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Comics To Video Games: Moon Knight

What if you could design your own video game storyline?

Yesterday in the Comic Vine office, the idea of adapting a comic book character into a video game came up briefly. Obviously I like comics and I started out playing video games on the Atari 2600. I used to spend so much time playing video games but my time is spread pretty thin these days.  
 
I started thinking, instead of an "Off My Mind," what would I want in a Moon Knight video game? He has appeared in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows but what could a solo game with him be like?
 

Level 1 

The first level would have you play as Marc Spector, the mercenary. While working for the evil terrorist, Raol Bushman, you would determine how your character develops later in the game. I would see this as a brief level mainly focused on getting used to the gameplay while giving the player experience with guns and completing a mercenary mission of your choice. Depending on which you chose would determine how adapt you become later in the game.  
 

Level 2 

You would stand up against Bushman and race to save the life of the damsel in distress, Marlene Alraune. After a fight against Bushman (in which you barely survive), you must race through a labyrinth inside the tomb of Khonshu. If you can make it before your life meter runs out, you're on your way to becoming the Moon Knight. 
 == TEASER == 

Level 3 

As Moon Knight, the game switches to a series of 'superhero' missions. In order to successfully complete your nighttime missions, you'll have to go through mini-missions as each of Moon Knight's other personas: billionaire Steven Grant and cabdriver Jake Lockley. These side missions will allow you to gain the intel needed to complete the tasks Moon Knight must face and earning you bonuses such as upgraded weapons and vehicles. 
 

Level 4 

This is where you have to go up against some of Moon Knight's costumes villains such as Jester, Werewolf By Night, Scarecrow and Killer Shrike
 

Level 5 

This would be based on the Charlie Huston run where you prepare to take on Bushman for the final time (will you defeat Bushman and deliver him to the authorities or would you go all out and slice off his face with a crescent dart? I don't know if we'd want to see Moon Knight breaking both legs and having to go through stages of rebuilding your strength but I think we'd definitely need a final round against Taskmaster

Level 6 

Depending on how ambitious this game could be, it'd be great to see a Civil War level. You could even veer from the comics and allow you to choose a side. Do you want to fight for or against the Superhuman Registration Act? This would allow you to fight against existing heroes such as the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Spider-Man or Iron Man
 

Level 7 

As we approach the end of the game, perhaps we could delve into Norman Osborn's Dark Reign and Moon Knight becoming seen as an outlaw. Your actions could determine where you character ends up, in complete madness or on your way back from the dark pits of Moon Knight's mind.  
 
As this inner battle develops, perhaps the final stage could be you against Khonshu. Will you succumb to the Spirit of Vengeance's dark influence or will you be able to rebuild yourself to become a hero once again (and re-win the heart of your girlfriend Marlene)? 
 
Maybe the ending would need a little work here but we'd want to leave room for a sequel, right? How far off am I? Would this outline make an appealing video game experience?
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Posted by spider2dfly

This is a really cool game concept. I wish I could have one in any console. Whether it be PS3, XBox, Wii, PSP, it doesn't matter to me. I would imagine that this game would have a platform just like the Spider-Man game in the 90's or the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance game with many interactions with other heroes and villains and action-derived consequences in the game
 
But I have to comment on what would his supporting characters like Marlene, Frenchie, Crawley and many other could be a possible NPC in the game. I'm sure that they have a tremendous contribution in shaping Moon Knight in the game sort of like what was mentioned in the second to the last paragraph.

Posted by Silkcuts

Make sure it plays like Batman Arkham Asylum and people will play it.  Best engine ever.

Posted by Eyz

Moon Knight could work easily.
Be it a simple brawler on 8bits/16bits systems back then or a more modern beat 'em all on current consoles..
It's a simple and pretty straight forward concept (good guy fighting off bad guys in the streets), not like, say, an Ambush Bug video game or a Flash video game (the speed could be tricky to well incorporate).

