Marvel's anti-hero, Deadpool, could have made for an irritating video game protagonist, but developer High Moon Studios avoided this by "committing fully to the character," according senior creative director Dave Cravens.
In an interview with Polygon, Cravens said the character could have potentially come across as irritating because of all his unique traits: he breaks the fourth wall and talks to the player, he hears voices and has conversations with them, he's crude and indulges in fart jokes and, as his nickname "The Merc with a Mouth" suggests, he never stops talking. But by embracing Deadpool's unapologetic nature, Cravens believes High Moon's Deadpool game does the character justice in the way Marvel's comics intended.
"I think it's a matter of if you're going to jump into the crazy pool, you do it with eyes open and both feet tied to an anvil," he said. "You commit to it. I think as long as we as developers are committed to the idea, players will go along with the fun.
"A lot of time went into balancing the character and how much he talks. His nickname is the Merc with a Mouth, so he is talking all the time and it could be very irritating, so there was a lot of playtesting, a lot of getting people's first takes on it, and figuring out how much is too much and how much is not enough."
Craven said there's a fine line between players being irritated by the character and players laughing and enjoying him, and it was important for the studio to find the right balance.
Another way the studio "committed fully" to the character was by "not chickening out on any aspect of his personality." According to Craven, Marvel has already fully-fleshed out Deadpool, complete with backstory, personality and character nuances. It's this consistency in the Deadpool character that makes him charming, even when he is being crude. Craven said High Moon Studios embraced this wholly during development.
During a hands-on session, Cravens walked Polygon through an early level in the game and showed off Deadpool in action. The character was as crude and in-your-face as he is in all the promotional trailers released so far, but he was also consistent. From cutscenes where he talked to the voices in his head to combat where the voices in his head talked to him, the game presents players with an unending stream of dialog between the juvenile delinquent Deadpool, the serious and militant Deadpool and the Deadpool who talks to the player. His unapologetic crassness is present in everything he does. During battles, the voices in his head taunt the enemies. Whenever the player fails a mission, he breaks the fourth wall and reprimands the player by saying, "Let us never speak of this again." During an elevator ride to take on a serious mission, he breaks out into song and dance. And whenever he finds himself stuck in a boring conversation, he begs the player to "put an end to it." If the player agrees, he whips out a gun and shoots himself in the head.
"I think it's a matter of if you're going to jump into the crazy pool, you do it with eyes open and both feet tied to an anvil."
The character is like an over-powered, invincible child. While he spends most of his time indulging in potty humor, when it comes time to fight, he has a wide array of close-range weapons like swords and knives that make for satisfying melee attacks, and long-range guns, which players can use to lock onto enemies before firing. For all the fart and boob jokes, there's a seriousness to the combat.
"That's the character, and if we're committed to that then he's extremely believable, and I think that translates very well on screen when you're playing it," Cravens said. "Is he the guy you'd want to hang out with? For real? I don't know. But playing him? Yeah. He scratches that itch."
Deadpool is coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC on June 25.