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QuakeCon 2009: Paul Wedgwood on Splash Damage and Brink


Close to 10 years ago, Paul Wedgwood was living in the UK and making mods for Quake III Arena and other games with a group of friends. Today, Wedgwood is the leader of Splash Damage, already one of the biggest UK based game developers. The team is currently creating Brink, a sci-fi first person shooter for publisher Bethesda Softworks that is aiming to blur the line between single player and multiplayer.

In a brief chat during QuakeCon 2009 on Thursday, Big Download talked to Wedgewood about forming Splash Damage after first creating levels and mods on their own based on id Software games. Wedgewood said he and the small mod team enjoyed their mod work, saying, "We loved it. We absolutely wanted to do this as a job." Indeed they came to previous QuakeCons ago and got to know id Software team members. Wedgewood said they basically pestered id during the shows, saying basically, "Just let us make a game for you, please."

They got their chance when they submitted their idea to id Software for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. The totally free multiplayer only stand alone game was released in 2003. Wedgewood said that about 15,000 people play the game at any one time even today and that half a billion matches have been played. The game led to their first true retail game Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, another collaboration with id which was released to great acclaim by Activision in 2007.

All throughout their life, Splash Damage received "fantastic mentorship from id" and that is actually continuing with Brink. Even though this is their first game based on an original IP, Splash Damage is still using the id Tech 4 engine (with modifications) for the game.

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There are some differences, however,. When making Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Wedgwood said they wanted to hire the best of the amateur mod community to work on the game. Now Splash Damage is bringing in talent from major developers like BioWare, Criterion, Ubisoft, Lionhead and more to work on Brink. Wedgewood said that part of the reason for this change is that Splash Damage is moving from a PC-only developer to a multi-platform game company and wanted people with multi-platform experience to work on Brink (Splash Damage did not develop the Xbox 360 and PS3 ports of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars).

Brink will get its first public showing at QuakeCon later today (it will basically be the same demo that some press folks got to see behind closed doors at E3 last June) and Wedgwood said their goal was, "How do I introduce humans into our single player game?" The solution was letting gamers play the single player campaign but let their friends drop in and play in co-op mode by replacing one of the game's AI characters. The result, along with extensive character customization in both appearance and in extra abilities, are the features that got the press to take notice of Brink at E3 and will also hopefully impress the QuakeCon crowd later today.

Meanwhile, have things changed for Wedgewood since starting Splash Damage as a Quake III mod maker nearly a decade ago? Ultimately, he says no. "It's only worth doing if its fun," he told us, "It's just focused on something we really enjoy doing."

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