Interview With Gameloft’s Spider-Man Unlimited Team: Part 3

Spider-Man Unlimited Spider-Verse
Spider-Man Unlimited Spider-Verse /

Part 3: New Spideys, Working With Marvel, & What’s To Come

WASC: New Spider-Men and Women, we love them, you love them. I’ve seen from your Twitch livestreams that you do take player suggestions for new spideys, but you also have a release schedule that the team chooses. Seeing as the game already harbors an impressive roster of spideys –including some uncommon characters, how does the team go about finding and selecting which spideys to add to the game? Do you have a team that delves into the Spider-Verse and tries to find the most obscure and interesting spiders?

TN: It’s kind of funny, Marvel gave us a core list of 30 characters and originally we were only going to use those 30 characters, and we realized how limited that original list was. For instance the only female character on the list was Spider-Girl, there weren’t many variations. Luckily the team is a really strong Spider-Man fan -they are all really into the brand. With the combined efforts of me reading the comics, them knowing a lot about the history and constantly looking deep into what’s available in the comics, and what characters they’ve come across, we determined more characters that we sent to Marvel for approval. Then we look at the characters and we see if there are trends, see which characters fit for a general thematic, because with every update you don’t just want to release characters, you want to release a package of a theme. In updates 2 and 3 it was Spider-Verse characters, in update 4 it was more Spider-verse characters plus Doc Ock related characters, in update 5 it was Monster Spideys, and in update 6 it was dimensional variations of Spider-Men.

KW: Definitely on the community side, a lot of the comments are people requesting spideys and I’m sure if you tuned into our livestream you know the comments/chat are filled with requests. Definitely with every day of reading the forums, Facebook, the subreddit, and all the feedback and suggestions we get on our twitch streams, I have a bookmarked tab with hundreds and hundreds of different spideys listed. We collect those and pass them on to the team, and as Tatiana said, we see how we can integrate them thematically into future updates so we can get all these spiders that everyone wants to be actually playable and in the game for them to enjoy.

WASC: Now I’d like to talk about events. We’ve seen events line up with the comic verse, such as the Spider-Verse and battle against the Inheritors, as well as new character release events, holiday events, and more. Knowing that there has always been big plans for a Symbiote event and cards such as Symbiote Spider-Man, what is the team’s attitude towards creating specific content for these grand events and deciding when to release them?

TN: This definitely falls under my territory in deciding what content to release for what update. We were approached by Marvel about Spider-Verse very early on, before the game had even launched, and we had immediately started working on the first few updates which would address the content. Specifically for spider-verse we added new designs such as dialogue before the events, the clash of spiders, and multi-day events in order to better tell stories through these events because that content becomes much more flexible for us to showcase. I look at what’s the core content of what we’re releasing, how do the spiders fit in, and what’s the story.

"For Update 1 it was the beginning of Spider-Verse + Sandman, with Spider-girl and Spider-man 2099. Updates 2 and 3 were about Spider-Verse and the Inheritors. Update 4 was the end of Spider-Verse with Solus but it was also the focus on Doc Ock. Update 5 was monster spideys and the first female boss Silver Sable, and finally update 6 released Mysterio."

With each update we look to package it; we look at specific themes and what makes each thing unique and varied from anything else that Marvel is doing while at the same time syncing up with Marvel comics. We’re looking at Secret Wars to see what we can do to bring in Secret Wars content into the game. We’re looking now at Spider-Island in the upcoming update and how we can bring the 2011 event into the game, and fun fact -that was originally a suggestion from a player on our twitch streams.

WASC: I remember that! I was watching when that happened.

TN: Yeah! And he explained what Spider Island was and I thought it would be a really good idea… and then Secret Wars Spider-Island (2015) was coming out while we were planning Spider-Island content and the pieces seemed to align a little bit in the upcoming content that we’re providing.

Spider-Man Unlimited Spider Island
Spider-Man Unlimited Spider Island /

And with the Symbiotes that’s definitely something that we wish to provide, we do want to bring in the symbiotes. It’s definitely a thing that needs to happen, but because of the production and the additional designs required around what we want to do for the symbiotes, it’s a long term plan. Similarly we’re looking into characters like Spider-Ham and doing Spider-Ham events but there’s a lot of technicalities going into small characters and characters that are a third of the size of Spider-Man. It throws everything off and you essentially have to redesign the entire game for small characters. With stuff like that, there’s a lot of production involved. But Spider-Verse specifically and Spider-Island fit so well because they are already part of the core game experience, and it’s just providing even more immersive content and going deeper into the comics, while balancing it with our own story line and characters that people want that maybe aren’t playing such a key role in the comics.

