This Is How a Game Grows

 
Art by:  SIMON WEBBER

Art by: SIMON WEBBER

 

“You feel like taking any of these interviews?” she continues tapping and flicking the tablet’s screen. When Markus doesn’t respond Maggie looks up. “Markus?”

Hands behind his head, rocking in the Herman Miller. “I’m not sure this was worth the extra twelve hundred. Actually I’m certain it wasn’t, at least in terms of comfort.”

“Uh-huh. How about you answer my question?”

“I’m sorry. No.”

“No? Okay, well I’m sick of telling them “At the moment we’re still busy with the launch of LBR, maybe at a later date.” That isn’t going to keep working. We should get out there and say something. You want me to do it?” Maggie lets the tablet swing to her side, held by its bungie. Got the idea to use a rifle sling after Linear took a class with Haley Strategic. Wanted to get a feel for how guns actually handle.

“Fine by me. You want to?”

“No.” Maggie snorts.

“See if Todd’ll do it. If not I’ll make time. Who’s asking anyways?”

“You name the outlet—they’re asking.”

"Actually, fuck it. Yeah. I’ll do it. EuroGamer?”

Maggie checks her tablet. “Two days ago, yeah.”

“I’ll talk to them.”

—x—

New message: Grimepaw

-Yo

-Yo

-Dude, I saw you come online a minute ago. What’re you doing?

-Whatever, I’m going to get a game in while you jack off

-I wasn’t jacking off
-Really? I sent that an hour ago, the hell were you? Played two games and got shit on. 34th game one and I don’t even want to talk about game two
-I was getting something to eat, then my roommate came home and we got talking about the Tarot
-The what? Like the cards? Fortune telling?
-Yeah
-You’re weird lol

New message: PandaNam
-Game?
-Sure, you want to party with Grime?
-Cool

“Who’re you going as?” Grime asks.
”Me or Ac1d?”
”You. Ac1d only plays Euryale. Have you even tried anyone else…at all?”
”Nope.” Ac1d says. “At least not in-game. Tried a couple in training, but that’s it.”
”You know basically no one plays her, right?”
”I do know that.”
”I think that’s half the reason he likes her.” Panda laughs. “I’ll give Cryptid another go. Tried him out last night, sucked ass, but he seems cool.”
”Alright, then you guys want healer or support? I can do Deus-Ex or Slinger”
Panda laughs. “What? Slinger? Slinger is trash.”
”Deus-Ex,” says Ac1d. “I want his heals.”
”Alright, cool. Just got a new skin for him anyways. Slinger is good if you know what the fuck you’re doing.”
”Which skin?” Panda asks.
”Inner Geist.”
”Oh fuck, no way. You bought that?”
”Yeah. Middle of the month paycheck, beautiful baby boy.”
”You guys ready?” Ac1d asks, cursor hovering over Launch.
”Let’s fucking do this.” Grime growls into mic.
”Alright,” Panda slaps his desk or claps, hard to tell which.

—x—

A day later an interview appears on EuroGamer’s front page titled, “Talking with Linear’s Markus Tottle, a man with a mission.”

EuroGamer: Linear Battle Royale, or LBR as everyone calls it, has been out for a month now. How’s it feel?

Markus Tottle: Good, yeah, real good. What’s not to like? Biggest launch of any BR ever. Over two million players daily. A monetization system that critics and players alike seem to enjoy. Yeah—smiles—things are good.

EG: Let’s talk about that a bit, your monetization model. How’d you come up with that?

MT: I didn’t. It was one of the artists. As you probably know we don’t have a set-in-stone hierarchy at Linear. We care about two things: Good ideas and ability to execute. One of our artists came to me one day and told me her idea. Said it came to her when she realized she pays $15 a month for Netflix when 95% of what’s on there she’ll never ever even think of watching. Why is she paying for that 95%? So we had a few meetings, couldn’t see any downsides, and decided to give it a shot. Seems to be doing just fine—laughs.

EG: Care to comment on any numbers?

