Batman: Arkham Asylum

Rocksteady answers your questions.

Batman: Arkham Asylum game director Sefton Hill has been answering your questions live on Eurogamer this afternoon.

He's talked about Batman's underpants, review scores, demos, downloadable content, bosses, villains and staying true to the revered comic-book licence.

Thank you very much to Sefton Hill for taking part, and to Eidos and Rocksteady for letting him. And thank you to all of you who asked questions.

The full transcript of the chat follows, with the earliest questions and answers presented first.

Our live coverage of this event has finished.



Super Moderating Hero: Hello, Eurogamer readers! Sefton Hill is with us now and ready to start taking questions. Let's begin...


Super Moderating Hero: Hello Sefton Hill. Please can you tell our readers a bit about who you are and why you are so famous?

Sefton Hill: I'm the Game Director at Rocksteady Studios. I'm pretty sure I'm not famous!


What was it like working with a IP like Batman, was there a lot of quality control from DC or did you get to have a lot of freedom with the characters?

Sefton Hill: It was great working with DC and Warner on Batman. I think very early on they realised that we are huge Batman fans and that we have a massive amount of love for this character. I was really surprised and honoured at the freedom they gave us to work on Batman.


Are there any aspects of the Bat-licence that make for frustrating gameplay, or are limiting in some way? Perhaps the inability to use firearms or kill people?

Sefton Hill: I think this all depends on how you approach it. It certainly means you have to move a little away from some gaming conventions but overall I think that challenges us as designers to do something new and different. It certainly meant that we had to discuss everything more to ensure that it was true to Batman and I think that had a really positive effect on the overall game.


How closely does the game tie-in with the Batman universe? Is it based on a particular comic? Will there be any new lore to uncover?

Sefton Hill: Very closely! We have the utmost respect for Batman and we wanted to make sure that everything we do is true to the Batman universe. However we are not tied into a particular story or comic. We have been able to draw from Batman's 70 year history to create our own unique story especially for this game.


How did you decide which villains to include? Are they personal favourites or simply the most popular characters? And are there references to Batman's comic history throughout?

Sefton Hill: This was definitely a difficult choice. Something incredible about Batman is that, not only is he an amazing character, but he has undoubtedly the best array of antagonists of any comic book hero. Choosing which ones to include was difficult! However we decided that every character really needed to earn their place in the game and the story to be included.

That was always what it came back to...

Super Moderating Hero: (What elements of Adam West's Batman are included, Sefton Hill? Can we POW! people and THWACK! them senseless?)

Sefton Hill: And of course you can properly POW! and THWACK! people - a little bit harder than Adam West got to.


Are there any other Villains who we will get to fight as bosses that haven't been revealed yet?

Sefton Hill: With the announcement of Scarecrow, the main villains in the game have now been revealed, but we're not really giving away too much about how you'll get to fight them. We've spent a lot of time creating boss fights which we feel are unique and represent the character themselves as opposed to creating generic boss fights. And I can also assure you that they'll be no QTEs!

Super Moderating Hero: Ooh can you give us a clue, Sefton Hill, can you?

Sefton Hill: I'm not allowed!


A lot of people previews have admitted to a boss battle before the Bane fight, but have deleted this boss' name. Any chance at a reveal of who that boss is?

Sefton Hill: Ha ha ha... no chance!!! Sorry, but we've really tried to keep the story secret as we've worked so hard on it and we feel that an original gripping story is so important to making a true Batman experience.


Touching more on MZ's question. There is an "Arkham Asylum" comic book that delves very deeply into Batman's mind (courtesy of the Joker and the psychiatrist he has held hostage) and makes him question his own sanity and -therefore- whether or not he should be in Arkham along with all of the people he has put in there himself. Should he be? Is this sort of material touched on?

Sefton Hill: This psychological aspect of Batman's character is something that really resonated with us and this is definitely something that you get to experience in the game. The psychological torment and drive are what keeps him going when any normal man would have stopped. However, just to be clear, Batman is not insane! [But does he wear rubber underpants we wonder? - SMH]


Why is everyone so buff in the game? Even the doctors look like they've been drinking four litres of Nourishment a day!
Batman is pumped!

