All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Wanted: Weapons of Fate Producer Interview

Game: Wanted: Weapons of Fate
Company: Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group

Chris Meyer (J.R. Nip) recently got a chance to interview Nick Torchia with Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group about their new game, Wanted: Weapons of Fate, which is based on the universe created for the Wanted movie.

GV: First off, what is your role and position for Wanted: Weapons of Fate?

Nick: I'm the lead producer.

GV: So, how early in the movie process was the game development group involved so that you knew what you were going to do and what you were going to be involved in?

Nick: It actually started pretty early. We saw pre-viz footage, that the director had started dealing with curving [bullets]. Once we saw that, we really kind of went "Whoa! We really have something cool here," and then that sped up the process and we started talking about Weapons of Fate and wanted to do something serious with it. So the game development started pretty early on, before even principal photography began on the actual film. Usually a lot of directors will storyboard out everything and do pre-viz, so you can kind of tell the story through animatics and the movie group saw the stuff and were like, "Wow, this is really cool. Let's get going," so we did and finally got the end product.

GV: From what I understand, that's different than most videogame-related movies because typically, it's "Oh, we are doing a movie and we'd like a game too."

Nick: Yeah, that's exactly how it is. It's always what I call an "oh, by the way", you know. It's kind of like, "We are doing a movie." "Cool." "It comes out in 8 months, we want a game." So, it's really tough. So that's why we didn't rush it with the film, because the film was supposed to come out in like April or March and they knew it was going to be pretty big and then they pushed it to June. Since we weren't going to meet the original target date regardless, and the DVD launch was the beginning of December and we thought, "Why would you release a game in December? You've already missed Black Friday, all the other big games are out and everybody's money is already spent, what's the point." So that's why we delayed it. You know, get more polish and move it out until March where its in a nice release window.

GV: Ok. So you knew ahead of time that you weren't going to release it by the time- you were trying for the DVD, so they just decided to push it back?

Nick: Yeah, it was kind of a combination of a lot of stuff. It was a combination of that but also, we wanted to put our best foot forward with Wanted: Weapons of Fate. We didn't want to just release a turd and just whip it out. We want to have an actual good-playing game, a franchise. We want to be known as the bullet-curving game, so you know, we took the time. It was a risk, pushing it out from the DVD and releasing it on its own - it's almost like it's going to be on its own island, in a sense, so we wanted to take the time and make sure it was ready and that was pretty much the gist of it.

GV: You wanted to keep it removed from the rest of the videogame/movie trash that's out there.

Nick: Exactly, exactly. And you saw Q4 last year. Especially with all of the economic problems that were going on, so all the big sellers did well, but you know, all the other stuff didn't do well, like EA released like 2 franchises, 2 new IPs in the same month: Mirror's Edge and Dead Space. Why would you do that? That doesn't make any sense, so we just kind of pushed it out and wanted to kind of be on our own.

GV: Ok. So, how much access did you have to the movie production information. You said earlier that you saw the pre-viz stuff and you seemed closer to the movie production information than most videogames.

Nick: Yeah, we had dailies. Who gets dailies? I mean, that's very rare. I mean, guys on the production were giving us assets and we had access to pre-viz, concept art, location pictures, character pictures, 3D modeling, I mean, they're just kind of like, "what do you guys need?" The writers came down and spoke to us and were like, "Hey, what are you guys doing with the game, what are you guys writing?" And we talked with them. It was really cool working with those guys. Everybody was very "open arms." Universal Pictures has been awesome about it.

GV: Did you always intend for WOF to take place after the movie's events?

Nick: Yeah. That was the original plan from the beginning because, it's very old thinking. It's like back in the 90's, it was always "see the movie, play the movie." It's very "old way" thinking, everybody does that. You need to innovate and do something different. Universal's been awesome with The Thing taking place after the movie, Scarface was after the movie, Riddick was a different storyline. We are really trying to do something different and that's what we wanted to do and the storyline just kind of made sense and allows for more flexibility for design and expanding the world, so you aren't limited to just certain set pieces from the movie. So we wanted to do something different.

GV: So you said, you didn't intend for it to be released next to the theatrical because that was just...