Posted by McJawsh

I really like your concepts of the levels and I would love to see this on PC/360/PS3.  

Posted by ComicMan24

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Posted by Illyana Rasputin

I would love to see a "Marvel Universe Online", similar in gameplay to "DC Universe Online". An expansive, multi-player online universe with a massive character catalogue with individual and team missions available.

Posted by Son_of_Magnus

Deadshot video game it would be a first person shoot and have the layout of Grand Theft Auto as in free roam and taking contracts and missions and you can travel between the main DC cities and you get to play around with Floyd's gadgets and armor and you can team up and do missions for Suicide Squad to lose wanted points 

Posted by Gambit1024

Very cool. I could totally see this play like Arkham Asylum. If it were to be a free roamer, use Spider-Man 2's method

Posted by 123422
@Son_of_Magnus said:
" Deadshot video game it would be a first person shoot and have the layout of Grand Theft Auto as in free roam and taking contracts and missions and you can travel between the main DC cities and you get to play around with Floyd's gadgets and armor and you can team up and do missions for Suicide Squad to lose wanted points  "
Either make it Hitman-esque or a sandbox game with assassination contract side-missions
I've been hearing talk of a Suicide Squad game, though, dunno more about that
Posted by SUPER-MAN 23

Hey G-Man the first photo is messed up. I think it's the resolution of the photo. 

Posted by G-Man
@spider2dfly: I thought about that after. Maybe depending on how your character develops based on your actions, that would determine if other characters like Frenchie would help you. If you're developing into a creepy superhero, they might not want to assist you which would make your progress harder. 
 
@SUPER-MAN 23: I meant for the image to be pixilated. I wanted to go for an old video game/8-bit type image.
Staff
Posted by Son_of_Magnus

I would like a Flash game but I have no idea how to pull that off. Where would the challenge be?

Posted by Secret Identity

Its not a bad idea but as a story its a bit messy and tries to do a little much. I would have a game that moves from level 1 through to level 5 as the finally. This gives a single cohesive story that focuses on a single villain whom the Moon Knight fights early on then again as the final battle (with the fight for his soul as perhaps a bonus level depending on certain elements throughout the main game). The idea of gaining th powers and learning to use them in the protection of a city by battling villains and assisting heroes is not uncommon and would work well for moon knight given his "alignment" (good/evil actions). 
 
Anything that becomes grander than that makes for a far more complicated story which, whilst appreciated by comic fans, would only serve to confuse non-comic reading gamers.

Posted by SUPER-MAN 23
@G-Man:  
Oh I see.  
 
Your ideal for a moon knight game would be awesome! 
Posted by crusader8463

I think Taskmaster could make a cool video game character. His ability to mimic everything he see's could give rise to a Kirby style gameplay where he has to learn his enemies moves in order to fight them.

Posted by ImperiousRix

I'd love for this to be a regular feature on the site. 
Anyway, I really like the concept.  Sadly, I don't know enough about Moon Knight to add any sorta input here, but I definitely like what you have here.

Posted by Cosmic Sentinel

Moon Knight is a great character and would probably be great for something similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum as Gambit1024 said. The core difference being that if you were going the darker, more heavily armed route, you could be less stealthy as you have more aggressive weapons in your arsenal. That would also be offset by having more help from Frenchie and other NPCs. 
 
Story-wise, I'd also break that in half with the Civil War/Dark Reign bit being a second game. With there being an opportunity to use the first game saves to frame your adventure.

Posted by IrishX

Good stuff G-Man.
Posted by stikfigureman2d

im just gonna say mad and would definately get this 
tho probably cut it in half yeh, confusing many non-fans 
definately would like the inclusion of some other heroes tho, coz he did have encounters near the beginning with Daredevil, Spider-man and The Thing 
tho not have it be too Grand Theft Auto like
Posted by Danial79

I agree with Secret Identity. I think this is a bit too long for a single game plot. Game plots are really quite short when you think about it, though are broken down into many smaller parts within the whole. I like the idea of starting at his origins though. I don't think a Superhero game has done that before.

