Interview with X-Men Destiny’s Julian Spillane

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With the release of X-Men Destiny last week we were given the chance to virtually meet up with Julian Spillane, assistant project manager at Silicon Knight, and put forward some of our questions around the title and development process.

Here’s what he had to say

1. Our three characters all come with their own back stories and motivations, but will the events that transpire in X-Men Destiny allow them to grow and mature their identity as well as their powers?

In addition to an overarching plot, X-Men Destiny does take time to focus on the characters’ personal growth as they discover their powers, forge alliances, and become immersed in the global crisis. Grant is forced to come to terms with becoming a hero, Aimi must deal with her abandonment and adjust to a new world, and Adrian has to overcome his Purifier upbringing and come to terms with being a mutant.

2. We’ve seen that we have to take sides during the conflicts that arise in X-Men Destiny, but how will characters on the opposing side react to that, considering that we’re all after the same goal at the end of the day?

Based on a player’s choices throughout the game, the various mutants that you encounter, be they Brotherhood, X-Men or independently aligned, will react to you differently. By siding with the X-Men, Mystique will treat you with derision. By choosing to side with Gambit in the U-Men lab, Cyclops and Colossus will be more distrusting of you. In the end, there is a temporary alliance between the factions as they fight for the greater good of mutant kind, but it is only a brief reprieve and we wanted to create a world that reflected the attitudes and biases of the X-Men Universe.

3. Can we expect any classic team-ups with well-known X-Men or Brotherhood characters?

Throughout X-Men Destiny, the player will team-up with and fight against members of the X-Men and the Brotherhood including (but not limited to) Juggernaut, Quicksilver, Mystique, Toad, Cyclops, Northstar, Caliban, Nightcrawler and Pyro.

4. With a lot of powers available to collect and use, will we be able to create attacks and moves that not even the developers could have foreseen?

There are so many permutations of mutant powers and X-Genes that there is no way we could have foreseen all of the various combos and attacks that are possible with the system. For example, we brought in some local gamers to play-test towards the end of development and, after discovering that they have the ability to dash cancel out of various Shadow Matter combo-enders, decided to have some fun. They equipped Colossus offensive X-Gene (which adds a juggle property to your ground pound) and Surge’s defensive (which gives the player an electric dash) and then went to town on enemies by starting combos, dash-cancelling out of the enders, and ground-pounding while the enemies were still recovering to keep the juggle going. They’d then use the Surge dash to strike the enemies while airborne and then start the combo again.

Those are the situations and experiences that we definitely did not foresee during development but are incredibly happy that people have discovered.

5. What kind of balance will there be with the various powers, to ensure that the game remains challenging and to make certain that our characters don’t become too overpowered?

Our designers have gone to great lengths to make sure that the X-Genes are balanced compared to each other and a mutant’s base set of powers. The end result is that there are certain genes that are favourable for different situations and if a player wants the optimal experience they will end up swapping in and out a variety of X-Genes as they collect them.

From a challenge perspective, we offer the players a variety of difficulty settings that scale up the challenge dramatically. Players can change this difficulty on the fly so if they feel that the game is too easy or that they are in over their heads they can change it up without losing progress.

6. Have any of the recent X-men comic book story arcs influenced X-Men Destiny lately, or is this game aiming to tell its own self-contained story?

X-Men Destiny takes place in its own self-contained timeline, branching off of the comics somewhere between “Messiah Complex” and “Utopia.”

7. Can we expect any future DLC content to further expand our collection of mutant powers?

We’ve already introduced the Havok X-Genes and fan suit exclusively available through DLC so the support is there for more should there be interest.

8. Could you please explain to us more on how the mutant powers that we collect and use can become more powerful as the game progresses?

Players gain experience points from defeating enemies that can be spent to upgrade your core combat, your mutant abilities, and most X-Genes. Upgrades do everything from adding extra strikes to your combos, to additional status effects and abilities when added to your powers and X-Genes.

9. What lessons have you learned from the development and reception of Too-Human, and how have you applied them to X-Men Destiny?

We learn from every game that we’ve worked on and we always apply this to future titles we develop. When developing the X-Gene and core power systems we wanted to make sure that, while having depth, they were as accessible as possible to players. Simplifying the equip system to three core slots – Offensive, Defensive and Utility – enables players to create deeply customizable play experiences without a lot of complex decision-making.

10. The last handful of X-Men games all featured co-operative play. Why is there no co-op in X-Men Destiny?

We were focused on developing a strong storytelling experience within the constraints of our development timelines. This meant focusing our efforts on creating a strong single-player experience.

And that’s the end of that, the game was released last Friday to less than stellar reviews so if you’re looking for an indepth X-Men title that is true to the story then this may not be the title for you. However if you’re looking for some mindless mutated fun then give it a shot.

Last Updated: October 5, 2011

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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