Gearbox Software, the folks behind the Borderlands franchise, are a big presence at PAX East each year. It’s like clockwork really. With Battleborn releasing like two weeks from that time (it’s out right now), it made sense that they’d be at the show in force once more.
In addition to a big booth letting fans go hands on with Battleborn, the team also had their usual “Inside Gearbox Software” panel in the main hall. While it’s always something I’ve wanted to attend in person, my schedule typically conflicted with their usual Sunday time slot. This year however, the panel moved to Friday, which meant I’d finally be able to sit in on it for once. Here’s a little glimpse at what went down behind those closed doors.
Things kicked off when Gearbox Chief Creative Champion, Mikey Neumann, and funny man Kris Straub took to the stage and told some jokes to get the audience warmed up. After revealing some wacky panels they had to miss in order to attend this one, the pair were then joined on stage by the rest of the gang. That included Gearbox President & CEO Randy Pitchford, Creative Director Randy Varnell, Art Director Scott Kester, Design Director Brian Thomas, Assistant Producer Anthony Nicholson, and Marketing Producer Erica Stead. Eventually, former IGN personality and current YouTuber Greg Miller also joined in.
Before the topic of Battleborn kicked off, Randy Pitchford, a noted practitioner of magic, led things off with the “entertainment” portion of the show. For longtime fans, this was somewhat of a tradition for the panel where Randy would perform some of his tricks for the audience. I won’t lie, I thought this was going to be pretty cheesy, but in all honesty, I found it pretty entertaining. Randy is much better at magic tricks than one would assume as he pulled off some pretty cool card tricks and slight of hand magic.
After the magic show wrapped up with a pretty funny and cool bit, the conversation moved to the game as we got a lot of insight into design decisions and even how the idea for Battleborn came about. As it turns out, a love of action figures and wanting to continue to create interesting characters after development ended on Borderlands 2 were the driving force. We also got insight into the art direction and visual effects which was handled primarily by Michel Gagne, a noted cartoonist and animator. Screenshots and animated gifs showed off the amount of detail that goes into even the most subtle of effects, and it was really interesting to see how this process comes together.
Downloadable content was another topic of discussion and surprisingly, all multiplayer maps and additional characters will be given out for free to players. The season pass and paid DLC will be for additional story missions which the team also confirmed will contain a lot of easter eggs regarding Borderlands 3.
And yes, Pitchford did confirm the existence of Borderlands 3 and that Mikey Neumann was writing it. As if there was any doubt, right? Many of you are probably saying ‘Finally!’ right about now.
I find these panels really interesting because not only are you getting cool information about a specific game, in this case Battleborn, but you really get to see actual people who work on a game every day get to explain why they’re excited about what they’re working on. Seeing that passion and excitement from someone you normally wouldn’t ever see is pretty cool.
Personally, I had a great time with Battleborn during the beta session, but watching these folks on stage talk about how they pour their heart and soul into a project is pretty inspiring. I was already leaning towards picking up a copy, but this panel really sold me on it. I always enjoy seeing the human element behind games, especially when you cut through all the buzz words and marketing campaigns.
If you want to see everything that went on, the official PAX twitch page captured everything, but broke it unto multiple parts for some reason. So here are each of the parts for your enjoyment. Part 1 (starts at the 4 hour 46 minute mark); Part 2; and Part 3. Enjoy!