Spider-Man lead writer Jon Paquette tells Polygon that lots of original ideas were thrown away in the creation of Insomniac’s latest game. But the upcoming DLC hasn’t been cobbled together from the extra bits left on the cutting room floor. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The web-slinging action game was released on Sept. 7 and quickly garnered rave reviews. We called it “the most polished entry to date” in a series that dates back all the way to the 8-bit era. Pauquette said Insomniac’s goal was to put its own spin on Peter Parker. Job one? Avoiding making another origin story.
“We specifically said we don’t want to do the origin story again,” Paquette said. “We’ve seen it a bunch, right? That’s something most of our players probably already know. We wanted to define something new and fresh that felt different to us. So we said, ‘Hey! Why don’t we focus on a time in his early 20s when he’s just graduated from college. He’s got all this energy. He thinks he can take on the world. He’s been doing this Spider-Man thing for eight years already and he feels like he’s kind of got it down. So he relaxes a little bit. And that’s when things go wrong.’”
The game’s original treatment, which Paquette showed to Marvel for approval, was fairly lengthy. Eventually it had to be trimmed down. Part of writing is killing your darlings, after all, and that’s true in the game industry the same as any other. The trick, he said, is not clinging to the story beats that might otherwise conspire to confuse the player, and leaving room for the level designers to tell their own stories as well.
“I’m really working for them,” Paquette said. “I’ll help them develop the ideas for all these little mini stories that hopefully fit together. They usually don’t at first. So that treatment that I started with gets thrown out the window because as we develop the story and the gameplay together, things change and we throw out a lot of work.”
When it comes to DLC, however (the three announced modules are part of an arc called The City That Never Sleeps), the team returned to the beginning of the process once more with a treatment — this time influenced by fan feedback.
“We see how people are reacting to certain characters,” Paquette said. “We see what people enjoy as part of the main game and then we ask ourselves, ‘How do we give them more of that?’
“At the same time, how do we give them something that feels new and fresh? So our strategy with that is to focus on distinct characters.”
The Heist, the first entry in The City That Never Sleeps arc, will focus on Black Cat. It’s not that her story was originally put aside, he said, it’s just that the team is choosing to go back and flesh her out.
So what should fans who have completed the game do to prepare themselves?
“They should be focused on a lot of the storytelling we do in the open world,” he said. “There’s probably things that you haven’t discovered yet unless you’ve got the platinum [trophy] already, in which case, congratulations. But the team worked really hard to build this amazingly authentic city that is so much fun to play in. So just keep looking for hidden things.”
Spider-Man’s first bit of DLC, The Heist, arrives on Oct. 23.