Sunday, May 24

Q&A with Jonathan Knight

Josh Wasbin / Daily Bruin

Video game publisher Electronic Arts created quite a stir in the gaming community when it announced an upcoming title based on the epic poem, “The Divine Comedy.” Set to hit store shelves Feb. 9, “Dante’s Inferno” is a third-person action-adventure game set in hell. The Daily Bruin’s Josh Wasbin participated in a conference call with Jonathan Knight, executive producer of the upcoming game Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Why “The Divine Comedy”? Is this an idea you had from the start or were you sitting around discussing literature and decided that it would make a great game?

Myself and the team were really interested in the topic of hell as a setting for a video game, and what I thought was particularly interesting was the medieval vision of hell with the Christian mythos. You know, like what hell would be like, who goes there and why … Dante Alighieri basically took all the thinking and synthesized it to a very imaginative vision, something allegorical, but he personalized it so that it was a real place. You had the nine circles, towers, rivers and monsters and creatures and he basically mapped out hell. We went from this interesting topic to falling in love with his vision of it, and we said we’d just do a video game based around what he wrote.

We’ve heard some rumors about achievements, and we were just wondering if you could verify them for us. We hear there are achievements for killing babies, drowning priests, being defecated upon and performing rhinoplasty on the Sphinx.

There definitely are some kind of fake achievements floating around out (there) generating discussion, but I wouldn’t believe everything you see. I’ll give you a hint: we do a marketing campaign for each of the nine circles each month, and this month is fraud.

How does leveling work in this game?

There’s basically experience points that you earn when you are able to finish off enemies or if you encounter damned ““ there are about 30 of these characters for the book. You are given a choice to either absolve or damn your enemies, and each time you make that choice you either earn holy experience for absolving or you earn unholy experience for punishing. Each level opens up a new level on the tech tree; there are seven levels of holy and seven levels of unholy.

What about the comparison (of the play-style of “Dante’s Inferno”) to “God of War”?

Well you know we’re super flattered by those comparisons. We really feel that “God of War” is the granddaddy of the genre right now, and I think they were influenced by “Devil May Cry” before that. There’s definitely a strong tradition of Japanese fighting games that have influenced what’s going on.

Can you comment on the controversial nature of the game?

Once the game is out there and more are playing, we might see more reaction, I think … the game is fantastical in nature, and Dante’s original vision is also very fantastical in nature. I think people sort of get that and we took those concepts and put them into what we are doing with the video game version.

Is there a possibility of a sequel? “Dante’s Purgatory,” maybe?

I don’t have any plans to announce today about future products. I can say that we do have some exciting downloadable content coming for “Dante’s Inferno,” not just items or skins.

E-mail Wasbin at [email protected]

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