Producer Tanya Jessen has been chatting to RPS about Epic's plans for the Unreal Engine 4 powered co-op survival game, Fortnite. Jessen reveals that Epic are thinking about making an online connection a requirement. “It's gonna be really dependent on gameplay, and it's also dependent on platform – the method of getting updates and stuff like that. So I can't say for sure today one way or another [whether or not we're going to use it],” Jessen says.
“Fortnite is a game that's being developed as a co-op experience primarily,” she adds. “That's our number one focus. This is a game you're gonna want to play with your friends, and it's most fun with your friends. So whatever we decide to do there is gonna be more relevant to the most fun experience you can have with your friends [than it is to piracy]. But I can't nail that down today.”
She explains later that "if you don't design for co-op from the very beginning and make it a pillar of your project, then the game systems don't tend to feel as solid in the co-op experience. So that's how we're developing the game from the outset."
This chimes with Blizzard president Mike Morhaime's comments earlier regarding the thinking behind Diablo 3's always-online requirement . "Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design," he said. Has it suddenly become logistically impossible for developers to create separate online and offline modes? Or have companies observed the tremendous backlash to Ubisoft's always-online DRM plans, and don't want to drop the term "DRM" and "always-online" into any sentence for fear of similar reprisals.
Fortnite looks neat. It's powered by Epic's latest engine, it's PC exclusive, it's about building structures and fending off monsters with friends. We're looking forward to seeing more, (check out the first screenshots here). Hopefully the devs will decide against pushing a permanent connection as a mandatory requirement.