Posted by Powerzone789

this is bada$$ i'm not gonna lie haha i would definently buy it, i live games where the moral choices effect the outcome and eneding, there the best things in video games honestly
Posted by Shadowdoggy

I love this!!!!!! 
please do more posts like these 
I want to make more imaginary video games that companies are far too stupid to make
Edited by Mainline

@G-Man said:

"   How far off am I? Would this outline make an appealing video game experience?"

Great article and fascinating topic! 
 
I think, if realized, it would be fairly appealing, however, the difficulty of adapting so much is probably quite high.  So "how far off" is limited only by your aversion to risk / budget (let's not forget that Rocksteady just about went into bankruptcy making Arkham Asylum... only their faith in the quality of their game kept them from cutting corners).  I think the scope is far from what's typically done with an action game but ambition isn't necessarily wrong... games that shake up the expectations of the gamers and the industry are often the most successful (like Arkham did for comic book licensed action adventure games or GTA3 did for free roaming, etc). 
 
I can address some of the challenges presented by the outline, but I'll end with the strengths of such a an approach.
 
Challenges
 
The first challenge I see the really broad scope of gameplay.  You've got gunplay, you've got vehicles ("upgrading them"), you've got platforming (I'm assuming- labyrinth and rooftops), you've got boss battles (costumed villains and Civil War), you've got a morality / adventure gaming aspect (choose your path storytelling), finally you've got it all combined for the later levels.  The risk is, of course, that you become a jack of all trades but a master of none.  In general, developers can only afford to polish a few elements and when they do, gamers respond... they're willing to, essentially, do the same thing over and over again as long as it is enjoyable and polished (fighting games, first person shooters, etc) which isn't to denigrate that, it's the same as playing a sport (you could call that doing the same thing again and again) which is still quite enjoyable.  Focusing on one set of gameplay mechanics also helps you find your audience... action gamers may not want to sit through lots of story, adventure gamers may not want to beat up endless hordes of enemies, etc. 
 
The second big challenge is the sheer amount of story for an action oriented game.  Now you can find different ways to communicate it to the gamer- be it long cut-scenes, radio voice-overs, journals, or what not... but those risk becoming just noise, speed bumps to gaming, or annoyances.  Most complex storylines find their ways into RPGs or some adventure games.  The few action games that try to include a lot of story become like Metal Gear which are saturated in moments when you're not actually playing the game (nonetheless this drew many players in).  Most games involving action, like Batman AA or BioShock, have fairly direct and simple stories overarching but layers for those who dig. 
 
The third challenge (last I'll talk about on this non-exclusive list) is length... even if your gameplay is the best in the world can it sustain being played for a period necessary to support such a long storyline or amount of missions / levels?  It really depends on how rewarding the gameplay is, the story is, and how long the levels are.  With lots of bite sized chunks it might work... but making it so all those chunks are relatively unique and not repetitive is a serious challenge.  It's also difficult to have an over arching build and climax for such a long game.  Batman:AA expertly stops itself from overstaying its welcome... it easily could have tacked on a few more missions to extend its length but sometimes you just gotta let go. ;-)
  
Potential: 

The flipside, of course, is that if you pull it off your game will not only be a buffet of game types, but that you're enhancing the player's narrative experience.  Issues of repetition, length, and boredom are cut down by a compelling story, plenty of options to do, and ever-changing gameplay.  Despite the obvious benefits on focusing on one sort of gameplay time, many of the most acclaimed games of late have been genre busters who borrow elements from disparate game genres.  Shooters with RPG elements, action games with tactical elements, etc. 
 
