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Q&A: Codemasters Unveils Bodycount, Studio Refocus

Codemasters has announced Bodycount, a new game under the creative direction of Stuart Black, best known for the Criterion Studios shooter Black -- and which draws inspiration from J.J. Abrams and Lady Gaga.
Codemasters has announced Bodycount, a new game under the creative direction of Stuart Black, best known for the Criterion Studios shooter Black -- and which draws inspiration from J.J. Abrams and Lady Gaga. Though Black has been at Codemasters for "two or three years now," he says, he "actually started on a different project, another original IP that's kind of been on the back burner... We started [production] work on Bodycount about nine months ago." Black describes the game as a "techno-thriller" first person shooter with a focus on destructible environments. Though the publisher is best known for its popular racing games like DIRT and GRID, it has struggled to move into other genres -- primarily with titles developed by external studios, such as Spark Unlimited's critically unappreciated Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. Black says that Bodycount is the first project in a reboot for the publisher's non-racing business. "We were already staffing up," says Black. "We were working on a different project, and we were staffing up for that." The team, which is based in Guildford, England -- alongside other major UK studios like Criterion, Media Molecule, and Lionhead -- recruited "a lot of our bandmates, if you like, from our time working on Black," says Black. The reason the team shifted priorities from its initial project to Bodycount, says Black, is that "we had this itch about this type of shooter we wanted to play, that we just couldn't buy. Our big headline is that we want to put the fun back into shooting -- we want this game to be outrageous fun with a gun." The game will ship for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the first quarter of 2011. It uses the company's own proprietary engine, the EGO Game Technology Platform, and will deliver co-op and competitive multiplayer alongside its main story mode. He describes the game team, which is focused on a "21st century" creative focus, as having "a lot of fresh new ideas and fresh blood coming in... A big thing is that we don't want to repeat ourselves. If you do something innovative and new and that's taking a step into the unknown." "This is hyperbole but we really mean it," says Black, who feels that the current crop of AAA shooters -- while excellent titles -- are backwards-looking, creatively. He cites Lady Gaga's performance at the Glastonbury music festival as revelatory, and says that J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise last year was also foundational to the direction he wants to take the franchise -- both are cited in terms of their approach and attitude, says Black. Gamasutra will publish the full interview with Black in the near future.

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