TT Games has been transforming tons of fan favorite properties to brick form in video games for years. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, even DC Comics have all had their characters and worlds built up for new audiences. Comics from Batman to Dan Dare have influenced the creative force that is TT Games which made their Marvel games fill a unique void of console releases fans of the house of ideas had for a few years.
Begining with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, this studio crafted a fun filled and uncanny adventure Marvel fans owe it to themselves to try. They would go on to put their unique spin on the MCU with LEGO Marvel’s Avengers and then team with Kurt Busiek on the LEGO Marvel Superheroes sequel. If you have yet to experience any of the three LEGO Marvel games, today WB Games has you covered with the release of the LEGO Marvel Collection which collects the studio’s stable of LEGO Marvel in one package for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners.
We’re looking back on these titles with Senior Producer, Matt Ellison from TT Games.
Comics Beat: First thing is for my own piece of mind in the gaming industry these days. The collection of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, and LMSH2 in standard version is already a massive amount of content but will there be any additions or extras that didn’t make the games the first time around? Will all the DLC released with them be included?
ELLISON: The DLC that has been released for each platform is included in the Collection.
CB: Great! With this collection celebrating everything TT Games have done for the world of Marvel. Can we talk a bit of back story as to how TT was tapped to develop a game based on the Marvel universe when you’d previously done LEGO Batman before? Did Marvel themselves have any reservations about it?
ELLISON: I think all parties saw LEGO Marvel Super Heroes as a great opportunity. LEGO had already made some Marvel sets so relationships had already been established that meant Marvel knew how some of their most iconic characters would look in LEGO form. For Marvel a LEGO game was a different way to have their characters portrayed, and it created a lot of excitement for those working on it and it was something a lot of people wanted to play.
CB: Just to follow on that, was the studio aware that this game was really the only thing Marvel fans would have to play on console that wasn’t tied to a film?
ELLISON: We worked very closely with Marvel on all of these game to figure out which characters were going to be at their most popular when the games released. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was designed to cover as much of the Marvel Universe as we could in a game. It was an opportunity to showcase over 100 Marvel characters and we included characters from lots of different Marvel families such as the X-Men, Fantastic 4 and Avengers. The MCU was entering Phase 2 when the game was released, and we included a DLC pack for Thor: The Dark World to tie in to that. But we also knew that a film was coming for Guardians of the Galaxy, which we had a nod to in the Post Credits cutscene in the game which featured those characters.
CB: What made the studio decide that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes would focus on the world of the comics, as opposed to LEGO Marvel’s Avengers being more Cinematic universe focused? At the time the MCU already captured its fanbase, it was definitely a bold choice to focus on the more comics centric world the first time out.
ELLISON: The great thing about being able to focus on comics is that there are many different storylines and characters, and a very wide range of source material to draw from which lots of players of LEGO games like to see. The timing was important, as after the success of the first Avengers film and Age of Ultron on the horizon, there was a big opportunity to make the MCU Avengers the focus of the second game, and there was enough content across those two films to make a great LEGO game. After that we wanted to go back to a comic based game for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, as we knew there were more stories to tell and characters to play!
CB: In previous conversations with the studio, everyone has talked about the love they have for these characters. It definitely translates in the final product but what was the process of designing these new LEGO versions of classic Marvel characters like? Who picks which characters go in the game? How many different designs does the studio go through before it decides on the version players see?
ELLISON: The creation process for bringing characters to life in the game is really cool and one of my favorite parts of the game’s development. The process can vary, but it will normally begin with collaboration between our design department and LEGO and Marvel. An initial list will be drawn up with reference images for versions of the characters that we are looking to use. From the LEGO perspective, we want to include the sets that they have made, or are making. Marvel will advise on whether there are characters that we might have forgotten about, or are going to be prominent around the time of the games release, or if there is a different version of the character that might be a better fit for the game. Once everyone is happy and aligned with the list, the character artists will provide concept images for review. Once a concept image is approved, a final version of the character is done for final review and then it goes into the game.
CB: Over the course of three games, you’ve used hundreds of characters but not Marvel’s entire 700 plus character library. Can you tell me some of the characters on the studio’s wish list that haven’t been used, yet?
ELLISON: Whilst I have been working on the Marvel games I have learnt so much about the more obscure characters in the Marvel Universe! I’d never heard of characters like Ego the Living Planet, Hellcow and Throg previously, but they are all great additions to the games. I also really liked the Cowboy version of Captain America in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. Seeing different versions of the characters like that is always entertaining!
CB: When it specifically came to LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, there was a hybrid of dialogue capturing from MCU film and voice acting recorded for the game in certain parts. What was behind that decision rather than voicing every scene?
ELLISON: We used the voice stems from the film wherever we could as that enabled us to use the voices of the actors that people recognized from the films. There’s also instances where this allows us to add additional humor to the cutscenes, by changing the context of the line. A great example of this is when the Leviathan turns up in New York and Captain America says that line “They’re fish in a barrel down there”, straight after someone has walked past the shot holding a barrel of fish. Where we weren’t able to use the stems (because the character didn’t have lines in the films) we then recorded additional dialogue. This was primarily for the hub gameplay that sits outside of the main story levels.
CB: Traditionally the studio has done a DC game followed by a Marvel one, and last year’s DC Super Villains changed things up a bit storytelling wise for the studio. Is there any plan to do something like that in the Marvel world? By the same coin is there any plan to see a release of the DC LEGO games in a collection?
ELLISON: We are always looking out for opportunities to make games that people want to play and that we want to make, so we’ll keep an eye on what people are asking for.
COMICS BEAT: Consider yourself asked! I’ll enjoy visting these LEGO worlds again but once I’m done I fully expect to get a press release saying your remastering that first LEGO Batman game with some voice acting. For the Marvel faithful, you can jump into one of the most fun universes around or take a trip down memory lane as LEGO Marvel Collection is now available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.