“[Shadow Complex] is bigger than Gears!”
©2009 Aaron Bertinetti – News Editor
In a sprawling, jovial interview with Mark Rein, Vice President of Epic Games, we got talking about the high overall quality of the titles on show at E3 2009. Eventually we discussed Shadow Complex and what the future holds for XBLA, including the quality and value of downloadable games across all platforms. But first a bit of context…
The rising tide has raised all the boats.
Like there’s no question to me that all the games look better. You know they’re all getting better and better. I mean I loved the Modern Warfare 2 presentation they did in the Microsoft conference. But everything’s gotten a little bit better and as a game developer it’s a challenge to make each game better than the last one. And so I’ve been really impressed by the overall quality of games which is just great, all round.
Naturally the conversation about the “rising tide” moved to Epic’s first entry into the XBLA arena with the genre re-birthing Shadow Complex and how the deal came about with Microsoft.
I saw some great XBLA games, and obviously we’re kind of leading that charge with Shadow Complex. But I saw some other XBLA games that also… you know I thought all along that when we did the deal with Microsoft for Shadow Complex we basically talked to them about the game, they’ve known about it for a long time, and we said hey what are we going to do with this from this perspective, would you like to publish it?
And they were like “yeah” and this is where they came to us and said “We think this game…” and others such as Perfect Dark and things like that, “challenges the perception of what these affordable, shorter form games could be.”
The conversation on Shadow Complex and particularly its length continued. In a previous meeting with lead designer of Shadow Complex, Donald Mustard, he’d revealed to me that the average time for testers first time through the game was 10-14 hours, with times varying wildly after that depending on the characters upgrades and more particularly a player’s motivations to explore, collect, engage in combat or speed run.
Mark Rein: It turns out our game isn’t so short form after all! [Laughs]
OXCGN: I know, 10-14 hours I think is the average for the testers.
Mark Rein: It’s bigger than Gears!
[LMFAO. In fact we both were. Mark Rein had been cracking jokes throughout the interview with witty asides and quips, but he got the better of me with this one and we couldn’t contain ourselves (apologies to Cliff Bleszinski). Mark had me laughing as loud as him until we got back on topic.]
Time wise. [But] it’s not bigger obviously. It costs a lot more to make Gears.
But the point is that basically “we want to challenge the perception and we want to really get the quality level up of these games and more importantly, we’re actually going to spend some real marketing dollars” and that of course made my ears perk up.
And it’s like that’s the thing, people don’t know about these and so if we get a couple of really, really good games out there, that are getting the marketing and getting the attention on them, I think that you know it’s like I say it’s the whole rising tide, it raises all the boats.
The comparison to Gears should not be an afterthought. The original Gears of War redefined a genre, a mechanic and heralded a new standard of quality for full retail games on next generation platforms.
Expect Shadow Complex to have just as much impact on XBLA, downloadable titles and in resurrecting the Metroidvania genre. Whilst it may not be “bigger than Gears” in terms of budget, its impact could be even greater.
Shadow Complex will be “raising all the boats” when it’s released on August 19, 2009, exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade.
Note: Stay tuned to OXCGN for our full length interview with Mark Rein over the coming weeks.
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