Sefton Hill: Ha! We wanted to give a true representation of Batman from the comics. Here is a guy who has trained tirelessly to reach physical perfection. He is pumped and ready for action. Joker's thugs are on at least four litres of nourishment trying to keep up with him.


When's the demo coming? And what sort of demo will it be?

Sefton Hill: It's coming soon and it's going to be a really good demo! Unfortunately I can't say more than that but there will be more info released very shortly. Sorry!

Super Moderating Hero: What makes it a really good demo? Is it particularly lengthy? Contain some particularly exciting content? Include rubber Bat-pants?

Sefton Hill: Unfortunately my rubber Bat-pants idea got vetoed so you'll just have to make do with a demo that shows off some of the key elements of the game.


Carrying on from your answer to Shinomo's question - do you think in the 21st century it is still necessary for Batman to wear underpants on the outside?!

Sefton Hill: No one tells Batman what to do. He can wear his underpants wherever he likes. Unless you want to tell him different!


How closely involved was Paul Dini? Did he just fire a script over, or was it more of an ongoing collaboration? And has he done any work at the micro level, writing dialogue for individual scenes and so on?

Sefton Hill: Paul Dini worked very closely with us on the project and added a huge amount as there is literally no one who knows Batman like Paul. He came over right at the start and worked with us here at Rocksteady for a week developing the story. After this it has been an ongoing collaboration working on all the scripts with our Lead Narrative Designer, as well as attending the VO sessions... VERY closely!


Super Moderating Hero: Has Eidos' high expectations on review scores had any impact on you?

Sefton Hill: Our drive has always been to make a game that we are passionate about. We believe this is how you make a game that other people enjoy as well so I would say the biggest pressure comes from us. From everyone who has actually got their hands on the code we have had nothing but amazing feedback which is great to hear.


How long does the main single-player campaign take to complete on average, and are there any incentives such as collectibles to reward exploration or additional playthroughs? Can you give us an example of them? Will Batman have a whole wardrobe of costumes to choose from by the end?

Sefton Hill: Depending on your skill level it can vary but I would say you're looking at around 12-15 hours. On top of this there are 240 Riddler secrets in the game to collect. Solving these gives you more XP which you can use to upgrade. You can then use these upgrades in the main game as well as the Challenge maps so it pays to try and solve them. Upgrades include controllable Batarangs as well as new combat moves.

Super Moderating Hero: Do you have a real-life Batman costume, Sefton Hill? How tight is it?

Sefton Hill: I'm wearing my Harley Quinn outfit now. It looks great but to be honest it's chaffing a little.


Have you got plans for DLC beyond additional Challenge Rooms like single-player chapters similar to what has been released for Gears of War? And will any of the announced DLC eventually be available on all platforms?

Sefton Hill: We have some cool stuff coming in the DLC but I'm afraid I'm not allowed to talk about it. Sorry!

Super Moderating Hero: Can you give us a cheeky example? Will it be Challenge Rooms or something else?

Sefton Hill: Sorry! I am sworn to secrecy.


Will the Xbox 360 version get any exclusive content like the PS3 version got the Joker?

Sefton Hill: There are no plans for exclusive content for the 360 version. Sorry!

Super Moderating Hero: Why is that, Sefton Hill? And will The Joker ever make his way to 360?

Sefton Hill: All I can say is the PS3 version has the exclusive playable Joker and there are no plans for exclusive content for any other platform.


Any chance of co-op add-on where we could play as Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl or Bat-Mite? Go on say yes!

Sefton Hill: Lots of exciting ideas there! Unforuntely there are no plans for co-op. Sorry! But rest assured the time we didn't spend on co-op all went into making Batman as good as he can possibly be!


Come one, let's all be honest: the only people who don't like Robin are people who are embarrassed at reading a comic book and want to legitimise it in some way by saying it's "realistic" and "for adults". Batman needs Robin the same way Holmes needs Watson, and the two characters are inseparable, thematically speaking.

Sefton Hill: I love Robin! Time-wise Arkham Asylum pre-dates Robin but a lot of people who don't read the comics don't know how cool Robin can be so I'm with you on this one.


What was like to work Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill? did they have any opinions on game? Is Mark Hamill still a little upset that Harrison Ford upstaged him in Star Wars?

