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EA's O'Brien:  Mirror's Edge  Takes Whedonesque Cues On Dystopia
EA's O'Brien: Mirror's Edge Takes Whedonesque Cues On Dystopia Exclusive
June 6, 2008 | By Christian Nutt, Staff

June 6, 2008 | By Christian Nutt, Staff
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    5 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Talking to Gamasutra as part of an in-depth interview on EA DICE's first-person action title Mirror's Edge, senior producer Owen O'Brien has been explaining the subtle overtones to the dystopian, parkour-inspired title, referencing Joss Whedon's Serenity as a key thematic inspiration.

The game from the Swedish-headquartered Battlefield franchise creators is a first-person adventure title with an intriguing context-sensitive, dynamic action set, and O'Brien explains of the story:

"I think what I want to do is... It's very easy to look at this game, to misunderstand this game, and say, it's one girl against this police-state dictatorship. It's not. It's more subtle than that.

One of the core questions that the game asks you is, how much of your personal freedom are you willing to give up for a comfortable life?

And the other sort of theme for the game is, you can't force other people to live by your rules and your society, even if your society is better..."


Continuing, the Mirror's Edge overseer explains how Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon has influenced some of the key thematic elements of the title:

"To be very honest, I'm a big Joss Whedon fan, and a lot of the things in the story of the game came from Firefly and Serenity. I was listening to this director's commentary [on the DVD of Serenity]...

So, actually, that sentence that I just used is actually a direct quote from Joss Whedon; the basis of Firefly and Serenity is, you can't force other people to live by your system, even if your system is better. These people want to live on the edge of that society.

Again, in Serenity, The Operative actually says, "This is not an evil empire. We just don't understand why you don't want to be part of our happy club."

Obviously, they take it too far, and similarly, that's kind of what happens in our game as well: the mayor of the city decides to take things a step too far."


You can now read the full Gamasutra interview with O'Brien, including lots more specifics on the game's prototyping, iteration, use of Scrum and outsourcing, and much more.


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Comments


Anonymous
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This isn't really Whedon, its social contract theory. More than anything this is Locke and Rousseau, not a television writer and producer in the 21st century. Then again, he probably knows this, but how the hell do you explain it to gamers? Oh, that's right, reference that Buffy dude.

Simon Carless
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Or alternatively, maybe O'Brien is a Joss Whedon fan and appreciates his concepts, immaterial of what source they have been filtered from? That's how I read it, at least!

Jan Kubiczek
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Do you guys think this one has more potential than Metroid Prime?

Anonymous
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Hard to say Jan. Though personally I'm not sure I'll be playing it. Not because I think it's a bad game or anything but I have a fear of heights and this feels like it will make me freak out a lot. Ah well, shame though as it looks pretty good.

Stephen Chin
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I don't know what you mean by that, Jan, but I think it will, like a handful of other games, highlight a new way of using what we have rather than focusing on trying to be gimmicks. In many ways, the game seems more of an experiment and less a game. It's not doing anything new or anything special in terms of concept or core ideas - however, it is doing it in a more deep way.



With the emphasize on graphic features and HDR effects, for instance, in current games, Mirror's Edge instead is using a less is more idea (which ties into it's UI or lack there of). Rather than presenting a realistic portrayal of the world, the game is presenting a subjective view of the world seen through the character's eyes.



Colors are desaturated and things blend together (though remaining distinct)... unless a thing (what ever it may be) is somehow important to the character. Red for runners, black on police, and other colors to show objects that may be of interest (a crane that can be run across to get across a gap). These colors are not highlights though - they're the colors that these things are. The police are not highlighted black - their clothing simply is black and black toned. Anything with less rich colors is unimportant. This is trying to mimick what we do in real life - we don't see everything but instead, our brain filters out what's important and what we're focusing on. How often do you really see your keyboard for instance or is it just there and something you interact with on a very subconscious basis?



It's ideas like that that the game incorporates that will be more important than gimmicks and high concept and innovation.


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