Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

The Gameological Questionnaire is an E3 tradition where we take your questions and pose them to developers at the biggest video game trade show of the year. There’s no reason why we couldn’t use those questions in other settings, though. Derrick Sanskrit took some of his favorite queries from past Questionnaires and searched for answers at this year’s New York Comic Con. Here’s what he came back with:

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

With more than 10 Lego-based video games under its belt already, TT Games doesn’t look to be resting on its laurels any time soon. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham does more than just move the family-friendly take on the Dark Knight into outer space with the rest of the Justice League, it also takes players to various generations of the caped crusader, including a Lego-fied set of the 1966 TV series, along with Lego versions of Kevin Smith, Conan O’Brien, and Adam West. Steven Sharples, the assistant game director, took a moment away from stud collecting to answer our questionnaire.

The A.V. Club: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Steven Sharples: That we have an incredible sense of humor, because Lego games are all about the humor. You know, we always try to take it a step forward each game, and ever since Lego Batman 2, where we introduced talking, the humor’s just increased to a ridiculous scale. Having people like Adam West involved too, who are just naturally funny people. Kevin Smith, too. That great sense of humor is probably something that an alien would take from Lego Batman 3.

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AVC: What wine pairs best with your game?

SS: I’m not a wine drinker, however, I would say because it’s so fresh and new, it [would be] something that would give you energy. So something like a Lukozade. You probably don’t have it in America. It’s sort of like a Red Bull energy drink. It’s a glucose energy drink, one that’s not going to kill you.

AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

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SS: Probably one of mine? I don’t know, because usually the weird ideas are the best. It’s flipped around with Lego games, all the weird ones go in and all the sensible ones go out.

AVC: If your game had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

SS: Probably Adam West. That’s a bit cheap for Adam—maybe just Troy Baker, then. [Laughs.] Clooney? No, Schumacher! We’ll stick Joel Schumacher in the box. You know what? I think that’s the weirdest thing, actually. The decision not to include something that took the mick out of Joel Schumacher a bit.

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AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

SS: It would give you unlimited studs. While you’re playing the game, it would just, like, tick up constantly.

AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

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SS: For starters, you’re taking responsibility for securing the planet Earth, so that’s a pretty big responsibility. You’re also working together as a team, so that’s good bonding. You have to work with some pretty creepy customers—the Joker and Lex Luthor aren’t very easy to get along with—so that’s pretty good team-bonding skills. But I would say saving the world is pretty high responsibility—that would probably get you most jobs. If you were working security here and you said you have experience saving the planet from a megalomaniac supervillain, you’d probably be in four figures, probably more!

Life Is Strange

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French studio Dontnod Entertainment (Remember Me) is working on Life Is Strange, an episodic adventure game about a girl returning from college to her family’s Oregon home, reconnecting with old friends, and investigating the mysterious disappearance of a local girl. Oh yeah, and she has the power to reverse time to see the outcomes of different decisions. That’s kind of important. Creative director Jean-Maxime Moris and art director/co-director Michel Koch talked with us about what they want players to learn from being a girl in the Pacific Northwest.

The A.V. Club: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Jean-Maxime Moris: They would learn—what might be alien to them is that we start as entities that have absolutely no idea where they’re going to go, and we build identities through relationships, through choices and everything, and eventually we become who we are but we’re still not sure of what that is. That’s what I think the game is showing from an alien point of view. If they can grab the controller with their [Gestures with tentacle-like fingers.] that’s what they would learn.

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AVC: What wine pairs best with your game?

JM: Cheap, locally brewed Oregon beer.

AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

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JM: Change the character to a male character.

AVC: If your game had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

JM: That’s way too cheap to have Oregon cut out of the United States and put into a box. [Laughs.] A machine that sits by the TV and actually develops all the Polaroids as you progress through the game.

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AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

JM: That’s a very ambiguous question, because I’m tempted to say the rewind [the main character’s special ability to reverse time] but then, any button can do it, so…

Michel Koch: One that turns you into an adult?

JM: Heh, maybe. A button that reads the player’s mind and inputs the choice without them having to hit any other button.

