MADWORLD had started to slowly coalesce as a game for me. I could see its core. However, I still had this nagging impression that we were a bit too rough in how we were handling violence.
I began to wonder… “Hmm… There has to be a way to make this more over-the-top and comical.”
Around the same time, we were preparing the points system that increases a user’s score as their kills become more and more complex and violent. With this system, if there was a way to have someone watch the game and react with comments like, “That was a high scoring kill!” or “If you would have f%&^ed him up a bit more, the score would have been higher,” the user would be able to go after brutal kills or more complex ways of dispatching enemies. They would know instantly whether their actions were being rewarded or weren’t up to snuff. I took this idea to the team, and after much talk and deliberation, everyone came around to the idea of having someone talk during the gameplay, and we decided to add play-by-play announcers to the game.
However, we knew that only having one announcer would seem a bit weak, and wouldn’t really get people excited. So we decided that they should be like Japanese Manzai comedians, with the play-by-play man joined by a color commentator, bouncing lines back and forth between each other as the game played out. I thought that if we could pull that off, we would definitely make the game even more comical. (By the way, Japanese Manzai consists of a straight man and a funny man bouncing jokes back and forth to get laughs.)
So once we were set with our announcer pair, we needed to figure out what they would say. So I went to two important team members, our resident American and Canadian, to figure out where we should go with things, and then we recorded some announcer tests in our in-house recording studio.
Of course, since I don’t understand English, I let them take care of the finer points of writing the lines; however, when they were recording the test lines, they were laughing and having a good time, so I became more confident that we could use this idea to make the game more comical.
Once the recording was done, we put the data into a development build of the game, and presented this version of the game, containing Jack’s gruesome kills with the announcers talking over the action, to the staff of SEGA of America with a bit of trepidation.
They watched the actions of Jack on screen along with the announcers talking away and everyone busted up laughing!! “They are laughing! The announcers work!!” I was able to take my suspicions that it would work and turn it into definite proof. From then on out, the announcers were in the game.
There’s another important purpose the announcers serve in MADWORLD.
The announcers performances help you get into the universe of MADWORLD and understand what it is all about. Jack has joined a murderous game show called DEATHWATCH, which makes this a world completely out of the ordinary. Thus, we needed the announcers to talk during the game to make you feel how different this world is. Even though we had really different graphics and over-the-top ways to kill enemies, I thought that we weren’t getting this across well enough, and we could have the announcers aim to fill this gap.
I gave the announcers some backstories to fill in the gaps.
Announcer 1: He is a man hired by the DEATHWATCH organizers to explain the game. A typical sports announcer.
Announcer 2: A champion of DEATHWATCH, he can add color commentary from the perspective of a former contestant, and follow up on what the first announcer is saying.
With those two characters in place, we could get across the atmosphere of DEATHWATCH and really bring people in and explain the MADWORLD universe. I had the announcer tests work off these character descriptions, and when we went to final recording, the descriptions didn’t change at all. The actors understood my ideas and created their characters.
Announcers are usually only used in “sports games,” like soccer or baseball; however, with MADWORLD, we had a great reason to add them in, and it became another way we challenged ourselves to add the icing on the cake and make the an even more interesting, catchy game. Anyways, that is how I feel about it… But you guys have seen the trailers so far. What do you think?