Divina Parodia: An exclusive look at the birth of EA's Dante's Inferno

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CrunchGear Interview: Ben Heckendorn

“I read the poem and thought right away, ‘That could be a video game.’” Oh, god. Here’s a Dante’s Infernodevelopers diary.” Try to watch it without laughing.

And while we’re at it, we here at crunch gear dot com can now present, exclusively, the leaked minutes of the meeting where it was decided to make the game. Names have been changed to protect identities.

Setting: An Arby’s. Because why not?

Characters: A middle manager (MM), male, late 30s; a character designer (CD), male, mid 20s; an intern (IT), female, early 20s.

The characters go to Arby’s for lunch, after yet another boring morning not doing anything in particular

MM: So what are you guys gettin’?

CD: I don’t know, something with chicken probably. I don’t want anything too greasy.

IT: Same here. Nothing crazy.

MM: Come on, guys, live a little! It’s not every day that your boss takes you out to a great place like this, AMIRITE?

CD: Eh, maybe I’ll have a coffee for desert, one of those fancies ones with cream or whatever.

IT: Yeah, that sounds good.

MM: Excellent, great. Good. Man, guys, I’ve been thinking…

CD and IT: Thinking what?

MM: Well, quite frankly, I’ve been thinking about picking out of famous book or story or something, you know from the old days, like Shakespeare-type stuff, then turning that into a video game.

CD: That could be neat, sure. What did you have in mind?

MM: It doesn’t really matter; I have a vision. Like, for example, what’s the story with all the circles of hell or whatever? Something Inferno something?

IT: Dante’s Inferno? I just read that for a class last year.

MM: Yeah, that’s it! OK, get this: how about we, I don’t know, turn it into a God of War clone? That game came out of nowhere and now it’s pretty much the last great PS3 exclusive. Man, what a load of junk that system turned out to be. Anyway, we need a piece of the action. We can’t afford another Mirror’s Edge; I got higher-ups demanding a certifiable hit.

IT: Um, I don’t know. I don’t know that Dante’s Inferno can really be turned into an action game. It’s sorta different. The whole poem is called The Divine Comedy, not sure if you’re aware of that.

MM: Oh, bullshit! What does it matter? Do you think the 14-year-old boy who’ll be playing it really gives a damn about “authenticity” or whatever? We just need to make it look cool. You can do that, right?

CD: God of War does have some pretty interesting character designs. I could probably whip something up on the back of this napkin here.

MM: Good, go for it. Service here is terrible anyway, it’ll be a while before we get our food.

CD: Sure thing.

The character designer takes one of the crayons, provided by the restaurant to keep children busy, and starts drawing away

IT: Again, not to talk out of turn or anything, but I’m really not sure that we’d be able to make an action game out of the Divine Comedy. It’s sorta… it’s just not what it is.

MM: Oh Jesus H. Christ, no one cares! Don’t you see! All we need to do is take a few characters from the story, throw together some cool-looking Hell-world, and we’re all set. It’ll sell, believe me.

IT: Oh I don’t doubt that it’ll sell, but I’m just concerned that people could see the game as a crass exploitation of a treasured work of art, created soly for our own benefit.

MM: Well duh, what else do you expect? We’re EA! Why do you think we keep pumping out Madden every year? Because of our integrity?! I’m telling you, we make sure the game has a bunch of quick time events and those idiots out there will eat it up.

IT: I don’t know…

MM: Look, if you’re not OK with us trampling all over the story for a quick buck, there’s the door. You’re just an intern, what do you know?

IT: I do know that Dante doesn’t sashay around Hell like Ryu fucking Hayabusa. Do you even know who that is?

MM: Of course, he’s the guy from Street Fighter.

IT: Holy mother of God, you’re ridiculous.

MM: Look, kid, don’t bother coming back to the office after we’re done here. In fact, now you’re paying for your own meal.

IT: Fine. Have fun defending the game on X-Play in front of hundreds of people.

MM: Shut up. So how’s the character design coming along? Let me see.

The middle manager swipes the napkin away from the character designer

CD: Yeah, I just sorta took every monster from God of War and put my own spin on it.

MM: Hey man, this looks pretty great. Oh, do you think we could make the horns a little spikier?

CD: Absolutely.

MM: Excellent.

fin.

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