Features// Randy Pitchford at BAFTA

Posted 13 May 2011 13:18 by
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Games: Duke Nukem Forever
The Gay Robot Sidekick
?We were actually playing around with this backstory once where we came up with the concept of a sidekick, and that sidekick went right under a bus. No sidekick could hang with Duke. He was gay, and was actually an awesome character.

?It was in thinking of an origin story for Duke when we wondered what characters he?d be interested in teaming up with. What kind of experiences can Duke have which can develop a guy like him? Certainly, sexuality is a part of the Duke personality and yet here we wanted to explore how Duke could relate to a peer that might have a different sexual orientation. That was a really interesting theme to play with.

?Ultimately when we were thinking this we realised that Duke is a one-man show. I don?t want to spoil it too much because we might go there and I don?t want to ruin it, but I?ll tell you that the character was actually a robot! A gay robot. And the characters actually developed a great bond and depended and relied upon each other. They were successful in Duke?s early endeavours. But at the end, in order for victory against the aliens, the robot?s inner workings - a nuclear generator - had to be sacrificed.

?It?s really weird to be talking about this because, we?re talking about Duke Nukem, and these are some really deep storytelling concepts that we were exploring there. But the exploration was very sincere and very real and maybe we?ll come back to it at some point.?


One-Trick Pony FPS Games
?The gameplay, I?m really excited to see how people respond to that because when you think about Call of Duty and games like that you realise that games today have really started to become narrow. A shooter is now just an exercise of reaction-time skill test after reaction-time skill test. Get your cursor on the next guy and knock him down before he gets your health to zero, and every test is just a complication of that very simple mechanic.

?Sometimes a new mechanic will be introduced like stunning guys and performing combos, or sliding on things and jumping around environments. Whatever it is, at the end of the day they all focus on that same one mechanic? it?s been a while since we had a game that was comfortable having pacing and variety from action to puzzle-solving to exploration and discovery. Even just non-sequiturs, like all the interactive stuff we have in Duke are total non-sequiturs but it?s just entertainment, right?

?It?s been a while since we?ve had that, I think the last great one for me was Half Life 2. So I?m excited for Duke to show up and have some of this because I think it will remind everyone how great that kind of experience is and it may motivate some more of us to remember that you don?t have to have all these one-trick ponies in terms of gameplay mechanics.?


Gearbox and Digital Distribution
?In terms of smaller offerings and maybe using platforms like XBLA and PSN, we thought about that and? you know, mindshare is so precious. It?s difficult to confine yourself to a small space when we somehow have enough credibility and capability to make bigger offerings.

?The counterpoint to that is that I?ve been looking into this space for a while. I love going to see a Pixar movie and being treated to the awesome little short before the main feature. It?s value. I always thought there was a place for that sort of thing in video games. We attempted this a couple of times, the people who have joined the studio who have had the beginnings of a game that?s really great that could belong in a bite-size package.

?There was something I was actually going to do with some guys - who are part of the studio now - that we were going to include in Borderlands. What happened though is that the guys became involved in the greater project and it was so much more interesting for them to work on that. When you get to that point, to stay confined in the little micro-experiences feels constrictive to your own ambitions and creativity.

?So my philosophy is that Gearbox is a studio-drive company. It?s the people who work with us that drives what exists, and if these guys would rather work on Borderlands itself than finish their little thing then I?m not going to stop them. I?m actually going to pour fuel on that fire. I hope someday we?ll be able to play with that idea though.?


Brothers in Arms, Borderlands 2 and Aliens: Colonial Marines
?It?s a really exciting time at the studio because obviously we?ve got Duke but in terms of the future we?ve created this franchise, Brothers in Arms, that we care a lot about and we?re going to want to talk about some of the things we?re doing there soon. I also understand that some people out there like Borderlands?? (cheers from audience)

?Well, we love it - it?s one of those rare kind of games where instead of getting sick of the project when you?re done, we just got caught up playing it. That?s why all the DLC happened. So we know we want to spend some more time in that space.

?There?s this other project that?s been announced that we?ve been silent on for far too long, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and I know a lot of people are wanting to hear more about that so I?m really looking forward to giving all of those things attention and then thinking about the future beyond that.

I honestly feel like I?m just getting started. I feel like there is so much that we as a studio have yet to accomplish and we can?t wait to get on with all of our future ideas.?

Duke Nukem Forever will finally be released on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on June 10.
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