Interview with Billy Bramer

Hey Stormchasers! This week I caught up with Fortnite's Lead Gameplay Programmer Billy Bramer to chat about what it takes to make Fortnite a one-of-a-kind building experience and what players can look forward to in the Alpha. Check it out:

Tell us about your role on the Fortnite team.

As a lead gameplay programmer, I fill a bit of a hybrid role on the Fortnite team. Some of my time is spent doing manager-type things, but usually I’m writing code for the game. I work with the rest of the team to create new features, fix bugs (it worked on my machine, I swear!), and generally do whatever I can to try to make Fortnite awesome.

For specifics, I’ve spent a lot of time working on Fortnite’s fort-building system and most recently have been fiddling around with prototypes of player-vs.-player support, because sometimes friends just have to bash friends with sticks.

What excites you most about working on Fortnite?

All of the possibilities! Fortnite really inspires a lot of creative and exciting ideas for what could fit into the game now and in the future. I’ve never been on a team before that was bursting with so many imaginative ideas, all the time. You can walk into any random room, ask what new thing they’re most looking forward to, and get a different answer from every person. It’s really great. 

What style of Fortnite player are you and why is that your favorite way to play? (building-focused, gathering, combat, etc?)

I’m all about that base! I usually play more building-focused with a splash of combat thrown in, as I like to be creative while stomping my enemies. I try to emphasize winning while simultaneously maintaining a stylish fort, because, let’s be honest, if you win without perfectly laid-out balconies and a crow’s nest, have you truly won at all?

What is something you’re most proud of adding to the game?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. For now, I’d probably say the fort-building system. I had a great time working very closely with design and art to iterate on multiple ways to let players build the huge fortresses of their dreams. It’s always been a really tricky problem, trying to strike the balance between something that is fast and easy to use while still allowing people to make their base all fancy-like. I like the solution we arrived at so far (always can make more improvements!) and I’m eager to see what players think about it.

In the coming months, fans will get a chance to play Fortnite for the first time in our Alpha.  What are you most looking forward to about the start of the Alpha and what do you hope that fans will experience?

I think I’m most looking forward to two things: 1.) finding out how players in the wild actually play Fortnite, and 2.) finding out all of the crazy awesome ideas the players dream up. Like I said, the team has tons of ideas already, but I know once a larger audience actually gets to play, they’re all going to come up with things the dev team has never even thought of, both with what’s in the game already and what they’d like to see in the future. We all have our ideas of what makes the best base (HUNDREDS OF BALCONIES!) or what would be the next great addition (MORE BALCONIES! BALCONIES WITH DECORATIVE BACON WREATHS!), and I can’t wait for the players to prove us all wrong and blow our minds.

Really I just hope everyone in the alpha has a great time and chats with us about what they love (the balconies, obviously), hate, and what they really, really want to see. Fortnite is going to change and get even better from feedback over time and this is phase one!

Tell us about one of the craziest experiences you’ve had in a Fortnite playtest?

I’m assuming you mean crazy as in “crazy things that happened in the game” and not “crazy as in the playtest group broke into impromptu 80s karaoke,” which might have also happened … repeatedly. My favorite one is still probably from a group of visitors I was watching. They made this really insane looking base with pyramid shapes and gigantic pillars all around the outside. They then constructed this elaborate placement of player movement traps to launch themselves horizontally and vertically in just such a way that they could easily fly around to every portion of the base just by running toward a nearby trap. What originally looked like a totally unorganized base ended up being this amazingly defensible structure once combat started. The players were constantly zipping around like bees around a bee-hive, going pillar-to-pillar, covering all corners. It was really neat!

Thank you to Billy for taking the time to answer some of our questions. If you'd like to know more about what Billy's working on or just say hello feel free to follow him on Twitter at @EpicIrascible.

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