Tag Archive: interviews


Sometimes, when time is tight, or the event is a bit larger than life, you can’t always get that important one-on-one time you need with a developer to really take a deep dive into their game. Under these circumstances, journalists are bunched together, and several of us at a time have to machine gun fire questions. That happened this past weekend at San Diego ComicCon, when just a couple hours before Friday’s Injustice 2 panel, a couple dozen other journalists and I met with some of the voice cast and NetherRealm Studios’ creative director Ed Boon to chat about the game. Here are the choicest things each person had to say.

Superman1160

George, can you tell us a little bit about Superman in Injustice 2?

George Newbern, voice of Superman
Well, the first game ended with him in that [red light prison]. In terms of where Superman is in this story, there’s a lot more shades of gray going on this time around. Superman’s not in charge, and it’s not as simple as Superman is good and Batman is bad or vice versa. Depending on what is going on, you’ll side with one or the other and there’s a lot more gray this time, I think.

Laura, you’re playing Supergirl in Injustice 2, but you’re also Catwoman in Telltale’s Batman. What’s it like to hop between these two DC characters in these two very different games?

Laura Bailey, voice of Supergirl
They are such completely different characters. Supergirl is pure. She’s young and impressionable, and when she comes into this story, she’s learning about everything that is happening and has happened. Selina is old hat—she’s been doing this for years. She’s playing everyone, and is always in charge of the situation she’s in. So yeah, the [vocal] range might be similar, but the approach to all the dialogue is very different.

Aquaman1160

Phil, Aquaman has for a long time never been taken very seriously in the DC Universe, but the first Injustice game and your portrayal helped the character turn a corner, lending him some credibility. How was it to be part of that, and what was your inspiration?

Phil LaMarr, voice of Aquaman
For me, it’s about the writing. [NetherRealm] has come up with a really cool take on the character—that’s the thing. For so many years, you had this character that is ostensibly one of the most powerful heroes, but who just wasn’t cool. And they finally figured it out. He’s the ocean personified, but he is also a man. And also, I think, for me, the hook is the kingliness. He is a ruler. He has power, but he also has responsibility, and for him it’s always about that. Either personal responsibility, or to the people of Atlantis, and I think the battle stuff of Injustice is what really put him over the top. Because you had the character conception, but then you have the trident, and the power of Poseidon, and the baddest kill move ever. And if you have great writing, it almost acts itself really. I just have to make sure I get all the words right.

Ed, what was the inspiration for the armor system in Injustice 2 and how will that change gameplay?

Ed Boon, creative director of NetherRealm Studios
If you look back at Mortal Kombat X, we had three variations of every character, and that’s for players to choose what’s their favorite version of Raiden, their favorite version of Scorpion. It’s a little more personalization in it for each player, and we wanted to take that even further. So, in Injustice 2, here are a bunch of different costume pieces. You arrange them as you want, and they power up your characters in different ways. Some might increase offense, or defense, or special abilities, the damage they do with interactive objects, etc. And you piece together a costume to make your custom version of Batman, Superman, Aquaman, whoever. And you’re in a constant process of rearranging those pieces, finding better boots that increase your damage even more for example. So that continued customization and personalization of characters really kind of separates this one from our previous games.

Atrocitus1160

George, Superman is traditionally the All-American Boy Scout and we only see deviation from that in these Elseworld-like takes. Do you enjoy these alternate Superman roles a bit more because they allow for more nuances?

George Newbern, voice of Superman
Yeah, I think so, and I love that. I’m working on a TV show right now called Scandel on ABC where I play an assassin. Just a normal guy doing these terrible things, and you don’t suspect it. In the same way, Superman is most fun when you get to go a little bit outside of the cut, square corners. It’s more fun.

Laura, you’re also in Gears of War 4 this fall, and mentioned during that panel how you and the cast recorded together for some scenes, which is more of an animation style. You also recorded with the cast for Telltale’s Batman. However, you recorded solo for Injustice 2. Do you think video games will start moving more towards that animation style or that it just depends on the project?