WASC: I really enjoy how I was watching that twitch stream when someone brought up Spider-Island and you acknowledged it as interesting, and it’s now here as the next update. That really reflects that community involvement and how player feedback influences the game. Shout out to that guy from the twitch stream! And Mary Jane from Spider-Island, great addition, thanks for implementing her.

TN: Of course, she was my number one character I wanted to get into the game, so I was really excited when Marvel allowed us to use her, because originally they weren’t going to allow us to use her in that costume. There was further negotiation until they let us use her in that costume from that iconic image.

WASC: Speaking of negotiation, after learning about how involved Marvel is with the game, and how much cooperation occurs while developing, how has it been working with such a grand company such as Marvel?

TN: It’s been amazing. The thing about Marvel is they’re so huge, in so many locations, but the gaming team seems to be at the center of a lot of the different departments, and they are connecting us so much with marvel publishing to bring in that core content. They’re really open to creative ideas and collaboration and they really give us the freedom to come and approach them about different themes and villains/characters that we want to use. It feels more like a collaboration than anything else. They want what’s best for the game and they trust us with the creativity that we have and the care we put into the game. They don’t feel the need to control us, but rather we approach them with things that we would like to do and they come to us with opportunities like they did with Spider-Verse, and fundamentally we work together to come up with something that both teams could be really proud of.

WASC: That’s great to hear. As a player I didn’t know you had such deep, developmental ties with Marvel and cooperate so closely with them on the game.

TN: Every single piece of the game is reviewed and approved by Marvel, from text to icons, to models, trailers, and animations. Everything is reviewed.

KW: Or denied.

TN: Or denied.

KW: A lot of players say we want this spider-man or that spider-man and unfortunately sometimes Marvel is the one who says no.

TN: And fair enough, because Marvel went into the Wild West in the past, they really tried some different things and they want their current content to be focused on a certain path, and we’re one part of that. And they really allow us to brand the game in our own way; the artwork and assets in the game are so different from other games, and it’s fantastic that they give us the freedom in that there’s not one overarching look that Marvel is going for but there’s variation in their products.

WASC: That’s very true as the Spider-Man in Spider-Man Unlimited, and games such as Contest of Champions and Future Fight, are portrayed in different fashions to suit their games. By the way, you guys have great montage videos for the previews.

TN: Thanks! I work on those a lot, it’s actually me who initiates those, and Kyle does a lot of the vine videos and Instagrams.

KW: It’s fun

TN: It’s really fun.

WASC: The recent announcement speaks of a deep, new, social mode, is there anything you can say about that, or is it deep under wraps, or webs?

TN: *Laughs* it’s being worked on, it’ll probably hit the app store sometime in early to mid-August, we were planning on it to be sooner, but that’s how deep and big the social mode is.

KW: It’s going to be good; it’s going to be a game changer.

TN: It’s going to be the first new mode that we ever released since launch, and it will allow players to work together.

KW: It will definitely be good for the community and bring them together.

WASC: Working together sounds exciting, I suppose we kind of Work together in the Clash of the Spiders.

TN: Yeah, it’s kind of a step beyond what we did with Clash of the Spiders.

WASC: And of course, is there anything cool or interesting you guys would like to add, a message you’d like fans and players to hear, or perhaps a teaser of what’s to come.

TN: We are looking at the comics, and we are bringing in the new spider-man and 2099 to the game, they will be arriving post Secret-War, sometime in October I believe. And Spider-Island is coming to Spider-Man Unlimited as well, and with that update is the very exciting new social mode.

KW: For players who aren’t already on the community channels (such as Gameloft’s Spider-Man Unlimited Forum Here), I think they should give it a shot. Sometimes it can be intimidating to create a forum account then try and get in with all these players who have been playing since launch. But then once you get to know these people they’re willing to help you and provide tips. Some of them are the top players in the game and they have videos, tips, their own wiki-websites, or other private groups where they socialize, talk about the game, help each other, and really dive into the meta-game. I think for users who want to take their experience to the next level or get more involved that’s something they should definitely consider.

TN: The Spider-Man Unlimited game and community are a really great place for comic-fans to enjoy the core comic content of Marvel, and to interact with comic fans who are also playing that game.

WASC: You guys definitely have some visibility here and for everyone who’s wondering and asking where he is in the forums, Kyle’s here. He is still here, and he is still watching and still reading.

KW: Every day, lots of great comments, suggestions, lots of feedback, and we all take it in to consideration.

TN: And thanks to you for reaching out.

WASC: Thanks for having me, and Armor Wars Spidey, you should look into that for the Secret Wars content.

TN: yeah, we will!