Dante's Inferno Interview (Xbox360)
Strategy Informer: Obviously, Dante’s Inferno is based on the poem Dante Alighieri wrote. Did you make it required reading for everyone on the production team, the staff, to read the whole poem?
Rony Chammas: Yeah, not only read it but study notes on it, maybe even cliffnotes, and really get an understanding of what Dante Alighieri was trying to accomplish with the poem, because we do want to stay true to the literature while also creating a game that’s fun for gamers to play. So there’s a healthy balance between the story from the poem and the creative liberties we took to really turn it into a fun videogame.
Strategy Informer: So after everyone read it, was there a big group meeting to see not only that everyone understood the poem, but understood what direction the game would go in?
Rony Chammas: There’s different roles for everyone on the team. For example, I’m on the product marketing side. But the game development team, the people who wrote the story, those are the members who know the story front and back. Guys like Jonathan Knight, the executive producer, has read it at least five times. All of the producers have…I myself have only gone through it once or twice, and stick with the cliffnotes, but they really know it front and back.
Strategy Informer: Well I can’t blame you. One of the things about the game is that it’s very violent, very grotesque…not for children, put lightly. Did you guys ever say that you don’t care if Germany and Australia refuse to give it a rating, that you want to make it as true to the poem as possible, or are there a few extra liberties taken with what’s acceptable?
Rony Chammas: Well, first and foremost we want to make a great game, whatever that takes. It’s a lot of staying true to the poem, so there’s a lot of violence; there’s unbaptized babies, gruesome monsters, gruesome killings. We make the game as great as it can be, and then we worry about what the ratings are going to be, and if any countries are going to block it. We’re not at that process yet, so right now the team is totally focused on delivering an action-oriented, great fighting experience. When they accomplish that, which they’re well on their way to doing, then we’ll look at the rating system and if certain countries are going to block it, and reevaluate at that point.
Strategy Informer: One of the things much of the media has picked up on is how Dante’s Inferno is a God of War clone. What would you say are the big differences between the two games, since they do have some similarities?
Rony Chammas: This is a story about hell, and in Dante’s Inferno, you go to hell. The story itself is so different from God of War. You play as Dante, and you get to experience each distinct circle of hell that Dante described in the poem. And the game team has been completely dedicated to delivering an authentic experience based on how the poem describes it. Second are the weapons, completely different weapon system. Dante uses a scythe that he stole from Death in the beginning of the game, and also a cross Beatrice gave him during the crusades. I’d also describe Dante’s Inferno as a majestic experience. We do have those up-front, gruesome moments of using those weapons, but there’s also a majestic nature where you pull back and see the amazing design of hell and amazing environments that the team has been really dedicated to creating to its full potential.
Strategy Informer: As the product marketing manager on Dante’s Inferno, is this project a challenge for you considering the game settings? For example, one of the developer diaries described how Cleopatra was going to be very different from how she turned out to be [very phallic]. So what is the balance for you and the development team for getting everything exactly as everyone wants it?
Rony Chammas: The game team is obviously dedicated to making the best experience. On the marketing side, which is what you asked about, of course it’s difficult to market a game that takes place in hell. I mean, hell’s not a great place to be. Only sinners go to hell. So what we’re doing on the marketing side is called the nine months of hell campaign, where each month leading up to the game’s launch, we show off another circle of hell. We started in June at E3, with Limbo. If you go to www.dantesinferno.com, you’ll see that we completely re-skin the site, and we add new screenshots, new wallpapers, new artwork, etc. There’s a lot of new stuff on the site for people to go check out that’s themed to that circle of hell. And on the ninth day of every month, we’ll re-theme our campaign.