Sefton Hill: Working with Kevin and Mark was amazing. We knew from day one that we wanted them. Mark delivers an awesome performance as the Joker. He's a deadly sociopath while being extremely charismatic and funny. It's a really enjoyable combination! We actually went away and wrote a tonne of new lines for Mark after the first session because his performance was so good.


I know the game hasn't been released yet, but have you got any plans for a sequel or any idea where you would take the story? Gotham City is an amazing setting.

Sefton Hill: There are loads more stories we'd love to tell and lots of amazing places to go in the Batman universe! We've had tremendous feedback from the press so now it's for the Batman fans to let us know what they think of the game when it comes out. I can't comment on what Rocksteady are doing next but I can tell you that the team have got some great ideas for the future.


Warner and DC must be confident in your ability now. Are there any other superhero properties you'd like to get your rubber-gloved hands on?

Sefton Hill: Hmm... that's a difficult one because there are so many good choices! I've changed my mind twenty times just thinking about it. A game based around a supervillain would be cool!

Super Moderating Hero: Like who? Go on, name one!

Sefton Hill: Can't you see I was trying to avoid naming one?!

Super Moderating Hero: Who's your favourite?

Sefton Hill: I'm a big Bane fan!


Super Moderating Hero: Time for one more question...


Any news regarding Eidos, Rocksteady and composer Ron Fish releasing a soundtrack for the game? Since it apparently got removed from the Collector's edition, a lot of people have groaned for it! Groan is probably the right word.

Sefton Hill: I don't have any news but they really should. I know there's been a lot of praise (rightly) for the amazing artwork that Dave Hego (Art Director) and his team have done but the score by Nick Arundel and Ron Fish is every bit as good. Just wait until you hear it.


Super Moderating Hero: And that's it. There isn't even time to ask whether Sefton Hill would prefer lasers for eyes or the ability to turn invisible.

Thank you very much to Sefton Hill for taking part, and to Eidos and Rocksteady for loaning him for an hour.

Sefton Hill: Thanks for reading! I hope you all enjoy the game!

Latest comments

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    schnide 12 years ago
    Robin is quite essential, and he's always welcome, at the right time (the best writers know when to use him and when to keep him out of it). He's the light in Batmans dark, he routinely stops Batman from becoming a villain himself, he keeps him human, keeps him sane. Alfred is the father, Jim is the freind, Robin is the son; they both act as anchors as Bruce takes his usual dive into the nightly madness.

    I have to disagree. Robin is a liability, the light in Batman's dark should be in his Bruce Wayne persona whether an outside influence or that human persona itself. If Robin is a son figure then it's Wayne's ultimate responsibility not to go out at night putting both their lives in danger. Batman isn't an unrestrained vigilante who needs scaling back by a lesser trained boy, it's his ethics and his primary reason for becoming Batman in the first place are what drives him and anything else dilutes that.

    The day Batman is unable to function without a sidekick is the day that Batman is unable to function, and would need to be brought down by higher forces than an orphan from the circus.

    Half the reason for having a sidekick is to introduce comedy, light heartedness or the ability to have dialogue from the protagonist's point of view. Perhaps some of the comics can have Robin, but Batman in Nolan's world or the more adult takes in print, Robin just isn't plausible or consistent. I think from what we've seen so far, that also applies to Arkham Asylum.
    Britesparc 12 years ago

    Very, very, very well said.

    Although I'm still partial to Miller. All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder is hilarious.
    Thrawny 12 years ago
    yay no QTE's
    spamdangled 12 years ago
    The questions I originally typed and the ones that appeared with my name on them were heavily edited. In one of the cases, it was almost entirely changed.
    I also submitted one asking why one set of players should get more content than another set, given that they are all paying the same amount of money. I know it's more a publisher decision than a developer one, but the whole platform-exclusive content thing really pisses me off. It wasn't fair on PS3 owers with GTA, and it isn't fair here. Though I am less annoyed about a bunch of "challenge rooms". If it had been an entire single-player chapter or something, then I would have been a lot more miffed.
    I asked if it was a timed exclusive as well. Again, no answer.
    dudefella 12 years ago
    Hey - how can the game pre-date Robin, it has Bane in it. In comic books Bane was introduced WELL after Robin, in fact Batman was on his third Robin at the time! So that's a bit of an odd answer.
    schnide 12 years ago

    Sincerely disagree. There's no way Nolan's Batman would allow anyone to follow in his footsteps. Wayne's clearly a force unto himself, and his brief attempts at letting another take up the (metaphorical) mantle led to Dent's downfall. So he's certainly not going to trust a kid to do it.
    drunkymonkey 12 years ago
    "And I can also assure you that they'll be no QTEs!"

    beastmaster 12 years ago
    The very fact is even getting scores near 90% can only be a good thing. Most publishers would love to be able to do something like that. I remain optimistic.
    WinterSnowblind 12 years ago
    Good to know there are no lame QTE boss fights!

