Could not disagree with them more. The parkour system was a bit flawed but interesting and not the real problem with this game's reception. What I cannot stand about the game is never being able to play any campaign mission without being the only human amongst braindead bots, and doing nothing more than running down a clock for every objective. And when you can get into a match on freeplay, it lags or drops the connection. How hard am I supposed to work to get actual human multiplayer out of this darn game?!
GDC Europe 2011: Designer Neil Alphonso on why players didn't use Brink's parkour system and why its objective-based play was better received in Europe than in the US.
Who was there: Neil Alphonso of London studio Splash Damage, lead designer on team-based shooter Brink
What they said: In a postmortem session on Brink, lead designer Neil Alphonso discussed his game's blended online and offline modes, how story "had to take a backseat," and the mixed response to its parkour-like SMART system and objective-driven play.
According to Alphonso, the studio's intention was to merge single-player and multiplayer into "one coherent experience," eliminating the "drastic difference" in offline and online experiences found in other first-person shooters. Brink, he said, plays "in almost exactly the same way" across modes, thanks to scaling bot difficulties and "rubber banding," with which the spawn timing for each team is based on how each team is performing.
In addition, AI priority scripting determines how the computer-controller characters prioritise their team objectives. The latter can give rise to some odd behaviour, though, and Alphonso admitted it wasn't warmly received in all quarters. "Gamers are smart," he said. "This became really transparent to a lot of them, and they found it frustrating. We got a lot of hate for it."
As a game without a discrete single-player campaign, storytelling in Brink was tricky, said Alphonso. A traditional three-act structure, as found in movies and literature and other video games, couldn't be applied to a level timeline because Brink's action was unpredictable. "In a way, [narrative] had to take a backseat," Alphonso said. "Some would say there's no story to speak of. I would beg to differ. Some loved the setting and the context given to the action." He speculated that some players were expecting a more conventional, direct kind of storytelling: "We don't really spoon-feed it to people, which is maybe what some people were looking for."
Alphonso explained Brink's non-specific introductory cutscenes, and the gulf between the cinematics and the action itself, as the result of prioritising multiplayer balance over storytelling concerns. He said cutscenes couldn't be very specific about the action to come, because objectives would have to be changed and tweaked for balance over time. The outcome was Brink's light-touch, deliberately vague story moments. "As a cinematic single-player experience, it doesn't really hold up," the designer admitted.
The action at the heart of Brink, based on completing objectives and class-focused team play, grew out of the philosophy on which Splash Damage was in part founded: that team play is more gratifying than a single-player experience. Key balancing mechanics included variable objective timers per level and the strategic positioning of command posts to confer an advantage on the attackers or aid flow around the map. The need to keep maps small was a priority, too: "One of our goals was to create a really intimate environment, without long traversal times," Alphonso said.
Upon the game's launch in May, the response from some players to the deeply team-focused, objective-driven gameplay was lukewarm. "We got pretty different responses across the globe," said Alphonso. "It was far more accepted in Europe than in America." He ascribed the internationally mixed reception to cultural differences. "Americans prize individualism a lot more; this didn't catch on as much over there as it did here [in Europe]."
According to the designer, SMART, Brink's parkour-like system for jumping and vaulting obstacles wasn't embraced more fully by players because of the distraction of many concurrent events, with "a lot going on in Brink at any given time." SMART, short for "smooth movement across random terrain" (Alphonso: "Thank you, Bethesda"), gets lost "if it's not the first thing in your mind," said the designer. He noted that this is why games with parkour systems "tend to isolate it from the rest of the gameplay."
Another issue holding back SMART use was that "people are lazy." They will pursue "the path of least resistance and perceived effort." The final obstacle to SMART uptake was ingrained first-person shooter movement patterns. SMART wasn't forced on players, which often led to them roaming the map in familiar first-person shooter style. "Players will go with what they know when that's a viable option," he said.
Quotes: "Americans prize individualism a lot more, this [kind of class-based team multiplayer] didn't catch on as much over there as it did here [in Europe]. I don't mean to slander them all, though. Some absolutely love it."
Takeaway: Alphonso speculated that, in places, Brink's innovations took it too far from what players were accustomed to. "In hindsight, we perhaps strayed too far from convention in some key areas. We're taking a lot of these lessons on board for our future projects."
