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Guardians of the Galaxy: How to balance gameplay, humor, and a superior story

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Eidos Montreal took the wraps off the video game version of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).



It debuts October 26 as a single-player adventure exactly where you play as Star-Lord, and you have to understand to work with each other with ragtag group of Groot, Drax, Gamora, and Rocket Raccoon. The game is coming out on the Xbox, PlayStation, and Computer — and Nintendo announced a Switch version is coming as nicely.



The game is intended to capture the humorous banter of the Guardians as nicely as the critical mission of saving the galaxy. And it is supposed to have enjoyable gameplay as nicely. It could be challenging to balance the competing expectations that fans will have about this, and so we talked with Mary DeMarle, senior narrative director at Eidos Montreal, about how the group is getting that balance.

I was in a group of 3 writers who quized DeMarle about the game for the duration of E3.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Image Credit: Eidos

Question: How challenging is it to make a thing funny in a video game? How does that wind up becoming ranked as a priority in this game?

Mary DeMarle: When I very first began, when we very first knew we have been undertaking this, I looked at J.F. Dugas, the game director, and mentioned, “Oh my God, humor is the hardest thing to write. How are we going to tackle this?” But what was excellent is that when you comprehend that the comedy from the Guardians — it comes from the characters just becoming who they are, becoming generally absolutely accurate to themselves. The unpredictability of their characters comes from the truth that they are who they are. When you get started playing with that, it assists to ground that comic bone.

I worked with a employees of writers right here internally at Eidos who just feed off each and every other. They’re bouncing jokes off each and every other all the time, to the point that — I would assign scripts to person writers, but then we’d do a round robin. We’d do script reads and persons would study their work and be capable to hear their stuff so they can judge it that way. The other writers would comment, and occasionally they wouldn’t give a script to me till all the other writers had commented on it. What was excellent about that was that at the finish, we didn’t bear in mind who wrote what any longer. One particular person would have a joke and somebody else would develop on it, create from that.

Some of the gags are just visual gags that came via the mocap sessions, via the actors, or they came from the artists and animators working with it. Having that complete focus helped to make — when we had that, I feel we’d carried out it. I feel we’ve managed to capture the humor in this game.

Question: Do you really feel like playing as Star-Lord and just Star-Lord is going to support focus the narrative in a way that games like Marvel’s Avengers sort of lost themselves with? What led to the choice to just focus on him?

DeMarle: It’s funny. Eidos Montreal is identified for its single-player, narrative-driven games. You’d have believed ideal off the bat for us as a style group, that is what we have been undertaking. But just about every time we get started hunting at a game, the very first issue we have to do is look at, what is this we’re dealing with? What do we actually want to play? Knowing we have been working with a group of Guardians, of course we asked ourselves if this must be multiplayer. Should it be co-op? Should you play person Guardians along the way?

Where we settled was, we realized that the heart of this group is these zany, unpredictable characters on the group. How they’re so robust and so independent, and however they’re attempting to be a group. We mentioned to ourselves, “These characters are so alive, I just want to hang out with them. I want to be a part of this. I want to experience what it’s like to be a part of the team.” When we knew that, we knew the greatest point of view would be Star-Lord. He’s the human in the group, so we can automatically, hopefully, recognize the human. We can create a robust narrative about him becoming a aspect of the group. We can see what it feels like to have to handle an uncontrollable group of characters. How can we go from there?

Once we settled on that, we realized the true challenge we wanted to undertake was, how can we redefine group gameplay from a single-player viewpoint? Because you are playing Star-Lord, playing him on the sticks, and you have all his cool moves, his jetboots and elemental blaster and stuff. But the other Guardians are continually with you. They all have their personal abilities and skills that you can get in touch with on for the duration of combat, and you can get in touch with on it for the duration of exploration as nicely.

