Interviews// David Brevik on Marvel Heroes

Posted 27 Aug 2012 15:00 by
David Brevik is the President and COO of Gazillion Entertainment - currently developing free-to-play action MMO, Marvel Heroes (previewed here). He previously found fame working on Diablo and Diablo 2 at Blizzard North studios.

After Blizzard, he went on to form Flagship Studios; following the closure of that studio he worked with Turbine as creative director. In 2009, however, he founded Gazillion Entertainment and has been working on MH ever since.

SPOnG caught up with David at Gamescom 2012, quizzed him about the [/i]MH[/i].

SPOnG: The first reaction when hearing about Marvel Heroes and that it's an action RPG, how does it correlate with the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games?

David Brevik (DB): Marvel Heroes is somewhat similar to those games, those were great console games and I enjoyed them a lot. MH is kind of similar, but underneath, especially when you look at it we are doing something very, very different from that, once you get one layer down.

The RPG experience is very different than what Marvel Ultimate Alliance did. We have random maps, levelling up and the way you build up your character in MH is very different from Marvel Ultimate Alliance. So, underneath the gameplay is very different but on the surface they (sic) look very similar.

SPOnG: For many years games based on superheroes have had a terribly stigma attached to them, but recently games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance and the Hulk games did a lot dispel that. Are you building from those successes?

DB: Well, hopefully, yes. I mean that's what we're trying to do. It's not just superhero games, but a lot of IP games have turned out poorly. I think that IP should be used to enhance the core of the game, which should be excellent gameplay. Making that stand up is probably the most important part, so it has to be a fantastic game from a 'game' stand point and then use the IP to make it even better is the right priority order, and that's what we're trying to do here with MH.

SPOnG: You've mentioned levelling up characters, yet the characters in MH are all superheroes, how does one go about levelling up Thor?

DB: It doesn't make much sense from a comics standpoint and from an IP standpoint, but you know a lot of these games don't make sense. You can't really have it make sense in order for it to be really be a game.

So, we do the best we can with what we have, but you know it doesn't make sense that a bat is dropping a magic helmet either, but it's fun!

So, it doesn't really matter as there's this kind of disconnect with reality.

So, we have this attitude when developing the game by focussing on making MH a fun gaming experience that we can all relate to with the RPG loop of starting small and growing into a higher power character.

I think we can accomplish that if we're very careful. You can have fantastic looking powers that do spectacular things but you can get at the very beginning. For example, as Iron Man, I can have this giant ray come out of my chest that blasts a bunch of things.

So, he may not have all of his powers available at the very beginning. So, unveiling those over time is an easy way to keep the power level high and then expand on what he can do.

SPOnG: Tell us about how players attach themselves to certain archetypes. For example, Thor is more melee based, where others are more ranged. Do you find there are superheroes that are more popular than others during play testing? The reason we ask this for fear of seeing swathes of Spider-men running around MH.

DB: Actually it's pretty well balanced as each one of the characters has been designed to be played with differing style. So, the way that my Spider-man plays maybe different in the way your Spider-man plays.

Let's take Wolverine as another example, I might have my Wolverine constructed around a lot of his powers that do a bunch of bleeds and stuff like that and build off of that kind of gameplay. Another one is Wolverine can jump around the screen doing a lot of jump and slash stuff and so that the play style itself changes even within the same super hero.

This is something I did when working on Diablo and Diablo II, as for example the Amazon I decided to go with bows for her and then spears and things like that. We're trying to have the same mentality when developing MH. So, we have lots and lots of character classes instead of five or seven or whatever.

SPOnG: MH will be a free-to-play game when it's launched, you have stressed that there is no need to pay anything to experience all of the game and reserving money transactions to vanity only items. Are you going to have trading of items a-la Diablo 3's auction house?

DB: We're not going to have the same auction house system Diablo 3 has at all. The auction house stuff that MH will have will be much more similar to a traditional MMO.

So, it will be more akin to World of Warcraft where you put something up in the auction house. We're going to have a lot of items that actually bind to your character so a lot of the best items you can't really sell them so that's our philosophy on the issue of item acquisition.

You have to play the game and try and find these things, that's the fun of the Diablo experience. Going through it, looking for something particular, that one special item that could drop at any given time is very compelling.

SPOnG: Does MH have the same model of running through the same instance over and over?

DB: It's not like World of Warcraft where you're defeating the Lich King over and over again until he drops that one item. We're doing something that's much more similar to Diablo II where as you're playing it at any given time something excellent can drop.

SPOnG: MH has players taking on the role of super heroes, are there any plans to have player controlled villains? This would create a PvP aspect to the game.

DB: That would be a lot of fun, wouldn't it?

SPOnG: On that note, we bid you farewell! Thank you very much for your time.

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