@cachinscythe If you read my post, I said that the parkour *worked* in Mirror's Edge. The problem in FP games is that you have no real spatial reference for your limbs. Unlike TP games, it's not as simple as rendering limbs (although that does help). FP in general can't really replace the sense of proprioception that we use to handle our limbs and navigate our surroundings in real life, and it's this sense of knowing where you are without looking that's essential to parkour. Mirror's Edge got around it with good design and some cheats, but that game was focused entirely on platforming with shooting thrown in as an afterthought. A solid, consistent experience would have worked better. However, what you said about people buying copy and paste military shooters instead of new IPs is true, but that doesn't mean new IPs can't succeed. I made that comment about team performance because I play with Japanese and European gamers online instead of Americans on PC games when I have the chance. There may be some different standards or manners, but they're all the about the same in competitive spirit. It's the same with MMOs--the reason I started playing with those regional groups is because I met players from them in Final Fantasy XI and got introduced to their group of players from there. They're just as competitive as American players in these games.
@OJdaLIONKing "Parkour just doesn't work in first person shooters." If developers always did what "worked," we'd get nothing but the same old crap all the time. Why can't people see the fundamental similarities between doing stuff that "doesn't work" and "INNOVATION?" Talk all you want about how parkour doesn't "work" in FPS, because you might as well say parkour doesn't "work" in real life either, where you have no CHOICE but to do it first person. Something tells me everybody into that sport would disagree with you. Mirror's Edge worked just fine, and it's poor sales have nothing to do with it's parkour; it's players demanding something new and then buying the next COD, Halo, or Battlefield (which is by the SAME developer) instead. Maybe Brink is a bad game. I honestly haven't played it. But I find it odd you criticize this guy for commenting on individualism in Americans--and bring up Team Fortress 2--and then, in the exact same comment, say, " In a competitive environment with shooters, people are more likely to focus on their own performance instead of how to best support the team..." Gee, haven't you just proved his point?
Picked this up for $30 on Amazon, glad I didn't pay the full price. It's an okay game, but the simple little objectives are a bad way to do a game. I don't want to protect a can of gasoline for 10 minutes, oh, they have the gas? Well I guess I'm protecting the tank it goes in now for 10 minutes.... Really not my cup of tea. *waits for Team Fortress 3*
Did they fix it? IT sonly 30 dollars at bestbuy? I want to play a game thats like TF2 but is not TF2.
I like how there's hardly been any "innovation" this whole generation, yet they insist on throwing that word around like it's nothing.
Brink failed because it focused way too hard on the parkour gimmick (and nothing else) rather than take a look at what made other mainstream shooters work so well. Leave the running and jumping to Mario.
@mAArdman And I'd actually have to agree. I think it was probably worth the risk. I'm just saying I can see why someone else would think otherwise, and if it's THEIR game, then it's hard to automatically say, "You made the wrong choice." Maybe the majority of gamers aren't that way. Like you, I hope most aren't. I just keep running into several that seem that way. Thanks for a polite reply. Especially considering that MY reply isn't exactly nice, though I didn't mean for it to be rude either. :)
hey the parkour was great , i dont want to say it but without a TeamDeathMatch mode most of the levels go unused ,people run to the objectives and thats it !!! really sad since most of the level design was freaking amazing and a couple of times i would see parts of the level ive never seen , um they didnt make a bad game (why are people such idiots to say that ) there are problems , i agree with not having all the stats and such but in the end even i with an open mind miss having a ticker that keeps me going !!!!!
Wow what has happened to the games industry that they just can't freaking admit they made a bad game. Can't come out and just admit we released a game that lacked any real single player mode other then bot play and turns out that was crap our bad... we hyped and hyped instead of polished and polished it... What is this trend with dev's to pass the buck to us saying "it's their fault our game didn't sell"... god you can tell when certain devs are just too old and have lost all touch with the very things they are suppose to be creating. Yes it's our fault your movement system that you were all "this is the s@#$" was just s#$@ instead...
Brink could have been something great. I'm bummed that it wasn't. Team based shooters are the best. TFC, TF2, ET, BF2,BC2 etc.