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AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

JM: You have mad interpersonal skills, I would say, and that is what this game is very much about.

Marvel Puzzle Quest

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What happens when you combine the match-three puzzles of Bejeweled with the colorful combat of Marvel superheroes? There are countless realities with different combinations of the two, but here and now, the best we’ve got is Marvel Puzzle Quest. Designer Casey Malone was giddy with excitement about the game’s one-year anniversary, particularly its events with fan-favorite characters Deadpool and Devil Dinosaur. Still, he somehow found the energy to answer our questionnaire.

The A.V. Club: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Casey Malone: Well, first they would learn that Earth was populated by colorful, fearsome warriors who loved to match three things together in order to fight their battles. They would also learn about whales if they unlocked Deadpool. Learn about the fearsome whales that ruled the land.

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AVC: What wine pairs best with your game?

CM: I don’t know anything about wine. I like to have a nice Jarritos when I play, which is a Mexican soda. I like the mango. Not to harp too much on Deadpool, but I think that would go nicely with a chimichanga while you play.

AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

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CM: Oh man, that’s a tough one because every time we have a weird idea that doesn’t make it into the game, we don’t throw it out. We go, “Maybe later, in the future.” Like, Deadpool is really weird, we had a lot of crazy ideas that we just couldn’t do because the game is multi-platform—PC, iOS, and Android. We wanted to have Deadpool, like, mess with your iOS notifications and make it look like he opened the App Store but he hadn’t, stuff like that where, unfortunately because we’re multi-platform, just didn’t work. We had a huge whiteboard of crazy Deadpool ideas.

AVC: If your game had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

CM: Devil Dinosaur. Like a mini actual living Devil Dinosaur. If I had to release a fantasy collector’s edition, it would come with like a My Pet Devil Dino who hung out with you. You have to train him, though. We can’t do everything for you.

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AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

CM: I would want it to insta-kill Bag-Man [a common Spider-Man variant]. Spider-Man Bag-Man’s up in a fight? Press it, and he goes away. He’s no one’s favorite, let me put it that way. He’s not great. We like all our characters, but he’s just as irritating as Spider-Man would be to hang out with in real life, I think. So that’s what the button would do, get rid of him.

AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

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CM: First of all, you would have experience managing or supervising a complex, diverse roster of employees, all of whom you needed to make sure got enough attention and got their time in the sun. I think you could really focus on your spatial relations skills, in terms of moving things around to match them with two other things.

Marvel: Contest Of Champions

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Marvel: Contest Of Champions is a one-on-one fighting game coming next year to iOS and Android. While it resembles classic fighters like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, the controls are gesture-based, rather than using dreaded “virtual controls” like an on-screen joystick and buttons. Players collect and battle heroes from Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Captain America. We sat down with creative director Cuz Parry and story writer Sam Humphries (of Marvel’s Legendary Star-Lord, Uncanny X-Force, and the upcoming The Black Vortex).

The A.V. Club: What wine pairs best with your game?

Cuz Parry: Pabst Blue Ribbon? [Laughs.] I don’t know, dude, I don’t drink wine! Wine spodie-odie.

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Sam Humphries: Probably some combination of, like, Rock Star—

CP: Four Loko!

SH: Yeah, Four Loko maybe.

CP: Joose was first.

SH: Li’l Jon had one called Crunk Juice. It was horrible—not very long-lived. Not a wise investment.

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AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

CP: Some of the synergy bonuses that we’re not allowed to really talk about because they’re gross! Synergy bonuses are pairing people up together for whatever reason.

SH: Maybe highlighting relationships Marvel doesn’t like to highlight.

CP: Exactly! Yeah.

AVC: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

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CP: That our conflict resolutions usually happen in less than a minute.

SH: Yeah, whatever wiped out our civilization, it started and ended in less than a minute.

CP: Or maybe 10 of those in a row, and then it was really over.

SH: The cease of humanity came about because we didn’t maximize our synergy bonuses.

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AVC: If your game had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

SH: Probably about four college credits? And maybe one of the guys from Times Square that dresses up like Spider-Man to do some stunts for you.

AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

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SH: Maybe piloting the next generation of battlefield drones? Iron Man drones? Yeah, Tony Stark’s next defense department contract.

CP: A degree in chemistry. Working with the iso [in-game resources that are mixed and crossed for various perks and boosts] and all that. You knew how to juice people, you could work for the NFL.

AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

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CP: Project onto a wall, ’cause it looks good standing up on the wall! I’d definitely be like, “All right, you wanna see it? Let’s just…” [Gestures the image expanding onto a wall.]

SH: Let’s strike that from the interview, then we’ll get together, get some startup cash, and we’ll do that on our own.

CP: Where’s the Kickstarter?

Lara Croft And The Temple Of Osiris

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2010’s Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light was a surprise hit, moving the legendary tomb raider away from grand, cinematic adventure and into top-down running-and-gunning, with a refreshing focus on cooperative play and environmental puzzles. Crystal Dynamics is back at it again with Lara Croft And The Temple Of Osiris, a four-player adventure that looks to bring players together and tear them apart at the same time. We talked with producer Robert Siwiak about Egyptian mythology and the fun of blowing up your own friends.

The A.V. Club: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Robert Siwiak: I think that they would find that we’re creatures capable of both a competitive side and also a cooperative side. I think that that’s two of the biggest hallmarks of this game—that if you’re playing it in multiplayer, it is completely a cooperative adventure, there’s no way we could get through this on our own. But at the same time, there’s that competitive coop-etition nature of it. We’re bombing each other because we want to get the gems, just having fun trying to lower the other guy’s score so that we’re at the top of the podium at the end of the round. I think that defines the best of both our competitive nature as well as our cooperative nature all packaged up in one game.

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AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

RS: Honestly, I think most of the weird ideas we had for the game actually made it into the game. We’re sitting here like, “Oh man, what kind of bosses could we have in the game?” Well, let’s look at Egyptian mythology. You’ve got Khepri, this big scarab beetle, and he rolls this big ball, you know, and we’re like, “What if we were fighting on top of that ball? We’re fighting a giant 50-foot beetle and he’s rolling us around on this dung ball, basically, and we have to shoot at him. There’s this giant crocodile named Sobek. “Hey, what if we could feed him time bombs? We have to launch the bombs into his mouth and that’s how we defeat it!” The fun thing about this franchise, the fun thing about Lara Croft, and this is classic Croft, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It does everything in the name of fun. If there is this cool over-the-top idea, nine times out of 10 it made it into the game because anything can go in this experience.

AVC: If your game had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

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RS: We do have a retail version coming up. For $19.99 you get the digital download for the game, but we also have in retail stores the gold-edition of the game. This comes with a 3-inch figurine of Lara in it, it’s got a map of the overworld so you can find where all the tombs are, an art book that shows all of our cool enemies, as well as a season pass for the game. A super-special edition, though, that would have, like, a 5-foot tall statue of Lara that you could have at your home made of pure gold to fit the Egyptian theme.

AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

RS: Looking back on the game, I think it would be great to have a hint system. Although we’ve spent a lot of time user-testing the game, making sure that this is a casual experience you can get through and figure out the puzzles, every now and then there’s someone who needs that extra little nudge. Granted, this is now a generation of people who will go online and look at GameFAQs or whatever website or wiki and figure out exactly how to do all that stuff, but yeah, sometimes you’re playing through the game and think, “I could use just that little nudge to help me figure this thing out,” but at the same time it’s like I don’t want to add something like that in there because part of the excitement, part of the fun is going like, “I got it! I figured it out! I solved that puzzle!”

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AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

RS: As a cooperative game, you clearly play well with others. You also don’t take yourself too seriously. At the same time, you know how to have one hell of an adventure. A wide variety of skill sets. Most [isometric perspective] games you see out there, they’re mostly just combat, but the Lara Croft experience is equal parts puzzles, traversal, and platforming segments, as well as combat in there, so it keeps it all fresh, rotating around that experience so it’s not just one tone. You’d be a pretty well-rounded person as a result of playing through this game.

