Exclusive Interview with Dirty Bomb Character Designer Ben Garnell
A couple weeks ago, I was given the chance to play Dirty Bomb, Splash Damage’s upcoming free to play first-person shooter. During that time, I met with the character and weapons designer, Ben Garnell, and he gave me some insight on the game and the development so far. Here’s what he had to say.
David Poole (DP): So this is my first time playing Dirty Bomb, obviously I believe it’s the first time for a lot of people, but I was really enjoying the way that London looked, and I was really enjoying the different types of characters. What was the inspiration for the characters?
Ben Garnell (BG): I think the inspiration was just…we knew very early on that we needed larger than life mercenaries. When you’re going to have as many mercenaries as we plan to have, if you just go with regular grunts, and boilerplate characters, then there isn’t as much room to maneuver. And when you’re trying to aim for these very distinct personalities, and you’re not restricting yourself to just soldiers and, you know, classic archetypes, it means that you could push yourself a lot further like the character (you see behind you) Phantom, or Rhino, we have a lot of mercenaries in the game that you can tell exactly what they do just from looking at them.
DP: Okay, I noticed that from a lot of their names as well, like most of them are named after their specialty, like Proxy with proximity mines and Fragger, Nader, but I mean that’s really cool. So there are more mercenaries that are planned to be added to the game then?
BG: Yes, definitely, we are planning to support Dirty Bomb for a long time, and I feel since mercenaries are so core to the experience, and in a various mobile fashion, swapping out your mercenaries from one match to the next, and you’re watching what your enemies selecting. Once we have enough heroes in the pool, enough mercenaries, you’re going to be able to come up with some really interestesting strategies.
DP: Okay, so as I was playing, the setting seems a little futuristic, but I was just kind of curious about the weaponry. A lot of it seems a little bit more current. Are there plans for more futuristic weapons or are we trying to stay grounded?
BG: Definitely! There are few weapons currently that are ready to go into the game that are a little bit more future-flavored, because what we’ve felt was that the game needed a good bedrock to get started, and the story for Dirty Bomb, we’ve only teased the beginnings of it. You know? The radiological bomb’s in 2018 and the game is set in 2020 after the city’s been evacuated, and we’re going to bringing in a lot more future tech, or at least how we imagine it to be.
DP: So (I’m) not sure why, but why is it called Dirty Bomb?
BG: It’s called Dirty Bomb, as I was saying before, the story is that in 2018, radiological dirty bombs have been exploded throughout London, and then we fast-forward two years to uhm…there were a lot of things that were left behind in the evacuation of London. A lot of things that people want to disappear, and a lot of things that people want recovered. And so you play as mercenaries in the radioactive zones, fighting over these resources, so the name Dirty Bomb comes from the irreverent feel that we wanted for the title, combined with the bedrock of the story.
DP: Is there like a global effect that the whole situation takes place with?
BG: [laughs] We’re keeping it to London right now, but there’s no saying where the story can go.
DP: Okay, what’s your favorite character so far?
BG: My favorite character is probably going to have to be Aura…but I have to say I’m a sucker for Rhino, cause the mini-gun that I modeled, I just love using it, I love the way that it feels when you’re running around in game, but if I want to, if I really want to help out my team, and I really want to step my game up, I always have to go with Aura.
DP: Yea, I was playing mostly as Bushwhacker, he was kind of my favorite, the turret and just being an engineer, being able to advance the objective faster seemed very beneficial to the team. I’ve been liking the characters I played as so far, like I played as Fletcher as well, a little bit as Phoenix.
BG: Ah Phoenix. A lot of people in the studio feel uh…[laughs]. They’re not too happy when you forget about his self-revive and you run ahead, and then he self-revives behind you and stabs you in the back. It can feel a little gut-wrenching.
DP: Alright, so you already mentioned your favorite character, what’s your proudest achievement so far on the game?
BG: Um, for me it would have to be a lot of the abilities that I’ve modeled, I feel as I’ve said with the minigun, I feel like when you’ve got that in first-person, it really feels weightier, it feels chunkier, it feels really meaty. And when you’re firing it, it combines together to really evoke that crazy damage spewing beast. Apart from the minigun, I feel…I’m going to be a little bit cheeky here, and say that it’s something that’s not fully in the game yet, but it’s a lot of the weapon skins. We have a fantastic system for weapon skins coming in down the road for Dirty Bomb, and I feel it’s going to be a fantastic way for players to customize their mercenaries and their characters and their weapons.
DP: Okay, and the game is currently planned to release sometime later this year?
BG: The closed beta is coming online on the 26th of March, and we’re planning for open beta to start later in the year.
DP: Okay, well that’s all the questions I have for you Ben, thank you so much!
BG: Thank you very much.