Nick: Well, I mean, I came on and that decision was made before me, but it was like one of those things that we weren't going to do it anyway. There wasn't enough time. We didn't want to just rush it out and put pooh in the box, basically.

GV: So, it draws a lot from the movie. What did ya'll put into Wanted: Weapons of Fate from the comic book?

Nick: Since there are a lot of fans for the comic book, we wanted to pull something from there that wasn't in the movie. So he dons the Killer Suit. That's kind of like our Solid Snake. We want him to be our iconic character that people know or we're known for. I think that's obviously the number one biggest addition from the comic. And also, I think the attitude from the comic as well. The movie was very much "f**k you, in your face" and we've kind of taken that attitude from the comic as well. So we kind of blended that in as well.

GV: How involved were the license holders, both the movie and the comic, in the creation of the story?

Nick: They were pretty involved, but they weren't a roadblock. They were very supportive. I mean, I work on a lot of movie-based games and companies where they are "ya gotta do this and I want this vision" and you're like "ahh, f**k", but they were just great. They said "You guys can just kind of roll with it." We got to get some stuff cleared up, and we didn't want want to step on their toes if they wanted do the sequel and we wanted to go a different way, but they were great about it. So there haven't been any real issues with it. Talent was awesome to work with, you know, Tom Scratchmen was great and I actually had the honor of recording Paz Vega [who plays the new female interest in the game] in Madrid. It was pretty cool meeting her and she's super hot and she's super cool, so that was really fun. It was a really big collaborative effort from across the board. From GRIN to us to Marc Platt [the film's producer] and Warner Brothers, the publisher, really helped us out as well.

GV: I saw that you got Common to return for a different role. Both the voice and his likeness are used for the new character? Or just his voice?

Nick: No, just his voice, because it is a completely different character from his movie role.

GV: What about James McAvoy?

Nick: We have his likeness, but we don't have his voice. The voice we did was Jimmi Simpson. He's actually an actor who has been on David Letterman. If you Google David Letterman/Jimmi Simpson, you'll see like this really funny skit he's done. He's one of those- he's a good actor and his voice stuff is great. He did a great job, totally got into character and he's really funny. Some of his lines are great. Its kinda fun, there's some nice charm to him.

GV: Little one-liners.

Nick: Yeah, exactly, because remember he's always talking to himself in the movie, we did the same thing.

GV: The movie started off having a very Fight Club sort of feel, because this is the first time I had seen the movie. I was like, oh, it feels like Edward Norton talking to himself.

Nick: That's exactly what it's like. And when you play the game and see everything, it totally makes sense.

GV: And it has the same narrative feel.

Nick: So now when you just saw the movie and you play the game, it's gonna be that much better. You'll see a lot of connections to it and a lot of little things.

GV: So the bullet-curving ability was obviously a high priority for the game. What other features did you say, ok, we can't have a Wanted game unless we have this feature?

Nick: Ahh, that's a good question. The bullet-curving was number one. Obviously guns, weapons, fast action, that's from a 30,000 foot view, looking at the game, but in terms of mechanics, there's things like Assassin Time, because remember when everything slows down in the movie and he grabs the shuttle in the loom at the textile company? It was stuff like that. We wanted to take those and say, how do we use those and GRIN figured out how to do this kind of Assassin Time type thing then the Cover mechanics kind of matured into its own, and everything kind of fell into place. Bending bullets, curving bullets was number one and that was the most challenging because it's never been done before.

GV: And how challenging was that?

Nick: It was very challenging because again, it's a very unorthodox way of playing a game, because you are not used to that. You are used to just going straight ahead. When you are curving around and adjusting stuff, at first you're like, "I kinda get it," then after about a half an hour learning curve (no pun intended), you do it, its really cool and you can just start doing various ways of taking out enemies.

GV: Okay. So what was the most challenging aspect of making this game? What was it that you beat your head over?

Nick: Probably the biggest thing in games is making them fun and you know, just ramping up - it's a whole host of things in game development, its ramping up, replayability, making the mechanics fun. So those were probably it, but I think making the curve mechanic fun and accessible was probably number one, I'd have to say.

GV: Now that the game is complete, what part do you find the most fun? What part do you enjoy?

