At a recent press event in San Francisco, I sat down with David Brevik, President and CEO of Gazillion Entertainment, to scope out the influence of Diablo vs. the Marvel Universe and whether we'll see the PvP fans are hoping for. Massively: So how many heroes are you planning to have on release?
David Brevik: I think the plan is about 22 or so. You can think of them each as its own character class, very similar to how I've made games in the past. With Diablo II, we had five and then seven character classes. This is the same thing, only this time we are starting with over 20 -- much more ambitious than last time.
The game feels like a superhero's Diablo. Was this your goal with Marvel Heroes?
It probably feels that way simply because that is how I make games. It comes from a nature of who is involved on the project. I have a bunch of programmers who helped with the making of Diablo I and II. We're making the game in the same way and with the same philosophy. Lots of the control lessons we learned from making those games are being applied to Marvel Heroes.
Can long-time comic book fans expect any Easter eggs or shout-outs to the comic stories?
It is something that we are striving for. We want some cross-reference from the comics and movies to be in the game. It won't be to the level of games like Defiance with its TV show, but we definitely have some. We have references to the comics and costumes, which are easy ones for us, from all across the Marvel Universe, even some stuff from the Marvel Now comics happening right now. We'd even like to have it go the other direction such that the game has some influence on future comics. It is definitely a goal to stay as true as we can to the Marvel Universe.
Each one of the chapters has its own little storyline associated with it. It's not specifically one character but more like a group of characters. There are a lot of X-Men themed stories that you'll play out of the X mansion, and each storyline pays homage to the stories within the Marvel universe. We've brought characters and famous situations and stories from the past, even the cover of Fantastic 4 number 1 with Giganto busting out of the ground. That's a side event in one of the zones you played (at the press event).
Brian Michael Bendis, the game's lead writer, mentioned the game being a door into the Marvel world. How will the game help players unfamiliar with the comics get to know the heroes?
A pretty good example is when you're playing against Kingpin and he drops a character token to unlock Rocket Raccoon. You -- and the majority of players -- may not know much about him. A year from now, he'll become more famous after the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. By playing the character, you'll get to know more about him and his powers; our goal is to inspire you to want to know more about the character. We hope that the game exposes players to characters with fantastic stories of their own and that they'll want to explore some of the Marvel IP that they haven't been exposed to yet.
Zone events, like the Green Goblin, seem to be a great way to pull groups of players together. Will we see more of these throughout the game?
Yes. There are lots of different type of events, not just kill-the-boss like the Green Goblin event. We have sentinel attacks that drop 10 sentinels at different locations, so small groups will have to spread out to kill them. We have a riot event in which you have to help the police to stop the chaos, and there's a burning building event in which you fight arsonists and save civilians. There is a more complex invasion where players have to clear a few groups, and it springs Giganto out of the ground. This event opens up a whole new area in which players have to chase him down the hole in the ground. We've created a variety of these things, and we want to continue adding more. We're excited about them because it's really what separates us as an action RPG. It's a totally different experience that has players working together dynamically.
We're doing our best. There will be limitations, obviously. The advantages of an isometric game -- the ease of controls and the broad audience that can jump into the game without an instruction manual -- those are great parts of making an isometric game. The disadvantage is that it isn't full 3-D, so we can't reference that flight perfectly. Characters can fly; the skill helps players skip over enemies or zones. We're doing our best to capture the spirit of flight without making a game with a full-fledged go-anywhere flight.
PvP. Is it going to happen?
Sounds fun, doesn't it?
Will it involve dueling?
I can't say much, but it does sound like a lot of fun.
So what's your favorite character in Marvel Heroes?
Hmm. That's like asking 'Who are your favorite children?' It changes all the time, but right now I enjoy playing Hulk. I love all the destruction he can do by throwing cars and smashing walls. I feel like the Hulk rampaging through and leaving a path of destruction. He is my favorite right now, but come back tomorrow and it will be something new.
Thanks again for your time.
When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!