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Armature Speaks on Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, Leaving Retro, More
News reported by 
Editor-in-chief
April 21, 2013, 21:10:13
 
Game Informer has gotten a chance to sit down with Armature and talk to them about their upcoming Batman game, why they decided to leave Retro / Nintendo, and a whole lot more. You can find the full interview right here. Below are a few choice bits.


How have you integrated Metroid-style gameplay?

It’s a very good blend of the two – of Metroid and Arkham. The one change that we did end up making it that there’s no XP in the game, so everything is item-based. The reason we did it that way is to give the player more of a sense of collection in this game. That was a design decision. If you unlock an ability based on experience, you might not have necessarily traveled to that place and gotten something. It’s the general overall experience that you have in the game, it’s that experience of getting that XP to buy that item, but what we wanted to do is put everything into an item-based system that you place into the environment, that gives you the motivation to explore the areas of the building. So that it gives you that flavor of: “Oh, I want that ability I can get up there,” rather than “I need to beat up some more guys to get the XP to unlock this thing.” I think it fits well for our style of game.

Stepping away from the game for a minute, why did you leave Retro? Do you want to talk about that story a little bit?

I was there for eight years. When you work for Nintendo, Nintendo’s an awesome company. They’re great to work for. It’s hard, challenging work, but it’s rewarding at the same time. But given that regard, there’s a limited amount of things you can do in Nintendo. You can’t work on other platforms. You kind of work on games that they would like you to work on, so after doing three of the same games in a row, we were kind of like, we’d really like the flexibility to do other things.

And that’s really what it came down to was we didn’t have anything against Nintendo or Retro or anything – they’re all great people, we still talk to them all the time, and we still have a great relationship – but having an independent studio, one day you’re working on Batman, the other day you’re working on something else, and that’s kind of what we wanted to do. We would have never been able to work on Vita, or 3DS – it wasn’t something that Retro was gunning for. And Armature as a studio, we’re hopefully able to make some announcements later this year on what we’re working on next, and those are, again, forward thinking on consoles, and things we weren’t able to do before.

Starting Armature when we did was a very difficult time in the game industry. And the game industry continues to be difficult. Right now as a studio we’re in a really good position and there are a lot of opportunities that we’re going to be able to pursue that we wanted to five years ago.


Source: Game Informer

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Posted: 04/21/13, 21:10:13  - Edited by 
 on: 04/21/13, 21:10:39    
 
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It's interesting to me how he says that they would have never been able to work on 3DS, even though it is a Nintendo platform. Didn't they do some work on Mario Kart 7? But perhaps he meant a full game like Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate.


Posted by 
 on: 04/21/13, 21:12:48
@Zero I think Retro's MK7 work was mostly "Hey we need some stuff for a DKCR track, how 'bout you kick some things our way?"

I can see why they'd be cool with leaving Nintendo after having to do three Prime games and nothing else. Must be tough doing the same type of game for like 10 years under Nintendo's watchful eye. And I'm sure there were plenty of mid-level guys at Retro who were ready to take over the top spots but couldn't until the Armature guys left.


Posted by 
 on: 04/21/13, 21:23:30
@nate38 I thought that they handled all of the retro tracks? Which, admittedly, could have just been an awful lot of people getting confused by a small capitalization error at some point. But that was my impression.


Posted by 
 on: 04/21/13, 21:35:55
@Zero Wikipedia says you're right. I think I remember reading somewhere that they just did the DKCR track, but that might have been here....in a speculation thread....written by me.

Anyway, it's funny to see how self-loathing this guy is about Metroid Prime. Everybody loves those games, but he apparently only sees the things that didn't go perfectly right.


Posted by 
 on: 04/21/13, 21:39:11  - Edited by 
 on: 04/21/13, 21:39:27
He's right to loathe himself!

Anyway, the 3DS thing stuck out to me, too. WTF? And since when did Metroid games have experience points?

Also, I would guess that he's being a bit disingenuous about how the split worked out for them. I mean, they might have branched out to different platforms, but they were mostly doing technical assistance and port jobs. But whatever. I wish them the best, since DKCR showed that Retro is still in fighting form (maybe even fighting-er form!).

AND this new game sounds like a great fit. A REAL Western 3rd party game on the 3DS. I will definitely pick it up if it's good. Hopefully, the existence of the Vita version doesn't compromise the 3DS version.


Posted by 
 on: 04/27/13, 15:59:49
@Zero@nate38

Morimoto said:
Morimoto

Right. In terms of how we resolved that challenge with Retro, when we created this game, Nintendo produced half the courses and Retro produced the other half. Before they created new courses, we asked that they recreate 16 past courses which we call classic courses. We'd put in lots of new elements, such as racing in the sky or underwater, so I think at that point we asked them to include lots of special features you'd only be able to find in Mario Kart 7, instead of simply recreating the courses. Wasn't that how it went?

They must not mean exactly half and half, because if they did all 16 classic courses (better to say classic than retro to avoid confusion haha) then that would be half of the courses, but it also says they worked on new ones.

@Anand

I don't think that's disingenuous. It's just taken them some time to build a reputation in the industry which is just now leading to publishers trusting them with bigger games. Batman is pretty big, even if it's a handheld game, and he hints at the next game being something bigger perhaps.

It's like if you quit your job at a big newspaper to become a freelance writer. It might take some time for you to build up your own name, but you'd still be happy to be on the path towards where you want to be instead of being back at the other place.


Posted by 
 on: 04/27/13, 16:44:39  - Edited by 
 on: 04/27/13, 16:49:55
@Anand
Well to be fair they inked a deal right away with EA and then right after that EA's partners program started to disintegrate. Basically the work they had lined up fell through, as a freelancer myself that's happened to me a bunch of times.


Posted by 
 on: 04/27/13, 18:01:49
Anand said:
And since when did Metroid games have experience points?
He meant that this game doesn't use XP as opposed to the other Arkham games.

On that note:

Zero said:
It’s a very good blend of the two – of Metroid and Arkham. The one change that we did end up making it that there’s no XP in the game, so everything is item-based. The reason we did it that way is to give the player more of a sense of collection in this game. That was a design decision. If you unlock an ability based on experience, you might not have necessarily traveled to that place and gotten something. It’s the general overall experience that you have in the game, it’s that experience of getting that XP to buy that item, but what we wanted to do is put everything into an item-based system that you place into the environment, that gives you the motivation to explore the areas of the building. So that it gives you that flavor of: “Oh, I want that ability I can get up there,” rather than “I need to beat up some more guys to get the XP to unlock this thing.” I think it fits well for our style of game.



Posted by 
 on: 04/27/13, 18:17:26
@TheBigG753
I didn't remember Arkham Asylum having experience points, either. But, now that I think about it, I guess it had something similar...

@Jargon
That may be true, but Armature has been kind of a punchline for most of their existence. Is a handheld Batman really so high-profile? It's kind of like Griptonite-level. That said, for my personal tastes, it's perfect, and, like I said, I wish them the best. Retro's work on DKCR and MK7 was fantastic, so having another studio turning out quality games (especially 2D games) is a win for everybody.

That Morimoto quite is baffling. I'm going to chalk it up to translation error.

@deathly_hallows
True. I mean, they may not have deserved it, but, at the end of the day, the results are what matter the most. I mean, they might be lagging behind Zoonami.


Posted by 
 on: 04/28/13, 18:51:10
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