Hi reddit,

I’m Sefton Hill (u/SeftonHill), Creative Director at Rocksteady Studios in London, UK. I’ve been working on games since 1996 and co-founded Rocksteady Studios in 2004 with Jamie Walker. I head up the story, design and creative direction for all of our games.

We created the Batman: Arkham series, starting with Arkham Asylum in 2009. We also released Batman: Arkham City in 2011, and Batman: Arkham Knight in 2015. This year we decided to try our hand at virtual reality, with Batman: Arkham VR, out now for PlayStation VR.

I’m here with our Social Marketing Manager Gaz Deaves (u/rocksteadygaz), to answer your questions about our games, life at Rocksteady, game dev, VR, Batman, and maybe some other (non-spoiler) topics.

So what are you waiting for, reddit? Ask Me Anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/Seftonhill/status/811743905033101312

UPDATE - We're all done for today. Thanks to everyone who posted questions, and for all the support you have given us. Apologies to those who we didn't get around to. Here at Rocksteady we're hard at work on our next game, and I can't wait to show the community what's coming next.

Comments: 238 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

TheCodingGamer48 karma

First off, thank you for your work on this amazing series! These games have given me countless hours of enjoyment, and for me they are the definitive Batman. You rock(steady)! :)

I'll keep my question simple: What have been some of your favorite moments (either story or gameplay-wise) from the series?

SeftonHill101 karma

Nice question! I've not really thought about just one moment but let's give it a go:

Asylum: It would be the fake out Scarecrow console crash. Lots of people, even on the team, said we shouldn't do it. We had to get special permission from Sony and MS to do it. I think it was a real highlight for me that it worked so well.

City: Batman carrying Joker's dead body at the end. It was actually one of the very first images we started with when writing the story. We wanted to show that even though Batman hates Joker, there's a part of him, which he wouldn't care to acknowledge, that is defined by Joker. Without Joker, Batman is not Batman. That image is Batman coming to terms with that loss.

Knight: I liked the very end! When Batman is left with no other option, he still manages to find a way out. To become an even more badass version of Batman. How cool is that?

Mau5trap9846 karma

Any new projects you'd like to tease us with? Big fan!

SeftonHill60 karma

We're very hard at work on our next project but we won't be releasing the details for a while. When we do you guys will be first to hear as we want to get the community involved heavily in what we do next.

ShinobiOfKaos40 karma

How does it feel coming from Urban Chaos: Riot Response to being known as the creator of the single best superhero game of all time?

SeftonHill64 karma

It's surreal even now. When we made Arkham Asylum we had no idea it was going to be popular until very late in development. I remember demoing the game to the publisher at one time and there was 2 people from the publisher in the room. After about 3 minutes of the demo, they went and got someone to join then someone else, and then someone else. By the end of the demo there was about 50 people crammed into this tiny room. It was then that we started to think that we might have something a bit special.

SevenPercent_35 karma

Are there any easter eggs in any of the Arkham games we have not found yet?

SeftonHill48 karma

I honestly couldn't say. I imagine that someone, somewhere has found them all, but I'm fairly sure that they've not all be documented as yet.

AventadorWesley30 karma

Dear Sefton Hill,

How did you and your team got started on the Batman franchise? Did someone came into your office and asked: Do you want to make a batman game?

Greetings from the netherlands

SeftonHill52 karma

Hi! You know it's strange but that almost is exactly how it happened! We were working with Eidos and they acquired the rights to a Batman game as part of a deal with WB. At the time I think it would be fair to say that no one thought there was a lot of value in a Batman game. Eidos asked us whether we'd be interested and we couldn't believe it. We thought it was the best thing ever. I remember announcing it at the team meeting and the whole team went crazy! We get to make a frickin Batman game? Are you kidding me? How cool is that?!

epicryan21719 karma

Hey Sefton! I absolutely love the Arkham series.

Do you feel satisfied about how Arkham Knight turned out? Is there anything you would have changed?

SeftonHill58 karma

I was definitely satisfied. That's not to say I think it's perfect as obviously it's not, but I think we achieved what we set out to do. I appreciate not everyone wanted as much Batmobile for example, but we felt it was important to keep pushing ourselves. I never want us to be in the comfort zone, as that's the death of creativity.

I'd much rather we went for what we believe in as I think that's the way to make something special, that resonates with people. Occasionally you're going to do things which not everyone loves but that's much better than boring mediocrity.

nummy1218 karma

Hey, I've read that the first Arkham game was initially going to be a rhythm game of sorts. If that is the case, could you detail the transition from rhythm game to kickass Batman game?

SeftonHill35 karma

The combat system initially started out as a rhythm action game. It was based on my love of classic Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung movies. They have this lovely cadence to the combat which I'd never seen done in a game. Even though we remove the rhythm action requirement, the core of that idea lived on through FreeFlow.

lostandonly16 karma

Hi! My brother got me Arkham Asylum for my Birthday on Aug 25th, 2009, My first real introduction to Batman apart from the films, and since then the Arkham Trilogy has informed my love of Batman and have been the games I always go back to. You might even say I'm one of the more crazy ones...

My question is kinda of Spoiler-ish so I'll tread with caution, In Arkham VR we see clear connections and motivations that lead into the Narrative of Arkham Knight, How much did this story inform Arkham Knight or was it conceived entirely Afterwards?

SeftonHill19 karma

Firstly, great work on your 240% playthroughs! It's the dedication of players like you that make us work as hard as we do.

(Warning: Arkham VR spoilers ahead)

The events of Arkham VR were always in our mind when writing Arkham Knight, but we had never planned to make them explicit in a story, until Arkham VR presented that opportunity. We always had the idea that Joker had started to infect Batman gradually, and indeed we actually hinted at this in Arkham City when you see Freeze turn into Joker for a few frames. Arkham VR afforded us the opportunity to fill in this critical beat for the fans.

DroppedLeSoap15 karma

How frustrating was it waiting for monthss for someone to discover that easter egg hidden in the Wardens office in Arkaham Asylum, before you guys just revealed it? How proud were you guys of making one so hidden that you guys had to spoil it?

SeftonHill29 karma

It was actually fairly rewarding to be able to hide something in relative plain sight. Obviously no one really thought to look and to be fair it was quite obscure to actually blast the Warden's office as we didn't give any hints.

What has surprised me more is the speed with which people find the Easter eggs since then! You guys are amazing at finding them no matter how hard we hide them. The one in Scarecrow's boat in Arkham City required the Crytographic Sequencer in a location with no clues that it needed to be used, and someone found that with about a day or two.

Snowbank_Lake14 karma

Which actor, in your opinion, is the true Batman?

SeftonHill70 karma

It has to be Kevin Conroy! Before we even got to work on Batman, his was the voice I could hear in my head when reading the comics. And to add to that, he just a genuinely great guy to work with. Man, I'd love to have his voice. Imagine having the voice of Batman!? The closest I'll get is that he recorded my answerphone message for me at one of our sessions (just don't tell anyone at WB).

Joey_StaXX13 karma

Hey, goodbrother Sefton! incredibly dedicated fanboy here.

My question is regarding a possible patch for Arkham Knight to upscale on PS4 Pro... Could we potentially see something like other games have done? (upscaling to 1440, native 1080 w/higher framerate etc)

The answer from devs is normally "we have no plans at this time" ...which is heartbreaking as an early adopter. I truly believe the Pro has breathed new life into certain titles and after putting so many hours into both the PC and PS4 version, I'd love to have a reason to go back to Gotham!

Thanks to you and your team for making me feel feels that I didn't know I could feel over the years!

SeftonHill17 karma

Good to hear from you. We're happy to make you feel the feels! Unfortunately we are not planning a patch for PS4 at this time. I know that's not what you want to hear but better to be honest. We did release a patch for Arkham VR to support the Pro, which is a nice piece of tech. I'm looking forwards to playing it with my new 4k TV!

RedOakWarrior12 karma

Who's your favorite super hero, super villain, and game developers?

SeftonHill44 karma

Super hero is easy (and obvious!). Fortunately I've got to work with and for the big guy for 9 years now and it's an amazing privilege. Villain is a great question because I have a soft spot for so many of them. I've always liked the desperation of Riddler and we've had great fun writing his dialogue. Favourite developer? I'd have to go with classic Nintendo.

Sfeinberg169 karma

What Batman mythos did you pull from the most while making the Arkham franchise?

Also are you guys working on your next project yet and if so can you say if there will be any time of announcement sooner or later?

SeftonHill16 karma

Anything and everything! We were very fortunate that Geoff Johns gave us complete freedom to tell the stories that work best in our medium. Although we would speak to DC fairly often, there was never any significant limitations placed on us, and I think it was this approach and freedom which allowed the games to work. I have to give those guys a lot of credit and appreciation for trusting us with their most prized possession!

ytho999 karma

Hi Sefton! I absolutely love all the Arkham games. My question for you is this:

How difficult was it to actually design the Batman suit for Arkham Knight game? Not only the brainstorm aspect of it, but also to code the textures and whatnot. I don't really know that much about computer animation but it seems like a tedious process. Also, was there any other ideas that you guys had for the suit that didn't end up in the final games?

P.S. the suit from Arkham Knight is by far my favorite suit design from any Batman game or movie so good job!

SeftonHill20 karma

Firstly, I'm glad you liked it! We actually started with a different suit for Arkham Knight, which was closer to the classic Arkham Asylum / City look. I've always been a big fan of this classic look because it feels like the comics come to life. I've always resisted the urge to change it just for the sake of making something different.

However, after we'd lived with the classic look in game for a good few months, it didn't feel right alongside the tech of the Batmobile. Man and machine as one was our goal for gameplay and visuals, so we redesigned the suit using the same materials and fabrics as the car. We probably did about 10 different concepts for the outfit before refining it down to what's in game now. After that it takes the incredibly talented character team about 4-5 man months of work to create the model and what you see in game now.

