In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! The Moon Is Basically Australia

In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! The Moon Is Basically Australia

It was just another day. Another perfectly regular step in development. This is how video games are made.

In an office in Canberra 2K Australia were hard at work. They had been given the task of working on a new Borderlands game. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The game was at a difficult stage in development. It wasn’t quite ready for professional voice actors to come in and provide final voiceovers, but some sort of audio was required. No problem: the folks at 2k Australia did what all teams all over the world have been doing since the dawn of development: they used their own voices as placeholders.

Only one problem. Because the game was being developed in Canberra most of the team making The Pre-Sequel were — surprise surprise — Australian. That wouldn’t normally be a problem but Borderlands — it’s sort of distinctively American, right? Sci-fi apple pie, a post-modern parody in the western tradition.

The solution was relatively simple: the team made do. They went into the recording booth, did their very best American accents and sent the resulting build to Gearbox HQ in Texas for inspection. Basically they tried really hard to not be Australian.

A couple of days later a response from Gearbox:

“We love it. We love that you’ve decided that the moon is Australia.”

So officially, from that moment onwards, Pandora’s moon, where Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is set, basically became Australia. It was an accident. A terrible accident. The team at 2k Australia was trying really hard to not be Australian, but that didn’t work out. Australia was basically leaking out of the pores of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. It couldn’t be stopped.

Matt Armstrong is the Franchise Director of Borderlands. He basically guides the direction of the Borderlands ‘brand’.

“The game had all this Australian slang, these australian accents,” he remembers. “2K Australia was like, we thought we got rid of that stuff. We were like, no: we have no idea what you’re talking about.”

He had no idea what the characters were talking about. And he loved it.

From the very start of development, Matt had encouraged the team at 2K Australia to make Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel their own, to not worry about expectations. When Gearbox asked the team to create a brand new game in within its universe, they wanted something fresh, something completely different.

And it wasn’t necessarily that 2K Australia was struggling, more that this was new territory. Games development is by its nature a collaborative exercise, but 2K was used to working on titles like BioShock, games driven by a singular vision.

“We told them right when we started: this is a game where we want you to bring yourself into it,” says Matt. “Make it yours, infect it with yourselves. At first they were reluctant, but we were like no no no! Do it! You’re gonna have fun.”

The moon is Australia. Australia is the moon. Something clicked.

From that point on, 2K Australia had no problems making Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel their own.

“We kinda pushed it a bit,” admits Tony Lawrence, 2K Australia’s General Manager. “It’s more the vernacular of a Crocodile Dundee, full on Australia.”

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has a character called Red Belly, rhyming slang for Ned Kelly. That gives you an idea of what the team is shooting for here. Pandora’s moon is like an alternate, sci-fi space parody of your worst Australian nightmare.

“There were all these random words that no-one in the US department understood,” says Matt.

That was seen as a good thing.

How was the Australian version of Pandora’s moon defined during development?

“Dangerous inhabitants, friendly people,” says Matt.

In short, Pandora’s moon is almost like an American’s vision of Australia, made by Australians living in Australia.

“It feels like an adventure to some faraway, dangerous place,” explains Matt. “It needs to feel like you’re heading to a new culture or a new world, and it also sort of has to feel like you’re going on holiday.”

Is it the most Australian game ever made? Not quite, says Matt. He’s a fan of many games developed in Australia: “You guys make a lot of good games.”

“But it’s definitely the most Australian Borderlands game ever made!”


  • You know what? If in the future we ever colonise another planet and when we’re going to divide the place up, I expect Australians to all vote for the moon.

  • Australian accents, even real ones, usually kill things for me as I’ve never found they lend themselves well to media, so I’m hoping this one is the exception for me as the trailer looks amazing!

    • The same goes for an American accent to Australians as well Lucas, although normally if an accent is bothering you while playing a game or watching a movie, then that media is obviously not engaging you enough.

  • I am going to be incredibly disappointed if no one wants to be struck flamin’ roan, or calls for the flamin’ crows to be stoned.

    • Did you see the ‘Boganella’ gun on Good Game last night? That’s what I’m going to be trying to find quick bloody smart!

  • I didn’t want this game originally since I’m quite burnt out on borderlands. But knowing it’s now made by the folks at Canberra… Haha the inner economist in me is screaming at these irrational thought processes

  • I’m sure there will be a lot of hate for the aussie accent – but like the criticism of Peter Capadis scottish Dr who accent, the americans need to be exposed to the way other countries speak. Even ‘The Castle’ was dubbed into ‘Murican in the US

  • Reminds me of Farscape. I always loved the idea that the universe was generally full of Australians 🙂

    • Well apparently you can’t go many places in the world without bumping into an Aussie tourist or ex-pat… who’s to say space wouldn’t be the same? 🙂

  • Gotta say, one of my favorite things about Path of Exile was the accents.
    Not a single American or UK accent to be found, just kiwi and aussie. It gave the game and world a very different feel and vibe. Was great.

  • Dammit, Mark. Stop talking about games I almost want to buy and pushing me over the edge.

  • Guess us Aussies have to suck it up and wait longer than everyone else. Such a shame considering this was developed by an Aussie company.

    • Actually not as bad as most releases. It’s coming out on thursday (the 16th) which is technically only about a day and a half or so after US! 😀

  • No it wasnt a surprise accident, the game was developed by 2k Australia who stated in there eb expo interview that it was intentional

  • Just starting playing this, it’s gonna be great. I had to go with Claptrap, because I seem to be the only one in the world that likes him. They have a pretty funny message when you go to select him 🙂

  • I’m probably going to be considered “unAustralian” because I hated the accents in this game. The whole “Crocodile Dundee” accent thing was amusing and surprising at first, but the more I watched of it (was watching Boogie2988/Francis stream it) the more grating it was to my ears… Then there is Boganella, aka the bogan gun, which sounds like the one female white Australian in anything Paulie French makes (Fat Pizza, Bogan Hunters, Housos, etc) and that just caused my ears to bleed.

    I just got really annoyed that the only way we can market Australians internationally is to go into the stereotypes that the world sees us as. Isn’t it bad enough that we have a bunch of idiot backpackers traveling the world drinking to excess and getting into fights and other trouble to brings our countries reputation down? Now we’re showing some of the worst of our culture in a video game which will be sold to millions worldwide.

    I want to support this as a Borderlands fan and a supporter of local developers, but I can’t get past the stereotyping in this game. It’s annoying and makes us all look like we never exited the 1980s

    • I agree @mase – the whole Aussie thing just seems so dated. Not all of us resemble Big Brother housemates. I’m sure a lot of people will find it amusing but compared to the sardonic wit of Handsome Jack or the nuanced pathos of Mordecai and his pet in the last game, I can’t help but feel this will come up short.

  • Saw the Bogun (something the seppos won’t get) & laughed my arse off over it.

    So very very occa.

  • the bogan gun that bajo from good game came across was hilarious. this game looks like it will be great. and while i am generally not a fan of hearing an aussie accent in movies or anything (just because they don’t seem genuine when surrounded with all the american accents) i’m really looking forward to it, and hope players around the world will embrace it just the same.

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