Dear Monolith Productions
Get This, Dear Reader,
I’d like to read to you a letter I’m sending to Monolith Productions, concerning their new title, “Gotham City Imposters.” Have you heard of this…this thing? I’m not sure there’s a noun I can apply here in polite conversation. If you haven’t been informed, “Imposters” is a downloadable multiplayer shooter, developed by Monolith Productions, where participants dress up in knock off Batman/Joker costumes…and then shoot one another.
I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.
Now, I love Monolith. “F.E.A.R.” and “F.E.A.R. 2″ are among my favorite games of all time, “Condemned” is a highly enjoyable franchise, and “No One Lives Forever” was great. So don’t think of this as an attack, guys; it’s more like an intervention. This is what friends do for friends who are engaged in morally and artistically bankrupt creative enterprises. I’m here for you, Monolith. Let’s talk this out.
You guys are out of your minds. “Gotham City Imposters” is the worst idea for a video game I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard of “Goldeneye: Rogue Agent.” I don’t know what’s happening over there, or what kind of bad ganja you folks have been smoking, but as your friend, it’s my duty to tell you that I have yet to encounter a single person who thinks your upcoming game is anything less than “blasphemous.” Well no, that’s not true: one person just thought it was “stupid.”
Do you know what happens when people dress up like Batman and fire guns? Let me show you.
Now because of your eminently respectable track record, I know that you are a talented and creative bunch. So why, I ask myself, would any talented and creative bunch labor to produce a game that is garbage on principle? I’ve come up with three possible answers, and between them I think I’ve covered the entire ontological spectrum: you’re broke, you had a Batman game you wanted to make and now can’t, and you genuinely think this is a good idea. I don’t see how it can’t be one of those three. So now I’m going to tear each one apart. When this is over, you will have to admit to me that you are wrong. I don’t see how you can avoid it.
You’re Broke. By far the most defensible motive. You’re strapped for cash, a talented auteur studio about to go the way of Looking Glass in an age of Wii Fit and iPhone games. I feel for you. But I have some bad news for you: if you release this game, you’re still going under. Because it’s going to fail, and then Warner Bros. will blame you. Whatever influx of cash you got from them to produce this atrocity will, at best, stave off disaster. We all have to die sometime, Monolith. How we go out says a lot about us.
But really, is this your only option? Is “Gotham City Imposters” the finger in the dam? There are very few studios in the horror market with your pedigree, I refuse to believe you can’t drum up some work. And what about “No One Lives Forever”? Everyone loved those games! How about an XBLA port, or a DLC sequel? There are other options here.
You Had a Batman Game. You’ve been mysteriously quiet for some time, guys. Someone else is making the next “F.E.A.R,” and we haven’t heard from you in forever. And it’s been an odd quiet, too, like the quiet before a surprise birthday party. My theory? You had a big Batman pitch put together. I think you set your sights on making the Batman game, and for years you’ve been trying to pull it off. And then suddenly, Rockstar Games happens. And with “Arkham” such a success, who wants a competing Bat-franchise? Nobody.
So you think to yourselves, in the agony of disappointment: “Hey, we can salvage this! We can make some kind of…Batman game without Batman! Or any of the canonical Bat-characters! Yeah! All of this hasn’t been in vain after all!” Yes it has. It has been in vain, and you need to accept that. Denial is an ugly thing, guys. It’s produced some of the worst ideas in human history. This is how Frankenstein was led to create his monster, this very impulse you’re feeling now. It’s time to move on.
You Genuinely Think This Is a Good Idea. I want you to listen closely to me, damn it: I cannot go through Rare Ltd again. Do you hear me? I cannot watch as another beloved studio begins with such promise, only to descend into feces-tossing madness right before my eyes. I feel like we’re one step away from games about adorable pinatas. Don’t do this to me.
Let’s just be clear: this is not a good idea. Don’t argue with me on this one, it’s just not. What you’ve done here is, in principle, no different than making a plucky horse-riding adventure starring Kate Winslet, and calling it “Titanic II.” To plaster the Bat-Logo all over something that does not contain Batman in any way is artistically bankrupt. It’s deliberately misleading, a crass attempt to get some of “that Batman money” in your pockets without actually earning it. I’m not necessarily saying it won’t sell. I mean, I don’t think it will, but there is a Devil in Hell so I can’t be sure. But even if it does, you have participated in a truly low endeavor.
Why on God’s green Earth does a multiplayer frag-fest belong with a superhero who has famously refused to use firearms? What about dressing up as a Bat or a clown makes this game obviously better than it would have been as a new IP? You’ve essentially constructed a low-rent “Brink,” and then superimposed Batman’s good name on top of it to ship some units. God help you, you didn’t even trouble to make the Bat-minions refuse to use guns!
I still love you, and honestly if this thing keeps the lights on, then whatever. But I’m not sure I’ll ever look at you the same way again.
you’re a voice that never sings