"Gentlemen, I'm not going to mince words. THQ is in trouble. We're bleeding cash, and we need a hit game to save our ass. I want you to tell me what you're going to do to make Darksiders II that game."
"Well, uh, we have a pretty cool idea for a story. You're playing as Death, one of the riders of the apocalypse. You wear a cool skull mask, and you're tearing up this freakish netherworld in an attempt to save your brother from, I don't know, some really powerful dudes."
"I like it, but let's be real: nobody cares about the storyline. You've sold me on the setting. But what does it play like? That's what matters."
"We were discussing this earlier, and we have a great idea. We think you're going to like it."
"Don't keep me in suspense."
"Here goes: we copy every game we've ever played. Totally rip off anything we've ever liked."
"You're right. I do like it."
"Here's what we're thinking: let's take the basic structure of The Legend of Zelda. We'll string together a bunch of dungeons, and fill them with spatial puzzles. We've got some brilliant level designers hard at work already, so we know the dungeons will be big and substantial. And they'll be connected by an overworld."
"I love it! But go easy on the overworld stuff. That's boring. Let's make our game like Cap'n Crunch's Oops! All Berries, except it's Oops! All Dungeons. I don't want filler. Tell me more."
"We'll also add Prince of Persia-style platforming: you know, wall runs, ledges, things like that. It'll be like you're fighting the environments as much as you're fighting enemies."
"That sounds like fun. Just so we're clear, you do fight enemies, right?"
"Absolutely! We're going to give Death a pair of scythes, and sick combo moves, and a skill tree that lets players purchase new attacks and powers. Then we'll pit him against more unholy enemies than you can shake a stick at. They'll spawn constantly. Sometimes we'll just lock players in a room with a bunch of demons for a while."
EASY ON THE OVERWORLD Let's make our game like Cap'n Crunch's Oops! All Berries, except
it's Oops! All Dungeons!
"Sounds like God of War."
"Nothing wrong with that. What else you got?"
"Loads more! Loot. Grappling hooks. Minions who obey your commands. And, hey, what about letting Death ride a spectral horse?"
"A spectral horse! Gentlemen, I am impressed. I think — wait a minute. You there, in the back. You're sitting there scowling. Do you have something to add?"
"It's just . . . yeah, we could do all this big-picture stuff. But no one is talking about getting the basic things right. If we don't have an intelligent camera that makes clear sense of the action, for instance, then combat is going to be incomprehensible. And if we don't get a good UI guy in here, then our control scheme might end up complicated enough to require three thumbs, and our menus will be harder to navigate than our dungeons."
"Camera? Menus? We're not wasting time on that crap. You're fired. Someone else tell me a good idea — spectral-horse good — before I blow my top."
"What if we added in a feature where we try to force players to create a new account with us, totally separate from their Xbox Live or PlayStation Network account, so that we can track their play and try to sell them stuff? And every time they load the game we prompt them to sign up, whether they want to or not?"
"Brilliant. THQ is saved!"