EXCLUSIVE: Catching up with Ubisoft’s Dan Vargas

avengers spiderman venom

Recently, we were able to catch up with Ubisoft’s own Dan Vargas, Art Director for Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth for a post-launch pow-wow. We discussed fan criticism, toy inclusion, roster choices and the perfect in-game team. As for the rest? Well…

It’s been a little while since launch. How have Marvel and Kinect fans responded to Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth?

DV: I would love to see people in their living rooms playing this.  If the many demos, that we have had this past year are any indicator… then people are enjoying this game a lot!  I try not to rely on the critics and Internet comments as the gauge for success but I’ve read so far is in line with my expectations.  On the whole, the game has been received well.

Dan Vargas counsels an Iron-Man-in-training

Given that the Marvel fanbase is notoriously picky and indignant about their favorite characters, have you received any negative feedback from “fans” on Marvel forums? Was there any backlash about characters who didn’t quite make the cut?

DV: Of course, everyone has favorite characters from the Marvel universe, there were a few people who let us know we ‘should have’ included their favorites.  Marvel’s universe is incredibly rich; we even had internal debates about the final cut!  However, we have a good roster and its seems the vast majority of fans have at least 1 of  ‘their’ characters in the game.


Have you been bombarded with criticisms like “there’s NO way that (character X) would EVER lose to (character Y)”? Do you have an overarching statement for the slavering fanboys?

DV: We have had a few comments like this, and without any context, it might be easy for people to say that. But from the first moment people experience the game, they get it!  It was more important to make the game fun to play than to be slaves to statistics.



We noticed that we were able to incorporate the licensed Avengers gear into gameplay (IE Thor’s Hammer and the Hulk fists); was that always the plan? Did it present additional tracking issues for the Kinect hardware?

DV: Haha!  Using Cap’s shield or Thor’s hammer just makes the gameplay so much more fun!  Those toys were not really an issue.  Unfortunately, capes and black leather were not so great–they obscure the player figures, and makes it really hard for the Kinect camera to track accurately.


Hindsight is always 20/20; is there anything you would have done differently in the execution of Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth? Employed different characters, locations or moves?

DV: Of the things that were in our control, there is not a lot that I feel we would have changed, although, maybe I would have snuck in more of my favorite characters!


Is there any upcoming DLC planned? New characters, modes, levels or skins we can look forward to seeing?

DV: We have a couple of those! As you probably noticed in the trailers, we have sneaked in movie costumes into the game. We are big fans of the movie so we wanted to add these in! For the fans that don’t want to go through the whole game and unlock them, you will be able to download a suit pack.


Robert Downey Jr. vs. Jeremy Renner. GO!

You were able to cleanly incorporate one of the most convoluted Marvel storylines (Secret Invasion) into a clean, simplified narrative…and furthermore bucked the trend by incorporating it into a fighting game! What’s next on the agenda? Have you looked into Civil War? House of M?

DV: Thanks! In fact, Secret Invasion was the perfect premise for our game.  Speaking for myself… if I were to try to tackle one of the big crossover stories, it would have to be something that would match well with the kind of game experience we would do.  I did like House of  M… and Avengers Vs. X-Men could fun to do!


What can fans look forward to, with the Wii-U Battle for Earth that they didn’t get with the Kinect version? Will it be more accessible for players who have disabilities that may prevent them from getting the full Kinect experience?

DV: The biggest difference is really the controller.  Nintendo is, yet again, bringing something new and different to the gaming experience with the gamepad.  The Wii U does not require the full body motion so anyone who is able to wield the nun-chucks or the gamepad will be able to play!  Some people will this better, other’s will prefer the Kinect.  Ryan Penegos (@AgentM on Twitter) from Marvel.com actually liked the Wii U version better!


Did the “T” rating prevent any character moves you would have liked to have included? For example, I noticed there weren’t any direct stabs/slashes with Wolverine’s claws.

DV: Actually, we were aiming for E-10, as we wanted to make this game for everyone.  In fact, a lot of parents that we saw during the public demonstrations were very comfortable letting their younger kids play the game, so it seems the kind of action that we had in-game was fairly appropriate for a large audience.


What was your go-to character to play as during development?

DV:  Whichever characters were available in-game at the time!

(laughs) As new characters would make it through the pipeline we would always want to try them out.  Of course our game designers had to play all the characters, all the time to achieve a good balance and make sure the game was fun!  My favorite fighting team is Hulk and Thor.

He said “team”…NOT “VERSUS”!

Can you tell us a little about the process that went into finalizing the roster for the game? There were key storyline characters that were seemingly omitted; Black Panther, She-Hulk, Henry Pym  and Ms. Marvel most notably. Was the absence of Nick Fury, Deadpool and Punisher as playable characters due to the “T” rating?

DV: Once we defined the gameplay explicitly, we were able to see that certain characters lent themselves much better to the game.  A lot of the decision of the roster was also dependent on how much time we had on the project.  As an example, each of our characters had their own animations.  So for every punch, kick, jump, dodge, reaction in every circumstance had to be key-framed!  Just adding 1 extra character to the roster greatly affects our pipeline.  And that’s not even considering character modeling, texturing, FX, etc.  So while we could not get any near the complete list of characters involved in the Secret Invasion, I think the final roster fit well the game and the premise.


Can we expect an Extremis or Iron Patriot skin in the future?

DV: We will have to wait on that!


Have you looked into porting Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth as a swipe or stylus title for 3DS, iOS or Android?

DV: Not as yet!  That would be a pretty good challenge.


What’s next for the team? Any super-secret exclusive info you can share with our subscribers?

DV: Well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret!


‘Nuff Said!



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Author: Mick View all posts by

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