Insider Q&A: American McGee talks The Gate

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Pokemon in hell.

That’s how famed video game designer American McGee laughingly describes his new demon-collecting, free-to-play, mobile action-adventure, The Gate, a title that sends users into a fiery inferno, battling monsters while amassing an army of their own in order to dominate users worldwide with their own band of beasts.

Inside Mobile Apps caught up with McGee during his recent visit to San Francisco to find out more about this hellish quest.

Demon Pikachu not included.

Inside Mobile Apps: What should fans expect when they download The Gate?

American McGee: Our studio has a background making console and larger-scale PC games, so we’ve been trying to bring a bit of the quality and style and the 3D assets to the mobile and multi-player space. This is actually our fourth title in the mobile/online space, and it’s taking everything we’ve learned, combined with the knowledge that DeNA has brought to the table, specifically with games within this genre, and we’ve wrapped it inside a story where the player is going into hell. I’ve been jokingly describing it as Pokemon in hell because you’re fighting against demons, then collecting these same demons and then doing the usual card collecting and upgrading of and skill-expansion of those units.

We’ve also presented the fight mechanic in a pretty interesting way, as it’s much closer to a traditional RTS or RPG-style interface, so the player can engage with, in real time, the battles between the units as those things play out.

[contextly_sidebar id=”8765a44c4091cd34941b979eb160fb8e”]IMA: What’s the storyline behind the adventure?

AM: We actually started off with a pretty complicated story behind it. Myself and my writing partner RJ, we worked on the Alice games and wrote the stories for those together, and we started off with something that was pretty heavy in terms of a narrative where the main character descends into hell then is guided through this story where you either spend eternity twiddling your thumbs in hell or you engage in Thunderdome-like fights against these demons. There was a larger story above this, where there were these different forces in hell competing against each other while you play in this gladiator arena, but what we found was, as we were making this a mobile product, we wanted to streamline that. So we’ve reduced it down to a simple, you’re in hell, and you’re fighting and collecting these demons. You’re playing against other people playing the game in order to build up the most powerful collection of forces possible. One of the big aspects of the product is actually going into these PvP arenas and fighting against each other. That’s really become the emphasis. It’s not really the story of the larger forces in hell and how you play into their battles. Instead, it’s you versus other players inside of these arenas, and it’s basically King of the Hill and who can build up the greatest deck and who can dominate in these PvP arena battles.

IMA: From Alice to The Gate, why do you think you keep coming back to these dark places in your game designs?

AM: We’ve tried to make a combination of lighter-toned games as well as the darker ones, but it seems like what works best with the audience that follows what we do, are the darker games. In a sense, it’s not the only thing that we do, but it seems like it’s the thing that we do the best. In this case, it’s always fun to go back and look at a bunch of classic stories and classic mythologies and find a way to modernize them and update them. We’ve taken some traditional Dante’s Inferno storylines and combined that with some of the demons and demonology from both Christianity and Judaism and Sumerian culture, and we’ve infused this product with all of these storylines. We hope that this combination will appeal to a pretty broad range of people.