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When Gearbox got down to make Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, it was a giant danger for the studio. In spite of everything, it had been engaged on the Borderlands sequence, and after 4 video games, it will change up the system. What was as soon as a sequence identified for copious quantities of nice looting and gun taking pictures would now be set in a fantasy world impressed by TTRPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and want adjustments to match that new setting. It will want magic, melee weapons, a reworked ability tree, and a brand new character creator. Extra importantly, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands wanted to face alone from the remainder of Borderlands, regardless of being a derivative starring a recurring character.
In a reside Sport Developer Talks webinar final week known as Past the Border: Designing for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Matt Cox, the sport’s inventive director, broke down the discussions the staff had in designing this surprisingly totally different spinoff. It was a dangerous endeavor, however one of many keys was making certain all the pieces nonetheless remained inside the Borderlands sensibility.
This was executed by sticking with 5 guiding design objectives. Whereas all of them gained’t apply to each sport, these rules mixed for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands to assist the staff map out which options they wanted to give attention to, and learn how to execute these in a manner that match the sport. Take a look at what Cox needed to share about a few of these objectives beneath, or watch the full talk for free on the GDC Vault.
What’s proper for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands?
The high-level aim for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands was to create a “fantasy shooter IP born from the foundations and universe of Borderlands,” in accordance with Cox. To do this, the staff centered on the aforementioned design objectives. The primary one, and arguably one of the impactful early-game, was permitting the participant to specific themselves via their look and their playstyle. This isn’t too totally different from what the core Borderlands sequence gives, particularly when it comes to playstyle, however the staff wished to go additional.
This resulted in a extra in-depth character creator than the staff had ever made. It included cosmetics for the participant’s armor and facial options (and sure, that features make-up), together with selections for the character’s character, voice, backstory, pronouns, and extra. Since this was new for the builders, they’d to determine simply how far they might go. Did Tiny Tina’s character creator should be on par with different character creators on the market? Did Gearbox want to supply so many choices that the participant may create an abomination match for Monster Manufacturing unit or do they do the naked minimal? Cox mentioned there have been issues amongst staff members that they wouldn’t have the ability to do what different video games may and that the sport ought to simply stick with the 4 characters Borderlands followers have been used to, however he disagreed.
“It isn’t our burden to have the deepest, widest model of a standard
function. It IS our burden to make the function significant and match our
He introduced up Nintendo’s Miis for example. You possibly can’t do something along with your Mii, however you are able to do simply sufficient that it suits the texture of what Nintendo goes for. “They perceive their very own model and so they have a creator inside the objectives of what they’re creating,”
So what did Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands gamers want? For the reason that sport was influenced by Dungeons & Dragons and different tabletop RPGs, builders needed to embody options like multiclassing that evoked that really feel. Gearbox was additionally making a sport in first-person, so the staff had to consider what player-chosen beauty options mattered and the way they might showcase these selections in-game. Builders took benefit of third-person scenes to fulfill this aim, together with utilizing the Overworld to indicate off as a lot of the participant avatar as they might.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter what different firms or video games did with their character customization. What did Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands want? That’s all of the gamers wished.
“If our gamers can genuinely say ‘I had enjoyable’…it eliminates comparability.”
adapt Borderlands for a fantasy world
Different design objectives mixed for a singular aim: How do you modify Borderlands with out altering Borderlands an excessive amount of? How do you seize a brand new viewers with out alienating the outdated one?
One of many massive objectives was a fight shift. Gearbox could be transferring from frenetic gun-based fight to frenetic spell and melee-based fight that additionally included weapons. Whereas this won’t sound too totally different on paper, it was large for the builders.
“Whereas it appears like Borderlands
blasphemy, we nonetheless wished to lean into the energy of our gun pedigree
however throw it right into a world of fantasy fight,” he defined.
This proved to be a problem, partly
as a result of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands wished to embrace fantasy melee, which was primarily based on a variety of
swordplay, however the concpet had “friction with the core loop.” Builders additionally wanted to
make spells enjoyable to make use of, however had by no means used one thing like that in a Borderlands
sport earlier than. The staff had concepts for learn how to make melee work in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and
the answer to the issue got here again once more to look at what the sport itself wanted.
“We did not need the melee weapon to be the first manner of doing injury,” he mentioned. “It will’ve slowed down the tempo of the frenetic Borderlands-style fight that we like to create and it will’ve gone towards the grain of all the pieces else we wished to construct.”
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands does an incredible job combining gun taking pictures, melee slashing, and spell casting to distinguish itself from Borderlands and make it really feel extra like a fantasy TTRPG, nevertheless it nonetheless seems like Borderlands.
“Wonderlands not being the ‘gun numbers sport’ was key in defining its uniqueness and stake,” Cox mentioned.
To study extra concerning the different design objectives Gearbox relied on throughout Tiny Tina’s improvement and the way it labored to stability making a standalone sport in a preferred IP, you may check out more of the talk on demand.