Wolverine's the best he is at what he does and he'll be back in movie theaters on Friday, May 1 in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"!
Here on Marvel.com, we're celebrating the Canucklehead's return to the silver screen all month long with COMPLETE Wolverine stories in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, ever-present updates on the upcoming movie with all the latest photos, videos and more!
So sharpen your claws and dig in,
By Rob Bricken
No one has seen more of Wolverine inside and out than Raven Software artist Doug Smith (well, except maybe the Hulk). The designer was charged with creating the Canucklehead's character model for the "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" video game, due out May 1—which meant Smith didn't just have to design his outside, he had to design his insides as well! In this five-part interview series, the developers at Raven discuss making the ultimate Wolverine video game; in this second installment, Smith explains the game's amazing damage graphics, how he merged the movie with the look of the comics and a guest appearance by a certain furious scientist.
Marvel.com: What Wolverine and X-Men comics were of particular inspiration for you when making the game?
Doug Smith: There's tons of art and story in our game referencing stuff from the original comics that fans should notice. One that I worked on that I'm especially proud of is the in-engine "hero" shot of Logan that we announced the game with in December. Besides showing the amount of detail we put into our character models and lighting, the composition of that image is a direct nod to the original WOLVERINE #1 comic book cover, and we're hoping that fans pick up on it.
Marvel.com: How much of the game's design comes directly from the movie?
Doug Smith: About 60% of the game's narrative elements are from the movie—and I believe we ended up capturing the main story arc solidly. The game is an intense 12-15 hours to play through for the first time, and to make that happen we needed the freedom to explore additional locations, back stories and gameplay ideas that a normal-length movie just doesn't have time to do. In order to flesh things out, the rest of the game's story was created by the team at Raven, working with writer Marc Guggenheim of Marvel fame. He brought a heavy dose of comic book authenticity to our title and we really benefited from his work.
Marvel.com: What character, level and sequence are you most proud of designing?
Doug Smith: It's hard for me to not have a strong bias towards Wolverine after all the time we spent on him. I think we nailed his character, and fans are going to love picking up the controls and playing as a living weapon. One of the levels in particular that I believe turned out visually amazing is the Sabretooth bar fight. It's a multi-stage boss level that takes place both indoors and later outside in a pouring rain. This stormy section, with all of its effects and materials, really pushes the Unreal engine and makes for some great eye-candy. I think that there have been few movie or comic games that have the graphical prowess to stand up to Wolverine, and this level is one that proves that.
Marvel.com: Since the game is a marriage of both the live-action movie and the comic character, how did you decide the visual style of the game?
Doug Smith: One of the great things about Raven is that it's filled with a lot of hardcore Marvel nuts who we relied on big-time to make sure we were faithful to the fans. We were lucky to have early location and character shots of Hugh and crew taken during the movie's filming to understand their visual treatment. They were a solid guideline for our team throughout the project, but none of us believed that gamers would want a completely literal translation from a movie, especially when it comes to the history-rich world of Wolverine. Our game explores a dark, gritty tone and to do that, we knew that we would have to look to more than just the movie elements for inspiration. The Wolverine comics throughout the years have tried a lot of different looks and themes, and our team incorporated as many of those ideas as possible.
Marvel.com: Will players be able to unlock any outfits from the comics in the game?
Doug Smith: There are a handful of unlockable outfits for Wolverine; along with a ton of different costumes worn in the upcoming movie. Our team made sure that the classic blue-and-gold outfit is in there, as well as the brown-and-tan. They're both extremely polished, and I think people will love the look. You can't help but smile seeing old-school Wolverine run around and tear guys up.
Marvel.com: How difficult was it to make Wolverine's body, muscles and skeleton work together to create his healing power?
Doug Smith: We did have to solve all of the different visual elements of his healing factor, and it took a lot of planning throughout the whole project. It's one of the most important things about our hero, and we knew we had to get it right. There's a ton of math going on to figure out how to get our clawed hero to take all this damage and look good doing it! To put it in perspective, drawing a pixel of Wolverine's afflicted skin takes over 3-4 times the amount of calculations as a typical one from our environments. We just planned for this crazy cost ahead of time since we knew it would pay off for gameplay and visuals.
Marvel.com: In a recent interview, you mentioned Wendigo will be in the game. Care to drop any other guest appearances?
Doug Smith: Marketing has finally allowed me to drop the bomb that everyone's favorite mad scientist, Bolivar Trask, will be making a guest appearance in our game. On a more serious note, I can't go through the entire cast list, but I think fans won't be disappointed in the turnout.
Marvel.com: What's your favorite moment in the game?
Doug Smith: My favorite moment happens to only show up in our game when Wolverine fights a Sentinel. I think we nailed the visuals, the intensity of the action and the character of Wolverine. Who else could take on a 200-foot killing machine and even stand a chance?
Come back tomorrow for another behind-the-scenes Q&A.
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For more Wolverine, check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and our "Wolverine: Required Reading" list. Like gaming? The official "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" video game hits stores May 1! And remember: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" comes to a theater near you on May 1—visit the official "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" movie site!
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