Saturday, August 8, 2009

Keeping time with the Watchmen

From comic book, to film, to game - get the inside scoop on how Watchmen: The End is Nigh came together with the title's Executive Producer, Andy Abramovici.

Can you give us a rundown about Watchmen: The End is Nigh?

Watchmen: The End is Nigh is a straight-out, brutal, no-bones-about-it brawler. Our goal was to create an old-school brawler with extremely high production values, especially for a digital download experience. And of course, it was important that the look, feel and fiction all fit seamlessly into the extremely well-defined Watchmen universe.

Part 2 delves further into the partnership of Rorschach and Nite Owl before the hero-banning Keene Act. As the story begins, Rorschach contacts Nite Owl to get his help in solving the case of a missing girl, Violet Greene. Along the way Nite Owl uncovers that a woman from his past is involved with the disappearance, leading to a significant conflict of interest between the partners. As the story concludes, we see that in a sense Part 2 will have served as a bridge between the statuses of the characters as they appeared in Part 1 and their state of mind as the movie narrative kicks off.

Why was the game a beat-em-up, rather than a more investigative/adventure style title?

With the digital download strategy - as opposed to a traditional boxed product - we began with, it always made sense for us to create smaller, episodic chunks. As such, we felt that an old-school brawling experience could work well and speak to the core audience that has been familiar with the source material over the years. So this became the vision for us pretty quickly out of the gate.

How nervous or intimidated were you in creating a title related to one of the most acclaimed graphic novels/comic book stories ever made?

Well, very! But ultimately we were very confident in the decisions we made in sticking to what we know about the Watchmen universe, vis-à-vis the comic series. In fact, this was a requirement from all of our stakeholders, be it DC Comics, Zack Snyder [director], Dave Gibbons [artist], etc.

To this end we had a very high amount of involvement in the game from these folks, as well as others involved in both the original series and the motion picture. Everybody involved was singularly united to ensure that we remained respectful of the source material and that our fiction fit in flawlessly with what we know about these characters and that world.

How much input did Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons have in the game?

Tons. This game was produced by a team that put the source material on the highest pedestal and the folks who are inherently linked to this property today all had a major hand in the creation of this game: Jackie Earle Haley [Rorschach] and Patrick Wilson [Nite Owl] did all their own voice-over for the game. Dave Gibbons art-directed cutscenes and vetted art design. Zack Snyder was involved with the game's fiction and tone at every step of the way. Tyler Bates, the film's composer, wrote our music... each of these folks covet the Intellectual Property and have all played a hand in ensuring the game eats and breathes Watchmen.

How much access to the film set and assets did you have?

While we never made it to the film set, we had access to quite a bit, actually. For instance, we got early access to a lot of the hardware such as the gadgets, the Owlship, and the costume designs. This was a great help because as you know they are themselves a creative adaptation of the graphic novel rather than an exact rendering. We also got to talk to the film's fight and stunt director about the movie's combat scenes in order to understand how each character's fighting style would be portrayed on screen. This informed the gameplay a great deal.

What sort of references and nods have you made in the game that fans of the comic and movie will appreciate?

The storylines for both Part 1 and Part 2 are based around content inspired by or hinted at within the comic. They may be spawned from one-off lines of dialog, Under the Hood content, and other sources. For example, if you are very familiar with the comic and movie, you'll recognise we have some fleshed out characters in the game which have only previously hinted at, but at the same time you'll know of their pre-existing relationship to the protagonists.

How do you think Watchmen benefits from being a download and on PlayStation Network?

Well, we love PSN, in large part because of its ability to provide great content instantly and conveniently. I suppose for those gamers that watch the Watchmen [movie on] Blu-ray on their PLAYSTATION 3, they can immediately download The End is Nigh and continue their adventure without missing a beat. That's a pretty powerful recipe for Watchmen - or anything else for that matter!

What are you most proud of in the game?

I'm proud that I got to work on it, as I bought and read the original series back when it was first published here in the States. While I didn't quite love the series at first - blasphemy! - it's grown on me as I've gotten older and learned to appreciate it with a more mature perspective. I'd have been first in line at the cinema regardless of whether or not I was associated with the game.

Perhaps because I am such a fan, in the in end I suppose I am most proud of the combined efforts of so many stakeholders to ensure that, whether you love Watchmen: The End is Nigh or not, you cannot deny that it feels like a true Watchmen experience. We invite you to check it out, judge for yourself and have a lot of fun doing so!



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