At Splash Damage, the studio famed for its long line of competitive, collaborative shooters, there's always been an odd and irresistible blend of cockiness and nerdishness. When its founder and CEO Paul Wedgwood takes a group of journalists on a tour of its new studio, located within a newly gentrified area of the Bromley borders it's for so many years called home - "They've cobbled the streets and put in cast iron street lamps and made it harder to park," he says - he stops for a prolonged moment to bask in the glory of the company's vast banks of servers. Through all the jargon he spouts, you sense a great amount of pride in a developer that takes having fun very seriously.
You may have noticed that my splendid and lovely colleagues Oli Welsh and Martin Robinson have recently become embroiled in what may very well be the most polite argument in the history of the internet, debating whether or not 2011 has been a vintage year for gaming.
Man, I dunno - I leave Ellie, Oli and Wesley in charge of the website for a while and before you know it PlayStation Network's down, Sequence is a Game of the Week and something called "Zumba Fitness" is the most popular thing in the country.
Fancy some cheap games? You're in luck, because here's the lowdown on what's Cheap This Week – the finest bargains from all over the internet collected in one convenient place for your consideration. There's a couple of hotly anticipated pre-orders for low prices, and the first signs of 3DS software getting proper discounts, so read on for the best in cheap gaming fun.
"Alright!" cries supernaturally chipper Splash Damage CEO Paul Wedgwood towards the assembled journalists. "If you go into customisation, you'll be able to change anything about your character that you like. We've unlocked everything and bumped you up to level six, so you'll be able to select all of the content."
Every year at the Eurogamer Expo we invite you to tell us what you thought of the games you played, and without fail every year (so far anyway) you exhibit amazing taste in huge numbers. This year's Expo line-up was our strongest and most diverse yet, so we were excited to see what would follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, God of War III, or 2008's Mirror's Edge...
Eurogamer is delighted to announce that Bethesda Softworks will present id Software's RAGE and inXile's Hunted: The Demon's Forge for the first time ever in the UK at next month's Eurogamer Expo, taking place 1st - 3rd October at Earls Court, London.
Rage drew the biggest crowd at QuakeCon 2010 - and it wrote the biggest headlines while it was at it. Simultaneous demonstration on multiple platforms! The end of "when it's done"! But all in all we would say Brink was the most assured game on display. It's a team-based multiplayer shooter with bold new ideas about movement, story and player incentives, and right now it already looks slick and polished, even though it's not out until spring 2011.
Bethesda Softworks' war on ladders continues unabated. Yesterday we discovered Todd Howard's team has almost given up on them because they always turn out rubbish - hence no ladders in Fallout 3. But Splash Damage has banned them outright for Brink.
Brink may not be out until spring 2011, but it's already so well defined that half the world's games journalists could probably rebuild it from memory. It's a class-based first-person shooter set on the last floating remnant of human civilisation, it throws out the distinction between online and offline play by optionally populating campaign missions with human comrades and adversaries, and it's being put together at Splash Damage by a team precisely assembled by the determined wallets of ambitious publisher Bethesda Softworks.
Whether he's cranking up the surround-sound for a thundering game demo, or just talking - something he does at speed and without pause, reeling off a five-minute answer to one question that covers the next three you were going to ask and two you hadn't thought of - Splash Damage's Paul Wedgwood likes to, in Public Enemy's words, bring the noise. At 9.30am on the morning after the night before, that causes a few winces. Although, to be fair, it looks like it's hurting him more than it hurts us.
In Brink, Splash Damage and Bethesda may have one of the most ambitious games of 2010: a first-person shooter that blends single- and multi-player on a fundamental level, which is also sufficiently accessible that a complete novice can go toe to toe with a veteran and both still enjoy themselves. Following his Developer Session at the Eurogamer Expo 2009 last month, we cornered studio boss Paul Wedgwood to see how it's getting on.
Civil unrest is brewing in Bromley, Kent. Its residents though, whether treading the floors of Poundland or waiting by the conveyor in Argos for a Swingball set, are blissfully unaware. Brink - set in 2025 on a futuro-archipelago called The Ark, which may be humanity's last outpost on a flooded earth - is a team-based, objective-driven, story-packed first-person shooter, but it's designed to appeal to n00bs and normals alike. And yet the streets are not full of pitchforks, burning cars and decapitated heads being waved up at Splash Damage's office windows. It's a brave new world.
The machines are taking over. Microsoft's star attraction at E3 2009 was a virtual boy you could talk to. Our games consoles know how fat we are, how far we've walked and what's good for us. One reason Valve is able to turn out two Left 4 Deads in two years is that it has programmed an algorithm to direct the gameplay. And Splash Damage and Bethesda's multiplayer shooter Brink is a structure rather than a game - a collection of content the shape of which will be decided by the software, and its observation of players.