Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Interview
Matt Hazard. It's a famous name that every gamer should know. Whether you're four or twenty-five years old, Hazard has probably indirectly changed your life without you even knowing. He is a myth, a legend, but most importantly, as he demonstrated to us, still a man. Thankfully, we had the chance to discuss this next step in gaming history, not only with Hazard, but with Brian Etheridge (Producer) and Dave Ellis (Senior Game Designer) of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard.
Below is the discussion we shared regarding the upcoming Eat Lead game. For those of you who don't want to know the secrecy behind the development of Eat Lead and its upcoming brilliance, do not read past this point. If you're thinking "exactly who is Matt Hazard?", continue reading, but feel shame for not already knowing.
PSU: It must be difficult to work with a character like Matt Hazard who has unarguably shaped the face of gaming over the last 20+ years. What was it like developing a title around such an iconic figure?
Dave/Brian: Despite his fame and his lofty position in the annals of video game history, Matt is awesome to work with. Once he was on board with the project, he pretty much did whatever the team wanted him to do. Matt is all about getting the job done, and doing it with a style. Even the…well, let’s just call it “the beer Friday photocopier incident”—didn’t sour the team’s deep commitment and affection for Matt. A half hour at the paper shredder and it was like it never happened. The team would love to work with him again if his busy schedule ever allows it.
PSU: In 1983, The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land was one of the premiere side-scrolling titles that changed the industry. How does Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard compare and differentiate from works of greatness like that one?
D/B: Every one of Matt’s games is historic in its own right—and moving into the next-gen realm is just the next logical step in Matt’s career. It’s tough to do a direct comparison of Hazard Land and Eat Lead, though. Back in the 80s, Matt (and he’d be the first to agree with this) was a little two-dimensional in his portrayal of action characters. Since then, he’s become much more defined. Today, Matt has much more depth and texture that he showed in his earlier works.
PSU: Eat Lead focuses its plot and story around overused gaming clichés. Was this a difficult path to follow while concurrently trying to make a cohesive game that isn't all over the map?
D/B: The story of Eat Lead is what makes the game’s premise cohesive. Because the backbone of the story is that this game is being hacked, it makes anything that we want to do not only possible, but plausible. The challenge was really to pick things that would have made sense for Matt’s history and the story we wanted to tell. For example, we could have done a rhythm game parody, but that wouldn’t have fit as well.
PSU: A lot of gamers who are unsure about this title often refer to the gameplay mechanics as to why they're skeptical. Can you shed some light on what we all can truly expect on that side of things?
D/B: The gameplay has received as much attention and love as the story that people are excited about. Fans of shooters will get exactly what they’re looking for, but wrapped in a funny package. We really focused on making our cover system seamless, so I think that a lot of people will be surprised to see us doing some things better than some of the big cover-based games out there, and some things that they don’t do at all. If that doesn’t convince you, then let me tell you that the feeling of head-butting fools when you have the Maximum Hazard Upgrade is second to none.
PSU: Hazard is the originator of such great gaming moments like the Steamy ... (continued on next page)