Eurogamer: Are you talking about story-based twists or gameplay twists?
Adrian Chmielarz: It's everything. It's me, right, it's in my best interest to advertise the game, but we have a moment in the game that people are going to talk about for years to come. I'm absolutely, 100 per cent sure of that. But I don't want to spoil it for you. I want you to experience it as a gamer who sees that for the first time. That's the tricky part.
But what I can tell you is, we often talk about the skill shot gameplay and the fact you can do combos on your enemies. It turned out our story is in the way of that kind of gameplay. It turned out from the various tests we had with regular gamers that they get so engaged in the story they sometimes forget the skill shot gameplay.
It's our job they don't forget it, so we try to combat that with the design, but they only scratched the surface because so many other interesting things are going on.
This is how Echo Mode was born. We thought, we've worked our asses off to have layers and layers of combat and gameplay, but you're only scratching the surface in single-player because of the engaging story and the visuals.
So let's save the juicy parts of the single-player, strip them of any dialogue, cinematics or scripted events – just pure combat – and compete for points against your friends. You know, measure your d***. Who's better?
Eurogamer: That's what you should have called the mode – Measure Your D***.
Adrian Chmielarz: There's a lot of d*** going on in Bulletstorm. But, it turned out to be an absolutely bulls eye for us, up to a point where productivity suffered. It's funny, it's my job to play Echo Mode and test it, but when I login and I see one of our meshers, who's supposed to be crunching right now, then something's wrong.
Eurogamer: Or something's good.
Adrian Chmielarz: And something's good at the same time. It is a little bit scary, but right now we have to enforce core hours during which you cannot play Echo Mode. It turns out that when you strip off the storyline then the gameplay mechanics are revealed to the player.
I remember the first time I saw that. At E3 we had people come in in groups, and there were five minute breaks between the groups. Just for the fun of it we decided that at the end of the demo it would show your score, the amount of skill shots and the amount of kills. Just for the fun of it.
I noticed people who finished the demo were not leaving the room. They were waiting for everybody else to finish to compare their score. That was encouraging. It's silly, it was just points and the amount of skill shots, but because it was stripped of the entire story and focused on the gameplay, it worked. That's how the mode was born.
It's a win-win situation for everybody, because as a gamer you squeeze out hundreds of hours out of Bulletstorm. While the single-player campaign is eight hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, not many people play it again.
You can have all kinds of fun experiences. We have guys who play the single-player experience, then play fragments of the single-player experience in Echo Mode, then replay the single-player and have a totally different experience the second time around because they know what was coming.
We can expose the gameplay mechanics buried under the story and these crazy events that are happening, and players just have more fun.
Eurogamer: Is there a willingness at the studio to continue with Bulletstorm after it's released with a sequel, or is this a one-off?
Adrian Chmielarz: I could feed you the usual mantra, which is you never know. The truth is you never know. There is this book on Hollywood called 'Nobody Knows Anything.' It's about the fact there is not a golden recipe for a successful movie. If there were, the box office duds would never happen. So nobody knows anything, really, and the same goes for Bulletstorm.
We are hoping, and we have quite promising data supporting this, that it's going to be a huge hit. But you never really know until it's out. So even if I wanted to continue Bulletstorm, if it's not a hit I don't think it's going to be continued.
After we did Painkiller, our first game, we were tired of the first-person genre and shooters. We wanted to do something else. It was fun making that game, and the game came out pretty well, but we were burnt. We worked two years on that game. Bulletstorm will take us four years from start to completion and we just don't feel it.
We have joy and fun working on that game. It's something that never happened to me before. So, common sense says that if it's a hit, then we will be willing to do 10,000 sequels.
We start the game with a flashback moment where you are the leader of Dead Echo, a black ops team. Then there's this big f*** up and we take you five years later. After this f*** up you're the most hunted man in the universe.
You find a way to survive and become a space pirate, however silly that sounds. Then we take you five years later. What happens if you meet with the same person who betrayed you in that flashback?
These five years you can have everything – games, movies, comic books, whatever – if you wanted to. We can tell a lot of stories about Grayson Hunt and the team. We just have to wait and see.