Bodycount's Stuart Black Talks Influences: J.J. Abrams, Lady Gaga, Apple, And More


Posted June 4, 2010 - By Jake Gaskill

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The developers at Codemasters drew on a variety of sources for their operatically violent shooter, Bodycount. From the sleek aesthetics of Apple to the story structures of popular television shows like 24 and Alias. However, one of the game’s influences is as surprising as the influence itself.

“Another big influence on our game has been Lady Gaga,” Bodycount’s creative director Stuart Black told me yesterday during an interview. “I went to see her last year in Glastonbury, and was just blown away by the performance.”

And how exactly does the wildly eccentric and hyper-stylized creation that is Lady Gaga inform video game design?

“It really made me think about how we’re making games and started feeling we’re getting very nerdy and beardy, particularly in shooters. A lot of people are still following that old 80s and 90s action movie model of how to make a shooter. So we wanted to make a shooter for the 21st century,” Black continued.

Black went on to explain that being uber-modern “doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do something kind of futuristic, or a little bit sci-fi."

"In the same way Gaga takes a 70s influence and kind of puts a modern, new twist on that. We’ve kind of gone back to those old arcade values, and taken those into the 21st century and given a new twist on them," Black added.

One of the more obvious influences on Bodycount’s design are big-budget television series, particularly those with some association with Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams.

“I’m very inspired by J.J. Abrams,” said Stuart. “He’s a big influence on me. So when we were looking at the narrative wrapper for Bodycount, we kind of thought, ‘Well, if this was a new show by J.J., how would he do that? What are the kinds of things he would do?’ And that’s the approach we’ve taken.”

The W.W.J.J.D. angle means players can expect a story structure that is more TV series than movie.

“This is the first season of Bodycount the TV show, in a sense if you like. Like a 13 episode HBO series, rather than a movie. A lot of games still try to put a movie structures in games, and movies are a two-hour experience. A game--10, 15 hours. That’s a lot, a lot of padding for that kind of story structure. Whereas TV shows--13 episodes at 40-50 minutes per episode--so that gets you up around the 10 hour mark. That’s a much better match up with the games I think.”

Be sure to check back during E3 for our full interview with Black, as well as our hands-on impressions of Bodycount.

Road to E3 2010

Bodycount's Stuart Black Talks Influences: J.J. Abrams, Lady Gaga, Apple, And More


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