When you are in combat, Drax is superior at staggering enemies. If you have an enemy with a lot of hit points who requirements to be staggered very first, you can send Drax at him prior to you get started shooting. That tends to make your shots more efficient. You actually are playing all of them in the adventure. By the finish of it, they’re generally there, generally alive and with you. You actually do really feel like you have been there, hanging out with these cool characters, and they have been alive just about every single second. You’re guiding them via this game.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Question: Especially for the duration of the last decade, this franchise has been incredibly significant, mostly via the films. There’s a weight to these characters. What was the greatest challenge working with such an critical franchise?

DeMarle: You’re ideal that there is an essence to these characters that, no matter what medium they’re in — most persons became familiar with them via the films. Yet when you look into the comic books they’re incredibly diverse in the comics. But there’s an essence to them that is generally the similar. Knowing that, we have been capable to say, “As long as I know the essence, as long as I get familiar with that and understand that Star-Lord will always be the space pirate cowboy, Drax will always have the grief and trauma of losing his wife and daughter and wanting revenge” — when you comprehend that you can tweak them and make your personal and create your personal backstories to them.

But I’d say the greatest challenge we had was the truth that there are 5 of them. We’re continually dealing with 5 characters. From a story viewpoint that indicates we’re writing an ensemble story, and just about every single one of these characters has their personal journey via it. They have their personal character arcs, their personal emotional beats that we have to see. It’s not just one character with side characters. In gameplay it is the similar issue. You’re generally on screen with these 5 characters there, with you via just about every exploration, via just about every combat. How can we make them really feel alive, like they’re not just this AI character that is following you?

All the work that had to be carried out, from the programming side, from the gameplay side, to make sure these characters stand as folks — they cannot overwhelm or overtake your gameplay in combat, since they’re incredibly highly effective. How do we deal with all of that? And then, once again, from the writing challenge, they’re generally speaking. They’re generally alive. They’re generally with you. You’re interacting with them. Writing all this dialogue — generally the greatest challenge for every person on the group is just dealing with 5 incredibly robust, independent characters.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Question: I was curious about examples of how your teammates can get you into problems. It sounds like that is some of their objective, that they get themselves into problems and you have to extract them from it.

DeMarle: It’s not so a lot that. It’s more dealing with the unpredictable nature. This game, even even though it is a linear storyline, we do infuse it with selection and consequence. There are moments in the game exactly where you are generating choices. You’re asked to make a selection. It impacts the characters about you.

You saw in the demo, do you throw Rocket more than the cliff or not? The issue is, you are going to have to deal with the repercussions of that, since Rocket, if you opt for to throw him — Rocket, of course, will be furious with you. Rocket is a incredibly robust person. Later in that mission, as you are going about, you are going to come upon yet another challenge, and you have to have his support to do it, but he will not do it. You have to locate other strategies about that challenge. Or if you hadn’t thrown him in the very first spot, you have a diverse pathway open to you there.

It’s the similar with the other characters. Knowing that Drax is a bit of a — he lets his feelings get ahead of him. He may possibly dive into stuff right away when you are not prepared for it. Okay, now the selection is, do you stick to Drax, or do you wait and get a small more defensive? But it is by no means a scenario, I would say — I hate games exactly where your side characters are generally ruining your gameplay since they’re beginning a thing you didn’t intend. It’s not actually that. It’s a lot more controlled. But there are moments when you have to make a choice. Do I trust this Guardian, or do I not? How do I deal with the consequences of the choice I’ve made there?

Question: You’ve been incredibly quiet about the development of this. As close to as I can inform there have been just rumblings about the game. People knew that perhaps a thing was coming. We didn’t know something for sure till we got the e mail and the video. How challenging was this to preserve this a secret and make the surprise work?

DeMarle: It was challenging, since we’re working on a game, and as we’re seeing it progress we’re receiving more and more excited. Not becoming capable to inform any person about it, providing family and close friends the standard line — “If I tell you I have to kill you.” Knowing that we have Marvel on our back, who are the persons who are going to come and kill us if we do that, it gets difficult in that sense. I can only actually speak from my viewpoint, but you just focus on your job. You have to shut out the outdoors world and come to work just about every day and place all that excitement and all that power into developing the game. Then you actually hope that it is going to be a surprise, since we want it to be a surprise.

