Back when Square Enix’s The Avengers were revealed at E3, few of us were wondering: Could this be the start of the Marvel Interactive Universe?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated cinema (and now television) for nearly 15 years, with a massive comic book world of interconnected stories, characters, and franchises. After the success of PlayStation Spider-Man games, and now with major partnerships with major AAA studios, were we about to see the company try to replicate the trick in video games?
The answer was no. According to Bill Rosman, Marvel Games Vice President and Creative Director, such a move would be detrimental to the company’s overall ambition.
Rosman explains, “The world is so familiar and amazingly accepting of the multiverse. We have all these different realities. Now they’re all real, and we want to give everyone the freedom to tell their story. We don’t want to say ‘You can’t blow the moon, because this game is here by another studio’.” You need the moon.” We want to give everyone the freedom and a clear path to tell their story.
“We’re not saying ‘You can’t blow the moon, because this game here needs the moon.’ We give everyone the freedom to tell their story.”
Bill Roseman, Marvel
Rosman talks to us before announcing another big Marvel project from another AAA studio. The Disney-owned company is already working with the likes of PlayStation, Take-Two, Niantic and Skydance on titles featuring a host of popular characters, and now it has added EA to its list of partners, with Star Wars Squadrons and Dead Space developer Motive creating the Iron Man game.
However, even though all of these addresses are standalone and independent of each other, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything connecting them.
“Every decision [the Motive team] Roseman explains. “But they are built with what we call Marvel building blocks. When you play the game, it may not be the Iron Man story you’ve been through, but there will be many similar things. What do you expect in a Marvel story game? There are things, there are institutions, certain companies , groups… I don’t want to say what’s and what’s not in this game, but for example, there’s SHIELD, Hydra, there’s Daily Bugle, there’s these different countries out there. These are the building blocks that make the Marvel universe. Make it seem Like a true Marvel story.Now with that, [Motive is] We’ll tell his story, and we’ll give them that freedom.”
The Iron Man team is led by executive producer Olivier Prolix. Proulx joined Motive directly from Eidos Montreal as he finished work on another AAA Marvel game: Guardians of the Galaxy.
“Patrick [Klaus, EA Motive General Manager] He approached me earlier this year after I took time off to pursue Guardians of the Galaxy,” says Proulx. “I was looking forward to the next projects, and Patrick told me that a new game is a collaboration with Marvel and it would be a great opportunity to continue the great work we’ve started together. It was a natural fit.
“Motive is a studio with really strong foundations, but an amazing momentum at the moment, making great teams and working with really good IPs, and turning them into high-quality games. Continuing to build on that with Iron Man was really good for me” .
The initial discussion between the two companies occurred between Marvel’s Jay Ong, EA’s Patrick Klaus, and Samantha Ryan. EA Motive was impressed with Star Wars: Squadrons and was developing other prototypes that would include flying, which naturally led the two companies toward Iron Man.
On the creative side, Rosman says it’s becoming clear that EA Motive and Marvel are identical in terms of values.
“We both want to make great, innovative action games. We also love to bring iconic worlds to life. On top of that, we want every player to feel like the hero and deliver that fantasy, that’s wish-fulfillment,” he says.
The team then took out the whiteboard and began discussing what fans like about Iron Man, and what they expect from the Iron Man experience?
It’s about understanding the characters. What drives these characters? And building a great story from there. Of course, not only from the perspective of the story, but also from the perspective of the gameplay mechanics, how does that translate to the nature of the characters? With Guardians of the Galaxy it was It’s all about team play, so we’ve built a lot of narrative systems around that. And with Iron Man, having that deep experience of flying like Iron Man is going to be very important, and of course building a great story around Tony Stark and tapping into his character. He’s a creative genius, That’s his superpower, so there are great narrative opportunities out there. But then it’s about how to translate that into the gaming experience as well.”
“At Motive and within EA, we believe there’s plenty of room for great single-player games.”
Olivier Proulx, EA Motive
EA Motive may bring development expertise, but both sides insist that this is a collaboration, as Marvel has added the credibility that a game like Iron Man will need to win over audiences.
