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LEGO Batman– we have a chat with Traveler’s Tales

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Some would say that the Lego franchise has already reached the ceiling. How did you go about changing the established formula?
For us as a developer it’s incredibly important that we ensure no one could accuse us of simply re-skinning the LEGO Star Wars game with ‘another major movie license’. We make every effort to ensure that within the gameplay experience we’re capturing the essence, in a LEGO form, of the character that we’re creating the game around. There are elements that work really well in all of our games that we wouldn’t change, such as two player drop in/drop out or the accessible controls. However, we hope that when you play either Indy or Batman you get a real sense that you are the LEGO version of that character. Indy is much more about exploration, so there’s quite a puzzle element to the game. Batman and Robin are trained martial artists so the game has a lot more action and a lot of enemies to scrap against.

Is there still some way to go with the mechanics of the Lego franchise? Can its style of gameplay move with the times?
I think we’ve found a mechanic that works really well with these quality games for young gamers. The third person perspective, platform style adventure translates very well into whichever LEGO universe we are creating. It’s also a type of game that a lot of people, who maybe wouldn’t normally play games, have found accessible. However, that’s not to say that we will only ever make games like this. We’re very conscious that we need to continue to have a fresh feel to our games. I’m sure in the future you will see LEGO games that offer something entirely different to what TT has created in the past.

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Is it difficult to tackle Bruce Wayne’s dramatic backstory with the franchise’s traditional sense of humour?
LEGO Batman presented an exciting challenge compared to our other previous titles. With LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indy we obviously had to stick to the stories that had already been told in the iconic movies. With LEGO Batman we were able to construct an entirely original story in collaboration with DC. It’s a fairly classic Batman tale: the villains have staged a breakout at Arkham Asylum and they’re now wreaking havoc in Gotham (you’d think they’d have upgraded their security by now). We therefore don’t really delve into the back story that was covered by Year One and Batman Begins. In fact we find that as the Batman films have become darker, it presents us with an opportunity to create the lighter side of the Batman universe and have some fun with this array of famous characters.

Have you included any Batman references that only, say, the comic book fan would understand?
We’re in the midst of revealing the characters, so I can’t say too much. However, we do have a real hardcore Batman fan on the dev team whom has provided us with a list of Batman characters. We’ll have to see how many make it into the final game!

Which Batman sources influenced the game the most?
We’re not really tied to one source in particular. We’re trying to create what is a LEGO Batman universe. You’ll see influences from a whole source of materials, as it’s such a legendary story it would be nigh on impossible to create something wholly original. That said we’re confident that this is the smallest and hardest Batman ever created.