Interview: High Moon Studios’ Senior Creative Director Dave Cravens Talks Deadpool

by on June 7, 2013

With Deadpool’s very first video game just around the corner, we thought it would be a good idea to talk to the guy in charge of the whole thing. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a hold of the man himself – apparently he’s much too busy for the likes of us – so we had a chat with High Moon Studios’ Senior Creative Director Dave Cravens instead.

What was the decision process in choosing to make a game about Deadpool?

A character like Deadpool can’t be handled with kid gloves. I think Marvel and Activision had been waiting for the right match with a developer for a long time. Our schedule opened up, and we all thought the synergy was there to move forward.

How has your relationship been working with Marvel on the game and the character?

Marvel cares very deeply with how any of their characters or properties are handled, so it’s always good to work with such impassioned people. They had some great ideas of where we might start, but gave us a huge amount of creative freedom for the experience we wanted to create. When they approved a song called “Who the $#@! Is that?” I knew we were in for something special.

Deadpool comics have traditionally included adult themes, was there any pressure to deviate from making the Deadpool game a M-rated title?

Not really. We all felt that you can’t really be true to this character and not include adult themes. Deadpool is probably never ever EVER going to say something like: “You know what? That was too much. I’m sorry.” If anything he’s the opposite. He’s always pushing boundaries because he can. That’s what is fun about him, and unapologetically so. I’ve got kids, and they are going nowhere NEAR this video game for the next decade. But it’s great fun for a mature audience.

Which comic book or series influenced your interpretation of Deadpool? How has working with frequent Deadpool comics scribe Daniel Way influenced the way Deadpool’s character is presented?

To answer your first question, I’d say Daniel Way’s interpretation influenced us most—probably because we worked directly with him. Dan is awesome. I was one of the few people on the fence about Deadpool and how much fun he could be before I met Dan. The man’s enthusiasm and philosophy on the character was intoxicating. He was a great resource to pull from.

It can often be very difficult to create a game with so much humor and not make it to oppressive? How have you found this balance with Deadpool and his unique personalities?

Humor was one of the things the team had trouble with early on. Not because what they were doing wasn’t funny, but because they forgot how funny it was. It takes a long time to make video games, so when you hear the same joke a thousand times it doesn’t seem funny anymore. So you’d see people lose faith in ideas, change them, then change them again, and then wind up going to the original one. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but we learned it. If it makes you laugh out loud the first time you hear it, it will make someone else do the same the first time THEY hear it. You just have to take note of that, as to what works and what doesn’t work early on. To that end, if no one is laughing the first time, or the eighth time they hear it, there is no saving that joke. Trial and error, my friend. There is no other way.

Deadpool, also voiced by Nolan North, appeared in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, another Activision game by Beenox. Have you had discussions with Beenox on how they used Deadpool and did it offer a view of any assistance in creating your game?

No, not really. That’s no disrespect to them; we just wanted to make this game our own.


Cable, Mister Sinister, and other characters from the Deadpool universe have been announced as appearing in the game, will there be additional unannounced cameos? Will there be any cameos from Deadpool Corps?

If we announced an un-announced cameo, it wouldn’t be un-announced any more—right?

How do you approach taking a character whose re-generating abilities make him somewhat un-killable and maintain a difficulty level that will give players satisfaction?

Yup, Deadpool can’t die—we embrace that. Not so much from a game mechanic, because let’s face it, any video game you play you can insert another quarter or reload from the checkpoint. Nobody ever really DIES in video games, that’s the fun of them. So from that aspect it’s no different than any other game. But from a story and character aspect, it’s very freeing. If you know there were no consequences to your actions (involving death) you’d do and says all sorts of crazy things—and that’s the point! We embrace that whole heartedly. It’s also kind of a cool angle in his dealings with Death directly. She’s pretty much his girlfriend, and since he can’t die, they can never really have each other. They are like “forbidden fruit” to one another, so there’s an interesting tension there.

Deadpool has had one of the most unique and enjoyable marketing campaigns seen in recent years, thanks to the humor and breaking the “fourth wall” dialogue. Was the process of creating the trailers and press releases fun, or did you feel pressure to make it seem authentic to Deadpool’s character?

You’re always talking about pressure! We never really feel that kind of pressure. If we are a fan of Deadpool, we make the kind of game that we would enjoy as a Deadpool fan. If we enjoy it, we figure most fans will enjoy it too. You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try. Its paralyzing, and leads to really mediocre ideas.

4269DP Bike Ride - Retail

What was the thinking behind the achievement/ trophy list?

Make fun of them.

Was there any additional game content that you wanted to add, but didn’t get the chance? Will Deadpool see significant DLC?

There is always stuff you wish you could get to. That’s just game development. As always it comes down to making the right choices with the time and budget you have. I think we’ve created a very unique and very Deadpool experience.

Is High Moon Studios interested in making additional Deadpool games, will we see a return to the Transformers franchise, or possibly even a new IP?

I can’t speak to ANY of that right now.

Deadpool is a character that’s famous for breaking the fourth wall, how difficult was it to implement this into the game?

It wasn’t difficult in doing it, more in just finding the right balance. How much is too much or too little? These were the things we obsessed over and spent a lot of time tuning.

4271DP Sword Jump - Retail Screen

How much of Deadpool’s dialogue is scripted, and how much is Nolan North going off-the-cuff?

Ooooooo, good question. I’d answer it like this: we had a script for EVERYTHING, but for everything we also wanted Nolan to just say whatever he felt like whenever it struck him. And it wasn’t just for him, we had every actor do that. So we’d have them read the line as we wrote it, and then have them spin on it to see where it went. Granted not every line in the game was treated like that, but a good half of them, easy. That’s half a gazillion, remember.

In the gameplay footage we recently saw, we saw the use of Deadpool’s multiple personalities to explain gameplay mechanics, was having this opportunity helpful or a bit of a crutch, perhaps so far as feeling as if you had to explain gameplay even when you didn’t want to.

We hardly felt like we HAD to do anything. This game is one of those few examples in life where you could pretty much do whatever you felt like, and get away with it because no matter how crazy it got, it fit. Regarding the mechanics, we always felt like it was more fun to call out what we thought the player might be thinking—and then have Deadpool SAY it, because he’s probably thinking it too. Like when he sees Cable, and Cable starts mouthing off about the fate of the world. I’ve literally had people tell me, “I was thinking, OMG, here is the standard ‘end of the world’ speech which is going to bore me to death—and then two seconds later Deadpool is telling me he’s thinking the same thing!” It’s part of that shared experience a player can have with Deadpool.


Will there be any collectibles in the game, similar to how Spider-Man games always have the player collect comic book covers? Any other reasons to replay the game once it’s been completed?

Reasons to replay the game:

  1. It’s wicked-awesome fun.
  2. Once you’ve levelled up, it’s more wicked-awesome fun to kill people when you’re overpowered and all high on stats.
  3. You probably missed a whole bunch of cool stuff on the first play through!

Deadpool often aligns himself with the X-Men (when it suits him) most recently being a member of X-Force. Are we going to see cameos from some of the other X-Men/superheroes other than Cable? Perhaps even Wolverine?


With the time it takes to develop a game, it’s understandably difficult to keep the game in line with the comic books. Was this something that you even tried to do or is the Deadpool game not a part of the Marvel canon?

It’s a part of the canon in the fact that Marvel approved it all, and its true to the character. Does its story have repercussions within the Marvel comic-book continuity? Not really. But is it the most important story ever told by a Marvel franchise? Deadpool would say YES.

How was it decided that Mr. Sinister would be the game’s main antagonist? Will there be many other villains to contend with during the game? Care to name any?

Well, with a name like Mr. Sinister, I mean, come on. That HAS to be your main bad guy! He’s a classic baddie in the X-Men universe, so it seemed like a no brainer. But, if we want to get deep, here, there could be no greater polar opposites than Mr. Sinister and Deadpool, which always makes for a great clash. Mr. Sinister is about creating genetic perfection—Deadpool is a greatly flawed genetic mutate. Mr. Sinister is all about maintaining order. Deadpool thrives on chaos. Sinister is blue. Deadpool is red. It’s a rivalry for the ages!

Will there be any other game modes? Challenge modes, etc?

There will be challenge modes that are stupid fun, and help level the player up for singe player action.

Where do you keep your ketchup? In the cupboard or in the fridge?

I feel like this is a trick question. Oh, you crafty journalist. What if I told you—I never buy ketchup? Because I DON’T. I dip my fries in RANCH.

We would like to thank Dan Cravens for his time in answering these questions. We’re looking forward to Deadpool here at GodisaGeek Towers. How are you feeling about it? Let us know in the comments!