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Bulletstorm: We're misunderstood

Adrian Chmielarz reveals the heart behind the new FPS.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

At first glance Bulletstorm is a bloody, bombastic blockbuster of an FPS – exactly what you'd expect from a developer under Cliff Bleszinski and Epic Games' wing. Subtlety, story and sophistication are not the point.

For Polish developer People Can Fly, however, there's more to Bulletstorm than meets the eye. At a recent showcase event hosted by publisher EA, Eurogamer sat down with founder Adrian Chmielarz and discovered a developer desperate to explode the myths surrounding one of 2011's most anticipated games.

Eurogamer Where is People Can Fly at in development?
Adrian Chmielarz

We're wrapping things up. We went a little bit crazy with the amount of weapons and actions you can do, the environmental objects, your body moves and the leash – we no longer have control over this. The amount of permutations is just insane.

That's great, because it's really a sandbox. You can come up with your own stuff. But it's also scary because we cannot try out every single combination. It's just not possible. So we're trying to make sure our mechanics are solid.

It's like the infamous rocket jump from Quake. They never used it for that purpose, to jump, but then people found out and it worked beautifully because their foundation was solid. That's what we're working on right now.

Eurogamer Is Bulletstorm misunderstood?
Adrian Chmielarz

Yeah. It's a two-step process. People have a certain opinion of the game, that it's mindless or old school. We have an amazing ratio of people who are converted when they touch Bulletstorm. I've seen people playing Bulletstorm at E3 and other shows, and 98 per cent come away being fans.

Maybe not addicts, but they really enjoyed what they experienced because of the tight controls and the refined gameplay. That's step number one for us.

Step number two is, because of the fun elements we have, the over-the-top gameplay, people start throwing around words like old school or mindless. Old school, maybe that's fine, maybe that's not, but mindless is something that bothers me a lot.

If you want to let off some steam after work and just blow s*** up, sure, you can do this in Bulletstorm. We do have explosive weapons and crazy gameplay. But if you really want to play Bulletstorm the Bulletstorm way, which is to execute skill shots and earn points to unlock stuff, it is one of the most engaging and complicated experiences, but complicated in a good way.

Not complicated that you don't know what the f*** is going on, but in a way you can kill a guy in a hundred different ways. On top of that you can stack skill shots on top of one guy. That's the gameplay side of things.

There is also the story side of things. We chose these juicy bits for E3 and gamescom. There were a couple of funny one-liners and a lot of swearing. But that's because it was a very small fragment of the game prepared for the shows.

The story is way more engaging, serious and, basically, good, than what people expect. We've already witnessed that in a couple of focus tests. They said they had no idea we have so much dialogue, character interactions, surprises and twists in the plot, unexpected events and big blockbuster moments in the game. This is the message we're trying to sell to people.

Eurogamer You say that, but we haven't seen evidence of what you're talking about so far.
Adrian Chmielarz

Here's the problem. Imagine you're at a promotional event for Sixth Sense. How does this guy sell this to you? 'There is a great twist in our movie in which the main hero is actually a ghost.' That's the problem.

We have a lot of twists in the game. There's this inner fight going on inside me and a couple of other guys - do we go the easy way and reveal that to get applause for doing this kind of thing, or do we wait and hold on until the reviews come out and people experience it so they share it with their friends?