With the entire DC Multiverse to play with, the people at Turbine working on the upcoming MOBA Infinite Crisis didn’t have to strain themselves inventing multiple variations of famous characters like Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. Open up an older Elseworlds graphic novel or any comic set in one of the 52 Earths other than the main one and bam, there they are.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t have some fun pushing the limits of what they thought DC might accept.
“There have been one or two things where we were like, ‘There is no way they’re going to approve this,” Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel said to Gamesided at PAX East. “And they were like, ‘No, it’s cool, we’re really excited about it.'”
Anyone playing in the game’s open beta has already seen the vampiric Nightmare Batman from Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, as well as Gaslight Joker, who Steefel described as “this big, sort of German butcher, Sweeney Todd kind of character with a giant ham with infested rats in it.” And the owners of the DC brand were just fine with that.
“They’ve definitely told us, ‘Hey, there are some issues that we want you to tweak on,’ but what’s been great is that not often does that happen,” Steefel said. “Which isn’t to say that it can’t, but we understand the IP really well, and we care about it as much as they do, so I think that helps.”
There’s very much an in-game reason for the alternate reality hijinks. Infinite Crisis features six distinct roles for its Champions: Assassins, Blasters, Bruisers, Controllers, Enforcers and Marksmen. If there were only one version of each hero or villain, it would limit players to a specific role.
Instead, Turbine is making use of the Multiverse to allow the same characters to fulfill different roles while staying true to all of the facets they’ve developed during years of appearances in DC comics. Take, for instance, a certain Dark Knight.
“You know Batman is really interesting, because he’s not just one-dimensional,” Steefel said. “He’s this dark, violent vigilante, but he’s also this gadget guy and a detective. So if we pull those apart and focus on one of those elements for each of the Multiverse characters, everything fits. In the case of Batman, what’s the ultimate expression of his violent, dark vigilante? Well you’re a vampire. And then for Gaslight Batman, he’s more of the gadget guy. He’s got sonic blasters and tools and things like that, but he’s still Batman.”
The Infinite Crisis design team thinks about both the popularity of the character and the roles that currently need to be filled to keep the game’s balance intact, which is a must for a top-notch, competitive MOBA. Those considerations provide the starting point for picking a new iteration of a hero or villain from one of the six core universes being used so far.
After that, it’s a combination of art and science that leads to the finished Champion.
“We generally start with a description of what the character’s like, and then the designers work out, okay, that sounds like this would be cool for an Assassin,” Steefel said. “Then they start building out his kit, while at the same time the artists are drawing up the concepts, and we’re checking with DC to make sure that we’re, you know, staying in the right place.”
So far, that process hasn’t led them anywhere DC hasn’t wanted them to go.
Infinite Crisis is currently in open beta, with free sign-ups available at www.infinitecrisis.com.