    I loved the system when it was used in Shemnue, but it's since become a very over used system to make cheap, flashly looking fights, with no real gameplay. Force Unleashed was very guilty of this..
    monkeywithnoeyes 12 years ago
    RexRunti :Assume makes an ass out of u and me. Of course I'm assuming it's just a reskin with absoloutly no effect on the game what so ever.

    Well considering the Joker and Batman have different ability and available weapons to them then i would ASSUME its more than a reskin.

    Also the "grapevine" i was talking about was "invisable walls" on GT.. where having had a recent hands on with it said it simply didnt "feel right"... make of that what you will.
    Britesparc 12 years ago
    Good point, Rex.

    TBH, if I was adding Robin to the Dark Knight-verse, I'd make him Gordon's son, following on from the end of TDK. That's despite my man-crush on Dick Grayson.
    RexRunti 12 years ago
    Britesparc: "But I sincerely think you could add Dick Grayson to Nolan's Bat-Verse without compromising the "realism". You'd have to make him a bit older, maybe, or operating on his own, inspired by Batman. That sorta thing."

    Isn't that basically Barbara Gordon aka Bat Girl? Also I thought Oracle was in this game which would imply post-Robin not pre-Robin as Mr Developer suggested.
    Yossarian 12 years ago
    The Joker is more than just a reskin, but he's only available in the Challenge Rooms. (All of them? Just one? I don't know.) You won't be able to play him in the story/campaign mode.
    RexRunti 12 years ago
    monkeywithnoeyes: "Joker is exclusive to the ps3 version...with i assume his own unique levels and challenges attached"

    Assume makes an ass out of u and me. Of course I'm assuming it's just a reskin with absoloutly no effect on the game what so ever.
    jaguarwong 12 years ago
    What a pointless bunch of non-questions and non-answers.

    Why waste your time on an interview when the questions the interviewee is allowed to answer (or even be asked) are clearly so heavily vetted by his employers?
    Yossarian 12 years ago
    You must have a different grapevine to me.
    monkeywithnoeyes 12 years ago
    Joker is exclusive to the ps3 version...with i assume his own unique levels and challenges attached. As a 360 owner why should i pay the same cost as the ps3 game yet get less content on the disc? plus we all know that it will come to us as dlc within a month of release as way of trying to get extra money out of us.

    Fuck it, word on the grapevine is that the innitial promise isnt holding very well
    Britesparc 12 years ago
    I think both Batman Begins and TDK pre-date Robin's involvement in Batman's life ;-)

    But I sincerely think you could add Dick Grayson to Nolan's Bat-Verse without compromising the "realism". You'd have to make him a bit older, maybe, or operating on his own, inspired by Batman. That sorta thing.

    It's the dynamic between the two of them I like best, plus I like the generational aspect of Dick one day taking over from Bruce. And Dick is a brilliant, funny man-whore who's shagged his way through the Justice League (almost).
    Monkey_Chops 12 years ago
    Glad they picked my question. Bat-Mite kicks ass, dammit!
    schnide 12 years ago


    "Robin would have made Batman Begins and/or The Dark Knight better films."


    Edit: Yossarian, you hit the nail on the head mate.
    ChthonicEcho 12 years ago
    Weird moderating. Oh, well, at least most of my questions were asked by others and answered. Pity that PC-related questions were ignored. Playing on PC almost makes me feel like I own a Dreamcast.
    Yossarian 12 years ago
    I don't mind Robin, but my favourite Batman comics are always the ones that explore his isolation and insanity (unlike Sefton, I really do believe Batman is crackers in several ways), and Robin tends to deflate those aspects a bit.
    Britesparc 12 years ago
    Nope, Robin is excellent, and anyone who thinks different smells.

