on Feb 23, 2012
So, I’ve upgraded to Windows 7. I’ve been putting off writing a post about it because I’m going to have to say very nice things about Windows 7, and I’m dreading that. (No not really. (But actually yes.))
In the process of re-installing everything I found an old, old directory of screenshots. In those shots I found this:
That’s Randy, Josh, Josh’s brother, and myself playing Borderlands in April 2010. Not pictured is Mumbles, who was in Vent with us at the time. Here is what was going on…
We actually had a hard time playing multiplayer Borderlands. Aside from the unforgivable Gamespy-driven multiplayer system of brokenness and ineptitude, there was something about the game that drew us away from the core mechanics towards invented gameplay based on griefing. I know that Josh has the reputation as the crazed madman of the group, but in a real game he’s actually sensible, focused, and reliable. The person most prone to griefing is… me.
Seriously. I would wreck cars. I’d shotgun cars to leave my compatriots stranded. I’d jump in the driver’s seat and then go off a cliff as soon as someone got into the passenger seat. I’m not usually like this, but Borderlands seemed to bring out my inner 12-year-old.
Once we got to the point in the game where you can drive cars, our forward progress was reduced to almost nothing. Randy and I were more interested in car wrestling. The car physics in that game were silly in a good way, which lent itself to a game where we rammed our cars into each other with the aim of getting your car on top of the other one for a “pin”. (Bonus if the other car was flipped.) When Randy won he would always say, “Dominance has been asserted”.
There are two cars in the game, and up to four players. So Randy and I would each grab a car. Then Josh and Glitch (or Mumbles) would get into the gunner positions, expecting us to drive to the next mission location. Instead we’d begin wrestling, and would keep going until one of the gunners threatened to quit, or one of the cars was destroyed.
Then we discovered jousting.
We found a bridge in the Trash Commons East, and somehow began driving at each other from opposite sides. The goal was to force the other car off without falling off yourself. This spot was ideal because the path back up was short, allowing for continuous play but also obliging the loser to come back up the hill via the Path of Shame and Defeat.
Driving was about faking out the other guy and trying to game the physics in your favor. The gunner would shoot rockets into the path of the opposing car to confuse or distract them. (You couldn’t damage the other player’s car with rockets.) Eventually we all got into the spirit of the thing, with drivers and gunners switching out and trying different team configurations.
We played this game for three hours. Just this. No shooting. No quests. No leveling. No loot. Only jousting. Three hours.
It was great fun, but somehow jousting killed the game for us. All of us. I think we all stopped playing at that point, and none of us were sure why. Looking back, I guess it was because single-player seems so dull when you’re alone, but if we tried multiplayer we knew we’d just end up jousting again. And we were sick of jousting. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there it is.
And now I see that the trailer for Borderlands 2 is out:
My only complaint is with the character classes. Four classes, with fixed genders? How… 1996 of you. On one hand, I applaud the Team Fortress 2 angle of making each character have a perfectly distinct profile. On the other hand, I think we could switch the genders up without wrecking the profiles too much. I was either hoping we’d get one more class, or the ability to choose gender. (Or both, since we’re wishing for rainbows and unicorns at this point.)
I’m glad Claptrap is back. I know everyone was sick of the guy, but I always thought he was annoying in a good way, like Pritchard from Human Revolution. This is different from a character who is annoying by accident, like you-know-who.
I’m glad to see they finally have a vehicle that can hold all four players. Hopefully that will cut down on the car wrestling.
Anyway. Looking forward to this one. All hail dynamic gameplay, stylized graphics, colorful scenery, and a sense of humor. Here’s hoping they do a better job on the PC port.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.