Batman Arkham Origins was the final panel of the evening on The Empire Stage of NY York Comic Con 2013’s Saturday Night and featured Troy Baker (The Joker), Roger Craig Smith (Batman), and Eric Holmes (Game Designer – WB Montreal). This panel is of a certain type that I would also place Oldboy into … it’s the attempt to build confidence in a fandom that has come to trust and expect certain things.
The first game in the Arkham series, Asylum, earned quite a bit of capitol with fans of Batman: The Animated Series. With hiring Paul Dini to write the script, Kevin Conroy to voice Batman, and Mark Hamill to voice The Joker what they essentially created was the adult-centric interactive sequel to Batman: The Animated Series. The game was full of villains, mythology, and easter eggs from the Batman franchise and that enhanced one of the best action adventure games of this generation. All the doubt that Batman could be the star of an all out AAA video game franchise ended and a rabid fanbase found itself sated for the first time ever.
Then, with Arkham City, Rocksteady once again proved they could not only create a workable sequel to one of the best action adventure titles in recent memory but enhance it at every turn. Raising the stakes from an island to a walled off section of Gotham City could have proved too much for the creative team, as could adding a number of new villains and gadgets but once again they proved they were up to the task. Then as we just began to truly trust this series Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy decide to leave, Rocksteady begins work on a new title and WB decides to hand the series off to their Montreal in house development studio. So once again the rabid Batman fanbase is worried that without the involvement of the people the trust the game will fall apart.
Eric Holmes spent the majority of the panel attempting to convey that when it came down to it they’ve got a great established series that Rocksteady left them. They had all the gaming assets and tools Rocksteady built so all they needed to do was create the proper story, environments and puzzles to build Origins. They created new gadgets, designed new villains and add new tools to those given to them to create a game that shows the beginnings of the Arkham series’ universe.
The rest of the session was marked by Roger Smith and Troy Baker trying to explain that they were just trying to be part of the Batman legacy. Their goal was not to improve it, it was not to add something that other actors did not bring with them … it was simply to work hard every day honoring the characters. That is best epitomized by Troy Baker explaining that every day at 4:30 he would race home to watch Batman: The Animated Series and that he watched the show over and over on video tape. That he watched the credits and couldn’t believe Luke Skywalker was the person that did such an amazing job as The Joker … and then after a discussion explaining the work they did to get the performances that are in the game. Eric Holmes said they knew they had it when they sent Troy a monologue from The Killing Joke and he read it perfectly. The crowd then demanded that Troy do the monologue.
They also introduced a new Assassin for the game: The Electrocutioner which is someone the development team hopes will live up to the billing as one of the great assassins featured in the game. Eric explained that the Mega Man correlation of beat a boss take his power so that Batman defeating The Electrocutioner would mean taking his electro gloves and being able to use them against every type of enemy. This would mean not having to use many of the traditional mechanics but allow Batman new avenues to defeat enemies during the game.