I liked it but it didn't feel like the block buster it could have been. I wanted more into the story. But There was never any time for that. Plus limited variation.
the game was good but it was missing alot of things and the free dlc didn't fill in that missing spot.
@cachinscythe I understand and agree with you on all your points. People are strange creatures. Don't know if those who react this way constitute the majority of gamers, but I hope not. I however still think that a demo should be released in most cases.
@OJdaLionking I disagree to an extent about parkour in games. It can work and work well. It just didn't in brink. It was poorly implemented and gave little incentive to be used. Not to mention only the light class could really take advantage of it. Not even the medium could really do much. And there wasn't a whole lot of advantageous places to parkour to.
Right, except Americans love games like Team Fortress 2, or games with other kinds of cooperative gameplay like World of Warcraft. Rather than blaming us for being individualistic and "not getting it", maybe they should look to see if there were any problems in their design. Besides which, while I love co op in games, the most fun I've had is in a solid PvE co op environment (i.e. Gears 2's campaign and horde mode, Saints Row 2, etc). In a competitive environment with shooters, people are more likely to focus on their own performance instead of how to best support the team unless they care about the team members. And I certainly don't think every single game I play needs to be multiplayer, a good single player experience is rewarding, relaxing and I can take it at my own pace. Lastly, Parkour just doesn't work in first person games. Mirror's Edge is the only exception I've ever seen to this rule, and you see how well that game sold even with that. Overall, I think this game did about as well as it deserved, that is, not very well.
This game is just flat-out bad. No excuses. They hyped this game like crazy and claimed it had "revolutionary" gameplay.
@AbandonedFish (cont.) One person sees quality where someone else sees crap. So acting like it should be straightforward and getting self-righteous when someone suggests it isn't is absurd. The only thing the developers have control over IS the technical stuff. That "magic" is something our own BRAINS have to bring to the table. It's like people screaming at developers for charging $60 for games instead of looking for a cheaper business model and cutting costs. Well no **** they should cut costs! 12 year olds can figure that out. If they AREN'T there's a pretty good chance it's because it's NOT THAT SIMPLE. NOTE: I was wrong to use the word "quality" in my prior comment. I should have said it has nothing to do with how WELL-MADE the game is or how much EFFORT the developers put in. Thanks again for the polite replies. :)
@AbandonedFish (cont.) "I don't mean to slander them all, though." Slander wasn't a good word to choose, but that's because, as you said, it can be interpreted multiple ways. Sure, maybe he was trying to slander some of them...or maybe he's saying he doesn't mean to insult ANY of them. If we removed the word "all" from the sentence, we'd be left with an apology to gamers who didn't like it in America. So in other words, removing one word completely changes the meaning, so it's possible he said "all" on accident and we're now taking the entire sentence literally instead of considering a lack of eloquence. As for the "quality" argument, you're absolutely right. Funny thing is, you've kinda proved my point a little. See, everyone's complaining that the reason Brink wasn't well received is because it wasn't of "quality." But if "quality" is subjective, how is a developer supposed to address it? The way people talk on here, it's like "quality" is an easy ingredient to add to the mix. But it's only easy to add something to the mix if it's technical and CLEARLY DEFINED. Nobody on here has defined what "quality" means. (TBC)
@AbandonedFish (Please read the PM I sent first, if you're willing.) Okay. I can respect that the words he used were not the best, but that doesn't mean he meant to be rude. He might have just been trying to explain something he has a hard time explaining. If we're going to analyze the wording, I'll go into detail about it too. "We don't really spoon-feed it to people, which is maybe what some people were looking for." They don't really spoon-feed it to people LIKE OTHER DEVELOPERS. He's not insulting the players; if anything, he's insulting other developers that tell stories more traditionally. To me, that's like a little baby complaining when a mother says, "I don't usually spoon-feed my infant." The mother is comparing her child-rearing methods to those of OTHER MOTHERS. Why would the baby get offended by that? ESPECIALLY if it's NOT getting spoon-fed? Plus, notice the word "maybe." He's not saying people were only willing to accept spoon-fed storytelling; he is saying that SOME of them MIGHT have been looking for a more direct method. Why is saying that some consumers might have preferred a different method insulting to gamers? "Americans prize individualism a lot more." Most people agree with this assessment. (No offense to Europeans on here.) "This [kind of shooter] didn't catch on as much over there as it did here [in Europe]." Statement of a fact, the fact being the game was better received in Europe, even if it's wasn't received MUCH BETTER than in the US. (TBC)
I really wanted to like the game but lets face it, Brink had problems. I have a near state of the art intel/AMD system and the free Steam trial ran like garbage on it. So that't one problem. Secondly if you are going to have a class based shooter have the different classes actually feel and play different. Another major problem for an fps is that in Brink the actual shooting is just not satisfying. I saw the dev diary about all of the sampled sounds and whatnot but the actual gun sounds in the game suck...and speaking of guns even though they are supposed to be super customizable the gun play is just unsatisfying and samey with most of the guns. If there is going to be a Brink 2 they need to make a REAL single player campaign, totally overhaul the sound effects and actual gun play, put in real distinct classes and most of all make sure that the game actually RUNS on a decent system.