    Read the current Batman & Robin comic if you want proof of my genius.
    schnide 12 years ago

    Given that darkmorgado has had four questions asked (and you've had one too), I think we're probably looking at this from different perspectives.
    henza 12 years ago
    I remember the Gertsmann thing and that was bad, but Kane and Lynch was a bad game. Batman isn't. Sorry for igniting a bit of an argument. But I still stand by what I said.

    I'm glad they asked me beefcake question! Thanks Eurogamer!
    Yossarian 12 years ago
    No, EG are asking the questions they deem question-worthy.
    schnide 12 years ago
    I read the comics for quite a few years and Robin really isn't that good, and nor is he "thematically inseparable" or any such guff.

    This interview is a teeeeeny bit dull, but then we are asking the questions.
    Hunam 12 years ago
    Robin is for gayers.
    NewbieZilla 12 years ago
    12-15 hours is better than I was expecting. Oh, and about the Jeff Gerstmann thing, a funny vid...

    Oh, also, auto refresh doesn't work on google chrome.
    JahB 12 years ago
    Honestly, that kotaku article is really sensationalist. i haven't heard of any such thing. there's an embargo on story content, not scores. also review code has only been sent out yesterday, the code that other people have reviewed off is preview and is only half of the game.

    then you must have been living under a rock for a while. Eidos has quite a track record for fucking with reviews, going all the way back to the original Gerstmann incident, where they had a reviewer fired because he reviewed a game too low.
    JJrabbit 12 years ago
    @NewbieZilla : You can read the Games Master review here:
    I haven't read it, but the final verdict estimates 12 hours of game play. Of course, judging by the context of this entire thread, take the review with X amount of salt depending on your stance.
    schnide 12 years ago
    He's pretty much just dodged the Eidos review score question, but maybe he's not allowed to say anything more. I would've liked to hear something substantial said about this otherwise things are unlikely to change any time soon - but if the game's as good as we all hope then he can dance around in a pink tutu for all I care.
    Oh-Bollox 12 years ago
    Honestly, I haven't heard anything of the sort from Eidos.

    Why would you? Who are you and what do you do then, if Eidos would have told you about it?
    NewbieZilla 12 years ago
    1) Were the substantial changes in character models from Batman The Animated Series due to ownership rights, or a choice Rocksteady made themselves? And if Rocksteady made by themselves, did it take long to come up with the revisions to the characters we see?

    2) How many game hours approx in the game?

    3) This one is for a friend who wonders if Mr Freeze will have justice done. After the debacle that was the movie Batman & Robin, the character needs to be done well for the first time.

    4) With the announcement of Scarecrow, the main villains in the game have now been revealed, but we're not really giving away too much about how you'll get to fight them.
    please tell me thats not everypne? and no two face?
    ChrisS 12 years ago
    Here's an unusual idea: DON'T ask about the embargo thing. It's nothing to do with the developer, and wastes valuable time when they could be discussing more interesting aspects of the game itself.

    Game's brilliant, btw.
    JahB 12 years ago
    so, no new questions so far probably means everybody wants an answer to the 90% thing. i hope we get one
    Yossarian 12 years ago
    By the way, a viral campaign for this has kicked off:

    For starters. ;)
    myiagros 12 years ago
    try this one instead for the background:
    henza 12 years ago
    That's Gamesmaster though! They overbloat all of their big game review scores. If a game's on their cover it doesn't get less than 90%! Honestly, I haven't heard anything of the sort from Eidos.
    henza 12 years ago
    Honestly, that kotaku article is really sensationalist. i haven't heard of any such thing. there's an embargo on story content, not scores. also review code has only been sent out yesterday, the code that other people have reviewed off is preview and is only half of the game.
    Gnort 12 years ago

    The whole embargo for sub-90 scores thing (if it is true) is despicable, but if it is it will be the publisher's (Eidos) doing, not the developer, so you can't really grill Rocksteady over it.
    mashk 12 years ago
    I wonder how pleased they are all the accolades they've received from the specialist gaming press. I haven't seen a review that's been less than 9/10 so far...
    myiagros 12 years ago
    Ask about the review emargo for sites and mags scoring the game less than 90%.

    Why should potential consumers only be able to access positive opinion prior to making a purchasing decision?

    Surely if the game is really strong enough to stand on its own two feet, these sorts of PR bribes should be unnecessary.