Co-Optimus: Other than Civil War, does the story touch on any of the other major storylines of the past few years? World War Hulk? House of M? Annihilation? Secret Invasion? Dark Reign?
Dan: The story in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is inspired by the “Secret War” and “Civil War” story arcs. This game does not touch on any other major storyline. Once we started rereading all the comics and crossovers, we realized “Secret War” and “Civil War” were very rich already. If we had included a third storyline, it would have detracted from our work on the first two, both in terms of tone and production effort. Most of those storylines you noted could be their own game.
We also decided that this game still existed in the Ultimate Alliance continuity. We didn’t want to refer to storylines such as “House of M” that would create even more backstory for players unfamiliar with those comics. (As you noted, it’s pretty easy to overwhelm players unfamiliar with the Marvel Universe. Our dossiers can only help so much.) However, we did want continuity with the previous game, so we touched on the events of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance specifically, partly by starting in Latveria and partly through conversations and other techniques.
Co-Optimus: The art style seems a bit less colorful this time, as many of our forum users have noticed. Is this by design or just a case of bad screenshots? Perhaps the darker scheme was a choice given the Civil War subject matter?
Dan: The art style is a little less colorful this time. We felt our story and themes demanded a style that felt closer to a Modern graphic novel than a Silver or Bronze Age comic. That in turn compelled us to implement a dynamic lighting system in our engine. This creates more believable light and shadows, but it also makes those shadows more intense.
As we continued working on the game, we actually started adding more color back into our maps when it felt appropriate. So given the iterative nature of game development, I can’t really vouch for the screenshots either. :)
Co-Optimus: With the last game, some characters unlocked "alter ego" versions of themselves. Dr Strange could be The Blue Mage, etc. I was semi-disappointed when Venoms costumes were almost all identical - will we be seeing other alter ego characters, like Carnage for Venom, in the sequel?
Dan: We evaluated this, but we realized we couldn’t afford to make “alter egos” to the level of quality we wanted. We put a lot of effort into the production of the characters to the most minute details that making a new “costume” was no longer as easy as swapping a model or texture.
Still, I think players will be happy with the alternate costumes we decided to go with. And certain “alter egos” may appear in DLC, but I have to keep mum on that for now!
Co-Optimus: One of the great things of the original game was how varied the dialog was depending on which characters were in your party. It added a lot of replayability to the game - is this something we can expect in the sequel?
Dan: Absolutely. We loved this aspect of the previous game. Conversations will vary based on whether certain characters have a history together. They will also vary based on which side of Civil War you choose to support. So when other members of the Fantastic Four talk to Reed Richards at one point in the story, they get a different conversation than other characters. (I’ll leave it to your imagination what that conversation might actually entail…)