Interview by: Darryl Linington and Brady Ruiters
Photographer: Jason Macfadyen
ITF Gaming had the opportunity to chat with Paul Crocker, lead narrative designer, Rocksteady Studios at rAge 2011. Paul Crocker and his team have been burning the midnight oil in order to bring one of the most anticipated titles to video game fans across the globe, Batman: Arkham City.
ITF Gaming: After putting Batman through what may be the longest night of his life in Arkham Asylum, where did the idea come from to move all of the inmates into an enclosed area inside Gotham City?
Crocker: As we were developing Batman: Arkham Asylum, we knew we wanted to put Batman into a city environment and a rooftop environment. We carefully crafted Batman: Arkham Asylum to fulfil all our design ambitions and make the Batman experience a very claustrophobic one. Once we had done that, we were confident in moving forward to the next stage, which was to make a bigger, better environment for Batman to play in and a great storyline to support it.
We now have Arkham City, a section of Gotham City that has a big wall wrapped around it. This is where all the bad guys have been contained, mainly because Arkham Asylum was the least secure place in the Batman universe. So the idea was to make a super prison that no one could escape from, however the problem with putting all the bad guys in one place is some like each other, some don’t like each other, so now there are turf wars, alliances and jealousy amongst the gangs. This brings a unique approach to Arkham City and places Batman in a different situation which is not expected.
ITF Gaming: Hugo Strange is one of the most underused villains in the Batman universe and it seems that Batman: Arkham City might just put him on the map. Why was he chosen as the main antagonist?
Crocker: We needed a villain who would fulfil the role of being in charge of this new prison system, some one who is a psychological expert and would fit into the environment perfectly. Hugo Strange was chosen as he is the perfect fit for the antagonist, he is an incredible psychiatrist and as we revealed in certain trailers, he has worked out the identity of Batman. Hugo Strange has this knowledge and it gives him a unique angle and personality. Hugo Strange is not super powered, nor is he a huge mutant, he is a doctor and he wants to be better than Batman. Once gamers have the opportunity to play the full title all the details will be revealed.
ITF Gaming: Arkham Asylum re-established Batman as the epic badass he is today. Why would you say Rocksteady’s interpretation of the Dark Knight is so successful?
Crocker: Truth be told, we are all fans of Batman, we all want to make the best Batman game that we can and in doing this from the beginning we were able to analyse and include key features into the game in the form of the detective elements, the gliding system, the combat and the predator elements. From a gameplay point of view these were the main elements that made the Batman games unique, original and successful. I talk about making Arkham City an authentic experience, and to make it as authentic as possible we brought back the original voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy. Kevin Conroy makes you feel like you are actually talking to Batman in real-life, and by voicing the character so well, he brings out the true Batman experience in this title.
ITF Gaming: Paul Dini was the writer of Arkham Asylum and also wrote the sequel. What was the pressure like on him and your team to bring out a game that topped Arkham Asylum?
Crocker: We did not want to let people down and we wanted to create the best Batman simulation we could. However this took time, effort and we constantly evaluated what we worked on, in order to create the next step in the ultimate Batman simulation.
ITF Gaming: Catwomen or Harley Quinn, who is hotter?
Crocker: Well the thing is… one will stab you in the face and the other will claw your eyes out, so it’s really hard to say as they both hot in their own way.
ITF Gaming: Batman Arkham City is looking great, is there anything you can tell us about the game that no one knows?
Crocker: We don’t want to spoil any of the surprises that gamers will experience while playing this title, otherwise the whole Batman experience is gone. However I will tell you that many secrets and twists await gamers who have the opportunity to experience Batman: Arkham City.
Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players soaring into Arkham City, the new maximum security “home” for all of Gotham City’s thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds.
Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight.