How would you make a good Superman game?

bastardofmelbourne

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I always liked the idea of Metropolis having its own health bar. A Superman game where the focus was on avoiding collateral damage and saving people instead of winning a fight would be pretty good, if it was coupled with some good writing, some complex moral choices (I know that's too much to ask for) and a decent flight mechanic.

And, every now and then, let Superman wail on an army of robots, just for catharsis.
 

PurplePonyArcade

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Now personally I despise most incarnations of the character Superman yes, but I do see potential in a great game from him. Take a poorly balanced character with seemingly limitless potential and that can make all sorts of amazing games. Yeah I personally do not think any of them will fair well being serious and that's apart of his character but I can see fun being a big factor in a properly handled Superman game.
 

omega 616

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Silentpony said:
The thing about Superman is his stories are never about fighting, they're about the morality of his existence. He's basically God, especially in the comics when he fights God and Death and beats them both. He's unstoppable, and more than capable of imposing his will on the entire Galaxy if he wants.

So the dilemma is what he does with this power, and how he has to allow for choice and freedom even if people get hurt. I feel like a good Superman game needs to explore that idea, because without it you're just playing Arkham with No-clip and Invulnerability on.

Its dumb enough when Batman can't get into the Mansion because the old wooden door is locked, but can you imagine Superman like "Do'h well, gotta go get the blue key and unlock my laser vision before I can open the next area by shooting a lock with ma' lasers!"
And contriving a reason for him to need to do that, like a red sun or kryptonite or whatever is just lazy story telling, and defeats the purpose of having Superman.

So don't worry about the combat or really the gameplay. He's Superman, and it writes itself. Focus on the morality of his existence.
The whole "contriving a reason for him to need to do that, like a red sun or kryptonite or whatever is just lazy story telling" is true but they do it that often in his stories that I think it would be ok.

What you're suggesting sounds like a walking simulator or just a telltale game, which to me is a waste ... you're superman and instead of doing cool shit like fly and xray vision etc you're talking. Could skin anybody to play that role, it would be less of a superman game and more of a game with superman in.

On the other hand if you are actually superman then there is no challenge 'cos superman = god and we all know that playing games with cheats of that calibre get boring quickly.

On the third hand, if you power all the other people up by making him fight in a place where everybody is as strong or stronger than supes, then what is the point of playing as supes? Though, I guess it would be cool to play as superman in the batman games, hit a 5 streak and be able to eye blast a guy into ash or just fus ro dah him across the room. However, I think that combat system has been done to death.

(I got mad max and the second and third batman games for dirt cheap recently on steam (?6, ?3 and ?3 ish) and I got the first batman game on PS3 as part of PS+ years ago, combined with shadow of mordor and that is a lot of mash X and tap triangle every so often)

So unless they throw him into some kind planet Hulk situation, I can't really see a good game coming from it.
 

Saltyk

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Sep 12, 2010
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I remember seeing something about a potential Superman game that got canceled years ago. I found a short clip of it.


I think it was supposed to release around the same time as Superman Returns, and even had some impressive assets developed for it. As you can see, Superman could take some enemies through buildings as they fought. It also was supposed to feature a ton of his enemies.
 

Danbo Jambo

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Misterian said:
Oddly enough, I think with a few tweeks, some of the gameplay mechanics from the Batman Arkham games can help set the foundation for a good Superman game, here's some examples I have in mind, as well as some unique ideas that can be exclusive to a Superman game.
Good shout!

Misterian said:
Combat Rating System; Superman typically operates in Metropolis and because his powers have immense destructive capabilities, he typically tries his best to minimize done to the city. I think a good way to grade a player's performance as Superman can be to grade how you do certain missions based on how you use his powers in what situation and how well you can minimize damage done to the city.
That would be kinda boring though lol. Good initial idea, can totally see where you are coming from, but for me player enjoyment comes from maximizing their characters avilities, not restricting them.

For me a better approach would be to include elements of saving people ala Superman 2. So mid-fight you're given a chance to strike a big blow to an enemy, but a falling statue you've just knocked him into is about to crush a civilian, thus you make the choice what to do.

Saving people and minimizing damage by judging situations and maximizing power use would be the way to go IMO.

Other ideas sound good, but I'm due back from lunch so gotta shoot :)

Good thinking all round, wish more game companies would think outside the box with things like these.
 

WhiteFangofWhoa

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Pretty much what OP described. City and civilian have health, but you don't unless you're fighting a big-leaguer like Darkseid.

In the field with a few exceptions, Clark's dilemma is rarely ever 'can I survive this fight?'. It's, 'can I take this guy down without doing insane collateral damage to the rest of my home city?'. It's like being the one kid who doesn't want to wreck the sandcastle or step on all the ants. You have to find more subtle, surgical ways to take the threat out while also minimising the damage, and your hearing/X-Ray vision can clue you in to people placed in danger during the fight if you want to save them. Let too many die as a result of your carelessness, and you're on track to the bad ending. Nothing gets comic Supes depressed like failing to save lives.

Good flight controls, even if you can't sandbox the whole planet. The other common element to his more dangerous enemies is that most of them can fly and have some kind of projectile. Have a sequence where you fly deep into the heart of a massive Apokolips dreadnaught and destroy its reactor from within (its internal defences can only slow you down, but take too long and it vaporizes half of Smallville). Not everything in Arkham would work with Superman, but you could do a Riddler-esque scavenger hunt wherein Mr. Mxyzptlk has you finding things in the city that are out of place or strange.
 

JUMBO PALACE

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I don't have too many ideas but I always find it funny that people think a Superman game could be dumb because he's too powerful. Games like Hulk Ultimate Destruction and Prototype are complete god-mode fantasies and they were relatively well received and fun.

Saltyk said:
I remember seeing something about a potential Superman game that got canceled years ago. I found a short clip of it.


I think it was supposed to release around the same time as Superman Returns, and even had some impressive assets developed for it. As you can see, Superman could take some enemies through buildings as they fought. It also was supposed to feature a ton of his enemies.
Looks really cool but also like QTE The Game
 
Apr 5, 2008
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I must say that sadly a game about Superman is not a great idea, for similar reasons to why Zak Snyder's films suck so much. The current, modern Superman is not very interesting. An Alien Jesus who's some candle for mankind, saviour of the universe who moves planets when he coughs doesn't make for an interesting game or movie.

IMO, the *best* part of Superman's mythos is a) dual identity, journalist by day and secretly a superhero and b) cool powers of flight, strength, breath and heat/laser vision. His completely invulnerability to everything but kryptonite is shit and the main issue with trying to make a game with him. If he is always invulnerable and capable of beating any threat, there's little real challenge. Thus one of a few things would need to happen.

- He faces threats that are a challenge
- His immune-to-everything ability gets ignored for the sake of an enjoyable game
- The threat must be against something other than him.

IMO, the first is boring. Battles of the Titans are boring outside of Greek Mythology. Eragon book 4 is testament to how utterly uninteresting it is to watch/read about invulnerable Gods duking it out. The MOST interesting Superman moments are Clark Kent having to hide his identity, having to find a place out of sight to change into his costume, saving a falling plane or pulling a man out of a car. These things we can relate to, they're super heroic and memorable.

The thing is DC hold him up as the very God he's portrayed as by Snyder and held up as. Everything post-Reeves makes him out as a Messiah, a deliverer, instead of a hero who saves Metropolis and the like. I think take away his complete invulnerability so he can face mundane threats (or hand-wave it off as everything is kryptonite/magic) will make it so we face a challenge, have a story based around Clark Kent/Daily Planet/Lois Lane/Lex Luthor and forget the light-for-mankind bullshit. Make it a sandbox in Metropolis/faux NYC, let us level up his strength/heat ray/flight speed and Bob's your uncle.

His Godhood/invulnerability is his worst trait and why modern Superman sucks.
 

hermes

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There was a Superman Returns PS2 game that had the concept of "the health bar is Metropolis' health bar"... didn't work that well.

For me, the focus should be on enemies at a similar level than him (grunts should be killer robots, for starters), with powers that include psychic or magic powers to counter his invulnerability, with characters like Doomsday, Bizarro or Metalo acting like side bosses. Also, after the first stage where you have all his powers, make it so that Brainiac creates a red sun shield covering Metropolis and he has to go to different locations to get his powers back.
 

hermes

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KingsGambit said:
I must say that sadly a game about Superman is not a great idea, for similar reasons to why Zak Snyder's films suck so much. The current, modern Superman is not very interesting. An Alien Jesus who's some candle for mankind, saviour of the universe who moves planets when he coughs doesn't make for an interesting game or movie.

IMO, the *best* part of Superman's mythos is a) dual identity, journalist by day and secretly a superhero and b) cool powers of flight, strength, breath and heat/laser vision. His completely invulnerability to everything but kryptonite is shit and the main issue with trying to make a game with him. If he is always invulnerable and capable of beating any threat, there's little real challenge. Thus one of a few things would need to happen.

- He faces threats that are a challenge
- His immune-to-everything ability gets ignored for the sake of an enjoyable game
- The threat must be against something other than him.

IMO, the first is boring. Battles of the Titans are boring outside of Greek Mythology. Eragon book 4 is testament to how utterly uninteresting it is to watch/read about invulnerable Gods duking it out. The MOST interesting Superman moments are Clark Kent having to hide his identity, having to find a place out of sight to change into his costume, saving a falling plane or pulling a man out of a car. These things we can relate to, they're super heroic and memorable.

The thing is DC hold him up as the very God he's portrayed as by Snyder and held up as. Everything post-Reeves makes him out as a Messiah, a deliverer, instead of a hero who saves Metropolis and the like. I think take away his complete invulnerability so he can face mundane threats (or hand-wave it off as everything is kryptonite/magic) will make it so we face a challenge, have a story based around Clark Kent/Daily Planet/Lois Lane/Lex Luthor and forget the light-for-mankind bullshit. Make it a sandbox in Metropolis/faux NYC, let us level up his strength/heat ray/flight speed and Bob's your uncle.

His Godhood/invulnerability is his worst trait and why modern Superman sucks.
Just for the record, a lot of stories of the JL Animated series managed to put him (and/or Martian Manhunter) out of commission at the beginning of each episode. In there he wasn't invulnerable, just really, really tough. The writers of the game can get several excuses to make him vulnerable by checking the TV Show.
 

RedDeadFred

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May 13, 2009
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Saelune said:
Make a game where you really are just super powerful and seemingly unstoppable. Just give an open-world Metropolis where you fly around being Superman, punching baddies and all that...but give you freedom.

Then wait.

Wait for the player to go "I can do anything" and they start being a dick and destroying things, then BAM, Justice League becomes the antagonist as Superman goes evil and you control him. Ofcourse, dont let people know this. Release the game under the pretense of being a good guy the whole time.
I really like this idea. It sounds a lot more interesting than most super human games from both story and gameplay perspectives.
 
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hermes said:
Just for the record, a lot of stories of the JL Animated series managed to put him (and/or Martian Manhunter) out of commission at the beginning of each episode. In there he wasn't invulnerable, just really, really tough. The writers of the game can get several excuses to make him vulnerable by checking the TV Show.
These sound like ideas that might have merit. There are a couple of possibilities that could work for both a game and a story.

- Superman is weakened by a villain, perhaps some form of poisoning. As the game proceeds he finds cures that each partially restore his abilities. From a game point of view, this can essentially be levelling up. Unlocking and/or upgrading more powers as time goes on is a tried and tested mechanic in RPGs and it could be the focal point of a story targeting Superman personally. The issue is that it can really only work in a Superman game once.
- An alternative is to simply give the man a health bar and make a game about a Superman that is tough but not invincible. Beyond that, any game mechanics can work since at least we have a challenge. I still maintain that an open world around which to run/fly would be well suited.
- Superman is vulnerable to magic, so a magical setting/antagonist could also be used to make him vulnerable.

There are undoubtedly some options that could work, but whether or not it's worth WB's time and money is another matter. Batman, Wolverine, Deadpool are much easier to make games about because they translate well into a game format. Combat against both mooks and super-badarses, they each have unique mechanics (gadgets, claws, guns in the above examples) and so on. The old sandbox Spiderman games were similarly fun. An invulnerable, flying God doesn't make for exciting play or viewing so the modern/film/Jesus version of the character would need to change. The question that needs to be asked is why play/make a Superman game when the Arkham series, Spiderman, Saints Row 4, Skyrim and so many other games exist? What makes it unique/fun?
 

Windcaler

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To make a good superman game I think you only need to ask a few basic questions and explore those questions. I felt the same with a good superman movie. Batman Vs. superman dawn of justice actually asked that question (they just didnt explore it at all). The question was: Should there be a superman? You can make an entire movie, game, or TV series out of that one question but it cant take the form of a monster beat em up or anything like that. The question is intrinsically an esoteric one that requires serious examination of morality and philosophy and thats what the chosen media has to approach as well.

That said, I feel like the best approach to a superman game is a story heavy RPG or adventure game style. I dont see anything inherently wrong with other genres like side scrolling beat em up, fighting game, or spectacle fighter but I do feel like they wont serve the narrative as well.
 

Tanis

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Aug 30, 2010
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*something something magic*
*something something every villain is now magic+whatever they were*
*something something dark side*

But, seriously?
IT could work if the game started off with Lex, it's always fucking Lex, doing the whole 'turn the sun red' thing.

Superman starts off with a lead lined suit, thus allowing him to keep his powers.
-This would allow for a 'health bar', because when it's totally destroyed...Supes could actually die.

As the game wears on, the red sun light is slowly turned into yellow...thus allowing him to become more and more powerful.

Until, finally, 'godhood' and going against a red radiation shooting, k-rock powered, LL goes toe-to-toe with him.
 

distortedreality

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How about a Superman game where you play as an enemy of Superman, and create different ways to kill/banish/whatever him?