MT: Absolutely not. That’s one thing we like about remaining company. We don’t have to tell you, or anyone else, anything we don’t want to. Suffice it to say we’re doing just fine. If you figure we have no less than forty million unique players a month and they’re all paying a minimum of $1 to play LBR, yeah, things are just fine.

EG: The name, LBR, you must really believe in the game if you’re putting the very name of your company on it. What was the thought process there?

MT: We do believe in it, yeah, for sure. But, honestly, we couldn’t think of something we liked better. We call it LBR not because the game is Linear, anyone that’s played it can tell you it’s anything but. Sure, it’s a Battle Royale, last player—or squad—standing wins. We’ll add more Heroes, more weapons, more skins, more everything, but that stuff is expected. We have a few tricks we haven’t even talked about yet. But really what’s linear about LBR is our way of thinking. We’re going to make this game the absolute best we can for as long as we can. It’s our mentally towards it that’s linear.

EG: Can you share a little about the game’s inspiration? There’s nothing else on the market than comes even close to how LBR looks. I don’t even know what to call it. What do you call it?

MT: Laughs—Yeah, we’re still not sure ourselves. Best thing I’ve heard is Mythic Sci-Fantasy. There’s a lot of stuff in there. There’s this anime from the mid 90’s called Iria, our art director is a huge fan of that world’s look and drew inspiration from that. That’s where the tribal space vibe comes from you see in the Heroes armor and weapons. Trigun for some of the over feel for the world. The scarcity. Star Wars—of course, that’s were some of the Sci-Fantasy comes in, like a couple of the Heroes less than science abilities, Crypid’s Life Drain, for example. Let’s see, what else? Horizon Zero Dawn, Destiny, for the progression systems and weapon modification. The Dune series of books, EvE Online, Titanfall, Dark Void, all kinds of stuff. We liked the talent tree idea from WoW and the shield system of Halo so, yeah, it’s all over the place. Oh, there was this RTS game, Planetary Annihilation, that too. Warframe, and the book Annihilation for that matter. But that’s how making a game goes.

EG: Okay, some of what you said makes sense, but you’ll have to help me understand what you mean about EvE Online and Planetary Annihilation. And Dark Void? That was a Capcom release right?

We’re going to make this game the absolute best game we can for as long as we can. It’s our mentally that’s linear.

MT: Yep.

EG: So, those other games, how did they play into LBR?

MT: Well, I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned. You haven’t seen much of anything yet.

EG: How long until we see some of these things?

MT: Soon—laughs.

—x—

The day after the interview.

New message: Grimepaw
-Holy…Shit…Dude, this update is … I don’t even

New message: PandaNam
-Are you seeing this?

-Where are you, man?

New message: Cri4Her
-Ac1d, wtf, you see this yet? They didn’t nerf Lancer, they took him out of the game WTF

New message: Juicebox
-Bro. Lancer is gone! Noooooooo, not my boy Lancer!!!

Ac1d, brushing his teeth, sees message after message flash onscreen. The hell is going on? Bent over his desk, one hand continues brushing, the other on his mouse—click-click…click. The fuck? Opens a browser, heads to the LBR forums. Every new post is about the patch. Confusion. People aren’t mad, they’re confused. Every post has a pinned message from JAX, Linear’s customer relation’s guy (or gal, no one knows). JAX’s message on every forum post says the same thing: “Everything will make sense tomorrow after the follow up patch.”

To PandaNam:
-Tomorrow, huh? Guess we’ll have to wait and see what’s going on.
-A full day without LBR? This is unheard of. wtf is Linear doing?
-Whatever they want, just as always. It’s worked for them this far.
-But these patch notes, they…I don’t get it. You read them?
-What, the one sentence? lol, yeah.
-That’s what I mean. Twenty-four hour maintenance to take a single Hero out of the game? It doesn’t make sense
-They’re obviously doing more than just that. Want to play something else?
-No, I want to play LBR… …

-Okay, fine, what?
-How about Magic, you still got Arena installed?
-Okay, sure. But for the love of god, please don’t play Nexus Fog
-I played that once, I think I hated it as much as you. I’ll play Dimir midrange.
-Oh joy