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GB: Have you been pleased with how successful X-Men Legends has been so far and the sort of feedback you've received since its release?
Blaine: Absolutely! We've been thrilled with the response by fans and critics alike. We always believed that we had a winner on our hands, but until it hits the shelves and everyone gets a crack at it, you can never be certain if all of the fans out there will like the game as much as you do.
GB: How did Raven Software and Activision originally team up to create X-Men Legends, and what was it like to work with such a high profile comic book franchise?
Blaine: Raven Software and Activision have a long-standing relationship that has produced many successful games. When Activision started talking about the X-Men Legends concept, Raven jumped at the chance to create the game because they saw the enormous potential and they are HUGE X-Men fans, so it was a natural fit from the start. Working with a high profile franchise like the X-Men is a real treat. It can be stressful at times because you are forced to make certain interpretations of the source material and you never know how the die-hard fans will react to those decisions, but between the guidance of Marvel, Raven's dedication to the source material, and a great concept, I think everyone was very happy with the way the game turned out.
GB: What sort of support did you receive from Marvel during the game's development and what involvement did they have in the creation process?
Blaine: Marvel is always very supportive of the creative process involved in making games from their wonderful comic books, but with this project in particular they were very excited. From the beginning, they saw how the concept fit the license perfectly, so they were extremely helpful in making decisions regarding the look and feel of the game. They helped us shape the story, craft the look of the characters in-game, and get the mix of characters just right (among a myriad other things).
GB: How difficult was it to enlist the help of Hollywood actors to voice some of the X-Men characters? Were there any actors you tried to get involved that were unavailable?
Blaine: Obviously, the biggest boon was getting Patrick Stewart for the voice of Professor X. He adds a degree of credibility to the game and breathes life into the story as a whole. I can't think of any particular actors we couldn't get. In fact, it was almost the opposite. Our casting director (Kris Zimmerman) has worked in the industry for many years and was fabulous about getting pretty much anyone we could think of. When we began the casting process, we made a list of actors that we thought would be perfect for the game. I gave Kris the list and said, (We want to get actors that sound like these people.) She came back a day later and said, (I can get you 90% of the people on this list.) I was amazed, since we hadn't planned to use those actual actors because we assumed we couldn't get them. Other actors besides Patrick Stewart that were a real treat to work with were Lou Diamond Phillips, Ed Asner, Tony Jay, and Armin Shimerman.
GB: There have been some superhero RPGs (Freedom Force and City of Heroes come to mind), but rarely do we see established comic book franchises in a role-playing game. What made you decide to do an X-Men RPG and do you think we'll see other comic book RPGs in the future?
Blaine: Well, the RPG has a natural progression for gamers. I think that if we made the same game, but took away all of the RPG elements, it would not hold the players' interest for the full 25-30 hours of gameplay. Unlocking new abilities and gaining new items is a great gameplay mechanic that drives the momentum of an experience like X-Men Legends. Plus it's just so damn cool to see Wolverine develop from a basic tough guy brawler into the epic super-heroic character he becomes by the end of the game.
GB: How did you decide on which X-Men characters and villains to incorporate into the game? Were there any mutants you were hoping to add that never made it in?
Blaine: The process of deciding which mutants made it into the final game was a combination of what was good for the story and what was good for gameplay. As the story evolved, we found certain characters that needed to be a part of the action. We also picked characters based on how their powers would interact with the world in interesting ways. And of course we picked some characters just because you practically have to or it wouldn't be an X-Men game. I can only think of one mutant who did not make the final cut and it was his wings that just made our lives too difficult.
GB: Do you think two successful movies have helped bring the X-Men to a broader audience and help make games like X-Men Legends that much more of a success?
Blaine: No doubt about it. Video games are becoming more and more mainstream all the time, but I think we're still a few years away from the impact that movies can have on a broad audience. Films like Spiderman and X-Men took these incredible characters out of the realm of comic books and put them into the mainstream media. On a personal level, I was surprised that my wife actually enjoyed the movies and she would never have known who the X-Men were from any other source. :)
GB: Other than a newly announced X-Men Legends sequel, what can we expect to see from Raven Software in the future? Any plans to do additional role-playing games?
Blaine: We keep Raven very busy. You may have heard of a little game called Quake 4 by now? Other than that, you'll just have to keep your ear to the ground to see what else they've got in the works, but one thing's for sure when it comes to Raven games you'll want to buy it, '˜cause it will be fantastic.
Thanks for your time, Blaine!