'What's Beyond The Blue Circle?': PUBG's Studio Director On The Future of PUBG
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Studio Director, Dave Curd, sat down with GameInformer for a video interview. In it, Curd talked about the new season, the challenges of developing original content during the pandemic, what they are doing to stay relevant in today’s market, and more. Curd was even kind enough to provide exclusive teasers for the next two updates.
Let’s go over the highlights of the interview and dive into the mind of PUBG’s Studio Director.
What Separates PUBG from its Competition?
At one point in the interview, the question of “what differentiates PUBG from the rest of the Battle Royale (BR) genre?” was posed. For Curd, the answer comes in the form of another question - “what’s beyond the Blue Circle?” Curd goes on to explain how all Battle Royales share the same core mechanics. One hundred players drop onto an island and fight to the death. A circle slowly closes in around the map, forcing players together - until only one remains. In Curd’s opinion, this may not always be the case.
Curd believes that there is “undiscovered country” when it comes to the “blue circle.” The PUBG Studio Director claims that there is untapped potential here and room for innovation. Battle Royales have always followed these simple rules — but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
Curd’s second factor that will separate Battle Royales from one another is artificial intelligence (AI). For example, the new Loot Trucks introduced in Season 8. Loot Trucks add flavour and spice up the standard gameplay. And they aren’t intrusive. Players can strategize around them or ignore them entirely if they’d like. Their presence makes every game more interesting as players decide whether to fight over the travelling loot or prey on the players willing to expose their positions. The addition of light PvE encounters into Battle Royale is the next big step for the genre, in Curd’s opinion.
With this in mind, the PUBG team has a multi-year plan that they hope will “shape where the genre is going” rather than keep up by copying others.
How Much Do Other Battle Royales Influence PUBG?
Diving deeper, one interviewer asked how much PUBG Corp pays attention to what other Battle Royale games are doing. Curd appears to give an honest answer, stating that it’s not healthy to worry about what others are doing. Curd goes on to say that it’s good for the BR genre to have competition. In Curd’s words, “you can’t out Call of Duty, Call of Duty.” It is vital for PUBG to stay in their lane, or they risk losing what makes PUBG special.
Going Further, Curd discussed the specific ways in which PUBG hopes to innovate while still sticking to their roots. In-game features that already represent this goal include Black Zones and Loot Trucks. Neither of these game mechanics exists in any other Battle Royale game. They are both unique to PUBG and fit the culture of the game perfectly. The development team continues to work on finding new ways to freshen up the game without copy and pasting features from their competitors.
So what is PUBG’s lane that Curd continues to reference? In PlayerUnknowns’ words, “PUBG is a serious world where funny stuff happens.” PUBG aims for hardcore realism, but won’t let that goal hinder the gameplay experience. Games are supposed to be fun after all.
During this discussion, the Fantasy Royale Limited-Time Mode (LTM) was brought up. For April Fools, PUBG released an LTM where players played as Barbarians, Paladins, and Wizards. Casting spells and swinging swords were far out of the realm of anything PUBG had ever offered. Still, the mode was met with high praise. The community loved the change of pace.
Curd admits that the team’s primary focus is on the core game. However, the developers are always looking to provide players with outside-the-box events and appeal to that less-serious side of the game. Curd uses Karakin as an example. Karakin is a small, compact map, unlike anything PUBG has ever seen before. Its size made PUBG feel like an entirely different game. The action was constant, and loot was plentiful.
Originally, Karakin was meant to be an LTM. The map was never supposed to be a permanent fixture. As it turns out, the community enjoyed the fast-paced map. It offered a new approach to the game, and as a result, Karakin remains in the game indefinitely.
PUBG and COVID-19
The novel Coronavirus that sent the world into a global pandemic has taken its toll on many industries, including game development. Curd claims that his team has been working from home dating back to mid-February.
Curd expressed how proud he is of PUBG Corp’s preparation. Curd said that everyone was on the same page, “we had pre-production locked in ... we understood the features, and we understood where we were going.” The Studio Director attributed Season 8’s smooth launch to how unified the team was. “People wanted to prove that work-from-home works.” Though, Curd does miss the camaraderie and feeling of togetherness only achievable through in-person meetings.
What’s to Come in Season 8?
Curd ended the interview by teasing Updates 8.2 and 8.3. The next update will bring with it a new machine gun and the heavily anticipated Decoy Grenades. Curd was more cryptic when it came to Update 8.3. The only information he could provide was that the update “really changes how the player interacts with the environment.”
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Images via PUBG Corporation