News Article

News Article

Vin Diesel and Tigon Talk Gaming and the Return of Riddick!

With only a few short weeks until the release of the hotly anticipated Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, I had the pleasure of talking with Vin Diesel and Ian Stevens from Tigon Studios (Diesel’s game studio) about the upcoming title, Riddick as a character, and what the future holds.

When asked about the Escape from Butcher Bay remake that comes with Assault on Dark Athena, Stevens answered, “It was a lot more about dealing with the backwards compatibility issue that existed between the Xbox and the 360.  Y’know, a lot of us at Starbreeze and Tigon [felt] like that community deserved to have a shot at this game, and [we] also have a huge Playstation audience of hardware enthusiasts that has never experienced that game.”

However, Butcher Bay isn’t just a cheap-and-easy straight port: “ It was a lot more about making the community happy and getting out there to our audience and give them something they’d enjoy that brought us to do that remake, and then in the course of building that remake we found a few things that we could do based on community feedback…that meant we went back there and tweaked certain aspects of the gameplay as well.  I think the fact that all of the tweaks and enhancements and polish that we’ve added to the core gameplay mechanics for Assault on Dark Athena and the fact that they’re retroactively a part of Escape from Butcher Bay’s remake makes it all feel like it fits in a really nice way.”

The other big addition to Dark Athena is the new multiplayer component, a challenge considering the game’s stealthier style.  How do you make that work?  Stevens replied, “A big thing for us and a big drive in designing those multiplayer modes was to try and create something that was very different from what you’d find in other games and also ties very heavily into the Riddick universe and those characters and that intellectual property and all of the kind of cool things that they can do…”

“One of the most obvious and interesting modes that we have in that respect is a mode that’s called 'Pitch Black',” he continues, ”and basically it pits Riddick who can run faster, has more health and is armed with these curved knives [called] the Ulaks against six other players, Mercs, with big old guns and flashlights in an environment that has absolutely no light.  So Riddick, obviously, being able to see in the dark is in the middle of a little bit of a cat and mouse game that actually uses a lot of the stealth that you’re talking about.  So there’s a lot of really fast-paced evasion and that very Riddick brand of stealth, which is much less about hiding and trying to protect yourself from being found by other people and more about stalking and Riddick being a bit of a predator, so a lot of these themes that are very unique for us on the single-player side in terms of what we do as a first-person shooter are definitely things that we brought in for the multiplayer side and I think to get any more insight on it you should really just play it for yourself, see what it’s like, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”

Then Vin himself joined in on the conversation.  When asked about the cinematic future for Riddick after the last Chronicles film, Vin revealed that there is indeed another Riddick film in the works.  “David Twohy is scripting the next installment of Riddick as we speak, and it is underway.  The story will return to a Pitch Black sensitivity [sic] while servicing the mythology that’s been enhanced in The Chronicles of Riddick, but what we’re going to find is Riddick alone for the first part of the movie with carnivorous monsters all around…[the movie] is so cool, I’m feeling like I’m doing it a disservice by even trying to touch on it…”

So the next Riddick film will be more like the lean action-horror of Pitch Black and less the epic space opera of the follow-up?  Sounds like it, especially with Vin’s terse summation of the movie:

“We see a kind of futuristic, Ramboesque Riddick try to survive.”

But why Riddick?  “With characters that are that personal, there’s a lot of reasons why you go back to the role.  Sometimes, you just don’t know why you gravitate towards a character, or why a character speaks to you, why you feel compelled to revisit and to continue the exploration of a character.” Vin explains, “ But there is clearly something that’s near and dear to me about the Riddick character, that compels me to further explore the character and the realm that he lives in.  There’s something about the moral integrity of Riddick that’s fascinating to me, there’s something about his extreme abilities juxtaposed with his own moral code, his own moral sense of right and wrong, that I’ve always been attracted to.  I was attracted to the Riddick character from the very beginning because of the complexity of what would otherwise be written off as a serial killer…What was always interesting about the character was [that] we are told that he is a killer, we are told that he is a criminal, and yet when we see him interact with other characters, there is always something else behind his actions, there is always a motive that isn’t as clear.  There is something about [Riddick] that makes me continue to go back to that character, both as an actor and as a creator.”

“This is a character that has stayed with me,” he continues, “and in some ways couldn’t shake because it kind of celebrates a dark side that we all have.”

Another question that arose was simple: Why games?  Why would a high-profile Hollywood celebrity get involved in an industry that, for the most part, produces disasters when Hollywood gets involved?  Vin explains: “When I first started playing games, I felt guilty about how much I had loved [them], and how addicted I could become…In the beginning of my career, I didn’t talk about it much, I didn’t share it with anybody that I was secretly a gamer…When I did Saving Private Ryan, I had the great pleasure of working with Stephen Spielberg and when I realized that Stephen Spielberg was entering the gaming world unabashedly [with Call of Duty], somehow that gave me the green card [sic] to launch a video game company that would speak to a favorite pastime of mine.”

However, it all seems to stem from Vin’s first gaming love, Dungeons and Dragons. “To be 100% honest,” he answered frankly, “where did my whole video game appreciation come from?  Probably Gary Gygax.”

When I asked him what he would create if given unlimited funds and no marketing guys to keep happy (a prospect all had a hearty laugh about), he replied with an unexpectedly concrete answer. “My dream game is something we’ve been working on in-house, we haven’t talked about it much because we’re still mulling over how to do it just right.  My dream game is something we’re working on called Barca B.C.  The reason why it’s my dream game is that it’s a massively multiplayer online game where you create an avatar that lives in the reality of Hannibal Barca.”  Yes, as in the ancient military commander who used elephants.  Just don’t expect this hugely ambitious undertaking anytime soon.   “We are just in the first two or three years of putting it together, so it could probably take another four years before we see that game, but it is something that is very high on my priority list.”

“When we talk about dream-case scenarios, man, I’d love to play a Carthaginian soldier two hundred years before Christ, sailing around the Mediterranean,” Vin reflects, “that’d be pretty damn cool.”