VIDEO GAMES: Producer Phil Ring Talks LEGO BATMAN 3: BEYOND GOTHAM
In a fairly lengthy interview with XboxAchievements, the producer discusses the relevance of the title 'Beyond Gotham', the importance of consumer feedback, the addition of new characters and gameplay mechanics, and the challenge of producing fresh material after previous LEGO installments.
On creating something fresh and exciting and how the title defines the game:
We always look at what we're trying to do and we always want to push new things, so we want it to feel fresh for people; something they've never played before. What's great for us is that we actually get two ways to do that. We get to see what LEGO is doing and what they're creating and think what we can do to push things from a LEGO perspective, but then Batman and the DC Universe is so rich that we've barely scratched the surface in the first two games. So we've got this huge amount of content that we get to include, so we include some brilliant characters and some brilliant locations, and then also as the team do a fantastic job in pushing the tech forward, we look at what we can do that we couldn't have done in the previous games. What can we do that's new, where can we go, what kind of things can we see? That's really one of the driving factors behind the fact it's called LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. We're going Beyond Gotham, we're going into space, we want to show that side of what we can do with a LEGO title.
On how feedback from gamers affects the finished product:
The team do lots of testing and lots of trying new things to see what we can doto make it feel different. We're always very aware that we want to have something that's going to feel new, and one of the ways we do that is having loads offamilies in the office and loads of kids. We want to make sure kids are playing it who've played the previous LEGO games and are still excited and surprised by what they can do and what they can see. We're always trying topush things within not just the story but also the mechanics and what's new. And also refining, making sure that anything we've had in previous games, we're listening to feedback from consumers; what did they like, what didn't they like, and how can we make it better?
On the exchange of ideas for LEGO games:
It's great for us, because we have all of the different departments throwing stuff around and constantly coming up with ideas, even when it comes to something as simple as jokes. When we're writing the script we'll have the main part for all of the cut-scenes and there's all of the in-game dialogue – people talking in levels – so if someone comes up with an idea for a line they think might be funny or something they want to see because they're a DC fan, they can throw the idea in. If we think it's something good, fantastic or whatever, then yes, we'll throw that in and include that. And that's what's brilliant for us is that's what happens internally within TT, but it also happens with DC and with LEGO, so we're always in constant communication with them and we always want to make sure that we are a LEGO Batman game, so it needs to be authentic and faithful to the DC Universe. They'll throw in ideas, like did we consider this character or that character, and we'll say “yes, that's fantastic, brilliant; we'll add them, put them here, this one can be a boss encounter, or we'll add them to the roster and make the best out of all the things that are accessible to us.
On rebooting imposing characters into 'Big Figs' and using the same mechanic for regular ones:
The big figs do make a return, and we have things like Cyborg being able to transform into a bigger version of himself – kind of a big fig form that enables him to encounter bigger enemies. We've got a few different bits and pieces that we unfortunately can't go into too much detail on at the moment, but we're trying to do some interesting things with some of the stuff that exists within the LEGO world, and there are some really cool things we can do. We returned to some of the characters, so like Killer Croc (at the point we made LEGO Batman), big figs weren't a thing; they didn't exist. Now that we've got that ability, we decided to revisit some of these characters and do new versions of them, so we've got a new version of Killer Croc and you may have noticed Solomon Grundy as well, who we've also made a big fig. They really fit in with the characters themselves and that's who they are within these worlds. There'll be other characters we're revisiting to make into big figs, and it also means we get to do characters that we previously might not have done before, so we've added a whole bunch of new ones.
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