Things

GOLD­ENEYE 007’S KLOBB

EDGE - - CREATE - From Gold­enEye 007 Pub­lisher Nin­tendo De­vel­oper Rare Ori­gin UK De­but 1997

This in­fa­mously over­looked peashooter con­tains a de­sign se­cret

There is a cer­tain type of videogame en­thu­si­ast for whom the vir­tual gun is far more than a mere prop. He waits with grim an­tic­i­pa­tion for the list of which re­al­world weapons will fea­ture in the lat­est block­buster shooter, qui­etly fist-pump­ing the air when his favourites make the grade. Most play­ers, how­ever, view the specifics of dig­i­tal weapons with mild in­dif­fer­ence: in­side a game, they will quickly find their favourite means of punch­ing crim­son holes in their en­e­mies, but it’s un­likely they’ll re­mem­ber the weapon’s name or finer de­tails. Gold­enEye 007’ s Klobb is a tow­er­ing ex­cep­tion the rule, a gun so no­to­ri­ous that it even has its own ded­i­cated Face­book page, al­beit with the rather dis­parag­ing ti­tle ‘The Klobb is garbage in N64’s Gold­enEye’.

A sub­ma­chine gun that’s usu­ally found ly­ing about in the Rus­sia-set stages, the noisy-yeti­nac­cu­rate weapon is widely con­sid­ered to be the game’s weak­est, thanks to its slow rate of fire and capri­cious bul­let spray. De­spite its fic­tional name, the Klobb is ac­cu­rately based on the Sko­r­pion VZ/61 and was cho­sen by level de­signer Dun­can Bot­wood. “The Sko­r­pion is cheaply made in Cze­choslo­vakia, I be­lieve,” says Martin Hol­lis, the game’s pro­ducer and di­rec­tor. “There’s some kind of East­ern Euro­pean Mafia con­nec­tion too. There are var­i­ous flashy guns in the game, but the Klobb isn’t one of them. It’s not a B-list gun. You might say it’s a K-list gun…”

Con­sid­er­ing the weapon’s rep­u­ta­tion, very few char­ac­ters in Gold­enEye 007’ s main story carry a Klobb; in fact, the team con­sid­ered it too dis­ad­van­ta­geous for even the lowli­est grunts to wield. Hol­lis be­lieves its in­famy de­rives from the dis­par­ity be­tween its bark and its bite. “There are a few sce­nar­ios in which it’s pos­si­ble to pick up two Klobbs and dual-wield them,” he says. “When you do so, it makes an awe­some sound and feels fan­tas­tic. You think to yourself, ‘Oh, yeah! I’m the shit’. Un­til you ac­tu­ally try to shoot an en­emy with the gun, that is, and re­alise that it’s a bit like a noisy wa­ter pis­tol.”

The maths be­hind the Klobb’s flaws is straight­for­ward. “It’s both the weak­ness of the bul­lets [and] also the wide an­gle of fire,” Hol­lis ex­plains. Nev­er­the­less, the gun’s in­clu­sion was im­por­tant to the team, who viewed Gold­enEye’s weapons not as mere props but as char­ac­ters in and of them­selves. “Many of the guns were highly tuned, but the Klobb was not one of them. It was an unloved char­ac­ter – the runt of the group.”

The Klobb’s un­usual name was a re­ac­tion to one of Nin­tendo’s stip­u­la­tions. Re­leased in 1997 on N64, Gold­enEye 007 was one of the first games on the con­sole to fea­ture 3D firearms, most of which were mod­elled on real-world weapons such as the Walther PPK, the Kalash­nikov AK-47 and the FN P90. But Nin­tendo, ner­vous that people would draw a line be­tween arms man­u­fac­tur­ers and its game, in­sisted the team fic­tion­alise the guns’ ti­tles. “I was un­happy be­cause do­ing so would de­crease the re­al­ism,” says Hol­lis. Nev­er­the­less, the team re­placed the real gun names with fic­tional ones – some­times based on the ini­tials of the de­vel­op­ment staff.

“We looked at the names of weapons on the mar­ket at the time,” Hol­lis re­calls. “We found that some letters of the al­pha­bet are found more reg­u­larly in gun names than oth­ers. Some letters sound more ag­gres­sive and these ones tend to be picked by man­u­fac­tur­ers when nam­ing prod­ucts.”

Where pos­si­ble, the team made up new des­ig­na­tions in­cor­po­rat­ing these letters. “For ex­am­ple, we had the DD44 Dos­tovei, which was named af­ter David Doak,” Hol­lis says. “The tra­di­tion even car­ried into fol­low-up Per­fect Dark… But the Klobb was named af­ter Ken Lobb, who was our Nin­tendo-side pro­ducer and con­tact.”

De­spite the stats, this wasn’t a dig at the Nin­tendo pro­ducer, with whom Hol­lis en­joyed work­ing. “I do slightly re­gret nam­ing such a poor weapon af­ter him, since I am tremen­dously fond

“Many of the guns were highly tuned, but the Klobb was not one of them. It was an unloved char­ac­ter”

of the man. He is as­ton­ish­ingly en­thu­si­as­tic about games, even af­ter years of work­ing in the in­dus­try. It’s a lit­tle un­fair that we named such a use­less weapon af­ter him. And for that I am sorry.”

There is, how­ever, one sce­nario in which the Klobb’s weak­nesses are trans­formed into strengths. One of the bonus mul­ti­player modes, dubbed Li­cense To Kill, sees each player bur­dened with a hand­i­cap of -100 points to their health. In this setup, even a graze from a bul­let is usu­ally lethal. “Dual-wielded Klobbs are as­ton­ish­ingly ef­fec­tive in Li­cense To Kill mode,” Hol­lis says. “It’s a fast­paced mul­ti­player game in which there’s not a great deal of time to line up shots with any ac­cu­racy. It’s more like ‘spray and pray’, and the Klobb is ideally suited to this style. You can en­ter a room and let loose with the weapons; the some­what ran­dom spread of bul­lets makes the gun come into its own.”

Seven­teen years af­ter Gold­enEye 007’ s de­but, the vir­tual gun re­mains the cen­tral tool in the ar­se­nal of both de­signer and player. The gun suits the 3D videogame like noth­ing else. With it, play­ers have the abil­ity to touch ob­jects both near and far in a 3D world, ex­tend­ing their reach into the screen. But af­ter years of striv­ing to cre­ate the per­fect vir­tual weapon, de­sign­ers are be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the power of im­per­fec­tion, not just in adding re­al­ism to a game, but also in adding valu­able un­pre­dictabil­ity, which can lead to mem­o­rable mo­ments. It’s a les­son the Klobb ex­em­pli­fied at the very start, and one whose value we’re only now com­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate.

The Klobb has its roots in the Sko­r­pion, a sub­ma­chine gun with a fold­ing stock that was made to per­form bet­ter than a pis­tol but to fill a sim­i­lar role

Klobbs are wildly in­ac­cu­rate and their weak bul­lets are no match for agents in body ar­mour. They can at least be dual-wielded

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