The Coin-Op: The Brink problem

The most rampant problem among gamers is Occam’s Razor.  If you’ve never heard of this principle, it is that the simplest explanation is probably the best.  This is a problem because it means we can’t get to the real root of something being wrong, and in the case of Brink that’s a big problem.
When Splash Damage’s project Brink failed miserably, many said it was because it was a stylized, class-based, first-person shooter, and to do that is to call out Team Fortress 2. For a little British Studio who has only ever before made two poor translations of Id Software games, challenging it is like throwing a baby into a ring with a bear that has a black belt in bear karate.

This was an easy explanation (and the one most people went with) until we realized that the problem was actually a combination of horrific game design and everything possible being wrong with the multiplayer system.

The first problem was the bad game design.  That was the SMART movement system (that is, Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain).  This was much touted on the box and in every press release they ever did. The basis of the system is that you can parkour your way through anything by changing your viewpoint.

When I first heard this I had visions of sliding under tables to give myself cover, rising back up and vaulting over a fence while firing my weapon. It was the closest I would ever get to being the protagonist in Equilibrium (look it up).  However, the system functioned as a “go forward” button, which raised the question of why I would ever not use it since you could fire while sliding and vaulting and, even better, it never ran out of gas.
In addition to this, the game was multiplayer.  I don’t say that like multiplayer is a bad thing; I say that having a multiplayer game for $60 is bad.  Yes, you could play the multiplayer maps single player like it was a campaign, but be honest, it’s not.  It was a thinly veiled attempt at only multiplayer that failed miserably.  And it did so because Splash Damage figured that players would supply everything.  They would supply the enemies, so Splash Damage didn’t even have to attempt to build AI that would move when being shot at.
I would freely like to argue that the reason that Team Fortress 2 worked so well with so much less content is that it had solid gameplay, varied character classes and sprawling maps, as well as the fact that when it was first sold it also came with Half-Life, Half-Life 2 Episode 1, Half-Life 2 Episode 2 and Portal.  All of these were games classically considered to be some of the best ever; Half-Life 2 getting a score of 96 on Metacritic as the highest rated game in the entirety of Metacritic which averages out general reviews.  Team Fortress 2 is also now free to play over Valve’s software sharing community Steam.
See, a strong game needs singleplayer to be worth the cost of $60, and Brink didn’t have that.  I’ll admit it was arguably fun smashing through blockades while sliding under enemy fire, and I had some pretty intense moments making mad dashes to vault into cover when a bomb exploded, but it was undermined by the fact that that was pretty much it. There was nothing else left in the game but sliding under enemy fire and vaulting to cover from a bomb. Of course, there is a difference between substance and variety but we’ll have to wait to get into that because I’m fast running out of space with which to complain.
I exit on this statement to conclude — Brink’s example must be noted; it must be seen as a warning for the paths that we walk down. All I can say is think before you program.