“We’re here to do everything we can, 360, to help our collaborators bring their vision to life,” Rosman explains. “How can we help? Can we be a background resource? There have been six decades of Iron Man comic books, we can start with: ‘Read these 10 stories.’ We are here for advice. We are here to talk about the game they want to make, and how The gameplay is aligned with the fulfillment of the character’s desires… The set pieces, the music, the characters, and what the story is all about. People expect a great story from a Marvel and Motive game. It’s the heart of what we do. We’ll do everything we can to help give that Marvel perspective, to create A 100% original Marvel experience, so that when people play it they say, “This was made by fans.”
Proulx adds: “But [Marvel is] It also really pushes us to make this motivational version of Iron Man. What new story can we tell with Tony Stark? This is an incredibly empowering team. It’s a lot about collaborating and working together on a weekly basis, pushing ideas, challenging each other…it’s a great experience. ”
Rosemann again: “All the best Marvel creations, throughout our history – comics, animation, movies, games – are when the best talent comes to Marvel and collaborates with the characters they love, and they want to say something with them. And often they want to say something new. And tradition Marvel is giving them that freedom to tell their story. What new thing do they want to do? Like they’re the chef. What meal do you want to make? Oh, you can make this awesome. Here are all the ingredients. You don’t have to adapt anything. You don’t have to make it fit. With anything. We’ll give you the freedom to tell your story. This is your Marvel reality, and here’s everything fans want from an Iron Man story.”
This won’t be the only game to come from EA and Marvel, as the two companies have confirmed other titles are in the works, but it’s still in its infancy. Proulx says the Iron Man cast is small because it’s still in pre-production. Besides Proulx, other members of the Iron Man cast include Creative Director Ian Frazier [Star Wars Squadrons/Mass Effect Andromeda]Maëlenn Lumineau ., Franchise Development Director [Immortals Fenyx Rising/Assassin’s Creed]and Senior Producer JF Poirier [Star Wars Squadrons/Child of Light].
“As we get more confident in our ideas and start demonstrating some of these creative endeavors, we will grow the team,” Proulx says. “We want this to be a very high production value AAA experience. It’s a single-player game, it’s an action adventure, so we want to dive into how it plays and how it appears on screen. And we want to get the right team size and budget to make sure we deliver that.”
Despite the industry’s trend toward more service-based and online experiences, Motive and Marvel are keen to stress that it will be a single-player adventure.
“It’s really about telling a great story,” Proulx explains. At Motive and within EA, we believe there’s plenty of room for great single-player games. The gaming industry is not just one thing, and single player experiences are still a huge part of it. But this game specifically, to do a strong narrative experience tied to Tony Stark and channel his charisma, his complexity as a character… Single play is the way to go.”
Of course, no matter how freely the team creates their own Iron Man experience, there will be a shadow cast by the world conquering the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man was a relatively young Marvel character, certainly compared to the likes of Spider-Man, before Robert Downey Jr. took over the role and made it one of the biggest movie franchises in the world. There have been four different versions of Spider-Man shot on cinema screens over the past 20 years, but only one Iron Man movie has been shot.
But then, as fans know, Iron Man is currently absent from the movie scene.
“I still say that word ‘freedom’,” Roseman continues. “Every department within Marvel is given the freedom to get creative and do what they do best. So this is a chance to tell the best Iron Man story. We can be compared to everything…or maybe not. It doesn’t matter. What matters to us is that when people play this game, we want them to.” To say this is a love letter to this character. We want them to say that’s exactly what they want, and it surprised them. We talk about power and responsibility. Our strength, Marvel and Motive, is that we get to create a AAA Iron Man game. The responsibility is to make it great. This Our mission, it’s on our shoulders, and we think it’s great. The world is a challenging place, and we’re fortunate enough to create things that bring people together and bring joy to people. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Proulx concludes, “It’s such a privilege to be working on such a big character, which fans are aware of…whether it’s from the comics or the MCU or something else.
“At Motive, we’ve worked with already known IPs before, and bringing our voice and our gaming experience to this table is something we love to do. And we can do that with Iron Man.”
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