@mrmime777 Well look at YOU mister "taking-words-out-of-context" and "too-sensitive-and-closed-minded-to-consider-the-CORRECT-context." Make sure you up the complexity in the next game YOU make, since it's so easy to make one. And thinking about what will be good PR all the time is known as "being a politician." You want developers more like politicians? Okay! Personally, I'll take them the way they are, thanks.
This is exactly what I've been getting at on here. I understand that Brink was not a perfect game. I recognize that there are things Splash Damage could have done that MIGHT have helped the quality. But the key word is "MIGHT." There is, from what I've seen so far, almost nothing a developer can do in the service of "bettering" their games that cannot backfire in some way. Sometimes consumers get angry because it's too similar, other times because it's not similar enough. Sometimes they get mad because a game is allegedly released too soon, other times they get mad it took TOO long to release. It's like a game's reception is based on whatever mood the populace happens to be in that month, which can be rather frustrating when your consumer base--as psychological studies have shown--has a stronger tendency to be moody than most other subcultures. Okay, I'm sorry. That last sentence was kind of insulting. I'm just trying to show people this is a complicated issue. And nobody on here seems interested in considering the possibility their clear cut "solutions" to Brink's problems could actually make things worse. You might have it correct, but in a world as gray as ours, I don't think we can ever be sure of anything.
@mAArdman There are so many players out there who complain so readily about games sticking to convention that I'm guessing if they'd released Brink in a form that DIDN'T stray from convention and it was "better" for it, they'd still be whining and throwing a fit about it. As for the beta, it's easy for us on the outside to say, "Well maybe if you'd released a public beta, we'd have been able to help you fix the game before release!" It's harder to consider that, believe it or not, a lot of players form their FINAL OPINION of a game based on that exact beta. So if they release a beta that is very buggy, the players will condemn it and refuse to pick the ACTUAL game up on launch day. Gee, that seems rather inconvenient, doesn't it? No, I didn't just pull this argument out of thin air. Here is the link to the comments on a public beta from the game's director: http://www.vg247.com/2011/02/10/no-open-beta-for-brink-confirms-splash-damage/
Well look at you, mister fancy video game auteur. Try to dumb down your brilliance for the American masses next time. Then maybe someone besides the enlightened Europeans will appreciate it. That's all I got from this - he may as well have been wearing a black beret, a turtleneck, and blowing smoke in my face. How could he think this would be good for PR?
Brink wasn;t even a hot seller in Europe. IT sold "better", but but not good, because it's not a good game.
Also if I like "Individualism like all Americans do" then why do I like football, soccer and Battlefield 2, 2142, BC 2 And why is FOOTBALL the most popular sports in the USA Football is all about team play, a bad team with one great player is still a bad team
I didn't purchase Brink because I played it on Steam during the free weekend and realized it was complete junk
Thing is, mister Brink, people are not going to buy your product only because it is different. It also has to be good and enjoyable. People have to feel like it is worth the 60 or 70 bucks or whatever that they have spent. Excuses won't do it. Want to do something different, good, but do it well and do it right. Next time try releasing a beta or a demo, even if it means not straying from the convention. Not being able to accept your failures is a nice step towards your end.