Laura Bailey, voice of Supergirl
It’ll depend on the project. Video games by nature are very different from animation because of the option of dialogue there. So, the recording process can be strange, and even harder with other people because for so long it revolves around what one player is doing. So, it would probably be a waste of money for companies to bring in multiple people for a session. So, it’s never completely inclusive. Even for Gears of War 4, when I did my battle dialogue that was a solo session because Liam [McIntyre] or Eugene [Byrd] didn’t need to sit there while I screamed for a couple hours at a time. But definitely for the cinematics, I think a lot of games will start doing groups, and so many projects I’m doing now have motion capture and I feel like more and more projects will start going towards that because what you can do with that is so epic.

Supergirl1160

Phil, how hard is it to jump into the middle of a fight, but not have anyone actually there to play off of?

Phil LaMarr, voice of Aquaman
It helps to be a video game player, because you understand, for example, when your line might be right before you attack, to give it that oomph. But yeah, it’s tough sometimes, because you don’t know exactly what the context is. The other side of it is, though, if you do enough different lines, enough different versions of it, then they can fix it in editing. I’ll give you everything I got, and you put it in the right place…so we don’t end up with Resident Evil 2.

Ed, how will the armor and customization affect balancing for competitive play and tournaments in the game?

Ed Boon, creative director of NetherRealm Studios
Well, it makes our balancing task way bigger. Also, there’s the possibility of a player who has been leveling up a character since day one, and then another who picks the game up three months later, and how does the newcomer compete with the day one purchaser? So, our matchmaking is also going to be critical to make sure people who are in the same range are matched. And then, just our job of balancing is going to be a huge challenge. But the experience of constantly changing and molding your personal character, the novelty of playing with your character will always make it feel new as opposed to playing with the same character over and over again eight months after buying the game.

It’s rare to get a collection of some of the best and brightest names in gaming under one roof, but that’s exactly what happened at the 2014 D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas. One of this year’s themes was how many game developers feel we’re in a Golden Age of Gaming. So, taking advantage of this rare opportunity, we decided to ask these great minds just what we might expect over the next 5 to 10 years from this perceived Golden Age.

Freddie Wong
Co-Founder, RocketJump
More indie games. They’re the only games I have the patience for now. I don’t finish a lot of triple-A titles anymore. I’d rather just sit down and do two hours of something, and I’m more willing to pay that price.

Felicia Day
Co-Founder, Geek & Sundry
Really good hair. There’s nothing grosser than when you create an RPG character, and it just looks like they’ve never washed their hair. It’s all spiky and disgusting. It looks like dyed straw, and I hate it.

Victor Kislyi
CEO, Wargaming.net
I think no matter what happens with technology, that we, as game developers and publishers, will keep concentrating on the game experience, and that will be the key to our success in the future. We have to provide to the users the best possible experiences in regards to gameplay and service, and that will keep the future bright.

Richard Hilleman
Chief Creative Director, Electronic Arts
I think it’s going to be an interesting next 10 years as the rest of the world decides they get to have some influence on what the gaming business is, too. And it’ll introduce us to a whole new collection of gaming styles, to different business models, to new characters—and, most importantly, to new developers who will make really exciting stuff.

Ted Price
President, Insomniac Games
I think you’re going to see a large number of new IPs that are really pushing the boundaries in terms of what players expect. I think, after seeing—and we’re certainly guilty of this as well— a lot of shooters on the last-gen platforms, a lot of stuff felt like we’d seen it before. There’s a big push from both large and small companies to change the rules for players. What does that mean? Well, just look at 2014. It means a lot of brand-new and surprising IPs.

Matias Myllyrinne
CEO, Remedy Entertainment
I think we’re at an interesting junction point. There have been a lot of trends and courses laid creating a perfect storm in many ways. We have massive ecosystems with digital distribution coming in, and then we’re having increasingly powerful machines and new business models and games as a service. I think we’re going to have this massive connected living room, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, even in just two or three years, we start interacting with fiction in a different form.

Eugene Jarvis
President, Raw Thrills
It’s a rough world out there. One percent of the apps take 90 percent of the revenue, and 99 percent of the guys are getting run over by the Google bus. So, there’s this huge emphasis on monetization, how to make your game make money, and I think the industry is almost going off a cliff where the monetization is driving the creativity so much that we all end up making the same game. Just trying to trap the player, hold him upside down, and shake the money out of his pockets. I think, in the future, this is going to just collapse, and we’re going to start thinking about making games to be fun again and not be so obsessed with this monetization thing.

