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  1. #1
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Default Factor 5 Lead Gameplay Designer Talks About Superman Game

    Decided to make an entire thread for this because most of you guys donít check the Clark Kent Appreciation Thread

    https://twitter.com/devsalvatrix/sta...848120842?s=21 (start of Tweet thread)

    In 2007/2008, I was lead designer on a Superman game that was never released - because the economy crashed hard. It killed our publisher, our studio (Factor 5), and the game.

    I have multiple unreleased games through my career, but THIS is the only one I mourn to this day...
    The goal was to present super brawls as they were seen in the cartoons and comics. JLU was our main touchstone. We put together this fast video montage to show what everything we wanted to have as gameplay. And we DID IT.
    Aerial brawling, large urban environments, crashing through buildings, fast target engagement, knocking your foe into the next block, shockwaves from hits, impact grooves in the streets or building sidesÖ all of it.
    We hadnít seen a game really deliver on that promise before, and to be honest I have yet to see it delivered fully since. We had it fully working as a prototype and were shifting to full production when the crash hit. All the main gameplay was in place and had been proven out.
    We also didnít want to rely on traditional gaming crutches of the IP Ė kryptonite and fighting robots. There were rules about the big blue boy scout (pre-Snyder obviously), but we were to surround Supes with foes more in his power range.

    So I still am sad for what could have been. This was supposed to release alongside the sequel to the Bryan Singer Superman Returns film (which also clearly never happened). Not being able to see this through to release remains the biggest regret of my career.
    Anyway, the above 2 videos were touchstone reference that we made early in prepro to communicate to the team and to the stakeholders (DC/WB/Legendary/Brash) where we intended to take the game.

    If there is interest, I may dig up some related materials from my archives later.
    While the gameplay may have been based on JLU, the environments were based heavily on both the Superman animated series and early 20th century artist Hugh Ferriss - featuring elevated highways, railways, and airships.
    In addition to us just appreciating the visual aesthetic (and that is worked with the animated series style), the layers of motion at every elevation in the city created a city that felt alive no matter where you were - important in a game where much takes place in the air.
    Everything here is blocky - by intent.

    For prototyping, we were establishing playable spaces, activity levels, core functionality, etc.

    When the art is more refined, too much feedback starts to focus on the art. "Ugly" art helps keep the focus on where it is needed early on.
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Here’s the “blocky” city they were talking about:


    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  3. #3
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    And... I am just kind of jumping around now.

    In the previous cityscape, it might be noticed in addition to vehicles for a sense of of motion, they were also usable props in combat. As were roof and street level details.

    (The second image showed what we wanted to avoid.)

    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  4. #4
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    More concept art - characters:
    Parademon
    Brimstone
    Darkseid
    Livewire

    (Note, I am not the artist of any of the concept art. I was a game designer focused on gameplay vision and elements.)



    Livewire and Brimstone I posted in the Villains Appreciation thread.
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  5. #5
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    And videos! This was our first playable prototype during pre-production. Obviously art is still placeholder, though more polished assets are starting to get swapped in such as Supes and Zod.

    But it shows brawling while crashing through offices!
    Last edited by Vordan; 07-20-2021 at 12:09 AM.
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  6. #6
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    And this is a target render from pre-production.

    The point of the target render is to demonstrate what the intended gameplay might look like in a more art-finished state.

    #gamedevelopment
    #bluesteel


    And thatís everything, now you can all be depressed alongside me that this didnít get to be finished
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member HsssH's Avatar
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    So it was going to be like Snyder's Man of Steel?

  8. #8
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HsssH View Post
    So it was going to be like Snyder's Man of Steel?
    Yeah but it would’ve been using Arkham rules where Batman can beat half naked thugs unconscious and leave them out in subzero temps, yet none of them will ever die

    Funnily enough Zod was in this and the demo video suggests they had the idea to let you play as him. That would’ve been cool.
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  9. #9
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Snyder-level violence would have worked just fine in a video game, wherein the purpose is for the player to have fun. The Bizarro levels were easily the best part of the much-maligned Superman Returns game.

