Interviews// Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: Kevin Umbricht, Associate Producer

Posted 8 Jun 2010 18:00 by
SPOnG: You mentioned during the presentation that the Hobgoblin in 2099 has been written specifically for the game. Aside from the concept of having four universes meeting in one story, how much of the content is stuff that's been made especially for Shattered Dimensions?

Kevin Umbricht: We try to stick as close to the source material as possible. There aren't a lot of Noir comics out ? there's like two series and eight issues to pull stuff from, so we had a real opportunity to invent a lot of new stuff and tailor it to the main gameplay experience. But for the Amazing universe, we pretty much just pulled everything straight from the comics ? a few plot lines, a lot of characters that you've seen before.

Then with 2099, a lot of people didn't read that series ? it was a niche 1990s series that Marvel tried to reboot last year, so again that was an opportunity for us to expand upon these universes and create something fresh and exciting.

SPOnG: How did you go about picking each universe to represent in Shattered Dimensions?

Kevin Umbricht: Well we decided to create a concept of all of these different dimensions and alternate universes for Spider-Man ? it was essentially a research project for us, going through every alternate series that came out and then choosing the four that not only had unique and interesting gameplay elements that we could create, but also ones that were varied enough from each other.

We didn't want to have a situation where two universes felt kind of the same, so different villains and different visual styles helped with our choices there. We really tried to make each one of them their own experience within the same game.

SPOnG: I would imagine it was difficult to pick just four out of that pile of series and spinoffs?

Kevin Umbricht: There's like, hundreds of them, yeah.

SPOnG: Did you play with one or two of them that eventually didn't end up making the cut?

Kevin Umbricht: In the concept stage, yes. I can't say what ones though (laughs), because we haven't announced the last one. I don't want to eliminate any possibilities.

SPOnG: Did the success of Batman: Arkham Asylum inspire you at all when it came to the Noir gameplay? There seems to be some similarities in terms of style and tone there.

Kevin Umbricht: I think Arkham is important just for the superhero genre in general. The design and gameplay really elevated the game and made it a very accessible, hardcore comic game to everybody. So that was something to look at, certainly. As far as Noir was concerned, we mostly looked at the comics themselves and how Peter Parker acted as Spider-Man there. The comics themselves have a darker, gritter tone, so we wanted to capture all of that. We looked mainly to that as source material.

SPOnG: When it comes to the stealth sections of the Noir universe, do you have any kind of system in place that will let you know whether you're able to be detected, or are you relying on complete visual cues? I only ask this because I notice there's not really much of a HUD to tell you these things.

Kevin Umbricht: The team are currently working on a few ideas to make it very clear for you know when you're noticeable and when you're not. They're playing with different 'desaturation' tools and alarms going off and your character turning red... These are all works in progress right now, but there will definitely be some sort of visual cue to let you know you've broken your stealth.

SPOnG: We've seen a few varied locations already, but will we see Spider-Man slinging his way in an open world in New York City at all?

Kevin Umbricht: There won't be an open world in this game, but there will be some levels that will take place in New York City. One of the benefits of not having an open world game is that we can take Spider-Man to other places and that was a lot more fun for the developers than trying to figure where he can reasonably go in this big expansive hub. When you try and consider that, you realise that Spider-Man can't go near water or do his thing because there's nothing to swing to.

But the way we've done it is we've crafted the locations around the villains. In each level you will encounter the villain for the entire time ? it's not a case of fighting a few goons first and then getting into a boss battle. Each level has an individual plotline, almost like it is its own issue of the Spider-Man comics.

SPOnG: Are you worried that this direction will stop players from simply messing around in an open world and slinging about as Spider-Man? In games like Grand Theft Auto, some of the beauty is in just going around, not doing any missions and causing mayhem. In a similar way, a lot of people may just want to fantasise about 'being Spider-Man' and swing around New York City without a care.

Kevin Umbricht: Well, we're not taking that element away from players. Even though it's a much more focused, linear design of the level, you still have those core powers. So you can still whip around, swing through back and forth, there's a lot of collectibles and areas to explore. You can find lots of nooks and crannies within levels that reward players for simply being Spider-Man.

SPOnG: You mentioned earlier that there was a lot of original content being made for the Noir and 2099 universes, and not so much for the Amazing one. How did you go about picking which story arcs and 'issues', so to speak, to use for the design of the Amazing levels?

Kevin Umbricht: The developer had a real concise vision of what they wanted to do with the Amazing Spider-Man series, and they picked the villains that would work best in that universe and so it was a simple case of using the stories that came with them. It wasn't about any specific storyline really, as it was about the potential interaction Spider-Man could have with a particular villain.

A few of the stories are of our own creation as well. There's little nods to the hardcore fan who's going to remember something from a particular issue that we've referenced in a level. But, at the same time, it's a totally original game ? it's a new experience for the hardcore fan as well as the casual fan.
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b3rb3r_sk1nkz 17 Aug 2010 13:14
Hey I'm just wondering if when you not doing these missions can you run around the city and do what ever you want instead of doing missions???
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