Nick: I'd have to say the cover system and bullet curving, both of them. Our cover is very tight. You go from point to point to point, really fast. It's very context-sensitive. It's very effortless and once you get curving down, the two of them together is just fun. Simple fun. Run, gun, action. Those two I think are probably the most enjoyable aspects of the game.

GV: If you had more time to actually work on the game or just completely start it from scratch, is there any aspect that you would do differently or take a different direction with?

Nick: Well, yeah. There's a lot of stuff, I would have loved to expand more on the actual curving itself and making it more deep. Kind of ramping up a little bit better, changing some of the A.I. There's all those things that's on your wish list. And if we do a Wanted 2, that's something I've already got my brain thinking is how to expand the curve and how to make it deeper and all that stuff. So I think that would probably be my number one thing.

GV: Speaking of Wanted 2, I don't even know if you are the person to ask or even have this knowledge because that's probably more the movie stuff, but since this game is a sequel to the movie, do you know if there's going to be a sequel to the movie?

Nick: We don't know yet. My guess is that if a movie does $350 million worldwide and its got a huge following with the comic, you can pretty much put 2 and 2 together and assume that they probably want to do something. We're all for it. We are ready to go for Wanted 2. We've got a good nucleus, its kind of like building a basketball team in a sense. You've got your good nucleus and you've got to surround it with more of a supporting case and I think we are pretty much ready to go and we'd love to dive into the more curving and we've got some great ideas on how to do it and expand on it to make it really a little bit more deeper.

GV: Cool. So do you have a favorite level in the Wanted?

Nick: My favorite level is actually the Gondola. Another one is the Catacombs which you will see later on in Weapons of Fate. That's after the Gondola level, actually. Really cool. You are in this spooky catacombs with 20 foot wall ceilings and you go in this giant church and there's guys with sniper rifles and its pretty crazy stuff. Really challenging. WOF ramps up big time in terms of difficulty.

GV: You mentioned Scarface and Riddick, but GRIN didn't develop those. What is the relationship there. Is Universal, is the company you work for, sort of a middle group, or you have the license and you're the publisher for it as well?

Nick: Well, Warner Brothers is technically the publisher, we are actually head of development. Universal Pictures ran development with GRIN. We hired GRIN ...

GV: So they were a contracted company.

Nick: Exactly, exactly. The other games we just used in example, those are the type of quality games we do. GRIN has done Bionic Commando and Terminator, so we hired/contracted them to do the game and since Universal isn't a full publisher as of yet, we teamed up with Warner Brothers and they are doing the distribution and all that stuff.

GV: Ok. So how did Universal's previous games like Riddick and Scarface help with the development of this one? What did you gain from that?

Nick: Its just the knowledge and the direction, its kind of like they were almost the litmus test where hey, they did games where it was a different storyline, they did an M-rated game released after movies. Scarface didn't have a movie alongside it, The Thing didn't have a movie, those were like the stepping stones and we knew it worked, so we were like, let's do it again.

GV: So besides the movie and the comics themselves, were there any other places ya'll gained inspiration on how to do or what to do for Wanted: Weapons of Fate?

Nick: Yeah, of course, from a games perspective its always like that. You look at Gears of War. It did a phenomenal job. We looked at Max Payne, we looked at Stranglehold, anything really. I'm a big believer, if you are gonna make games, you gotta know what's out there. I'm surprised that some producers out there have never picked up certain games. It's like a director not watching other movies. It just doesn't work. It's the same with like basketball players. They study their opponents.

GV: You see another game and see what works about that game. Like Gears' cover system.

Nick: Yeah, exactly. Let's see how we can do what they do and so on. I go back to basketball. Like Kobe Bryant, for example. He studies his competition. He knows exactly what they are gonna do, so it's the same thing for us. You've gotta know what's out there. What works, what doesn't work and how to make it better. Because you can come up with an idea, oh let's do this, it's awesome. Well, these two games already did that. They are like, oh s#!t, rats. So it's one of those things.

GV: Alright, I think that's everything I have.

Nick: Cool.

GV: It was good talking to you.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Interviews Godfather II Interview Interviews The Odd Gentleman Interview

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated