Interview: Marv Wolfman on DC Universe Online

In another sign of Sony Online Entertainment commitment to its upcoming DC Universe Online Massively Multiplayer Online game, last month the company announced that award-winning comics writer Marv Wolfman...

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In another sign of Sony Online Entertainment commitment to its upcoming DC Universe Online Massively Multiplayer Online game, last month the company announced that award-winning comics writer Marv Wolfman had joined the creative team at WildStorm Productions that’s working with SOE to bring the DC Universe to life on the Playstation 3 computer entertainment system and the PC.

Wolfman will write compelling story arcs, exciting quests and in-game events for DCUO and SciFiPulse writer John Freeman caught up with the award-winning writer to have a quick chat with him about his role in the project…

Wolfman’s seminal run on DC Comics The New Teen Titans is a favourite among comic book fans, and along with his work on series such as Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman and Superman, he has become one of the most recognizable names in comics of the last three decades. His illustrious comic credits also include creating and writing Blade, The Vampire Hunter for Marvel Comics.

“I’ve been writing video games for a few years now, including several using DC Comics characters,” Marv told SciFiPulse, “so when I was asked by DC if I’d like to work on the MMO, I jumped at the chance. It seemed like a perfect fit.”

DCUO is currently in development at SOE’s Austin studio in collaboration with DC Comics and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and, when launched – that date has yet to be announced – will offer a dramatic online setting where players can enter the DC Universe and battle alongside or against their favourite DC Comics heroes and villains including such icons as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Joker, as well as many other fan favourites such as Green Lantern, The Flash, Catwoman and Martian Manhunter. The action and drama will play out in such well-known locations as Gotham City and Metropolis, among others.

“As a gamer, this is a dream project in many ways,” says Wolfman. “I get to create new stories in the DC Universe that will make this video game world a truly unique, unforgettable experience.”

When it comes to creating a game based on such a huge mythology as DC Comics, “I think you basically need to understand the underpinnings of the DCU,” says Wolfman. “You don’t need to know every bit of continuity as the game will exist even as current continuity continually changes, but you do need to understand what makes the DCU different from other comic universes and to bring out the best in the characters. At the same time you need to understand how video games are written, why they are different from comics, and also to understand game play.

“I am a gamer – not a great one – but I’ve been playing video games since the early days so I know what I like to see and what I don’t,” he adds. “I understand how to write games and I understand the DCU. Hopefully that will work to help out on making the game as good as it can be.”

Wolfman joins an all-star roster already at work on DCUO, including legendary comic book artist Jim Lee, who serves as the game’s executive creative director, and renowned DC writer Geoff Johns, who is crafting the game’s overarching story.

“Getting Marv on board with DC Universe Online shows just how passionate and determined we are about making sure this franchise delivers for both video game players and comic book fans alike,” said John Smedley, president of SOE. “This is a true collaboration between the top talent at DC and SOE, and I believe the result of this creative alliance will be one of the most exciting, memorable online game experiences to date.”

With all the changes in the DC Universe of late, we asked Marv if there was a specific setting for DC Universe Online, or did he have to create a new one?

“Since Geoff Johns is one of the architects of the new DCU and he provided the umbrella for this game, I think the game should fit well into what DC will be doing.” feels Wolfman. “At the same time we’re not as concerned with the minute by minute changes in the DCU as to go for the iconic versions of the characters and setting. It’s a little bit specific and a little bit new in places where it needs to as we’re telling a new story.”

The biggest challenge working on this project has been the sheer scale of it, says the award-winning writer, whose credits include the popular Teen Titans animated series and who is currently working on DC Comics Vigilante book. “MMOs are huge and keeping everything in my head is the hardest part of doing this,” Wolfman reveals. “But fortunately the people at Sony Online Entertainment are guiding me and keeping me on track. Some of the people I met up there amazingly know the DCU inside and out.”

So far the most fun he’s had on the project was “sitting down with the Sony people and Jim Lee at our first Texas meeting and simply talking characters and story.

“It reminds one why they got into writing comics in the first place,” he says.

Writing for an MMPORG is very different to writing for comics or film, Wolfman notes.

“Comics and film are linear. We control the story and pacing and you follow along passively. MMOs, even more than most video games, are open worlds that allow the player to move where they want and if they choose it ignore all the guidance you may provide. But you still have to find a way to tell a story that is intriguing and great game play at the same time. MMOs are purely interactive and you’ve got to adjust the way you think to tell your story so it works no matter how the player plays the game.

So were their specific demands to the script writing he hadn’t encountered before in his other work?

“I think the large nature of MMOs is different from even my other game writing,” Wolfman argues. “Console games are finite. MMOs have to be able to go on for a long time and be played differently.

So which character would Marv most like to be in the DC Universe?

“Most of the DC characters are or will be in the game with time,” he reveals. “But my favourite characters happen to be Superman, Batman, wonder Woman and of course the characters I’ve created. So I’m already a happy camper.”

Marv is also happy with the game’s intiial concept. “Geoff set up a great storyline that was very DCU,” he says. “Obviously with time more stories and characters will be added that I’d love to work on, but for the story we’re telling in phase one I’m happy the way it is. I think adding more characters and stories nbow would probably cause my brain to explode!”

• The launch date for DC Universe Online has yet to be announced: visit www.dcuo.station.sony.com for the latest news

 By John Freeman

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth.

In the past few years he has written for ‘Star Trek’ Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com

When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics.

Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net

You can contact ian at: [email protected]

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