MAR­VEL HE­ROES

Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Gazil­lion En­ter­tain­ment For­mat PC Re­lease 2013

EDGE - - TOKYO RUSH -

“I knew I wanted to make a Di­ablo­like game again. But I didn’t want to do fan­tasy; I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent that would stretch my lim­its. I’d been a big Mar­vel fan for a long time, and I al­ways wanted to make a Mar­vel Di­ablo. We’d been work­ing on a de­sign for Di­ablo III and an MMOG project called Mythos at Flag­ship Stu­dios, which never saw the light of day. The orig­i­nal de­sign for Di­ablo II was mas­sively mul­ti­player, too. I love mas­sively mul­ti­player games in all dif­fer­ent forms, from Ul­tima On­line to EverQuest, and here was an op­por­tu­nity to com­bine all the things I love. It was just some­thing I couldn’t pass up, since I was too ex­cited about it, and that’s what I’m work­ing on to­day.

I joined Gazil­lion as cre­ative di­rec­tor on the project, and at the time it was run­ning into a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to Hell­gate. Gazil­lion was a big com­pany,

“THE PROCESS OPENED MY EYES TO THE WAY GAMES ARE MADE NOW, AND HOW IM­POR­TANT COM­MU­NITY IS”

it had like 450 to 500 peo­ple, and it had a lot of dif­fer­ent projects go­ing on – seven or eight. Then it all started to kind of fall apart. They’d raised a ton of money from in­vestors, games were com­ing out and not mak­ing any money, and other projects were get­ting de­layed.

So they kicked out the CEO, brought in an­other one and made me pres­i­dent and COO. So my­self and the other CEO re­duced the com­pany down to a few projects, but noth­ing was re­ally work­ing.

Mar­vel He­roes looked like it had a lot of po­ten­tial, but it was hard for me to pay at­ten­tion to it be­cause I was so fo­cused on the cor­po­rate stuff – board and in­vestor pol­i­tics, all of th­ese other things that I was kind of new to. I’d never worked with in­vestors be­fore; mostly we’d just do pub­lisher-de­vel­oper deals, and at Bliz­zard we’d al­ways made enough rev­enue to fund our own things. In­vestors that deal with games along­side in­vest­ing in, say, med­i­cal equip­ment or some In­ter­net startup or what­ever, they don’t know all that much about videogames. They just know about Mar­vel and so they think, ‘Oh, Mar­vel. A li­cence. That should be a good in­vest­ment.’

So we made that game. About six months be­fore fin­ish­ing, the CEO left, so they made me CEO. We were run­ning out of cash and the in­vestors weren’t go­ing to give us any more – the com­pany had been around for seven or eight years by that point, and they’d put a lot of money in and not seen much re­turn. They weren’t go­ing to put more in be­fore we’d re­leased some­thing. So we re­leased Mar­vel He­roes be­fore it was ready.

It came out, and it was not well re­ceived. It got a Me­ta­critic of 58. And it was like, ‘Oh my God. I can’t be­lieve I’ve gone through this yet again.’ I didn’t want to be the busi­ness man. I wanted to be the guy who was fo­cused on mak­ing games again, not hav­ing to deal with that stuff. But the only way to have that project see the light of day was to be­come more and more in­volved with the busi­ness side of things. But the in­vestors were happy that we re­leased some­thing, and said, ‘You know what? We’re go­ing to sup­port you a lit­tle bit more. We’ll give you guys the leg room to make this thing grow.’

So they put a lit­tle bit more cap­i­tal in and with that we were able to start work­ing on the project, mak­ing it bet­ter and bet­ter. We worked on it very hard, lots of crunch­ing hours, al­though the crunch was a lot bet­ter this time, be­cause we were us­ing a Scrum de­vel­op­ment sys­tem where peo­ple were es­ti­mat­ing their time. Th­ese games as a ser­vice are a marathon, not a sprint, and I didn’t want peo­ple burnt out the en­tire time. It’s OK to crunch for short pe­ri­ods of time, but you can’t crunch for a year and ex­pect that to keep go­ing for an­other year.

We brought a cou­ple of key peo­ple on and re­ally turned it around. We added more fea­tures, fin­ished the game – it took maybe nine months or so to make it the game that we re­ally wanted it to be at re­lease. And that process opened my eyes to the way games are made now, and how im­por­tant com­mu­nity is. In­ter­ac­tion with the com­mu­nity in to­day’s day and age is very dif­fer­ent to 25 years ago when I started in the industry – back then, there weren’t even mes­sage boards for a lot of games. Your com­mu­ni­ca­tion was pick­ing up Nin­tendo Power and talk­ing among your friends. To­day, there are fo­rums, there’s Twit­ter, there’s Twitch: all th­ese dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties that it’s im­por­tant for a de­vel­oper, es­pe­cially of an on­line ser­vice game, to be in­ter­act­ing with.

Its an amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion. Go­ing from this stand­off­ish de­vel­oper sep­a­rate from the com­mu­nity and not re­ally in­ter­act­ing with them to open­ing up and fully em­brac­ing them. Ev­ery­body in the en­tire com­pany can post on the fo­rums – I don’t care what po­si­tion you have, you can chat with the cus­tomers. Peo­ple are an­swer­ing ques­tions on Twit­ter at any given mo­ment. I per­son­ally stream the game three or four nights a week with my own ac­count. I lis­ten to and an­swer ques­tions. I go out and onto other peo­ple’s streams to chat and play with them. This new way of de­vel­op­ing a live prod­uct is the most fun I’ve ever had.

I’ve en­joyed mak­ing Mar­vel He­roes al­most more than any other game ever, sim­ply be­cause of the post-re­lease [process] and the im­prove­ments we’ve made. It took two years to make Di­ablo II great, and I think it’s taken a cou­ple of years to make Mar­vel He­roes great, and I re­ally en­joy that in­ter­ac­tion with the com­mu­nity. I know this is the way I want to make games in the fu­ture.”

ABOVE CEN­TRE MarvelSu­per He­roes is, like Di­ablo, an iso­met­ric ac­tion-RPG, but Bre­vik has shifted fo­cus to an MMO F2P struc­ture.

ABOVE De­spite painful past ex­pe­ri­ence with li­cens­ing, Bre­vik couldn’t turn down Mar­vel Comics char­ac­ters

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