On a podcast, I think you guys addressed the question of value with respect to games... that a graphic novel is art and the value comes from revisiting that.  While I would counter that games can be similarly appreciated as art, I think this vision of a Moon Knight game would illustrate that nicely.  The entire scope of the storyline is epic, the multiple choices in terms of moral outcomes gives replay value, and as it is a condensation of an entire character's history in comics there is a certain historical appreciation too, especially if adapted elegantly.  Each replay would be like a deep dive back into a character you love.  Heck, after reading a particularly good Spider-Man story or arc sometimes I fire up Spider-Man 2 just to experience the swinging around (and, of course, the obligatory "hey, this was where my apartment was, heehee!"). 
 
Basically, it's really ambitious, I don't think there's anything quite like it on the market, but if you can bring that much storytelling in an action package it could be very successful.  A lot of game developers are incredible artists and technicians... but they're not expert storytellers (certainly everyone has storytelling ability but they're not honed like a professional).  If you fall back on work that's already proven story and you tap the minds of people who are very experienced with telling a story with constraints (ex: Dini having to master 20 min animated format and 22 page comic books...) if you can tell a long, deep, complex, and interesting story in a game with a side of action, you can get lifelong fans.
Posted by Jedted

Don't know if anyone's mentioned this already but, you can play as Moon Knight in Marvel Ultimate Alliance(Xbox 360 version). 
Posted by G Bird

Hmm, a Moon Knight video game................... THAT WOULD BE THE BEST THING EVER!!!

Posted by the_fallen11

Hmmm a Moon Knight video game really.....ummmmmm I've got heroine?

Posted by ReverseNegative
@McJawsh said:
"I really like your concepts of the levels and I would love to see this on PC/360/PS3.   "

Yeah, same. The graphics would be awesome, then. Not the cruddy PS1-Styled Wii graphics.
Posted by Decept-O

@G-Man:  Obviously you've spent waaayyyy too much time thinking about this one!  The fact you even have details for each Level cracks me up but in a good way.   Actually I like the article and the details. 
 
Just giving you a ribbing but actually a Moon Knight vidja game would be 100 degrees of sweetness.   Despite not currently owning a gaming system, I would buy a Moon Knight video game and game system all at once.  
 
Just for kicks, have Moonie go up against the Punisher.  Now you're cooking with gas!
Posted by Doctor!!!!!

I want to steal this game from you. 
but thats not honest.
Posted by Mr.Hulk_Smashin'!

My Gameplay would be a mix of Arkham Asylum and Spider-Man : Noir.

Posted by SuperXAsh

awesome idea. Though I'd keep the designs and motif based heavily on the Huston run, with maybe an updated/tweaked origin. I'd have it be like a more brutal Arkham Asylum. Breaking bones, busting heads, and visibly wounding your opponents.  
 
Opponents: Bushman, Scarecrow, Black Spectre, Midnight, and have one of these bad-guys (or maybe the Committee) unleash the Werewolf by Night on him. Special guest-appearance by Taskmaster.

Posted by gave1

Interesting, always wanted to get into Moon Knight but never seemed to have the time.  A movie would help me along.

Posted by Jayso4201
@gave1:
Ditto
Posted by McJawsh

I think that it would be cool to do the Marine part in the beginning and have some gun training.  But throughout the game your gun use is somewhat limited but by completing special challenges/achievements/beating the game you can unlock more guns.  So the first gameplay is mainly using melee weapons etc and if you do special things you can make it a spray n pray run through destroying everyone for fun/replay value.   
 
Just an idea.

Posted by Bruce Vain

I would love to see a Moon Knight game if it could be made well like the THQ Punisher game I think this could work very well. I mean hell look at the Darkness game. That comic doesn't have a movie but the game they made for the comic is very much like a movie.
Posted by ForbushBug
Edited by Metatron_Da_Don

Great piece. 
at first I said no because his enemies arent really on the epic world or even city-saving scale. 
But Khonshu and (also Raoul Bushman) is actually epic in his own way. Game could also focus on Khonshu and Bushman pushing him over the edge and Khonshu eventually choosing a new avatar. 
Seeing Khonshu in the form of rats and small demons would be very haunting and entertaining. 

