By Dookysharpgun 18 Comments
So it came to my attention that Paul Dini, the writer behind both Arkham titles and Batman: TAS, is no longer a part of any future Batman projects with Rocksteady, according to his Twitter feed from July 27th (Paul_Dini). This comes a mere sixteen days after the rumour of a Silver Age prequel to the Arkham games, which suspiciously enough seems to tie into the release of a JLA movie at some point after 2015. It's well known that videogames don't exist in a vacuum, so does this all tie together in a very sinister fashion? Yes, I said sinister...now you want to read more, don't you?
Now I had my go at that rumour, I believed that it wasn't the decision of the developer, but of the publisher and the owners of the license, DC, to make a game using a company that is currently, excuse my language, hot as fresh shit right now. However, I thought that maybe, just maybe, this was another semi-believable rumour-as the games industry is that perverse and twisted, but I was willing to have my say and pray that it didn't come to pass...I mean, why would it? Rocksteady, and Paul Dini's ideas has created the two most successful superhero-related games this generation, as previous attempts had outright failed, or had been lackluster at best. Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't deny that it took a certain level of skill to create such a successful series.
Right now, we're seeing something that, from a certain perspective, could be seen as extremely negative, douchey and manipulative...after all, why make a prequel, in the campy silver-age of comics, potentially incorporate the Joker into it, and deny the fans of the series a continuation of the main series that has earned such acclaim? When you follow this up with Paul Dini not just being cut off from writing any more of the titles that he and Rocksteady lovingly crafted together, and add in the fact that he never knew the rumour, now seemingly a fact, even existed, there's a certain amount of apprehension that surrounds whatever comes next.
What I mean by that, to put it plainly, is that we're seeing a possible purging of what made the Arkham games so loved; the dark and grim atmosphere, which reached fever pitch when Arkham City came to a close. This was the defining moment in the Arkham series, allowing the game to spin off into its own continuity, something so brilliant that, married to the potential rouges gallery for the next title, got me excited as all-hell for the next Arkham game in this exciting, new and highly ballsy endeavour. Then Harley Quinne's Revenge came out...and it was lackluster, doing nothing for the story, raising feelings of disappointment over excitement at the potential that was lost in it...and now I know why.
You see, when you want to move away from an idea or a theme or even a style of storytelling, you release something that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the person experiencing it. In videogames, that means releasing a lack-luster DLC on the same day you release a GOTY edition of the title. GOTY titles indicate that the game is done and dusted, and that the team has moved onto something new, and won't be supporting that title anymore. So what's done is done, AC was a great game, it's over, people want another game in the series, and that's just fine.
...but wait...Avengers was such a big success right? That movie was so damn big, it forever upped the ante for what people expect from super-team movies. So within weeks, DC announce their own shot at the gold, by announcing Wonder Woman, a movie to appear on screens at some point after 2015 (the year Silver Age game is to be released) finally getting Man of Steel trailers rolling out, and giving it their all to hype the ever-loving crap out of the JLA movie that will be released after all of these movies hit screens (there'll be an inevitable Batman reboot, just wait and see). The only issue is, other than the Lego Batman 2 game which brings other DC heroes to the forefront, there won't really be any awareness raised for the other characters like Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Flash and fuck Green Lantern...fuck that movie...hard...where was I? Oh yeah: So what could DC do to raise awareness of this new idea? Well all they had to do was look at WB, and their developer Rocksteady, to find the answer! Who needs new, exciting departures from the norm? Who needs a game series that can dig into it's own mythology and create something new for the players, the consumers to enjoy? Fuck that noise, Rocksteady are now working on a prequel game, set in the silver age, where other DC characters will come into the spotlight at the point where DC will begin their expedition into live-action film making...something they haven't done well nine times out of ten in the last thirty years.
Kicking Paul Dini out was the crystallizing moment, you get rid of the one writer who has turned the Batman story in videogames into a dark, psychological exploit into the Dark Knight's mind, creating a wholly new creative avenue that people were actually excited about...and you scrap it. Why? Silver Age is safe, Silver Age is campy and light-hearted...and you can't make kids aware of up-and-coming movies if they don't know who the characters are...but kids know Batman, and kids in three years will know all of the main DC heroes thanks to a title that'll steer clear of dark and gritty undertones, of realistic violence and the word 'bitch' which people find offensive for some reason. It won't tread into all of the elements that made batman great, it'll be a starting point for pre-release advertisements for movies that need to sell, otherwise DC is straight fucked. I mean, let's face it, it makes sense, this is a huge cost, and if it fails, downsizing will come with it.
So at the end of the day, there really is only one question to ask: Is this all just coincidence, or have DC and WB decided to use videogames to promote movies in a manner that takes away any original ideas, forces the developers to work on games that their hearts won't be in, and cuts off those who made successes out of their franchises in the first place, as there will be far too big a loss if the movie ideas go bust? The answer seems to obvious, and I hope I'm wrong, but given how wrong-headed the industry is nowadays, where you have to sell five million copies of a game to make it viable as a series because of overblown budgets, where license holders try to capitalize on the current hot-button of entertainment, despite their strengths clearly being visible in other areas, like animation, where interesting TV shows are cancelled because they don't hold half the world's population's attention during their first airing and where bad twilight fan-fiction sells more copies than most classic literature and other genres, we really don't stand a chance. I want to be wrong, but the evidence is mounting up, and things are going from bad to worse. I love the Arkham games, I think the leap-of-faith they took with Arkham City was amazing, and well worth it, showing that you can make a game based on something done half to death and make it interesting-if you have the balls to go all out. To see such a great series pushed aside to accommodate for a, quite frankly, stupid and pointless investment is a crime against creativity at large, teaching us that our ideas and efforts are only as worthwhile as the interests of a company whose collective minds might shift focus onto something new that requires full compliance, prior positive or negative outcomes aside.