Brink is part of a growing trend for games that seek to blur the line between single-player and multiplayer. Since Halo 3 extended a lobby system and support for four players across its entire campaign in 2007, and Valve turned a simple survival shooter into the endlessly replayable standard-bearer for co-op gaming a year later with Left 4 Dead, developers have started to question why they needed two methodologies to make one game. Even the conservative heartlands of the Japanese industry have started to explore the idea - see Capcom's Lost Planet 2, out next week.
Brink, though, is probably the most extreme example of this approach to date, and as a specialist in competitive multiplayer design, Splash Damage is coming at the problem from the other side. Its objective-based campaign episodes have their roots in the design of the studio's Enemy Territory multiplayer games, and drop-in co-op goes all the way up to eight players. Wedgwood openly admits that he hopes to train more casual players up through single-player and co-op to taking on the complex ebb and flow of a Splash Damage team multiplayer match.
The challenge facing his team is to make this feel like a seamless and natural progression, to make the front end and user interface transparent, and to make a game structured around scalable multiplayer stand on its own in single-player against some of the most obsessively crafted experiences in gaming - the theatrical staging of a BioShock or a Modern Warfare, for example. It's a big ask, but winning over the large, naturally suspicious audience of die-hard solo gamers is going to rest on it.
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