Batman: Arkham City is developer Rocksteady Studios' follow-up to the mega-hit Batman: Arkham Asylum and puts players back in the Caped Crusader's boots for some third-person gameplay. It's also still months away, and that sucks because we have burning questions right now. What's up with Catwoman? Do these rumors of multiplayer mean Robin is in the game? What does Hugo Strange mean for the Dark Knight?
Well, we've let these questions eat away at us for long enough, and now it's time to put Rocksteady Studios Game Director Sefton Hill through the wringer to get some answers of our own.
IGN: First and foremost, how hard did you guys have to work to keep the warden's secret room a secret in Batman: Arkham Asylum? Were there company NDAs signed in blood? Were you checking the web every day to see if anyone had found it?
Sefton Hill: To be completely honest, I wasn't sure anyone would ever find it. It required 3 sets of explosive gel to be detonated in the same place (something you didn't have to do anywhere else in the game) and there was absolutely no hint that it was there. But it was kind of exciting knowing there was a big hint to the next game so close if only you knew where to look.
IGN: Were you a bit shocked by how well Arkham Asylum was received? You must've known it was good, but with people's distrust of comic games, were you worried?
Sefton Hill: Yes! I was incredibly proud of the game we made. We'd had lots of positive feedback during production, but I didn't really take it in until we released and the reviews started to hit. The awards and feedback from the public blew us away and it was immensely rewarding for the team who had poured so much of their heart and soul into the game.
IGN: Did work on Batman: Arkham City start as soon as Arkham Asylum was out the door? Before then?
Sefton Hill: We started to think in earnest about the story for Batman: Arkham City around the start of 2009. We'd been kicking around a number of possible ideas before then, but at that point we started to crystallize them and make sure they were woven into the fabric of the first game. Then, as soon as people finished off on Batman: Arkham Asylum they moved straight onto Arkham City, with our concept team working on the game as early as February 2009 before being slowly joined by the rest of the team over the following months.
IGN: How much did Arkham Asylum feedback shape Arkham City? Were there things you said you had to change based on fan reactions?
Sefton Hill: Honestly, the biggest message we received from people was, "keep doing what you're doing," which was great. I suppose in some respects the fact that there wasn't a single piece of unified feedback where everyone said "please add this one thing" was a testament to the first game, but it did make designing the sequel more challenging. However, I truly believe that if you want to make something that other people will be passionate about, then first and foremost you need to be passionate about it yourself. So we decided to focus on delivering one main promise: I want to be The Batman in Gotham.
He's probably not going to get the shot off.
IGN: Even though we really know next to nothing about Arkham City (thanks for that, by the way), some people openly complain about there being too many villains announced. What can you say to them right now? Is the story that much bigger this time around or do we have the wrong idea?
Sefton Hill: It was never about making a bigger game for us – just a better one. If we thought the best game featured just one villain then that's we'd do. Rest assured, we aren't putting villains into the game just to make up the numbers, we are choosing characters who we think have an interesting story to tell and who can challenge Batman in an original and exciting way. So it's true, there are more villains. A lot more villains. There will be more exciting announcements soon. (And many who we will never announce!)
IGN: Tell us about Hugo Strange's role in Arkham City.
Sefton Hill: We know Hugo Strange is going to be a completely new character to some players, but he was the perfect choice for the role of Warden of Arkham City. Hopefully the trailer at the end of last year has given you a few hints to his character and motivation. Strange makes the rules that all prisoners have to abide by. He enforces these rules with a zero tolerance policy through his Tyger security force, a force equally as fierce as the gangs the incarcerated criminal bosses have amassed. The walls and airspace are constantly patrolled by heavily armed Tyger guards who share Strange's contempt for criminals.
The other dimension to Hugo Strange is that he knows Batman's true identity, which massively raises the stakes for Bruce Wayne. By entering Arkham City, Batman is vulnerable and exposed in a way that he has never been before.
But don't worry if you've never even heard of Hugo Strange. Arkham City tells the story of the first time Batman has crossed swords with Strange, so you will know a lot more about him by the end of the evening.