC right, then when the player looks at a game asset they immediately and intuitively grasp where they are (that’s the “Instant” part). And the more they look at the assets, the more the cumulative narrative detail builds up, and the more they see how the game world works and how it came to be that way (that’ll be the “Deep”).

So, how did we go about creating the story and setting for Brink?

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Meet the Brink team: Jaromir ‘pg’ Salaj


Badman at Splash Damage let me know they’ve got a new developer profile — this time with Texture Artist Jaromir ‘pg’ Salaj — up on their official site. While I suggest you read the whole thing, here’s a tease to give you a ‘feel’ for the interview…

How did you end up at Splash Damage?

I was looking for some adventure and Splash Damage were looking for texture artist. The company had a great reputation, so I applied. At the beginning of the interview, they let me sit alone for 10 minutes in a room full of Brink concept art. Honestly, that was a waste of nine minutes! After one minute, I realized that I REALLY want to work on this! And then bunch of quite relaxed guys entered the room, so I pretended that I could speak English. It worked!

A touching story indeed. To learn more about the people at Splash Damage, head here.

What we’re playing: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. E.D.I.T.I.O.N.


It seems the devs at our office can’t get enough post-apocalyptic action. When I asked what game should be highlighed for this week’s blog post, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat beat out the likes of Heavy Rain and the Starcraft 2 Beta. Impressive…most i.m.p.r.e.s.s.i.v.e.

Check out the full list below…

Matt Weil: Killing Floor, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, and Crysis.

Jay Woodward, Deep C++ Diver: BioShock 2.

Dennis Mejilones: Assassins Creed 2 and Heavy Rain.

Sam Bernstein: I was told I needed to play Shadow of The Colossus so I am doing that, and loving it. This is what I get for not having a PS2.

Dave Ratti: Starcraft 2 Beta.

Dane Olds: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, Mass Effect 2, and Doom II RPG.

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What we’re playing: Best Games of the Last 10 Years Edition


This edition of ‘What We’re Playing’ comes a little late, as I posed a trickier question: name your favorite games of the decade, while keeping the list to five games. Not an easy feat (Nick tried and claimed it was too challenging), but the majority of folks were able to whittle it down to exactly five games.

Aside from getting some pretty great lists, there was also some debate on how what constitutes a decade. Like other sites, my definition of the decade was 2000-2009. For others, it appears the decade is 2001-2010 or even 2000-2010. To make everyone happy, we’ll just call this list our Favorite Games of the Last 10 Years (2000-2009).

With folks working on games like Morrowind, DOOM 3, Oblivion, and Fallout 3, it’s no surprise that these games came up on several lists — but in the end, Half-Life 2 and Shadow of the Colossus were the most popular picks. Other favorites included World of Warcraft, Rock Band, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the Grand Theft Auto games.

Read the full list below, and then let us know your favorites. And let us know what decade we’re in.

Ryan Ashford: You do know that 2010 is still part of the current decade right (2001-2010)? Anyway, here’s my submission (not counting 2000 releases): Team Fortress 2 (with Half-Life 2 trailing close behind), Demon’s Souls, Shadow Of The Colossus, Katamari Damacy, and Morrowind.

Jennifer Noland: Okami, Bioshock, World of Goo, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Sam Bernstein: Listed by release date; Halo, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Dead Space, and Fallout 3.

Brent Krische: Some of these games are obvious choices, others not so much, but I feel that all of them have become synonymous with their respective platform. flower (PS3), Gears of War (Xbox 360), Jet Set Radio Future/Phantom Dust (Xbox), Kingdom Hearts (PS2), and Conker’s Bad Fur Day (N64). And on the subject of platforms, the original Xbox console is my choice for platform of the decade (2000 – 2010).

Andrew Chang: Jet Set Radio, World of Warcraft, Katamari Damacy, Guitar Hero, and Metal Gear Solid 4.

Pete Hines: In no particular order, and I’m doing seven since two are Bethesda titles: World of Warcraft, Oblivion, Uncharted 2, Fallout 3, Half-Life 2, Company of Heroes, Modern Warfare 1/2 (1 for single, 2 for multiplayer).

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Meet the Brink team: Jose ‘mojo’ Esteve


Tools Programmer Jose ‘mojo’ Esteve is the latest Brink developer to be profiled on Splash Damage’s website. Since I get many emails each week asking about how to get a job in the game industry, I thought I’d share his answer…

Do you have any tips for people wanting to break in?

I strongly believe that you have to be passionate and love what you do, because in the end that shows and helps you to keep focused — and be stubborn — enough to achieve what you want.

