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The Making of Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past

Wes Tam, creative director, answers questions about the development of Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past related to art style, scope, challenges and the high expectations of X-Men fans.

Glitchsoft launched the Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past mobile game for iOS in May. As we ramp Wes Tamup for the release on Android, I sat down with Wes Tam, our vice president of creative and co-founder to talk about landing the project, roadblocks that were overcome and how it all came together.

A big hurdle in doing any branded game is getting the rights to license it. How did you start working with Marvel on Uncanny X-Men?

Wes: Being fans ourselves we realized there hadn't been a strong X-Men game since X-Men Legends II, which was close to a decade ago. Origins: Wolverine was great, but you only played as Logan. Every week, I would check the App Store and scour the internet for news of a new X-Men game. We realized that if we wanted to play a game like this, other X-Men fans are likely looking for the same thing. That's when we approached Marvel.

Obviously that approached worked. So once you got the ball rolling, how did you decide to tackle the project?

Wes: Our philosophy is to treat the fans and property with respect. There is so much X-Men lore throughout the last 50 years. To get the tone just right, we had to do our homework. We sifted through years of X-Men comic book, video games and cartoon history before making decisions. It was a big undertaking, but we wanted to fully understand what the property is about, what makes it special, what the fans are looking for and how the property is perceived.

With so much material, how did you choose which characters to include in the game?

Wes: It was a challenge. There are so many characters and different iterations of each. We took into consideration what key story lines we wanted to include in the game and looked at what fans would appreciate. It was crucial for us to understand the significance of the characters and how those characters related to each other in order to make our final decisions. Also, from a game play standpoint, some characters were more ideal to adapt than other characters.

Kitty PrydeTell us about Kitty Pryde, she is the main character in Days of Future Past story but you don’t see her a lot outside the comic books.

Wes: Kitty Pryde is a really prominent character in the comics and for a time she was one of the biggest X-Men characters. She gets less focus in the movies and you rarely see her as a playable character in video games. Her fans are so underserviced. She can phase through walls and can walk on air. Her powers are quite hard to adapt into an action game.

We wanted to make Kitty’s moves look powerful but different from others like Scarlet Witch, who emanates magic or particles of light out of her hands. So making someone who doesn’t have any visual effects when she does a special move look powerful and impressive compared to other characters was a difficult task.

How did you tackle design challenges with this project?

Wes: There are so many characters in the X-Men universe. We were able to pick and choose the ones to help us solve specific design challenges in a unique, X-Men universe-specific way. For example, Forge can create or control pretty much any machinery. We were able to use this to give context to certain aspects of the game. For example, Forge sends power-ups back into the past that the player can collect. It's a really fun and satisfying mechanic. Without Forge, it would be tough to explain why there are all these canisters placed throughout the game. We always referenced X-Men lore to see if there was something that would help give us context to game design.

What is it like to create a game using the parameters of old time comic book action heroes?

Wes: We wanted to stay true to the Days of Future Past story arc as much as possible. That being said, it did not easily adapt to a video game. Days of Future Past is an epic, but in terms of locations, it is really self-contained. Outside of Future New York and Baxter Building, the story’s location were very small and intimate. We had to figure out how to get the game to feel bigger in scale and scope.

The first third of the game is, more-or-less, a retelling of the Days of Future Past story. From there, we strayed from the original book and went bigger. You’ll see the team traveling to really compelling video game settings, which are not featured in the original story. We took the game to settings where we could have some really crazy scenarios with dinosaurs and Sentinels. We even had spec’d locations and boss battles with the Brood. The player will get to travel to the Savage Lands, Asteroid M as well other iconic X-Men locations. The game extended and built on the original story. It explores what could happen after Senator Kelly was saved.

What are the advantages to being a small company working for a big brand?

Wes: One of the positives of working for a big brand is there's a lot of material that we can draw from. We are not inventing characters from scratch, so we have a good idea of what works. Wolverine has gone through 30 years of iteration and knowing what fans like or don’t like gives us the ability to take the best of his design. Having your fan base already know what you are talking about is a great advantage of working with a brand.

So what is next for Uncanny X-Men?

Wes: We are working hard to deliver Uncanny X-Men to Android devices. In fact, we launched on the Amazon store on Aug. 9. After that, we will continue to work on new playable characters and levels for all devices.

X-Men Sentinel Battle

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Wes is an award-winning producer and designer, specializing in Triple A content for mobile and handheld devices. Described as passionate, relentless and hardworking, Wes has extensive experience in the interactive entertainment industry. Learn more about http://linkd.in/1qspYvB

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