Splash Damage’s Neil Alphonso on what Dirty Bomb looks like a year from now

Speaking to Esports Pro at Gamescom, Dirty Bomb’s associate creative director Neil Alphonso said that this is currently a watershed moment for the competitive multiplayer shooter.

So, what does Dirty Bomb look like a year from now?

“A big thing for me is that players have different things to do.” Alphonso says. “I want to make sure that people are playing the game in a healthy way in regards to toxicity. Because we’re such a team game, I also want us to make big steps forwards in actually matching players,  by putting a support player and an assault player together naturally through the matchmaking. 

Alphonso points out that they can monitor a lot of details behind the scenes to help with the three goals. “We can see if players had a good match, we can see if they added each other to their friends list. That’s the sort of stuff I want to see us doing because people having a good time isn’t just the mission of the game, but the mission of the studio.” 

Alphonso mentions community as a core part of the reason players will stick with a game and play through to a competitive level, and says that a strong community, and the tools to help them have a good experience, imbues the game with a “stickiness” that will help keep Dirty Bomb alive, and let Splash Damage build a strong relationship with their fans. 

Best of all, most players wouldn’t even notice it was happening. “There’s a lot of intangibles with that, honestly. A lot of stuff would happen under the hood. But these things can all help make sure that players are playing in the right spirit, a problem that I think lots of the industry is starting to confront right now. For me personally, it’s one of my biggest goals.” 

Alphonso mentions that dealing with the jump to a live game was jarring for the studio, too. “One of the big challenges for me personally on the project, is just because it’s a live game, because it’s running, you have to make very different decisions. 

We’re still adjusting, to be honest, but I think we’ve done a lot better at it. When you could just put pens down and focus on optimising, for instance, when you’re pushing a build to gold, getting it to zero bugs and not making new content, we can’t really afford to do that, we have to be always making stuff. So it’s always the trade off of where to work best. 

“It’s a tricky thing because the game’s been live for a while. I am one of the people who’s been through almost all the ups and downs of it. It’s funny, because we hired a lot of people, so more than half the team now hasn’t really been on the project, the studio for a long time. They haven’t really seen the bad times, and that’s the most exciting thing for me, is that the game has really a new lease on life.”

Alphonso also highlights the players here, mentioning that so many players stuck by the game when production on the game had slowed. “It’s super frustrating to not be able to actually give good experiences for players. And they’re like, "We love this, we just want more of it." I’m like, "I’m trying." But now we’re able to actually give them that, which is awesome.”

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