Well no developer is ever going to say to tell you the truth; the game i created sucked. If you want a game to be received a 100 percent of the time release an early demo or beta trial. NBA live thought they was going to reinvent the nba until it's demo got hammered in the press and by nearly all gamers. That demo saved ea sports a lot of money and potential lawsuits.
I enjoyed Brink. I feel part of my enjoyment stems from the high level of anticipation I had from the game. I had a mindset that would not let me not enjoy it. But I do appreciate a designer coming out and addressing some of the game's shortcomings, even though he didn't really answer them. My two biggest problems with Brink were: 1. The lack of a story and 2. The lack of a differing single player campaign. Even given his answers, the lack of story to me was really disappointing. The only character in the game was Chen, and you see him... Once? I don't understand why objectives needed to be changed or tweaked in order to provide a more recognizable storyline. And I really hated how there was no difference between the online and campaign. The campaign was just online maps with bots instead of people. I was disappointed in that. Despite it's shortcomings, I still enjoyed Brink. I wish they had taken more time with the game. Aspects of it just felt rushed, which I especially don't think was necessary given the number of other (HUGE) titles Bethesda is releasing this year. I appreciate Brink for what it is, and I'm proud to have gotten 100% achieves on that game =)
@cachinscythe It's all about the wording mate. Spoon-feed has negative connotations. Slander has negative connotations. Lazy definitely has negative connotations. Let's look at this quote for instance: 'I don't mean to slander them all, though.' That can also be taken as, 'I only meant to slander some of them.' can't it. It really comes down to whether people take Alphonso's words at face value or if they decide to dig for deeper meaning. As for Metroid, let's not compare apples with oranges. We're talking about Brink and though it might make sense to use another game as an example, we're not talking about Brink vs 'genre conventions'. Quality is a very subjective term. I honestly don't think there are too many people out there who would go, 'Gee I really didn't like that game but it sure was good quality.' You can support your favourite game all you want but if someone's made up their mind (especially on the internet) it's really hard to convince them otherwise. I can see from your blog post that this is a subject that you of which you have a strong opinion on. There's nothing wrong with trying to express your opinion, but sometimes you've got to pick the fights mate. Your reply to @Brumbek is starting to go from logical to rhetoric. You run the risk of becoming as stubborn and biased as the people you're arguing with.
Only thing Brink strayed too far from was enjoyable game play. Lots of cool ideas, unfortunately scotch taped together instead of crafted.
@Brumbek Goldeneye strayed away from the fundamental focus of shooting everything for the heck of it and replaced it with stealth and objectives. Hence why it's a horrible game! Most FPS released today have strayed away from the fundamental of having a health bar and replaced it with endlessly regenerating health that only takes a few seconds to recharge. This is why all FPS suck today! You innovate by BREAKING the fundamentals as often as not. The difference between "convention" and "fundamentals" is not as clear or simple as you are suggesting. He's clueless, eh? Well enlighten us since you apparently aren't. What exactly went wrong with Brink? What can you point to that is, without question, absolutely flawed in it? If I call in the rest of the players, will they ALL agree with your assessment? And when you're done showing exactly what was wrong beyond all possible doubt, show me evidence that the team didn't get squeezed by things like deadlines and programming problems, which are NOT entirely the fault of the developer. There's a reason they call it a "backhanded insult." It's because it's not direct and easy to see. Kind of like the nuclear weapons in Iraq. We went in there and didn't find any, so they obviously destroyed their stockpile, right? No, it's possible they never HAD any to begin with. Just as it's possible you're taking this comment in entirely the wrong way. Prove it's a backhanded insult and THEN you can complain about it.
This designer is so clueless it's quite laughable. Brink's problem was it strayed too far from the fundamentals! The shooting mechanics, AI, and level design were atrocious. And yeah, his backhanded insults to us players (lazy, dumb non-Europeans) lowered my opinion of Brink even further. Design and PR epic fail.
@strayfies And your solution to this "poor design" would be...what? What does "poor design" even MEAN? That you just can't have fun playing with it? What's the clear solution to that? Since there's nothing more "scientific" about this in your opinion, let's hear your clear cut answers.
