Why Did Batman: Arkham City Have 440 Trophies?

I had a chat with Sefton Hill, chief game designer at Rocksteady Studios, in Las Vegas last week. The man's team just made two terrific Batman games, so it was time we talked about stuff. Stuff you might consider to be spoilers.

Off-limits topics: The thing about Harley Quinn at the end.

Let's get into it:

Kotaku: Why did the game have more than 400 Riddler trophies to find? That seems like a lot.

Hill: "It's more to do with the requirements to make it feel... [like] there was something on every square foot of the game... We didn't sit down and say, 'We need 440 trophies.' It was: 'What feels like a good number of trophies in this area?' 'What feels populated but not over-saturated?' That was where we came out. We happened to narrow that number.

"We designed them at the end of the game. We sort of have all the mechanics in place, so then it's: 'How do you push the player with different unique challenges?' We tried to be creative with all 440. We have a little bit of a different spin on requiring different gadgets, so it wasn't just a chore to pick these things up... It's kind of easy to just stick them in the most obscure parts of the level and make people get them. We wanted to put them in such a way where you'd go to them and say, 'Okay, now we're here, what do you need to do?'"

Kotaku: How about the villains? Why did you have so many of them?

Hill: "[The thinking behind] selecting the villains we wanted in there was to show you that this place was a melting pot of all the vilains in Gotham. We did make a conscious decision that you weren't going to get one villain's story for 10 hours. You were going to see a little bit of how Penguin is, and a little bit of Ra's Al Ghul.

That was a conscious decision on our part and a little bit of our storytelling ... that's what we wanted to get across. You get a little bit of an experience with these villains, but you don't get their whole story ... We felt that gave the best feeling of being in this super prison facility versus just running across a couple."

Kotaku: And did you maybe use so many that you couldn't have any good ones left for any future games? [Note to readers: Hill wasn't going to — and didn't — acknowledge if his team is indeed making another Batman game.]

Hill: "I think these are such great characters ... I'm not trying to put artificial restrictions and thinking too far into the future because it's going to affect other games or other plans."

Kotaku: Isn't Alfred kind of a jerk to Batman in this game?

Hill: "His role is kind of a moral centre. He's always reminding Batman of what he should be doing... I think someone has to be able to put Batman in his place."

Kotaku: And Robin? Why does he only have a cameo?

Hill: "We originally didn't have him in the main story. But we're always looking for authentic ways for Batman to collect his gadgets. Batman can't just open chests and find his own gadgets around the city. We had plans for Robin in the DLC and we thought it was a good place to introduce him and show a relationship, but, for me, the most powerful Batman stories are the ones where it's Batman against these villains. We wanted to show that this Robin existed in this universe. And is pretty badass. But we didn't really want him to get in the way of Batman's relationship with the villains."

Kotaku: Do you know how many Robins there have been in this universe? Have you figured your Robin lore out?

Hill: "We do have the Robin lore figured out."

Kotaku:How many Robins have there been in this one? 440?

Hill laughed.

Kotaku: Why hasn't there been a Batmobile in these games? The new one does take place in a city, with streets...

Hill: "One of the things we really wanted to achieve with Arkham City was delivering Batman as the ultimate vehicle, gliding and diving and moving through the streets. We felt that was a more unique experience than the Batmobile. It was really new and fresh. That's why we didn't put the Batmobile in, not that we have anything against the Batmobile."

Kotaku: How did you decide to have Batman punch a shark?

Hill: "We were thinking about traversal and puzzles for Batman and about what Penguin would do if he took over a museum. What kind of exhibits would the museum have? We had this concept of a natural history museum. And we thought it would be interesting that Penguin would repurpose it ... as kind of this torture chamber. So that was really how we started.

"And then we had this idea of the different weaponry in the torture chamber. We had the shark. OK, how does Batman interact with the shark? ... One of the ideas we originally had is the shark comes out and grabs the raft. And then Batman pulls out shark repellent and he opens it up, and inside the shark repellent was a massive knuckle duster. And he just smashes the shark on the nose. And then we thought: maybe the tone is going a bit wrong... then we thought we'd slip it in for New Game Plus. We decided not to."

How is the Joker's health?

Hill: The Joker's dead...

Kotaku: Really? The last time you guys told Kotaku that...

Hill: "We don't want to... that was the events in the game. We don't want to cheat the experience."


    Batman comics have been recycling villians for years... so I'm not worried about them reusing them in the games.

    Those last two quotes dropped my jaw a little.