Now we’re so excited. We wanted to wait to reveal it till we knew that it was coming for sure. We didn’t want to have one of these conditions exactly where we’re going to announce it and then, oh no, we have to have to delay it. We didn’t want that. We waited for as extended as we possibly could to be sure that the game is in the state that we want it to be in so that every person will appreciate it. Knowing that also helped to preserve it below wraps.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Question: What was your favourite aspect of working with these characters, working with the Guardians?

DeMarle: My favourite aspect of working with it — I hate coming back to the Guardians themselves, but it is the truth that this story was diverse from a lot of of the stories I’ve worked on in my profession generating games. We got a possibility to focus on a story that has a lot of heart, a lot of soul, and is funny. It has deep themes going on. It has the themes of family and faith and loss, items that do make you, at moments — oh my God, I could basically cry in this emotional scene that is taking place with these characters. But then we turn about with comedy, or we have comedy top into that. To know that, in the finish, we’re developing a story that is about beating the odds, since that is the heart of the Guardians.

These characters are the misfits who no one believes in, who stumble their way via almost everything, and who are so entirely chaotic and impulsive, and however that functions for them. Working on that, in particular when we have been in the pandemic and all this was going on — to be working on a thing that tends to make you laugh out loud and tends to make you really feel genuine feelings, that was the kicker for me.

Question: If there are items taking place connected to a film coming up, did you have to coordinate your story, or otherwise seek advice from with Marvel to make sure that your narrative was going in a canonical path?

DeMarle: Not in the sense that I feel you may possibly be pondering of. We did collaborate with Marvel and they have been with us just about every step of the way. Marvel Game Studio, Bill Rosemann and his group, they have been with us just about every step of the way as we worked on tips. But we didn’t know what was going on with any of the films. It’s absolutely separate. That, from the get-go, was one of the factors Eidos was excited to work on this game. From the starting Marvel mentioned to us, “The MCU has its thing going on. The comics have their thing going on. We want you to create your version in the game and make your game world distinctly different and yours.”

That gave us a lot of freedom and flexibility. We didn’t have to know what the films have been undertaking or what we had to remain away from. All we had to do was concentrate on making the game that we wanted and making the story we wanted. We would go to Marvel and say, “We have this story. We need a character. We know these three characters in the Marvel toolbox. Would they work?” They’d say, “We think you should go with that one.” Or they may possibly sit back and say, “Well, for that role, why not look into this character?”

That’s how Lady Hellbender got into our story. We had designed a character in our story. We codenamed her “Mama Rosa.” This was a character who’s a gangster, a badass gang boss, and the Guardians are going to attempt to con her. The query was, is there any person in Marvel lore who’d work?” At that time Bill Rosemann and the guys came back and mentioned, “Hey, we have this new character who’s coming out in this series. Why not take a look at her and see if she’d work?” We dove into these comics and knew we could tweak the story to make her the best character for this part.

It wasn’t a sense of, you cannot use this, you cannot use that, you cannot do this since the MCU is undertaking that. It was more a matter of, “Tell us what you’re doing and we’re going to find the right pieces for it.” That worked actually nicely.

Question: Guardians was inexplicably the second trailer this week to kick off with Bonnie Tyler, even though you guys had the greatest use of it. How critical was the music to the story, to the style of the game? Is there any song that you are stoked that you got? Also, considering the fact that I’m a streamer, will the game launch with any sort of streamer mode to steer clear of working with licensed music so no one gets in problems?

DeMarle: As far as your last query, I’m not the ideal particular person to ask for that, but I’m sure somebody can get you the right answer. Talking about the soundtrack and how we use it, even though, we have this killer ‘80s soundtrack. Once we, in our story, decided that Peter Quill was kidnapped in the ‘80s, a kid of the ‘80s, stuck in the ‘80s, we knew we had to get the excellent songs of the ‘80s. We did a excellent job. We have more than 30 licensed songs. Everything from Iron Maiden to Rick Astley to KISS to Wham to Blondie.

