Batman: Arkham Asylum 3D

Interview: Rocksteady gives CVG the story on its GOTY edition...

Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of 2009's most celebrated titles - so it's little wonder publisher Eidos is readying a Game Of The Year edition for release later this month.

Standard fare, right? Well, not quite.

As revealed on CVG yesterday, this particular GOTY comes will fully functioning 3D - which will no doubt tempt a whole bundle of gamers back to witness Joker tormenting his captors.

Here, CVG quizzes Sefton Hill, boss of developer Rocksteady, about the release, the game's lasting appeal - and the small matter of Arkham Asylum's upcoming sequel...

So... Why 3D, and why now?
It's an exciting new area and we thought it would work really well for Batman. I saw the tech just as we were finishing up Batman and I was immediately excited by it, especially as it worked on both console platforms and didn't require people to buy any new kit.

The opportunity came up for a Game of the Year Edition, so we decided that we wanted to add something special that everyone could enjoy rather than just a re-release with new box art...

How well does the 3D work - and can you talk us through the process implementing it in the game?
The TriOviz system adds depth into the screen as opposed to making objects jump out as you might see with polarised glasses in something like Avatar.

However overall the system works really well, adding to the experience while remaining inexpensive in terms of rendering cost. This has meant that we haven't had to adjust or remove any features while adding the 3D to the game. With some clever trickery from the code team, we've also included all the in game movies in 3D as well.

What would you say the 3D elements bring to the game that it didn't have before?
The 3D works really well with Batman because we have the lead character positioned in such a prominent position on screen, even by 3rd person genre standards. This means you get a great sense of the depth between Batman and the environments as you play.

Do you share Sony's confidence that 2010 will be 3D's breakthrough year?
I think there will initially be a market for 3D but I don't see it making a major breakthrough as soon as 2010. Some of the expensive technology required in the top-end glasses makes 3D gaming not really much of a spectator or social sport so there's always going to be a bit of a barrier there.

The good news with Batman is that you get two pairs of glasses in the box so you can watch a friend play and choose if you want the Batman or Joker themed specs...

If I hadn't played the DLC previously, what would you say were its real 'wow' moments to make it irresistible?
One of the team's favourite parts of the game was the Scarecrow challenge map which is now available to all as part of the Game of the Year edition. This is undoubtedly the toughest challenge in the whole game - one hit and you're dead. If you want to prove you're the best at FreeFlow combat then try challenging your friends at this. I personally have never got past round five.

Batman is undoubtedly one of if not the game of the last year. Do you feel that because of your success, the pressure on for you to perform with your next project?
Yes, definitely. But it's a good pressure. We're all really excited that people want to see what we're up to next and we really want to surprise people again.

I'm really excited by our next project and I promise we won't let anyone down. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to say any more than that.

Will the next Arkham Asylum also be in 3D, or is release this more of a one-off experiment?
No comment.

Do Microsoft's Natal and Sony's wand hold any interest for a studio like yours? Are they just for casual games?
From a personal point of view, I'm really excited to play any new technology and see the new directions that gaming is expanding into. To be honest I don't see this replacing traditional gaming though, just complementing it.

I think there will always be a market for people just lazing around on the sofa, relaxing while playing a game. At least I hope there will be - as that's how I like to play.