How faithful is the next Spider-Man?

TO: The Spider-Man featured in Web of Shadows is most closely based on what you would describe as classic Spider-Man, although we have obviously taken some liberties with the source material to suit the game we wanted to make; the ability to switch between Black and Red suits is one such example.

The choice was mostly a pragmatic one. The classic Spider-Man lineage is thelongest running and richest of the options and provided us with the most robust jumping off point for our story and provided us with the most flexible basis forthe game we wanted to make with the least number of “continuity constraints.”

GR: Spider-Man’s web shooters? Organic or mechanical?

TO: Spider-Man’s web shooters are organic and unlimited in their supply. Swinging, zipping, fighting the bad guys and saving all of New York (and possibly the rest of the world) are the main areas of focus in Web of Shadows; not inventory management.

GR: Are current events in the Marvel universe carried over? Any mention of Civil War, superhero registration or Secret Invasion?

TO: There is no mention of the Civil War or Secret Invasion story arcs in Web of Shadows.

GR: Peter Parker is single in the current Marvel universe. Is Mary Jane a part of Web of Shadows?

TO: Mary Jane does indeed appear a number of times in Web of Shadows and we did not include the events in the Brand New Day storyline.

GR: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance didn’t make any distinction between the regular Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe - you’d see Ultimate Thor fighting with regular Spider-Man and so on. Will you be sticking to one universe here?

TO: The character designs and costumes within Web of Shadows are mostly based on the regular Marvel Universe - as the previously published screens and videos of Spider-Man, Wolverine and Luke Cage can attest to. For some characters that did not have singular, iconic costumes, our artists did take some liberties to make them fit within our game. The Vulture is a good example of this custom direction.

I’d love to say that we had a particularly systematic method for making the choices between which characters and which versions to include, but in truth, it was a big, messy process that took a long time to settle on. Everyone had their own lists of favorite characters to include and cool encounters to use them in. We sifted through the ideas, cut some characters that didn’t quite fit, sorted which ones we liked the most and argued endlessly. People from all parties ... including Shaba, Treyarch, Activision and even Marvel helped to refine our roster.

GR: Can the player unlock alternate costumes / versions? One of our interns is dying for a ‘70s Power Man edition of Luke Cage, with afro and open collar...

TO: There are some entertaining references made to Luke Cage’s classic Power Man outfit, but it is not available in Web of Shadows.

For Spider-Man specifically, a lot of our game design revolves around the duality of and choice between the black suit and the classic red-and-blue suit. As a result, only these two costumes are available for Spider-Man.

GR: As players gravitate more towards the red or black suit Spider-Man, how will the interaction with the other characters change?

TO: As the game goes on, Spidey encounters a variety of superheroes and villains, and ends up duking it out with most of them in one way or another. Depending on which suit the player uses, some of these heroes (or villains) will help Spider-Man out by giving him information and quests to advance the story line. Others will become outright hostile.

In addition to the branching story elements, the player gains the ability to call upon his current allies to fight alongside him throughout the game. For example, if the player has been using the red suit and generally performing heroically, then Luke Cage will come to Spidey’s aid when he calls. If they have made the appropriate choices and are playing more along the black suit, anti-hero path, then the player might have access to summon the Vulture to assist him. This feature - that we lovingly call the “Hero Strike” - serves as a very clear indication of which path the player has chosen, as well as a great way to get past some of the toughest parts of the game.

GR: The last city-roaming Spidey game, Spider-Man 3, was met with less than positive reviews for various reasons. What has your team learned from that release and how will you use its criticism to make Web of Shadows a better product?

TO: Very early in the development of Web of Shadows, we did a lot of research on how all of the “modern” Spider-Man games (SM1, 2, 3, Ultimate Spider-Man, Friend or Foe) were received to help guide the game we chose to make. Beyond any specific details that we were able to glean, we came away with the firm conviction that we had to make a more focused game. From this insight, we identified the core elements of the character and really honed in on them, iterating as many times as we could manage to get them right rather than spending a lot of resources on doing a lot of things once or twice. It’s an age-old bit of wisdom that can be deceptively hard to stick to when making any game, but it was especially hard with a character as unique as Spider-Man and an environment as rich as New York. There are really so many possible things that you could do within the fiction that culling the list down to just a few things was incredibly hard. At the end of the day, we hope that players will enjoy the elements that we did include enough that they won’t miss the features that got left on the cutting room floor.

Hear more about this article inTalkRadar.

Sep 30, 2008