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Bulletstorm

How People Can Fly is putting the fun back in shooters

People Can Fly is an apt name for the developer of Bulletstorm, its upcoming first-person shooter proves that people really can fly.

Especially high, in fact, when you yank them towards you using an energy lasso and then comically kick them across the room.

In a world where first-person shooters aspire to tell a deep, emotional and meaningful stories Bulletstorm stands out as an arcady, fun-fueled anomaly.

PSM3 had the chance to sit down with the developers and chat about how they're bringing the fun back to the FPS genre.

Where did the idea for Bulletstorm and its inventive, combo-style mechanics come from? It reminds us of Sega's The Club.

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I might be wrong, but I think it was actually Epic who first came up with the idea of rewarding FPS players for their performances. Remember Unreal Tournament and that announcer going, "Headshot!"? That was 1999!

The thing is, though, that in UT the reward was vocal encouragement, and there was no real gameplay benefit. That was also the case with Bulletstorm. Heck, we didn't have anything like it at all initially - all we wanted to make was a great shooter. Because we worked hard to outdo the competition, we started to get pretty creative with the enemies and weapons. The fact that Bulletstorm is a sci-fi game helped us to have a lot more freedom in that area rather than if it were, for example, a World War II game. So we got a little crazy and quite soon realised that we were killing foes in many different ways, even with the same weapon. It was fun - even without reward.

Then, one day, we looked at each other and said, "What if we encouraged that creativity all the more by offering a valuable gameplay reward?" And that's how skillshots were born.

How will the weapon/skillshot unlock system work?

Laugh all you want, but our producer Tanya calls it 'the circle of awesome'. Basically, once you're rewarded with points you can spend them on unlocks and upgrades. And then you can be even more deadly and brutal. And get more points. For which you buy more cool sh*t. Ad infinitum.

What's the wildest weapon you're able to talk about?

The wildest one is something I can't talk about. I can give you a hint, though. It's a projectile-based weapon from the folks who did Painkiller. Out of the ones we've revealed so far, I love the Flail Gun. Not just because it's a technical marvel - it took us more than three months to get that one thing right - but because it's so wrong. You have two grenades on a chain, which wraps around the enemy. Within a few seconds, the grenades auto-detonate. So quite simply, the bad guy is dead the moment the chain wraps around him - it's just a question of time. But you can set off the grenades earlier, and that gentle 'click' is way more satisfying than I ever suspected it would be.

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How difficult is it to sell the game's central premise without letting people play it?

It turned out to be way harder than I thought. Not because the skillshots are hard to explain; on the contrary, everyone gets them. What's important to realise is that they're not the heart of Bulletstorm - pulp sci-fi adventure is. Skillshots are just the gameplay layer that would give you only half the experience if we didn't have, for example, a kickass story by a kickass writer (Rick Remender).

But because skillshots are a fairly fresh idea and it's actually hard to find a game that's like Bulletstorm, people try to compare it to some older titles that were, you know, fun. Hence the comparisons to Painkiller or other 'kill it if it moves, and kill if it doesn't - just in case' kind of games. Which breaks my heart, because the fact that your game is fun, crazy, over the top and features sentences like, "You scared the dick off me," does not mean it's old school.

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