The way we use the music in the game is enjoyable. Of course we’ll use it as aspect of the cinematics or to heighten drama in some scenes. You’ll be in significant battles and hear a thing incredible like “The Final Countdown,” since it matches the story. But at the similar time, we have two special strategies we use it. One is, in the Milano, you have moments exactly where the story requires you to the ship and you can hang out and speak to all the Guardians. There’s a jukebox in the Milano exactly where you go more than and choose the song you want to hear as you discover. You can listen to the songs on your personal, how you want, whilst you are hanging out.

Image Credit: Square Enix

The other way, you saw a bit of it in the trailer. We have this gameplay feature referred to as the huddle. The huddle is this wild card that you can use in battle when the huddle gauge has reached a specific point. Now your huddle is out there. You can get in touch with it and activate a huddle. What occurs is, the Guardians all come forward like in a accurate American football huddle, and you have to listen to them, since it is all based on how they have been undertaking in combat. Maybe they have been undertaking excellent and they’re super excited, so excited that they may perhaps even be yelling at each and every other. Or perhaps they have been undertaking terribly, and now they’re all down. “We can’t do this!” You have to listen to them, and then you have to choose if you are going to motivate them or calm them down. You have a dialogue selection, and when you opt for it Peter offers a speech that is loosely based on the lyrics of one of the songs.

If he’s selected properly when he offers the speech, you all dive back into the battle, everyone’s on fire. Everyone has energy-ups, complete overall health, cooldowns more than, and you go for it. If you opt for incorrect, Peter nonetheless thinks he did a excellent job, so he’s nonetheless boosted and he gets the bonus. Then you dive into the fight and you are listening to the song that he chose to make his speech. You can sit there and be playing in this final battle to one of the licensed songs.

PR: To answer the very first aspect of it, yes, there will be a toggle in the game to turn off licensed tracks for streamers.

Question: Without pondering about sales or numbers of any sort, what would you like to see to know you succeeded with the game?

DeMarle: First of all, I’m glad you are not asking about numbers, since numbers are not my robust point. But to me, I’d adore to see this game come out on October 26 and see each fans of Marvel and gamers — I’d adore to see them grab it and get started commenting amongst themselves about the story. There are so a lot of diverse alternatives in it. You can get started relating with each and every other — “Oh, did this happen to you?” “No, Gamora didn’t do that!” “I didn’t know that could happen!” To see that occur and see the feedback on what they actually really feel. You actually really feel like you are hanging out with the Guardians. I’d adore to see the reactions to how it feels to be a aspect of that group and have that with you and see their development. For me that is the significant issue.

Question: Did you have any lessons from Avengers that you applied to this project?

DeMarle: We have been actually working on this game simultaneously with Crystal Dynamics and Avengers. I wasn’t necessarily paying a lot of interest to Avengers. I will say, when Avengers did come out, what I liked was I believed they did an superb job at making an original origin story for Kamala Khan. It’s cool since in our game, we’ve also invested so a lot in making original stories for all of our Guardians and seeing that. Beyond that, even though, we have been incredibly separate productions. We worked incredibly challenging on making the greatest Guardians encounter that we could.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Question: One of the significant items we saw was no DLC, no microtransactions, none. Is that for sure?

DeMarle: For us, for now, here’s the game, appreciate the ride. What I adore about — it was critical to us. We’re all gamers as well, and it was critical to us that almost everything be out there when you get started the game. All the outfits, and I feel there’s about 39 outfits that you can choose up, they’re just cosmetics. They do not modify any gameplay style. But you locate them by exploring the world and you can place them on the characters. Finding all the crafting components and perks, it was critical to us that it is all in the game and you can locate it from day one. That was our focus. It was such a challenge to get the 5 characters right that we just wanted to focus on receiving this one carried out, placing almost everything we can into it.

Question: Between now and launch, it is just a handful of months away. What’s the greatest challenge that remains for the group in the time that is left?

DeMarle: One of the significant challenges is just constraining our excitement to get it out there, and our impatience to see how everyone feels about it. Now we’re just placing all our focus and power into debugging the game and generating sure that when it comes out, it is going to be the greatest encounter for every person. That’s the significant one. And then vacations.

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