Last week, we asked Gameological readers to submit questions that we could pose to developers on the E3 2013 show floor. We picked five of our favorites; those questions constitute The Gameological Questionnaire.
Mark Pacini founded the Austin-based Armature Studio in 2008 after leaving Retro Studios, where he was the lead designer on all three Metroid Prime titles. After overcoming some well-documented hurdles, Armature is gearing up to release its first game, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a portable addition to the Arkham series. The spinoff throws the Caped Crusader into a prison whose secrets open up as Batman collects gadgets—sort of like Metroid, you might say. Blackgate will be out on October 25.
The Gameological Society: If Blackgate had a super-deluxe $1,000 edition, what would you put in the box?
Mark Pacini: Oh, god. I’d put a copy of myself in so I’d explain everything. We always talked about that—if something is wrong about your game, and someone doesn’t understand it, the running joke is, “We’ll just ship you with it so [you] can explain to everybody.” That would be the super-deluxe version.
Gameological: There are new consoles coming out. In terms of game design, what kind of exciting things are on the horizon that you couldn’t do before?
Pacini: I’m really excited about the game DVR stuff, because I think you can do a lot of stuff outside of just recording your video. There can be a lot of interesting things that players can do community-wise, and I don’t think it’s just, “I’m going to make a video of the latest kill that I did.” I think you could do a lot of things from a gameplay standpoint. If you get a headshot on somebody, a picture gets taken and sent to you, with who took the headshot—with their name and everything. Suddenly, it’s a community-based thing. If something’s always being recorded, you’re always being watched while you play, not in a bad way. You could always rewind and get that information. Developers can use that, too, in a way to enhance your game experience, rather than just being video recording. I think there’s a lot of potential for that.
Gameological: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of humanity, what would they learn about us?
Pacini: Wow. They’d only learn that we can move left to right. I don’t know if you remember that story, I think it was called “2D,” and the whole civilization was in two dimensions, and that’s how they lived their lives. [He may be thinking of Edwin Abbott Abbott’s novella Flatland —ed.] The really odd restrictions we put on the player here in terms of how they can move, [which] make sense to us, would not totally make sense to someone else. That’s probably a horrible answer, but I can’t think of anything wittier.
Gameological: What wine pairs best with your game?
Pacini: A bitter wine. It is Batman. It’s dark and smoky.
Gameological: What was the craziest idea that came up in production that didn’t make it in?
Pacini: Our art director, Todd, has really crazy, verging on extremely odd ideas. Mainly it was—I don’t have any of them, but he could probably come up with something funny. I’m more pragmatic, so I don’t have a lot of really stupid ideas, I’m sorry.