After our final hands-on with Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, we wondered out loud why a fighting game needed a high-profile writer. Luckily, we at Newsarama have quite the comic book rolodex from over the years, so we talked with Frank Tieri, no stranger to this website, about what it was like writing for a video game. He told us how having a comic writer involved made the experience more authentic, what the limitations were on him, and who some of his surprise favorite characters were. He even hints at more video game work, and lets us know about a couple comic book projects in the pipeline.
Newsarama: So, starting off, why does a fighting game need a writer? Isn't it just about smacking people around and doing crazy super moves?
Frank Tieri: Well, there is dialogue, right? There's dialogue and a premise to the game, there's win text, and then every character has their own specific ending, so someone has to write that, right?
So, you know, for me, the best thing I brought was the smack talk. There's a lot of smack talk between the characters, a lot of trash talking, and in the cases of the marvel characters, they're referencing marvel history, some of it is.. Well, case in point, you have Deadpool. How can you not have someone write Deadpool's dialogue, you know what I mean?
Deadpool's dialogue was particularly fun to write, you know I've written him in the past, that's one of the reasons why they brought me in, is I've written a lot of these characters. Deadpool's particularly fun to write because he's making fun of everybody.
Nrama: Including the player!
Tieri: Yeah, including the player, yes! I do have him break the fourth wall a number of times.
Nrama: Like you said, you were familiar with, and have written, many of the Marvel characters in here. Who was new to you? Did anyone give you some surprises?
Tieri: X-23, I never wrote X-23 before. But you know, I think I gave her some of the best lines, she was fun to write!
The characters I had the most fun with, obviously Deadpool, Wolverine are the characters I'm most familiar with. But I liked writing Galactus! There's something fun about saying "I'll smash you like a bug." To me, I always gravitate to some of the bad guys. Writing Taskmaster was a lot of fun. He's so arrogant and full of himself. So characters like that, MODOK was fun.
A lot of the Capcom characters I had a lot of fun with too, like Wesker.
Nrama: You really like the cocky, arrogant guys!
Tieri: Yeah, I do, it fits well with it. Look, if you've ever played sports, it's part of playing sports, you talk trash! I incorporated a lot of that into the game.
Nrama: How much research, and what kind of research did you do on the Capcom characters?
Tieri: The one advantage I have over some other comic book writers that do games is I actually play them, I'm a gamer. I'll admit, i was not familiar with every one of the Capcom characters that I was writing, but I was familiar with a number of them.
I knew the Street Fighter characters, I played that franchise for years. The Resident Evil characters. So I had a basis to work with on those characters. The other characters, actually, I played video games, which you know, is kinda fun!
Nrama: Yeah, that's an all right way of having to research.
Tieri: Look, my research is reading comics and playing video games, it's not too shabby.
Nrama: With short bursts of dialogue, does that make it harder or easier for you to grasp the essential center of a character?
Tieri: It is harder, okay? And I'll tell you why. They give you a time limit on each thing! Look, I write comic books. I'm not the most wordy guy when it comes to dialogue, but sometimes you want to write something a little bit longer, and can't. As a matter of fact, the game is so fast that a lot of times my lines are getting cut off, which is fine, cause it's almost like a real fight, you know?
But time was a factor. Sometimes I'd write dialogue and they'd write back to me, "No, it's too long. You gotta shorten it." And there were a couple times, "No, still too long" until you get it right.
We did get some longer stuff in there. There's a winning text from Deadpool that's probably my favorite thing I wrote in the game, there's one where he breaks the fourth wall and starts talking to the gamer - you'll know when you hear it.
Nrama: With this experience under your belt, would you like to try writing a more story-centric genre of game, like an adventure or an RPG?
Tieri: Love it, I would love to. I mean, the story behind this game was very limited, because it is a fighting game. The story was setup in the comic if you got the special edition.
But yeah, I would love to do an RPG with these characters! I think there's no limit to what you could do as far as this franchise goes. This is only the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. This franchise has a lot more juice in it.
Nrama: Is there any particular favorite of yours that you want to make sure people try out in the game?
Tieri: You know what? Just play with all the characters. Even the characters that you think are gonna suck, they don't. (laughs). They don't, really! I think you'll be surprised at the characters that… look, everyone knows Wolverine is gonna be awesome, and Deadpool, and Iron Man's going to be awesome… it's the characters you don't think, like [March's DLC] Shuma Gorath or X-23.
Nrama: I was shocked by X-23, I love using that character.
Tieri: Yeah! She was a lot of fun! She was a lot of fun. Oddly, it wasn't just a Wolverine clone, you know?
That's one of the things they did on this game. I know it's a smaller roster, but I understand what they did, they took away characters that were the same fighting styles. One thing they emphasized when choosing characters for this game is they wanted a different look, a different feel for each character and I think they achieved that.
Nrama: Yeah, I think so too!
Tieri: But yeah, you will not see the end of me doing video games, this is just the start. I've already signed on for another one!
Nrama: So when you say you want to do another one…
Tieri: I am doing another one! I can't say what it is yet, but I've already signed on for… well, there's most likely two video games. There's one definite and one most likely. So, you know, this stuff, I'm breaking into this industry.
Nrama: And what comics stuff do you have on the docket?
Tieri: Oh yeah, there's a Captain America anniversary issue, I have a story in that with Paul Azaceta, it stars Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter. It's a little bit of a surprise twist in that, so I don't want to say a lot about it. The story itself really speaks to the way I see Captain America, and you'll know what I'm talking about when you read it. The basic premise involves Cap, Steve Rogers, being approached about doing a Captain America exhibit, and there's more than meets the eye there.
Also, I have a Spider-Man story, I'm not sure where that's going to be. That involves a new villain. I have a Wolverine/Hercules mini-series that's coming up. And some of the other stuff I can't discuss yet. I'll be doing a couple small little things with "Fear, Itself."
That looks like it's cool. It's not my first rodeo when it comes to these events. I was involved in World War Hulk, with Civil War, I've been involved with them at DC, so you know, I know pretty much how to play along with these things.