The game world is five times the size of Arkham City’s. How do you break it up?

It’s bro­ken down into three sub­sec­tions. We had to step up our game in a way: we didn’t just want to do some­thing big­ger, we wanted to in­ject some­thing new. In the last game, ev­ery­thing was brown­stone style, with a twist of Gothic. In this one we’ve gone a bit neo-Gothic. In the down­town area, we needed a lot more ver­ti­cal­ity to bal­ance out the roads be­ing wider for Bat­mo­bile game­play. Then we have the GCPD area, which is a bit more in­dus­trial. The third is­land is an ex­ten­sion of what we did in City.

How do you de­sign ar­chi­tec­ture in ar­eas that have fea­tured in pre­vi­ous games?

We played with the con­cept of Gotham be­ing re­built on top of it­self. In the pre­vi­ous game, you saw the old part of the city… We tried to cre­ate a kind of layer cake – the idea is Gotham doesn’t erase all the mis­takes they’re mak­ing, they’re just re­build­ing over the top. It’s a bit ab­stract, and it makes for an in­ter­est­ing clash be­tween old build­ings and steel beams and glass.

Is there much back and forth with Warner over character de­signs?

For the top-tier char­ac­ters – all the he­roes and vil­lains – we need to have a close re­la­tion­ship with Warner and DC. But it’s a re­la­tion­ship that is now seven years old. Through the dif­fer­ent games, and the suc­cess they’ve had, there’s trust. They’ve been gen­er­ally very open.

What about the de­sign teams? It must be tricky to build a world in which ev­ery sin­gle sur­face can be grap­pled on and jumped off.

Some­thing that is sure across ev­ery­thing is that game­play is king. If we need to dis­man­tle some­thing and build it in a dif­fer­ent way to pro­vide that ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing Bat­man, we will. The tricky part is keep­ing all th­ese things in check: the dis­tance be­tween two ob­jects, the height, how it feels. You can’t put a statue too close to a build­ing – if you grap­ple boost, you’ll bang into it. For a long time, there was an artist who spe­cialised in the bridge be­tween de­sign and art, mak­ing sure what we built con­formed to the de­sign, to smooth nav­i­ga­tion.

What do you want play­ers to get from Arkham Knight that they didn’t from City?

We’ve made a huge step in terms of tech. We’ve started to lib­er­ate our­selves from the tools and make a big step in what I call visual narration – mak­ing re­ally mean­ing­ful en­vi­ron­ments and char­ac­ters with back­story. It’s not just pix­els for the sake of pix­els – we try to add a sec­ond read­ing to ev­ery­thing we do. We’ve got a brand-new light­ing shader; the en­gine’s re­ally im­pres­sive. We’ve got an amaz­ing en­gine team that’s opened all the doors to the new gen­er­a­tion.

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