In fact, playing the game for an extended period of time is guaranteed to draw one conclusion; ĎItís a bit like Diablo II, isnít it?í Well, itís no coincidence - former Blizzard creative David Brevik is the mastermind behind Marvel Heroes, and it is for all intents and purposes the spiritual successor to the action RPG series.
With Marvel Heroes, Brevik wants to evolve the Diablo gameplay in the way heís always dreamed of - enhancements to dungeon questing, crafting improvements, and network party play. He also believes that free-to-play is a legitimate business model that can attract a legion of hardcore gamers. I sat down with him to find out more.
David Brevik: No, theyíve been very open to it. Marvelís been really wonderful to work with, actually. We get along very well, and I think that theyíve given us a lot of freedom with the license. In a lot of ways, theyíve let us design the game that we want to design.
At the same time, weíve been very respectful of the IP. Weíre all very big fans, so I think a lot of the combativeness was avoided simply because we havenít designed things that would contradict the license. Theyíve been very supportive about all our decisions so far, so itís been very smooth.
David Brevik: Yeah, thatís really whatís enabled us to make the kind of game that I think will be successful in order for IP games to be successful. [License holders] have to realise that they have to give up a little bit of the... stiffness associated with their IP, right?
Theyíve got to loosen up and see that weíre trying to create a game first - a game that uses their IP in a positive way. As long as they understand that, I think they can work with a developer to make something great. Something thatís not only a great gaming experience, but also reflects well on the IP.
David Brevik: Yes, absolutely. I think that free-to-play can be a thinly veiled disguise, equating to Ďpay-for-powerí and things like that. We wanted to avoid that... but really, thereís nothing I can say or do [to prove that] until the gameís released.
Once people realise that this is truly a very generous free-to-play game, in which you can enjoy all the content straight off, then theyíll say I was true to my word. I mean, this philosophy is the ideal version of what I think a free-to-play game should be like.
David Brevik: I havenít worked on a free to play game before, no. In a lot of ways, itís been liberating. Exciting. Itís something I wanted to do for a long time. Through my success at Blizzard, we had a lot of hits in Asia... and Iíd remember traveling over there for a variety of reasons, and seeing how the free-to-play market evolved. It grew to be very successful.
I knew that someday that energy was going to make its way to the States and Europe. That trend was going to continue. So yeah, Iíve wanted to do this for a long time, and I think that this is really good timing. There are other examples of what I consider to be pretty high quality free-to-play games, such as League of Legends, that is really pushing the boundaries to what a great free-to-play hardcore game can be.
We hope that weíve designed something that will fall into that same category. Thereís lots of depth in Marvel Heroes... lots of things that I think will keep people excited, and appeal to hardcore gamers for a long time.
David Brevik: I think that thereís room for all sorts of business models... but I definitely feel that this is a really positive way to garner a big audience. If youíre giving away a product for free, people donít really have anything to lose. Except maybe a little bit of time downloading.
So giving the product away gives you access to a larger audience, will hopefully allow you to create a large community. I donít really mind [the possibility] that most people will never pay any money. I just want people in the game, playing together and having fun. Thatís my number one goal.
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