Ever walk into a room and get stuck on a table? No? How about in a video game? If so, Paul Wedgwood has a solution for you.

Yesterday, I posted about the greatest feeling in video games as determined by Splash Damage's Paul Wedgwood. I explained how he hopes his studio's next game, the team-based first-person shooter Brink will deliver more of it.

But when I interviewed Wedgwood at QuakeCon 2009 last week, he also told me about something that bugs him.

We were sitting at the far end of a hotel meeting room in Dallas that contained a long table surrounded by chairs. Wedgwood got out of his chair and approached the furniture to explain what I'd call the Table Problem.

"If I walk up to a table and the level-designer made it an inch higher than I'm able to jump, that's it, I can't get over the table," he said. He and I sized up the table he was standing near. It wasn't that tall.

"So even though I'm 200 pounds â€” maybe 210 and somewhat chubby â€” I can vault that table if I ran at it right now and get across that table," he said. I agreed with him, but hoped he wouldn't try it. There wasn't much room for a running start, and who knows how much weight a hotel table can support.

"Walking into this room, I know to avoid the tables and chairs," he said, reasonably. "I don't get stuck on geometry. But in a shooter, I can't see my feet. Even if I rendered the whole model, I can't see my feet in this view I'm using." As a result, people get stuck bumping into things in shooters that they'd never walk into in real life.

Well, Wedgwood first shared what the old solution has been: "What level designers do to get around this is having boardrooms that don't have furniture in them. In multiplayer games you have to have super-smooth clipped routes."

And if there's something to climb, maybe a wall or a table that's in the room to vault, a game programmer inserts what Wedgwood called an "entity," a programming instruction that produces a signal to players that that given wall or table can be clambered over. "If he forgets to put an entity there â€” or if the designer didn't want you to [climb] â€” you suddenly have an invisible barrier. And, bam, your immersion's gone. You're out of the game because you find that so frustrating. Why can't I climb up that wall, because the icon shows up, but not that one? Worse still: When you hit the button, you enter a canned animation until you get to the top. And that's it, done."

Wedgwood was exercised about this and described to me what Brink would do different. "We wanted a system that was real-time, dynamic, blended animations, full trace of the geometry around you, not faked, not clutched. In other words, if I decided that I'm going to mantle up that wall, if it's a height I could climb or reasonably jump to, I can, irrespective of what a level designer wants. If it's there, I need to be able to climb it. And, as I'm climbing it, as my first hand comes free, I want to be able to start shooting. As my second hand comes free, I want to be able to start re-loading. If I want to stop and take my finger off the button, I want to drop back down to the floor. If, as I'm dropping I hit jump, I want to kick away from the wall. It must be a completely dynamic, fluid system. It's not on auto-pilot, but it is smart, which is handy because it stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain [laughs]."

Credit Bethesda marketing for the acronym, he noted.

And he continued with what sounded like a furthering of the freedom of movement given to first-person gamers in last year's Mirror's Edge: