"LEGO Batman's" third video game installment heads "Beyond Gotham" later this year, and the crew behind the popular video game franchise hit New York Comic Con in style, bringing new gameplay demos and character reveals to the crowded main stage. Discussion included comments from TT Games Game Director Arthur Parsons and Assistant Game Director Stephen Sharples as well as Troy Baker (Batman), film director and all-around Batman fan Kevin Smith -- plus, special surprise guest, "Arrow" star Stephen Amell.
The panel kicked off with the moderator -- IGN's Greg Miller -- introducing the directors from TT Games, and prompting the audience to admonish Sharples for any problems with the presentation.
"We're at the point where we want you to see everything else that's in the game," said Parsons, queuing up an older trailer before transitioning into the other guests on the panel. including DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns who is also in the game. "They gave me a ton of superpowers, so I'm super powerful," said Johns, leading into a clip of LEGO-ized Johns and Jim Lee, with a voiceover by Adam West. Lee apparently requested to "throw pencils at people" and fly as his character.
Batman himself, Troy Baker, was next up, with Kevin Smith, who is also in the game. "This is phenomenal," said Smith. "The skull ship? Phenomenal. Everything about the game makes me happy -- being in the game makes me even happier." When asked what his superpower he wanted, Smith said, "Give me the power to make a successful movie. Even in the game they said, 'No, that would never happen." Smith has been playing the games since the early LEGO Star Wars games with his daughter. He never dreamed that anybody would ask him to be in the game. He told his daughter, who said, "'This is better than winning an Oscar!' And it felt good for a second until she said, 'Because you'll never win an Oscar.' So, this is my Oscar!"
According to Johns, he was very excited about being in the game -- especially considering he'd been playing the LEGO Batman games since the first installment. "It was fun. It was fun to become fans of the characters," he said. "They're super talented guys that work on this, and passionate people. Anybody who loves the DC Universe in this way, I loved to be a part of it. The fact that I got a cold gun made me really happy."
The DC CCO said the whole point of the LEGO games is to have fun with the characters. "I think if one of us were in 'Gotham' as a dead body, it'd be weird, but this is all about fun and celebration," he said. "It felt like it was a fun little thing. I want to play as Jim Lee, actually -- throw pencils at Killer Croc and see if it does anything."
Baker has played Batman before -- and he's also voiced the Joker in "Batman: Arkham Origins" -- however, "LEGO Batman" gives him a bit of a break from the normal pressure. "Arthur and everyone at TT was like, 'This is LEGO, we can have fun.' The story of this is so good. How can we not have fun with this?" Baker said. "We really had to walk in and read this stuff."
The development of "LEGO Batman 3" involved a "couple of high-level meetings" according to Johns, and one of the things they wanted was more characters in the game. "How do we put characters from the Suicide Squad in this? Is it possible to have a Suicide Squad in LEGO?" Johns asked. "Yhe answer is, 'Yes.'"
Smith said that he credited his wardrobe with getting him into the game. "I figured somebody would say, "this guy looks like a cartoon." The message is, 'Dress stupid, kids!'"
He elaborated on why he loves DC Comics so much, saying that it's everybody running away from danger and "one or two people running toward it." In "LEGO Batman," players can live that adventure for themselves. "It's very connective tissue to what brings us all together, the idealism of what's good in all of us," he said.
According to Parsons, "Kevin's character is pretty amusing," and he will ask players to do some "pretty weird stuff" in free play mode. "We managed to capture Kevin's fanboy nature in LEGO form. He actually fanboys the player as they walk around." Parsons further said that toward the end of the game, which contains many post-credits, one of them has Johns and Smith together. "Say no more," he said.
"And that's when you see my real superpower," said Smith. "Also added fictionally for the game."
Sharples discussed some new reveals for characters in the game. Detective Chimp, Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Kalibak, Polka Dot Man, Music Meister were all playable on the NYCC demo. In terms of new characters, the panel revealed Darkest Knight (when Bruce Wayne dons Hal Jordan's outfit), Solar Suit Superman (requested on social media), Man Bat, Condiment King (from the Animated Series) and the Green Loontern (Daffy Duck/Duck Dodgers) voice by Joe Alessi. "The reason he's my favorite character is because it's so funny in the game," said Parsons. "In tandem with the guys next to me, it's the funniest thing in the game."
