From the moment Insomniac’s Spider-Man was revealed with the white spider logo on his chest, it was clear that this version of Spider-Man was going to be a little different from the hero we know, but he will be familiar, and he will definitely be Peter Parker under the mask. “This is a Peter Parker story. That is not Miles in that suit, which is a question everyone keeps asking me on twitter,” creative director Bryan Intihar says. “He still gets bit by a spider, but we don’t really want to go big into the origin story.” You will uncover elements of his backstory, mostly by collecting Peter’s old backpacks strewn about the city, but this is a Spider-Man story that takes place well after Peter Parker became Spider-Man.
“We all knew that people have seen the origin story before, right? We know what that teenage Peter Parker is about. We didn’t want to tell a story that had already been told,” Insomniac writer Jon Paquette says. From the very beginning Insomniac didn’t want to be beholden to any established Spider-Man stories.
“Obviously, he should feel like the classic Spider-Man and Peter Parker everyone knows, but we’re doing our own thing. We don’t have to worry about the other stuff. Let’s just do the best, most iconic Spider-Man story we can do,” Christos Gage, a longtime writer for Marvel comics and Spider-Man who co-wrote the game’s script, tells us.
Peter Parker is college graduate in this story. He was bitten by the radioactive spider when he was 15, but now he is 23 and has a firm grasp on his abilities. He’s a scientist, but Intihar cryptically won’t reveal more than that saying, “I can’t tell you where he is working because we’re actually not going to say until the game comes out.” As a 23-year-old college graduate, Peter Parker is experiencing problems that will be all too familiar to anyone who has been in the same position.
”He’s on the verge of becoming an adult, and he’s dealing with a lot of the things people at that age dealing with – student loans, trying to start a career, struggling with money – any number of things,” Intihar says. He’s at another starting point in his life, which is a struggle. The Spider-Man side of his life is going well, but in the opening moments of the game, right before he leaps out the window to be Spider-Man, a letter slides under his door into his apartment warning of eviction if he doesn’t pay his rent soon.
“One of the talks we had was about what it was like to be in your early twenties, just out of college, you thought you could take on the world, you had all this passion and energy for changing the world, and you didn’t have the cynicism that I have now in my forties,” Paquette says. Insomniac worked closely with Marvel’s executive creative director Bill Rosemann on the story and his main advice was that the best Spider-Man stories are the ones where Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s worlds collide, and from there Insomniac set to work crafting a new, but familiar version of the well-known character.
“That was really liberating,” Gage says, “I have worked on video games in the past that were tied to movie releases and they were good and I enjoyed them, but at the same time you are bound to an external thing, where here we get to do our own thing. It was like when my wife and I were writing for the first season Daredevil. You have 50 years of great source material to draw from, but you’re doing your own thing.”
One of those elements that was not ignored or changed for this Spider-Man is he will be full of quips. “There are infinitely more one-liners,” Gage says, comparing what he has written for assorted comics to writing for the game. Players will be spending a lot of time with Spider-Man fighting bad guys, after all. “This is not spoilery, but, for example, there is a thing where Spider-Man jumps into a fight between two other factions that are enemies of his and they’re fighting each other and he says something to the effect of, ‘Guys I know how to settle this – dance off,’” Gage says, “Imagine coming up with like one-thousand of those.”
It was also important to the team that Spider-Man and Peter Parker feel like separate people. As Spider-Man, he exudes confidence and speaks with conviction, but as Peter Parker, he stumbles with his words. “That’s something we didn’t want to lose, even though he has more experience,” Intihar says.
The game takes place over the course of a few weeks in October. As a small detail meant to represent the passage of time, Peter, along with other characters, will change clothes as the story moves along. It opens in a way most Spider-Man stories would end, with Spider-Man assisting in the arrest of Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk after years spent on each others’ fierce rivalry. Peter feels this will finally be the moment he can relax. “He thinks, I can still keep the city safe preventing smaller crimes, but everything is going to be okay now,” Intihar says, “But the idea is that, it’s always about getting that next thing. If I do this everything will be okay, but he always realizes that that’s never really going to happen.”
The outside perception of Spider-Man will also shift and change as you move through the game’s story. Some people will think he’s the best thing to ever happen to the city and will even stop him in the street to take a selfie, or give him a high-five. Other civilians, and at specific points in the story, he will be seen as a menace.
Paquette and Gage also shared some details about the length of the game’s script. It’s long, about the equivalent of a 3,333-page novel, according to Paquette – and that’s just the finalized text. Paquette has been keeping track of the game’s word count, which is currently at about 400,000 words, but he says overall he, Gage, and the game’s other writers, Ben Arfmann and Dan Slott, have written about 800,000 words. They’re not afraid to throw elements of the story out if they’re not working. And speaking of words, Paquette humored us for a question about what words Spider-Man won’t be saying in the game. “He will not say f***,” Paquette says with a laugh. “There is one word Bill Rosemann at Marvel always gets on us about. I always try to get Spider-Man or MJ to say ‘balls.’ For some reason Bill always says, ‘No. No, take that out.’”
Gage has high hopes for this game and is awaiting its release with confidence. “I don’t want to jinx it, but I feel like we’re on the right track,” Gage says. “I am hoping that what fans will feel like when they play this game is a sense of, ‘Finally!’ and I don’t mean that in any disrespect to any past Spider-Man games – I mean, I played the original Atari 2600 game – but I am hoping Spider-Man fans will play and say, ‘Oh wow. I feel like Spider-Man. This is great, this feels right.’”
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