Gearbox President Randy Pitchford and Programmer Benny Wilson answer a few questions about the third game in the Brothers in Arms shooter series, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway which is scheduled for an August release.Can you tell us more about one of the new feature in BIA HH, the destructible environment/cover?
RP:In Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway, being able to shred the kinds ofthings soldiers hide behind is a big deal. Yes, it does look awesome tosee bullets tear apart a wooden fence splinter by splinter, but it isabout more than just looking amazing. You see, if the cover that theenemy is protected by is invulnerable (as it is in just about everygame you’ve played before), then your only option is to wait them outor charge up on them. Brothers in Arms has always been aboutsuppression and looking for flanks (like real combat), but now it’salso about combined arms and volume of fire. It’s intense and thefeature takes Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway to a new level ofauthenticity.
How does it impact the gameplay?
RP:The enemy can run, but they can’t hide. Wood can be shredded splinterby splinter and hard cover emplacements, like sand bags, can be blownaway with high explosives (grenade and bazookas). It’s amazing to watchand great fun to play with. I can’t believe we’re actually doing whatwe’re doing because no game I’ve ever played feels this cool withdestructible environments. Having destructibleenvironments/destructible cover changes the decisions that are made onthe battlefield and the options for winning. It changes the game quitea bit. And there’s a lot of variety too, not just in the gameplay butalso in the background, in the level design and the ways that youprogress through these environments and the tactical encounters you runinto.
Can you tell us more about the development process of the destructible environment?
BW:The very first destructible was a 12 piece checker-board prop thatresembled a fence. This was used as a proof-of-concept to ensure thatwe could get it to break apart the way we needed it to and also to setmemory and performance budgets.From there we designed the workflow forgetting destructibles into the game. It starts with the art guysmodelling their pieces, setting up a skeleton which defines how thedestructible needs to break, getting it into the engine, and leveldesigners placing them into the levels.
With that in place, artbegan cranking out various destructible objects, while code had todevelop a few other components to the system like telling soldiers whenthe cover they’re on is destroyed, etc.
Did you meet any particular challenges?
BW:Yes, our destructible system requires interaction with many other gamesystems. They have to interact with the cover and navigation system,physics, and even some rendering tricks needed to pull it off. Each ofthese considerations was a challenge of its own.