There was another one that Parsons described as "a bit out there" -- Conan O'Brien, another real-life-celebrity made LEGO.
"Conan's role in the game is great. He's the guy that's helping you know what's where and who's introducing the various aspects of the free-roam world," said Parsons. "The VO sessions were interesting."
Since the team is sending Batman into space, the goal was to give players a wider experience of the DC Universe. There are eight different planets you can fly around in free-roam. "The scale is ramped up something incredible," said Sharples. A new trailer was played that helped showcase the game's reach, with clips of different worlds and characters and ships flying across them. The worlds are wide-ranging and expansive -- with portals that drop players in the thick of the fight.
There was a lot of Green Arrow in the trailer, which queued up Stephen Amell's surprise appearance on the panel; Amell is -- fittingly -- voicing Green Arrow in the game. When Amell came on the panel, he told a fan that yelled "You have failed this panel!" earlier at Sharples, "It took all my willpower not to come out here and fist bump you."
"This is great! Geoff will confirm this story -- I'm not hugely involved in the gaming community because I've become obsessive, and I don't have that much time," Amell said. "There was another video game that I voiced Green Arrow for, and it was literally an email to Geoff that said, 'Green Arrow is going to be in this game. Can I do it?' And he said, 'Will you do it?' It was the same for this game -- I don't want anybody else voicing Green Arrow!"
"I meet a lot of fans who have been Green Arrow fans longer than I've been alive," the actor said of the character's legacy. "It's a really good mantle to have, and I'll hang onto it for a while, if it's okay."
Bringing Oliver to LEGO was a cool experience for Amell -- and the very first thing he did for the game was his "Arrow" speech -- but one of the lines was, "I'm going to wear tight, tight pants."
"It was nice to play a different version of the character," said Amell, saying that all he does most of the time is stare at people with a mean expression.
"It might be a mean expression, but it's really fucking pretty!" said Smith.
Parsons said that after Amell came onboard, his part snowballed -- and it was something that happened whenever they got someone else of note to come on. "This game is huge, this is the biggest game that Stephen and I have made. It's massive. Are you all aware of the DLC that we're doing for this game? The idea of doing this is it allows us to bring the other branches of DC that don't fit into the free play experience we've created." The "Man of Steel" pack allows players to run around Krypton with a baby Superman. The 75th Anniversary pack is "just the team having fun." There is also a new pack that was announced for the panel, something that will enthuse "Arrow" fans: an "Arrow" DLC pack with Diggle, Felicity Smoak, Helena Bertinelli, Slade Wilson, Roy Harper, Sara Lance, Malcom Merlyn.
"We want to make sure that everybody's introduced to this iconic show -- so we go back to the island and we have a lot of fun with Stephen," said Parsons.
"I would buy this game just for LEGO Diggle," said Amell.
Johns said there's so much DC-related content on the burner for television right now and the entire era started with Amell and "Arrow." "Everything we're doing now we owe to the success you brought," Johns said.
The audience opened up for questions, and the first dealt with the criteria for adding characters to the game.
"The criteria was, 'How many characters can we get? And let's make this the biggest roster out of any of the LEGO games?'" Parsons said. "Let's go for the crazy characters! Let's go for the Green Loontern, let's go for the Bat Cows. We want to make this the biggest superhero game of the year." The massive roster is a way of giving the players what they want. "If there's a DC character and it's cool," they'll try to put it in.
Over the next four weeks until the game is out, TT Games will still be revealing characters. "I would be surprised if all the oddball characters aren't in the game," said Johns. "Everyone we would say is probably in the game. If Diggle is in the game, everyone's in the game."
In a touching moment, a man who had a previous experience with Smith walked up to the microphone, relating a story about how he heard a woman scream, and when he rushed in to help her, he found three men with guns. The men beat him up and threw him out a window. In a previous conversation with Smith, the man said he thought that he wouldn't do it again, but hearing Smith's comments about being a hero made him realize the inherent courage of his decision to help.
"We're all cosplaying at this con, but you did a real super heroic thing," said Smith.