    I personally thought 440 trophies was too many. Arkham Asylum had 240 and they felt like they got that balance right and I was happy to collect them all. But 440 in Arkham City I thought was overkill, to the point where I just didn't feel compelled to get them all. I collected about 200 and thought "yeah, I'm done". Not even the opportunity to take down the Riddler at the end of it all was enough incentive for me.

    Alfred was a jerk? I didn't think there was anything wrong with the way Alfred behaved in the game. The comics have always portrayed him as quite snarky and likely to make a rude/funny comment every now and then, but he's always there to bring Batman back down to earth in big situations - both are behaviours I was pleased to hear him exhibit in the game.

    The interviewer comes off a little whiney, Rocksteady could have received that feedback from any forum or comment thread about this game on any site.

    Loved the comment about shark repellant.. :P

    The more pressing question is, why is Batman: Arkham City PC still BROKEN? 3 months after release and save files are still being deleted for no reason by the game's sh*tty DRM and there's been absolutely nothing from Rocksteady to indicate a patch is even close to coming out. I lost over 15 hours of gameplay to this bug. I didn't even get to finish my first play through. Rocksteady's tech support forums as well as the Steam forums are full of people complaining about it and all they've said for the last few months is "We're working on it. We'll have an update for you next week." Next week comes and... NOTHING! And lately there's been no word from them at all! Not even an acknowledgement that they're still working on it. How can you release a AAA title these days without a functioning save system?? I'd get a refund for this buggy piece of crap if I could, but I bought the game through Steam so I'm entitled to just what Rocksteady have given us... NOTHING! It's an utter disgrace and I will never buy another Rocksteady game, no matter how good it purports to be.

      I didn't have the DRM bug or lose my progress but DX11 never worked for me.Also what is Harley Quin thing at the end they reference as it's been a while and I forgot.

        If you found a certain thing in the game then a certain thing happened during the credits.

    440 riddler trophies wouldn't be too much if it didn't turn Gotham into a gawdy mess. It completely ruined the look of the city - big bloody green question marks and balloons everywhere.

    I thought there was a Batmobile in Arkham Asylum. Sure it wasn't used as a drivable vehicle, but it was there.

      it was, off the top of my head, Batman drives it in to drop off the Joker, then it was in the courtyard where thugs tried to break into it, and then i think you RC it into Bane to defeat him

    440 riddler trophies was a bit overkill, not to mention with the size of the place, it made going back after them a big chore to do. However saving the Riddler hostages and the final showdown reminded me much of the Saw films (havent seen them but i know the general idea of the franchise) and thought it really did present The Riddler as a huge threat in Arkham City than how he appeared to be more of a faceless figure in Arkham Asylum.

    However there's one thing that pickled me, in the events of Arkham City, i think it's mentioned 6 months after the events of Arkham Asylum, there seemed to be a lot of plot holes like the relationship between Talia and Batman, the sudden appearance of Robin (it appeared they've been working together for some time) and a lot of other things, which i think could have been explained by a prologue chapter or comic etc.

    Oh and as a side question (spoilers ahead)
    What was the end Harley thing people mentioned? I found the pregnancy test during the game, but that was about it, and didn't really hear or see anything to do with Harley at the end or during the credits.

      I believe that near the end of the credits, you will hear Harley singing a particular song. Saying what song it actually was would spoil it for everyone else, methinks.

    Yeah, the Harley thing has me confused too. I 100%'d the game (Even new game +) and can't remember for the life of me what it was.
    Regarding the 440 trophies, I personally loved collecting every last one of them. NOt just to get an arbitrary trophy, but because it kept me exploring the city. Working out what combination of gadgets I needed to get every last one was awesome, plus it allowed me to accidentally trip some of the side missions whilst bandying about looking for stuff - which otherwise would have been a chore.
    I guess from the progression we can expect 840 trophies in Batman: Gotham City, then. I say cram 'em in.

    I think the real question is why was Batman AC a real mess on the PC despite Rocksteady claims of delaying the release for QC issues?

    Another question is why it was such a poor game in comparison to Asylum.

      I want to see some evidence Chazz.

        Evidence that it was a mess on PC: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/12/batmans-pc-version-fixed-but-also-broken/
        As for it being a poor game in comparison to Asylum, I don't believe that one bit. It may have been a mess, but it was still a fun, enjoyable mess. I suppose you could argue that everything being in slow motion actually makes Batman way cooler anyway :P

      It was a mess on PC? I never got that vibe from my mates who own it on PC..

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