Borderlands Interview

Gamasutra has published an extensive five-page interview with Gearbox's Randy Pitchford about the design decisions that the team made throughout Borderlands' four years of development. Some of the angrier rambling:
CR: You made a Half-Life game.

RP: Yeah, right. And Halo. We brought Halo to the PC. We did all the code to bring that to internet gameplay.

The gameplay in a shooter is fun just in the moment-to-moment. It just feels good to move and to dodge and to aim and to shoot and to knock that guy down. It just feels good. Maybe it's because we're all hunters and we don't have that venue anymore -- you just go to the grocery store to buy the meat.

It feels good on this visceral level to kill and to move and maneuver. So, in a first-person shooter, all of the fun is this kind of moment-to-moment experience. Whereas in the RPG in the Diablo style, it's the opposite. There's no skill in the game, and there's no moment-to-moment kind of thing, but it's the growth and the choice and the discovery that drives us.

I think that it's really interesting that both those genres work in themselves. And our bet was, "What if we took the compulsion stuff that's fun over time and compelling over time, and layered it on top of the gameplay that's fun in the moment to moment?" And that's the bet that Borderlands makes.

BS: How are you pacing that experience? Fallout 3 does it pretty well.

RP: Fallout 3 starts from a role-playing side, and they start to layer shooting on top. The shooting is okay. If the shooting was better, would that gave have been worse? I don't think so. I think that game would have been better. I thought that that system was cool -- I liked the presentation of it -- but frankly I hated the dice rolls. Like, "Dude, I shot that guy in the head. I had a 90 percent chance, and you rolled a freaking 7? Fuck you. I score a hit. I fucking shot that guy in the head. Fuck you," you know?

And I love Fallout. It's hard to say, "What's your favorite game?", but it certainly was one of my favorite games last year if not my favorite game of last year overall. But, you know, I also like Left 4 Dead a lot, too, because the co-op gameplay is so fun.

But anyway, I don't think that if the shooting was better, that would have been a worse game. I think that would have been a better game. Here's the other thing, too. If you want to compare Fallout to Borderlands, there are certain things that associate to RPGs that we didn't put in at all.

I think dialogue trees frankly are boring as shit. I think that the idea of like reading a few paragraphs and then picking one of three responses, and then based on that I get a few more paragraphs or one paragraph or whatever it is, and then I have more choice, and I've got to get to the right path to get to the object I need or get the door to open or whatever. If I play the flowchart wrong, I start it over, and it's like the character gets clever and they kind of change a few things, but it's still the same path.

Most of the time, it's the exact same stuff. I'm doing the exact same conversation again because it's so expensive to create that content and there's so much of it. You know what? I don't understand the fun in that, frankly. I just think that's boring and slow. Maybe that's why I like shooters so much. We don't have any of that crap in Borderlands.
And there you have it: dialogue trees are crap.