Instead of relying on predefined “musts” for your career, talent and skills are probably the most valuable features you need to develop. A good education is crucial to get solid grounds, but I think that in the end rather than being queried about your titles during an interview you’ll likely be asked about “What can you do?” – and in that case it’s better to let your work speak for you. It doesn’t need to be professional work: spend time on personal projects, which will serve to honestly prove your skills. And if you don’t have enough time for them (hey, sleeping is overrated :)) you can try focusing your education towards something you can use in a portfolio.

Thanks for the answer, Jose! To learn more about him and his role at Splash Damage, head here.

Inside the Vault: Andrew Scharf


Today, we highlight one of our QA leads, Andrew Scharf. Why Andrew? Because he’s the QA Lead on Fallout: New Vegas!

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a QA Project Lead. My responsibilities include scheduling testing throughout the various stages of the game’s lifecycle, managing the day-to-day tasks of my testing team, and maintaining the bug database to make sure that the issues we find are clearly communicated to the development team, management, and production.

Part of my job also involves the creation of test documents, including a high-level test plan that covers the “big picture” of how all the pieces fit together to make the game — and how our testing will thoroughly cover each of those pieces.

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Meet the Brink Team: Angelo Dal Pra


Splash Damage has a new developer profile up at their site — this week you can get to know environment artist Angelo ‘clasact’ Dal Pra. I’d try to explain what he does for a living, but he does such a good job answering that himself, I’ll leave you with this excerpt…

What do you do at Splash Damage?

I’m an Environment Artist here at Splash Damage. I create assets, props, textures and sometimes assemble them in a nice way. I also work closely with our level designers and fellow artists trying to make our levels as beautiful and interesting as possible.

Find out more on Angelo at Splash Damage’s website.

New Splash Damage Developer Profile: John “Nifty” Molloy


Splash Damage is hosting a new developer profile on Brink designer John Molloy, or “Nifty” as he’s been called since childhood. According to Splash: “Procedurally generated by the great Meme-Mills of Tartary, John is one if not all of the Lagrangian points of the Design team, remaining motionless against the gravitational tug of our Enthusiasms and Fears.”

Says John of his favorite game:

Must have co-op, must be action orientated, and must have a strong story. I’m going to go with The Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo, a 3 player co-op RPG.

The profile even includes a cameo by John’s mum, who details the ins and outs of British video game systems circa 1983. Give it a read on the Splash Damage site.

What we want for the holidays


If you’ve been checking the blog this month, you’ll know we’ve been recapping our favorites of 2009. We’ve already covered TV and Music, but I thought I’d give everyone a chance to see Avatar, The Lovely Bones, etc. and play through Dragon Age, Borderlands, and more before asking them to share their favorite movies and games.

So before getting to that, last week I asked folks to share what they’re hoping to get for the holidays (as Pete and Todd already did at Kotaku). Let us know what you’re hoping is under your tree.

Ryan Salvatore: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, and enough free time to play my huge backlog of games.

Sean Palamino: Batman Arkham Asylum (how did I miss this one?), District 9 on Blu Ray, or maybe an HD camcorder — but I hear Santa is being cheap this year.

Natalie Gausden: In dream land: a Puppy. In reality: a new pair of boots!

Ashley Cheng: What I want for the holidays: new comfy pants, a new coach, general manager (check!) and owner for the Washington Redskins

Jennifer Tonon: iTunes and WoW gift cards (seriously.. I spend too much money on these things), some sanity, every edition of Zombies! The board game I can get my hands on, sleep, a new mattress, and Brutal Legend (I’m behind the times.. shut up).

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What we’re watching: Best of TV 2009


As 2009 winds down, we’re asking folks at the office to share their favorites of the year — in television, music, movies, games, and anything else we think of. We’ll kick it off with television. Among the favorites this year were Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mad Men, and Dexter.

Here’s the rundown. Share with us your favorite shows of the year — whether you’re watching them on broadcast TV, DVR, DVD, Blu Ray or Betamax.

Kurt Kuhlmann: How I Met Your Mother, The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Lost, BSG (lamented), 30 Rock, The Office, and Entourage.

Regi Jacob: It’s been a challenging year for TV in my house since we don’t get cable and my kid recently broke our HD antenna. Thank the gods for Netflix. Lost, Dexter, and BSG all the way.

Brent Krische: Dexter, Dirty Jobs, Get Smart, Mythbusters, So You Think You Can Dance, Venture Brothers, and Weeds

Gary Powell: Sons Of Anarchy, Dexter, and Deadliest Warrior.

Matt Killmon: Mad Men and The IT Crowd.

Ryan Lea: Pushing Daisies, The Office, Burn Notice, and Psych. Oh and usually things that are on History, Animal Planet, and Discovery. Though they haven’t been as good lately.

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