Neil Druckmann
Creative Director, Naughty Dog
We’re all going to be in the Matrix, but we won’t know that we’re in the Matrix, and then [Naughty Dog Game Director] Bruce [Straley] is going to be the one who fights for us all to get out.

Randy Pitchford
President and CEO, Gearbox Software
It’s really exciting right now, because we’re crossing the threshold where everyone is a gamer. If you rewind to the beginning of the last generation, more than half the population didn’t play games. Our grandparents had no idea what was going on. But the Wii got grandma bowling. Smartphones have brought all kinds of new games to all kinds of people. Everyone now is a gamer. That’s really exciting. Now, it’s going to be about that we can try anything, and we’ll find an audience. When you combine the spectrum of platforms with the width of the audience, we can try anything. As long as we’re smart about how many people might be interested in what we’re doing, I think you’re going to see a lot of risky and exciting games. A lot of things we’ve never seen before.

Palmer Luckey
Founder, Oculus VR
I don’t know what the future will look like. I think virtual reality will play an important part in it. I think indie games are going to be more and more polished. I think the creation tools that allow people to make games are going to be easier to use and allow for better and better games with less and less effort. It was really hard to make good-looking games a couple of years ago, but I think tools like Unity have made that whole process so much easier, so I think you’ll start having more amazing games from smaller teams.

Patrick Hudson
President, Robot Entertainment
What I think is fascinating is a developer anywhere in the world can now reach consumers anywhere in the world. Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. The access to high-speed bandwidth is pervasive globally. So, I think you’ll see gaming grow more globally, reaching markets that were never reachable before so you might see gaming become just as important in Zimbabwe as it is in North America in the next decade.

Jean Guesdon
Creative Director, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
I’d be rich if I knew what was coming. [Laughs] But I think it’ll be interesting to see what emerges from the mix of these highly capable consoles and all these social and mobile mechanics, and whatever comes from that will be something to keep an eye on.

Lucas Pope
Developer, Papers, Please
VR. I think VR is the future. Once it becomes accessible with the Oculus Rift, I think everything’s going to change in how games are made and sold.

Tameem Antoniades
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director, Ninja Theory
What I think is you’ll see is a shift away from games being designed by publishers for gamers and instead see gamers designing games for themselves. I think there’ll be much more of a homebrew scene, where technology will be awesome and game engines will be so powerful that small bands of people will be able to come together and make incredible games. I think the future will be less corporate-driven and more gamer-driven.

Troy Baker
Voice Actor, The Last of Us
I think that what we’re doing right now is that we’re not only redefining what games look like, but we’re also redefining how players play them. I think, to some extent, gamers have gotten a little spoiled. Now we’re shaking things up, and gamers are able to participate in the infrastructure of how their games are presented to them. I think that’s an exciting opportunity for publishers to listen to their audience and collaborate with them in not only creating the content but also in how the content gets to them, so I’m excited to see how that relationship grows over the course of the next generation.

Rex Crowle
Creative Lead, Media Molecule
I think we’ll just see more and more games seeping out of our screens and interacting with our reality, from new display methods to all kinds of crazy science-fiction stuff.

Steve Gaynor
Co-Founder, The Fullbright Company
I think we’re going to see another big, must-have item that people will move to, like mobile was for the last generation. I can’t pretend to tell you what it may be, though.

Be sure to check out EGM Issue #263, available now on newsstands everywhere, to hear these and other gaming personalities share their thoughts on the flip side of this topic: what they thought was the most important aspect of the last generation of hardware.

Back in December I had the chance to attend the 2010 SpikeTV VGAs and work the red carpet. Here I had a chance to speak with the only version of Commander Shepard for most people, Jennifer Hale, the female version of Commander Shepard for Bioware’s Mass Effect series. We chatted about how more people should look at her as the only Commander Shepard and how it is to be in such a widely popular series.

Back in December I had the chance to attend the 2010 SpikeTV VGAs and work the red carpet. It was here that I got a chance to catch up with the hosts of Spike’s Deadliest Warrior, which is about to launch its 3rd season in July. Geoff Desmoulin, Dr. Armand Dorian, and Richard “Mack” Machowicz are all great guys.