  10. #10
    Black Belt in Bad Ideas Robanker's Avatar
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    There's potential there, to be sure, and putting the player behind Clark's actions absolves the character any actual destruction since gameplay is generally divorced from the plot unless the latter dictates specific actions take place.

    I was thinking "damn, that's a bit ruthless for Superman" at times but it's also a tech demo trying to establish the options the player would have... and it's a damn shame this didn't get more polish.

  11. #11
    Ultimate Member Last Son of Krypton's Avatar
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    It looks like Superman had as much videogames in development as BM except that none was ever released.
    Last edited by Last Son of Krypton; 07-20-2021 at 04:54 AM.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member marhawkman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Yeah but it would’ve been using Arkham rules where Batman can beat half naked thugs unconscious and leave them out in subzero temps, yet none of them will ever die

    Funnily enough Zod was in this and the demo video suggests they had the idea to let you play as him. That would’ve been cool.
    yeah, multiple story modes for the various characters could have been interesting.

  13. #13
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Some more info: https://twitter.com/devsalvatrix/sta...186470401?s=21
    This was fascinating. Anything you can share about the plot (I know you were the designer). Was the plan for you to spend the whole game “in-costume” or were there Clark Kent sections? Damn shame the Recession killed this.
    The narrative story line had not been written, as the focus of pre-pro was core gameplay, building the engine and tools (nothing in our previous tools was geared towards authoring brawler gameplay), and establishing visual style.

    We had some story beat ideas, but no full plot.
    For gameplay, it was to be all in-costume. There would certainly be narrative elements as Clark, but that would have been cutscene material.

    The game was very much action-brawler oriented.
    Many of our initial ideations were actually more focused on life as Clark than on Superman, which were interesting concepts (many games start of with wild-ranging ideas), but at the end of the day we were a game intended to release alongside a summer tent-pole blockbuster movie..
    so the game was always going to need to be much more action-oriented mainstream gaming. And the movie direction was supposed to be much more action-based than Superman Returns as well. The "Superman unleashed" idea came from the movie first, and I latched onto that for...
    the main emphasis of what we needed to deliver.

    The movie plot was never set in stone (the movie was in development hell before the recession for a number of reasons, including the stakeholders wanting Brandon Routh replaced we heard, but Singer refusing to consider it)...
    but we were told that Darkseid was very likely going to be the baddie for the movie as well. Basically the studio wanted to up the stakes and the action.

    So I wanted the game to reflect that, even if we were not tied in any way to the movie's story.
    As an aside, it took a while to establish the main character's visual aesthetic as well. Just as we explored some wild gameplay ideas like a mostly Clark Kent game, the initial art team explored some more creative ideas as well, such as a heavily 40s influenced aesthetic.
    DC and WB did NOT like those artistic ideations, and this caused some friction for a while. We brought in a new lead artist with more comic-book oriented style, and this finally had DC and WB on board and excited.

    (fwiw, DC/WB and all loved the gameplay direction)
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

  14. #14
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    We are supposed to believe all this, I am not talking about the game, I am talking about the interest of warner / dc in releasing a superman game, if they really wanted a superman game they would have released it a long time ago, they would not be with each year A new excuse, although it hurts because I am a fan of superman and video games, the truth is that I doubt that in the next 20 or 30 years we will have a good superman game, the ones that come out will be minor games and therefore bad, or they will have Superman as a villain, but it is that the only good games of Superman are in which he is a villain.

  15. #15
    Ultimate Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Wonder why DC/WB didn’t like the 40s aesthetic, I remember Superman Returns’ depiction of Metropolis having a very “retrofuture” vibe to it.
    For when my rants on the forums just arenít enough: https://thevindicativevordan.tumblr.com/

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