Batman: Arkham City - The inside story

Insight: Rocksteady boss Sefton Hill on the sequel to a masterpiece...

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When it comes to design ideas we do, of course, have an unfair advantage! The back catalogue of Batman comic books and graphic novels is an incredibly valuable archive for us and we prefer to focus on the many decades of great comic book work in there and take inspiration from stand-out moments from within Batman's world rather than anywhere else.

On the motion capture process...


Our motion capture process has developed significantly since Batman: Arkham Asylum. Firstly, Rocksteady made the decision to build a custom, dedicated mocap wing to the studio. The new mocap studio has everything that we need for great capture and has space for a full armoury of weapons, crash mats and a load of other props. We also overhauled the entire motion capture pipeline so that we can grab even more of the subtle movement of our actors.

On Arkham City's musical score...


The intelligent use of music and audio is a very powerful tool in creating a genuine sense of immersion in a game world. The musical score is a critical component of our game and our Audio Director, Nick Arundel, continues to do some incredible work in composing a score that is both unique to the Arkham series, but is also laced with those signature orchestral Batman riffs that evoke the power and righteous menace of the Dark Knight.

There is a lot of thought and planning that goes into creating those stand-out, highly immersive cinematic moments for the player and, as with most elements of the game, it is only possible to achieve via collaboration between many different people in the studio bringing together creation vision and technical execution. The key to generating a genuine sense of immersion in the game lies in the way that the score is linked into the action of the player.

Our score is designed and composed with player immersion and interactivity at its heart. The score is broken down into thousands of component parts, which are then played depending on the actions of the player.

The Invisible Predator encounters are a great example of this; when the player first enters the room, the music sits on a certain level, but when they take down their first thug the music steps up to build the tension. If they are discovered, the music will jump to a different track and if they are fired upon, a different track entirely will play. All of these decisions are made with player immersion in mind.

It is simply a privilege to work on a Batman game. We have a great deal of creative flexibility to tell our own stories and create intriguing and compelling challenges for Batman.

All of that work is built on the incredibly solid foundations that DC Comics has built over decades of fantastic story telling. We are always pushing to innovate and introduce new and unexpected experiences for the player.

On going bigger and bolder than Arkham Asylum...


Without a doubt, the hardest part of moving the game setting from the confines of the asylum into the urban sprawl of Arkham City was simply building the environment.

Our objective in this game is not to make the biggest game we can, but to make the best game possible. Gamers who played Batman: Arkham Asylum will know how dedicated we are as a studio to injecting an incredible amount of detail into every environment we build.

It is this attention to detail that gives our games the deep and intense atmosphere that so many players have found so compelling, and so we have had to seriously scale up our art team in order to bring the same level of detail to Arkham City, which is about 4-5 times bigger than Arkham Asylum.

In terms of gameplay, we knew very early on that just scaling up Batman's abilities and gadgets wasn't going to work as he is fundamentally facing a new game world and totally different range of enemies in this game, so we took his move set from Batman: Arkham Asylum and built from there.

Looking at the raw amount of animations in this sequel, Batman's moves have doubled in number and we also wanted to create an authentic sense of continuity from the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum, so the player will begin Batman: Arkham City with many of the same core gadgets that they unlocked in the first game.

Batman's cutting-edge technology is a significant part of the game, so gamers can expect to see a range of totally new gadgets, as well as evolved new features built into those tools that they already enjoyed in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Batman: Arkham City is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC next year

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