@AbandonedFish What's wrong with those statements? Is Spartan-1675 somehow insulted that a developer makes a casual speculation? International differences DO affect the reception of a game. Metroid is not popular in Japan compared to the US. If you take a look at the review scores in Japan I'm pretty sure you'll see a significantly lower rating. And it has NOTHING to do with the game's quality; it's just that people don't enjoy it in Japan. Spartan's getting mad at this guy for observing something that should be obvious to anyone with the smarts he believes should be implanted in Neil's head. And what kind of leap in logic is necessary to say it's insulting that players were perhaps looking for more traditional storytelling? All he's doing is saying that he thinks players might have been looking for something different. That's not placing blame on players. It's just an idea he spoke out loud. Regardless of all this, Spartan told Neil to go **** himself and insulted his intelligence. That's not called for at all. Developers typically do nothing to defend their work. They take the crap we throw at them without complaint. Then a guy suggests for ONE SECOND that we might have been PARTIALLY to blame and the whole community blows up. "Stay in your place! You don't get to talk back to us!" That IS the behavior of a bully. Put a guy in his place and if he decides to fight back take his lunch money and insult him perpetually in the process. It's also incredibly hypocritical.
@FarmFreshDX I never thought of it that way. I CAN see why that would bug you. Still, if you think about it, what is a developer supposed to do in that situation? If apologizing comes across as rude and staying silent makes the developer seem complacent (Why won't they admit they screwed up?), what are they supposed to do? And it's not that I think the complaints leveled at Brink have no merit. I can, for instance, see why providing a parkour system (which is supposed to be the game's main innovation) would seem unnecessary if you don't force players to use it. But I don't think it's appealing to gamers to use the word "forced" in the description of a game's features, innovative or not. The reality is that it's complicated, and there are many times when I've seen aspects in a "good" game that are traditionally considered "bad," but for some reason are completely overlooked. Meanwhile, the "bad" games get the criticism for those EXACT features more prominently. If gamers were willing to acknowledge that their demands are contradictory and sometimes it's not clear what they want, I wouldn't have to defend Brink so strenuously on here. But most of the commentators are doing the usual thing: making it sound simple and straightforward without any semblance of apology. Thanks for the polite response. :)
@joshedge 'Sigh' Yeah. Gamers are the most intelligent and efficient people on the planet. That's why if they're doing something in a game, it is automatically the "most intelligent and efficient" method for playing the game. For instance, if they play Ico and don't jump, it's because it's more efficient not to. There's no chance it's because they haven't considered there IS a jump button that can make things easier. Have you played Brink enough to know it was less efficient to use the SMART system? And whether it's smart for him to call the players lazy, it doesn't change how true the claim is. (IMO) Players don't adjust to unusual controls; they rage quit because a difficulty curve causes them frustration; they don't work around camera difficulties by creating their own strategies; and they take the EXTREMELY lazy route of criticizing design decisions--and pretty much everything else--in black and white terms. You and others may not like it, but there's evidence everywhere that supports his claims of laziness on the part of gamers. Live with it.
"Another issue holding back SMART use was that 'people are lazy.' They will pursue 'the path of least resistance and perceived effort.'" That's not being lazy. It's being intelligent and efficient. You don't drive the longest most congested route to work just to say, "Hey I'm not lazy!". But yeah, calling your customers lazy is a good way to own up to your shortcomings and ensure future success.
It was nothing to do with the format of the game, there's plenty of successful shoot em ups out there that don't stick to the COD clone routine, Rainbow Six, Warhawk being some examples. Brink was just not very good.
I'm as tired of convention as anyone, but being different doesn't = being good. Just because I'm not gonna buy Call of Duty doesn't mean that I will buy this.
I loved everything brink tried to do and i hope someone takes the concepts in this game and makes something awesome
Let's just pick one example of how the game has changed from the time of the Gamespot review. Gamespot refers to the choosing side to be a "dramatic choice but ultimately a meaningless one". Yes it used to be. These days however, your choice will result in you finding yourself battling for that one side pretty much every public fight unless setting up running campaign missions for the other side. So if they would've reviewed it today maybe it would've sounded something like "the game will default you into missions of you chosen faction but does not lock you in playing only those". Doesn't sound quite as bad, does it?
@strayfies Why would he say that Brink was buggy unless he felt like living in the past? It WAS buggy before and it cost them potential players. TODAY Brink is a solid game after 1.03 and free dlc. Please get over the release problems already.
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