OMG 17 MILLION BILLION WEAPONS
So, Borderlands. You’ve probably heard of it – the post-apocalyptic co-op first-person-shooter with RPG elements. Sounds good, I know. But the thing you’re most likely to have heard about it, is that it has an awful lot of guns in it. Here’s a sentence that makes its way into several press releases about the game:
“Gun Lust: Choose from an arsenal of hundreds of thousands of weapons, each with their unique manufacturers, specifications and advantages. A revolutionary new content generation system provides for near infinite tools of destruction”
And of course, it goes without saying that certain websites are happy to perpetuate this notion:
“[The game] can randomly generate weapons and then describe them, having crafted one gun during my time with it that the game described with the phrase, “Holy shit, it shoots rockets!””
Now, am I the only one who’s just a little bit skeptical about this? From what I can gather from reading previews and stuff, it’s nothing that we haven’t seen a dozen times before, in titles like Phantasy Star Online or Too Human – and we know what everyone thought of the latter. There’ll be a handful of basic weapon types, and the game will randomly alter the numbers behind them and maybe add a few special abilities for good measure . This alone does not a good game make, and yet doing any research into the game reveals that it’s a feature the developers are seemingly really proud of. The fact that they’ve written up a bunch of different descriptions for each type of gun will throw a slightly thicker veil over the fact that you’re essentially using the same weapon over and over again, but I’m pretty sure we’re all clever enough to see past that after 30 minutes’ play. Never mind the fact that, even if the game did have several hundred thousand meaningfully-different weapons, that’s too many.
What’s made me suspicious enough to coil out these words, though, is a recent CVG interview with Randy Pitchford, where he claims the game now has around 17,750,000 weapons – a factoid that’s now circulating news blogs as we speak. Then, when asked if he has a favourite, he responds with:
“Oh, that’s like asking a spider with a billion larvae who their favourite child is.”
And why might that be, Randy? Is it because a spider’s larvae are all completely bloody identical to one another?
This isn’t really a dig at the developers, of course. They’re doing their damnedest trying to put a brilliant game together, and their PR guys have presumably decided the whole ’26 trillion guns’ thing is a good selling point, so the devs are being forced to trot it out whenever they get the chance, because it sounds impressive. Pure speculation on my part, of course, but it’s a sad state of affairs if I’m right.
Still, maybe I’m getting wound up over nothing. I hope I am, and I hope I’m completely and utterly wrong about the implementation of the random weapon generation, because Borderlands‘ concept sounds right up my street, and it’d be a shame if it turned out to be a complete turkey. But every time I see a website, press release, or one of the developers touting the seemingly absolutely meaningless non-issue that is the random weapon generation as a key feature, I get a bit worried that maybe they just don’t have anything else to brag about.