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Interview With Splash Damage

InterviewWolfenstein

Today I was able to talk with one of the designers from Splash Damage about the recently released port of Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars for the consoles, as well as their thoughts on the FPS genre right now.

About Splash Damage Ltd:

Based in London, Splash Damage Ltd is an independently-owned game developer dedicated to online gaming, and one of the leading Shooter developers in Europe. Splash Damage developed the critically acclaimed Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory for id Software and has just completed work on Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars, winning over 70 awards and nominations. Founded by Paul ‘Locki’ Wedgwood in 2001 with key members of the mod-making community, Splash Damage also contributed to DOOM 3 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Game of the Year Edition. For more information, visit www.splashdamage.com.

Interview with: Ed ‘BongoBoy’ Stern (Senior Game Designer)

Stern’s major past projects:

2003 Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – Game Designer
2007 Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars – Senior Game Designer

What are your thoughts on bringing QUAKE Wars to the consoles? Is it something that was always planned from the very beginning, or was it decided later on to do a port?

It was something we’d wondered about right at the start of the project but then pretty much all our logistical, technical and imaginative bandwidth was taken up with developing ETQW for PC. Once we’d started to get the game in decent shape and fun to play Activision liked the look of what we were making, and decided to get Nerve and Underground Development (formerly Z-Axis) in to do the console ports. So while we did think about console versions right at the start, we were submerged deep in dev stuff and pleasantly surprised to find about halfway through the development schedule that console gamers would get to play a version of ETQW too.

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What sort of relationship do you have with Nerve and Z-Axis (the teams that recently brought QUAKE Wars to the consoles)?

Nerve actually contributed to the PC version of the game. They helped us out with two of the maps – Quarry and Island – and we worked quite closely with them on those. Both Nerve Software and Underground Development (formerly Z-Axis) handled their console conversions mostly in-house and while we got the occasional build during development, Splash Damage wasn’t really involved there.

Did you ever think that the ideas introduced in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory would affect team-based FPS so greatly? Also, did you realize how popular a game it would become?

There are only so many ways of designing a game and arguably no entirely original ideas so when anything works it tends to crop up in other games. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was heavily based on the excellent work by id and Nerve Software and Gray Matter – whatever we achieved we did by crouching on their gameplay shoulders. And W:ET hit a sweet spot and seemed to work OK, so it wasn’t enormously startling or unexpected when elements showed up elsewhere.

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We were, however, pleasantly surprised that W:ET became so popular so quickly, and were frankly astonished to discover that people just kept on playing it. If five years ago you’d told us that in five years’ time, thousands of people would still be playing W:ET we’d probably have assumed that you were foaming nuts, or that all new game development was outlawed in late 2003.

What are your thoughts on the “competition” at the moment (i.e., Unreal Tournament 3, Team Fortress 2)?

It’s good that there are a bunch of multiplayer shooters out there at the moment, and it’s cool that they’re all quite distinct. UT feels, looks and plays differently to TF2 which is different to Battlefield, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Halo, Crysis, Counter-Strike etc. They’re all good games, they all appeal in different ways to different gamers: the variety is good and the competition is even better. Competition is good for gamers, it’s good for the genre, it’s good for us.

I’d like to thank Ed Stern for the interview, and Steve Hessel for getting me in touch with the team at Splash Damage.

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2008.

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