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Chair's Mustard:  Metroid  Series A Major  Shadow Complex  Influence

Chair's Mustard: Metroid Series A Major Shadow Complex Influence

August 28, 2009 | By Staff, Christian Nutt

August 28, 2009 | By Staff, Christian Nutt
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Chair co-founder Donald Mustard has been telling Gamasutra why Super Metroid, the "pinnacle of 2D game design", was the major inspiration for making XBLA hit Shadow Complex.

Talking to Gamasutra as part of a larger interview discussing the design and creation of Shadow Complex, the downloadable Unreal Engine-powered title from the now Epic-owned Advent Rising creators, Mustard explained:

"For Shadow Complex to be its optimal design -- it's a side-scroller. Then sweet, be a side-scroller and embrace what that genre has to offer and just kind of move it forward. Super Metroid, to me, is the pinnacle of 2D game design, and there's no reason we shouldn't be pushing that pinnacle forward and see what else we can do with it."

Since the Chair team was working on a 2D title, it was important that they really knew their background, and Mustard outlined the research that went on at the project's start:

"I don't have a ton of time to play games. But certainly, when we said we're going to make a game that builds off the open world adventure side-scroller design, we made every single person on the team...

Because a lot of guys, they maybe played Metroid or Super Metroid, but they hadn't played Metroid Fusion or they hadn't played Zero Mission or they hadn't played [Castlevania:] Symphony of the Night -- we made every single person on the team play through each of those games multiple times.

The first month of development on the game was no development. It was just playing those games to get the language of those games just solid in everyone's head. I think that was critical to the knowledge base of the company.

That's what I mean. I don't think you have to be running out to the store every time a new game is coming out to digest it, but just like any kind of learning, you've got to focus you're learning where you need it."

Finally, further on in the interview, Mustard outlined just why Nintendo's classic 2D sidescrolling action series -- especially the acclaimed Super Nintendo version -- were particularly important in his formulation of Shadow Complex:

"Even long ago when we were doing Advent [Rising], a lot of times I'd say to people that I thought the best story ever in games was Super Metroid. And people would be like, "What? What are you talking about? There is no story in Super Metroid." I'm like, "No, you have to understand."

To me, it's almost like the ultimate form of storytelling. It did so much through just the mood, the pacing, and visually what they were telling you that it didn't have to rely on the traditional forms of narrative like dialogue. It had a great story to it. And so we certainly looked to Super Metroid, and we also looked at Fusion a lot -- Metroid Fusion, which had a more traditional narrative -- to see what the evolution of their thinking way and incorporate some of that."

You can now read the full interview with Mustard, discussing many things including getting a 2D game to work with contemporary technology; how to design a classic-style title but remain relevant to contemporary audiences; and how paper design trumps mucking about in Unreal for prototyping.

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