Hitman: Sniper

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Hitman: Sniper, the second mobile game set in Square-Enix’s popular Hitman series, locks players into a stationary position watching a party from a distant rooftop. Through the scope of a sniper rifle, they’re given free rein to cause as much destruction as they want without getting caught before finally taking out their target. The end result is something of a free-to-play murder sandbox, designed for players to challenge their friends to see who can be the most stealthy mischief maker. We managed to put the rifle down long enough to chat with Ollie Sykes, the game’s creative director.

The A.V. Club: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Ollie Sykes: That we were extremely violent, and we enjoyed killing one another for money. They’d understand what the perfect head shot feels like. [Laughs.]

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AVC: What wine pairs best with your game?

OS: I think something very rich and diverse, something that’s quite heavy with a lot of character to it. The name of a wine eludes me at the moment, but something very full bodied.

AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

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OS: There was the notion that a guy would be peeing and that he’d electrocute himself through his own pee. You could shoot the wire that he was peeing onto and he’d electrocute himself, yeah. That’s—we’re not doing that.

AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

OS: It would remix the level. It would just be, like, a remix button. Everyone would have different paths, and there’d be a whole bunch of different targets, and they’d all be in different places so you could just mix it up if you wanted. If you’re bored of the clockwork of the level, you could just remix your game.

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AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

OS: You definitely know how to kill silently and get away with it, right? So if you wanted a job as an international assassin, I’m sure someone would hire you after you spent an entire summer playing this game.

Moonrise

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It’s hard not to see the Pokémon influence on any game about catching wild creatures and training them to fight for you, especially when those animals have supernatural powers. Moonrise’s design director, Richard Foge, even joked about a “gotta catch ’em all” mentality when we battled. Real-time combat and persistent social features may help to modernize the formula, but Foge was happy to answer our questions to tell us a bit more about Moonrise’s personality.

The A.V. Club: If an alien species discovered your game as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Richard Foge: They would learn that we like collecting creatures and battling them against other people, I guess, if they’re inferring that the wardens are humans. That we like playing dress-up a lot. That our world is fun but violent and adorable at the same time.

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AVC: What wine pairs best with your game?

RF: Probably a drier white, like a Riesling. Probably a bit of a boring answer, but a good go-to.

AVC: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production but didn’t ultimately make it into the game?

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RF: We’ve had a lot of those, actually. “What a crazy idea! Sure would be great if we could do it, but we’re not gonna!” Well, I can tell you that the original version of this game was actually giant robots and giant monsters and it turned into this. Specific features? Originally we had dungeons that were more tap-to-move. That isn’t crazy. It’s just implementation that evolved. Tap-to-move dungeons would have taken players hours to explore rather than the minutes they take now, which is a more natural fit for the devices and platforms this is on. There have been a lot of things that were shot down.

AVC: If your game had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

RF: A live kitzapp [Points at promo art on the wall of a two-tailed lynx-like creature surrounded by lightning.], our main mascot. It would be about the size of a loaf of bread, so it would fit in the box, which would have air holes.

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AVC: If you had the power to add an extra button to the controller that served a single function specific to your game, what would it do?

RF: Button is tricky. I’d die for an analog stick on these things sometimes. [Picks up iPad.] Just a little stick-nub over here. The New 3DS has one, and I’d be all over that. Not necessarily for Moonrise, though. The thing is, we very specifically built the controls around the interface, so we don’t have anything that feels alien. We were very specific early on that this is our platform, this is the interface. If I had to add something gimmicky just for Moonrise, probably a key button just so when the capture chance comes up, you’d press the key button instead of sort of tapping on the screen.

AVC: If my resume included a whole summer spent just playing your game, how should I spin it as valuable experience?

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RF: Clearly, you’re a very responsible person, because you have all of these different solari that you’re taking care of, so that could impress people in a variety of different industries. Impress them with your responsibility! There’s dungeon delving, so if you want to go into archaeology, you could put that on your resume, say, “I’ve been through this many dungeons and found these rare artifacts and treasures. They’re all in museums now. I donated them all.” So you could get into some cool archaeology club. Some sort of Indiana Jones nanny. Adventure nanny. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, going around the world. You could nanny for their kids! Keep their kids alive on these adventures.