It seems to me that Moonie needs maybe one epic arc to give him more direction in his character development as far as will he bend to Khonshu's will or not?
 Shadowland may provide a defining resolution to Moon Knight as an epic. It seems that Khonshu has a new avatar so we will see if this is the strong enemy that Jake Lockley has been lacking. Someone who has embraced Khonshu and his path of vengeance.

Edited by Metatron_Da_Don

I think you cut off at the carving of Raoul Bushman's face regardless of decisions made in the game. Khonshu overwhelms Spector and he just does it showing our hero's will has been broken.
 
Then, the sequel shows the Civil War era Moon Knight & his redemption, the Black Spectre arc with Marlene, Frenchie, and Bushman in there. After Civil War era we go to the New Mexico arc with Punisher and the Zapata Bros (1 level at most right). 
 
After that is Shadowland and the new big boss is Khonshu and his new buddy, Ragman/Moon Knight.
---->EDIT: new avatar is Randall Spector, moonie's lil brother
now he has brother problems lol

Posted by Bearded Justice

great game idea!  I'd buy any game with Moon Knight in it, and this one sounds like it'd be awesome. 

Posted by Metatron_Da_Don

add big brother problems to that...I dont think we've ever seen that angle from a Marvel video game. Psycho super powered brother Shadow Knight
 
Im seeing Kane and Lynch meets Arkham Asylum.

Edited by sandyp3000

wow at mainline, your comment was longer than the article.
 And this idea doesnt seem drawn out, you tool's pay 70 bucks for a game and are happy with 5 days of playing it.... i agree with tony, if ur gonna start it, take it to the end... you tell'em! 
 As for a moon knight game... i think it would be a great idea. imo his story is second to none. realistic characters and realistic problems.  
be it a game or a movie its a GREAT GREAT story and cannot fail.

Posted by spider-man 2996

They should make this!!!
Posted by Meteorite

This is a really cool concept for a game! The only thing it needs is a possible fight against Randall Spector, the Hatchet-Man!

Edited by Mainline
@sandyp3000 said:

" wow at mainline, your comment was longer than the article. And this idea doesnt seem drawn out, you tool's pay 70 bucks for a game and are happy with 5 days of playing it.... i agree with tony, if ur gonna start it, take it to the end... you tell'em!   As for a moon knight game... i think it would be a great idea. imo his story is second to none. realistic characters and realistic problems.   be it a game or a movie its a GREAT GREAT story and cannot fail. "

Ouch, "tools" is harsh.  Particularly when over half of Americans are gamers (even higher- 82%- if you target young Americans the way comics do) and the industry is considered by many to be bigger than Hollywood at this point. 

However, that assessment is probably wrong for the vast majority of successful game franchises.  Sure, the action adventure genre fall into the "rental period" but the successful ones are AAA titles which give an interactive cinematic experience like Uncharted or Arkham.  But the vast majority of actual game time is spent on social gaming or sports games (or games that are like sports)... so Zynga games, Bejeweled, World of Warcraft on the social side, or licensed sports games like Madden, or multiplayer sport-like games like FPSes, fighting games, racing, etc.  The genre that struggles the most for the developer are story driven adventure or RPG games (note these games can be successful for the licensee who pays to market or adapt the game in another region). 
 
That's what makes Tony's concept so different and risky... it's so heavily story driven.  He's concerned with characterization, narrative arcs, plot development... but spends relatively little time talking about game mechanics, level design, control scheme, etc.  It's essentially backwards from what the industry does... they focus on technology and gameplay and then slap a story on top of it.  Tony's vision is driven by story which could make it great... or completely unfeasible depending on your budget/risk level. 
 
