Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Interview: Marc Sumerak On Writing The Game’s Story
Nintendo of America has posted a developer interview with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order writer Marc Sumerak, covering topics such as penning the game’s story, converging all of the characters, and who his favorite character is to write for.
This was originally posted on the Nintendo News Channel on Nintendo Switch, but, seeing as that is inaccessible online, we’ve copied out the questions that Sumerak was asked with his responses in entirety below:
With the overlap of the comics, games, and movies, how did you approach writing for the new game?
I think the most important thing that we try to do when we’re working on a project like this, one that we know is going to reach a new audience, is finding versions of the characters that everyone can relate to.
So, for us, it’s a matter of taking all those influences – the movies, comics, animation, other video games – and looking at how the characters are portrayed. Then, we distill the character down to its core, making sure that we’ve got a representational version of the character that you can recognize and relate to no matter where you’re coming from.
How were you able to craft a story that was satisfying to both comic book fans and fans who are only familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
We wanted to be able to provide an original story that would appeal to all of those fans, no matter what their point of entry, and that would speak to them on a slightly deeper level.
So, there are little nods throughout the game that, if you’ve been reading comics for 40 years, you will recognize, like relationships between certain characters. Or there might be a comment that one character makes to another where you go, “I know why he said that!”
But if you aren’t well versed in these characters, it won’t matter that you don’t understand the reference. It will simply be part of the larger experience, and it might inspire you to go learn more about these characters in the long term.
What type of direction were you given for the character development?
Make them Marvel. Marvel, first and foremost, cares about delivering epic stories with a human heart as well as making sure that their characters feel authentic.
For a guy like me, who’s worked in the Marvel Universe for 20 years, both as an editor and a writer, and who has an understanding of what makes these characters tick – what they are, what kinds of decisions they make, and what their voices are – it’s just a matter of making sure their inherent “Marvel-ness” shines through in this game.
Do you feel that people need to be familiar with the previous two games to jump into this one?
I don’t think so at all. It’s an all-new original story, so if you played the other two games, and you come into this game, you’ll have the recognition of characters, their powers, and sometimes the gameplay style.
But in terms of picking it up and playing it, we wanted to make sure that this was a clean start story-wise. It’s kind of like if you read comic books when you were a kid, and then you picked up a comic book now as an adult.
Twenty years may have passed since the last time you read Captain America. He’s still the same guy. He’s lived a lot in between, he’s told a lot of stories, but at his center, he’s still Captain America. That’s kind of what we’re going for here.
How difficult was it to converge all of these characters, each with their own storyline, into one cohesive story?
It was a real challenge to make sure that everyone had a moment to shine. You never want to feel like a character in a roster this large is being relegated to the background, because every single character is someone’s favorite.
There are going to be people who come into this game who are hardcore X-Men fans or because they love the Guardians of the Galaxy. There might be somebody who is buying this game specifically because they want to play as Thor – you never know what someone’s motivation is coming into a game.
With so many characters, you want to make sure that they’re all given that time to make an impact on the story. That can be a real juggling act. But for us, it was hitting those sweet spot character moments to make sure everybody gets to let their personality shine through at some point of the game, and to make sure that we’re putting them together in unique combinations that maybe we haven’t seen anywhere else.
Who is your favorite character to write for?
It changes daily. I get inspired while I’m working on a character, so maybe on a certain day Rocket Raccoon is the one who’s really speaking to me. Overall, though, I really like writing for characters that have never been featured in this series before.
Since many of them are newer characters, they haven’t had the same experiences as an Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America. To them, some of this broad scale, cosmic chaos is new, confusing, and exciting. And seeing the Marvel Universe through fresh eyes can be a lot of fun.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is now available exclusively for Nintendo Switch worldwide.