Splash Damage on the Creation of Outcasters, Working with Stadia

Splash Damage says that its latest title, Outcasters, builds off of many of the previous shooters that the studio has worked on.

Outcasters is this top-down multiplayer shooter, that centers around this curve shot,” Lily Zhu, the product lead on Splash Damage’s most recent project, Outcasters said in an interview with DualShockers. She went on to describe how this specific mechanic was a departure from the studio’s shooter-centric roots. “So if you look at the history of what Splash Damage has been doing, we have done quite a lot of shooters and in every one of them, we shoot straight.”

The brainchild of a small team inside of Splash Damage, Outcasters is a product of the studio’s first game jam. Zhu remembers the build-up to the game jam and the team’s excitement about the idea, “Somebody looks at something is like, ‘That could be a game,’ And then we looked at each other like, ‘We’re game devs, we can try it!'”

Splash Damage has historically worked with larger intellectual properties like Halo, Wolfenstein, and most recently, Gears of War. Zhu talked about how their history working with more traditional shooters has helped them develop and flesh out Outcasters. She said, “I think once you get in to play and you see there is actually a lot of these kinds of nuances that we’ve taken from the FPS and the shooting experiences that we’ve worked on.”

The curved shot mechanic is paramount to Splash Damage’s first collaboration with Google, but it’s not the only mechanic that’s going to be in the game. When asked about progression, Splash Damage’s CEO, Richard Jolly said, “We have a vast variety of customizations, prestiges, and abilities for the player to unlock through collection and progression as they play.”

While Jolly never dove into the specifics about unlockable abilities, he did talk about the game’s action-figure inspired character designs and customization options, “Another pillar during the creation of this game was the self-expression of the player,” and this shines through in the variety of options available. According to Jolly, there are trillions of combinations available to the player.

Further support is a given for most multiplayer titles. Splash Damage’s approach to developing and evolving the game after launch is one of the most intriguing elements of the project. Jolly mentioned that Splash Damage was started as a team of Quake modders, and that their philosophy reflects their history. He said, “So once you’ve released a game, it’s the community’s game. It’s like letting go of a baby, but the reality is they play the game more than you do, they know it more than you do and they’re far better than you have ever been at the game.”

To him, Splash Damage’s support for the game after launch will be predicated on the idea that the fans know the game as well as anyone on the team does. “It’s about stopping and listening to what those players are saying.”

The biggest criticisms that the gaming community has very vocally held about Google’s streaming service, Stadia, is the tech and functionality behind it and its library of games. Today’s Stadia Connect has shown that the team has taken the latter complaint to heart, with the announcement of 5 exclusives or timed exclusives for the platform.

To Nico Zettler, a producer at Stadia, Outcasters is one of the service’s “most important titles this year.” He reiterated his team’s commitment to the project and building up Stadia’s library, “Google is doing everything to make this happen.”

One thing that Zettler, Jolly, and Zhu all repeated throughout the interview was the idea that trying Outcasters was just a link away at any given time. This is particularly interesting because while one of the public relations agents who were present for the interview made it clear that they’re still figuring out business models and pricing, the idea that any given person could click on a link with no paywall and try the game as well as Stadia for themself could be a lifesaver for the service’s image.

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Charlie Wacholz

Charlie is a streamer, YouTube content creator and writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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