As a game or movie it certainly could fail because such a sweeping story would have significant development costs and you'd, mainly, be hoping people buy it for that story... at which point you've got to wonder would people rather pay money for some trades collecting the highlights of that story in a medium the story was originally told... or do they want an interactive version which might compromise that storytelling?  You'll note that good games rarely, if ever, adapt existing stories as opposed to creating original ones.  At that point, the gameplay probably matters more in making the decision and since we've been given few details on it and no budget projections there's a lot of room for failure.  Potential for success, certainly, but the story emphasis is a gamble as I've stated.
 
As a single movie, this is an unmitigated disaster.  There's too much plot, characters, themes, etc. to artfully convey in a single film... there's just no way.  Individual stories have their beginning, middle, and end... and maybe in a very broad sense a collected story like this has a beginning and maybe a middle... but there's no movie-like end that can properly cap all that story even an overly generous 210 minutes.  My incredulity is a little unfair... after all, Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings artfully adapts the impossible... but I think it's fair to say that Moon Knight is no Lord of the Rings.
Posted by SuperTide

Sounds like a good idea.

Edited by Metatron_Da_Don
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

This is lazy posting on my behalf, as it's basically copying and pasting from what I posted on G-Man's blog over on Giant Bomb.  That said, here were my thoughts:  
 
I think it looks like some solid level design.  What type of gameplay are you looking at?  I'd think a third person action-adventure heavy on dialogue and story as well as bits of intense action would be appropriate, but I wouldn't want to see just a modern-day brawler.  It would have to do something to stand out against the likes of the recent Spider-Man titles or something like Infamous.  I don't know if I see it as necessarily being an open-world game, but if it slowly allowed the player access to a wider and wider area complete with changing envornments based on the destruction and mayhem (or lack thereof) caused by player and villain alike, it'd be an interesting approach. 
 
I had no idea Charlie Huston did a run on Moon Knight.  Wow.  The guy is one hell of a talented writer.  I loved the gritty, modern pulp feel of Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things.  I've gotta try his vampire novels at some point as well as digging up copies of the Moon Knight comics now that I know about it.  Have you thought about writing an article on Comic Vine about authors and their relationships to comics and what they've written?    

Posted by Tsemasi

Great concept, and being a huge Moon Knight fan I would be allover that.

Posted by Metatron_Da_Don
@Sparky_Buzzsaw said:

"I think it looks like some solid level design.  What type of gameplay are you looking at?  I'd think a third person action-adventure heavy on dialogue and story as well as bits of intense action would be appropriate, but I wouldn't want to see just a modern-day brawler.  It would have to do something to stand out against the likes of the recent Spider-Man titles or something like Infamous.  I don't know if I see it as necessarily being an open-world game, but if it slowly allowed the player access to a wider and wider area complete with changing envornments based on the destruction and mayhem (or lack thereof) caused by player and villain alike, it'd be an interesting approach. "

Very good thoughts in my opinion. I'm curious to here G-Man's response as well.
 
As for what distinguishes him from Spidey I only read the David Finch/Huston(?) run. My exposure to him is limited but his rogues gallery is basically psychotic mercenaries. Guys with RPG-launchers.
 
Also what would REALLY set it apart is emphasizing Khonshu as an enemy. Someone constantly pushing him over the edge with witty dialogue as seen in the Huston run. Dismembered and severed limbs would give the game a real gritty take.
 
 Kane & Lynch: Dead Men style.
it would be fun to see 1 or more buddy-level missions with Punisher or Toltec who hasn't been seen in a while.  Also would be fun to see Frenchie providing air support in a jungle mission.
 
I know I'm all over the place but I really like the potential of Moon Knight in a nex-gen video game!
Posted by Skald

I would totally buy that game. But he won't have his own game unless they turn him into a movie first, which would probably be bad, meaning the game would be even worse. 
 
Too bad, really. Moon Knight is a really cool character, and one I definitely like. He totally deserves a good downloadable title, something crafted by fans of the comic, who know how to make a good video game. 
 
After all, Scott Pilgrim did it, so why can't Moon Knight?

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