PhoenixKiwi9 karma

Which of Batman's weapons is your personal favorite?

SeftonHill35 karma

His mind! If his got a superpower it's his determination and dedication. You always know he's about 5 steps ahead of everyone else in the room. And it's that which I think makes him so aspirational - that idea that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything. That's exactly what Batman has done.

Jdfz998 karma

Hey there, Sefton! Love the work you guys have put out, including good ol' Urban Chaos.

Seeing as Batman has been your largest game to date - how much of the ending to Arkham Knight did you guys have around the creation of Arkham Asylum? Obviously, without giving much away to others, it manages to have some great full circle moments.

Also (I shouldn't cheat and ask two questions, but what the hell), what was the moment in Arkham Knight that caused the M rating? I remember hearing that WB asked you guys to edit a specific scene to bring it to a T rating and you simply refused to budge (as a hopefully up-and-coming writer, I applaud your team for that).

Sorry for the long message! Thanks!

Edit: Some typos.

SeftonHill18 karma

We didn't know exactly where the story was going to end when writing Arham Asylum because, to be honest, we didn't even know we were going to get to work on a sequel, let alone the trilogy. We also went into it with attitude that Batman wouldn't know so why should we.

We just wanted to ensure that every event in the story actually meant something and really impacted the world. You see so many stories where everything has to reset back to how it started, and we wanted the player's investment to mean something.

For the second question, I think there were a good few scenes but the Jason Todd torture scene was definitely a no go at T, but is obviously crucial to the plot. I must admit I was freaking out when it was suggested this needs to go, so fortunately it all worked out, and WB / DC supported us all the way.

shadowrider2337 karma

Hi Sefton! I loved the whole Arkham series dearly and it is one that is close to my heart. Are there any additions (gameplay, story, additional characters, etc) that you wished you could have implemented but didn't have time for?

Thanks for your amazing work!

SeftonHill30 karma

One feature I'd love to have got in was linked to the Man-Bat surprise in Arkham Knight. We had planned to activate the Xbox / PlayStation camera and record everyone's reaction to being Man-Batted, so you could share this with your friends. Unfortunately we just ran out of time...

Jwkliewer6 karma

Ok Sefton, Did you know that you were being put into the intro of AK in the diner? Or was it a surprise to you?

SeftonHill37 karma

We scanned a number of the team into the game to feature as civilians in this scene and Mark K, one of our senior designers, chucked me into the game. It's a bit of an in joke that I'm heading out of the dinner given I obviously know what's about to kick off!

We also had a combat level where you got to beat up the development team which was great fun! I'm sure lots of people on the team enjoyed beating the crap out of me.

This is perhaps the one other feature I really regret us not having time to add to the game. The idea was that you would get to beat up the dev team in this combat level as part of the end credits sequence and every time you knocked someone out, the game would go into slow mo and tell you who they were and what they did on the game. It would've been a new game plus only feature if we'd have had time.

Ghostspider19895 karma

Can you explain the ending of Arkham Knight?

Btw, that man bat in arkham Knight.....scared the shit out of me.

SeftonHill25 karma

I've kind of given away the answer to the first question in this answer: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/5jrxnv/im_sefton_hill_creative_director_at_rocksteady/dbihoru/

Yep, Man-Bat got me a good number of times and it was my idea! Because it can happen nearly anywhere in the city, you would never know it's coming. Often, during development, you would hear a loud scream from the other side of the studio and you'd know someone had just been Man-Batted.

BK08x5 karma

What is your prized Batman possession you own?

Will you unblock the blocked scenes from batman arkham knight?

SeftonHill12 karma

  1. I have more than a few! I have a house full of Batman memorabilia. Some favs: My signed thank you poster from Mark Hamill, the Prime One Batman statue in the proof picture, and I have a 6 foot picture of Batman and Catwoman from Arkham City in my hallway.

  2. We blocked these scenes because we wanted everyone to be able to experience it for themselves, and it's so easy to get content spoiled for you without even knowing it these days. I've just seen Rogue One, and had to go on social media black out for a week to ensure that no one spoiled it for me. We are aware this isn't perfect for some YouTubers and for that I can only apologise.

liamquane5 karma

Are you going to include Photo-mode in any more of your upcoming games? Pleeeeeeease do? PLEEEEEEASE???? I SPEND HOURS ON IT!

LOOK HOW GOOD IT MAKES ME THINK I AM!!!!? https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0TRllNWgAEOlwd.jpg:large

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0TSG5DXcAABRGL.jpg:large

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0TTA51W8AQDiZi.jpg:large

SeftonHill11 karma

Those are some serious photo mode skills there! We had such a great time developing photo mode, adding filters, and experimenting with effects like zoom and depth of field.

Watching the community take hold of those tools and create some incredible scenes shows that you love this world as much as we do. Your passion inspires us and we want to make sure this is something we can continue to share and develop further in all upcoming Rocksteady games.

BATMAN-19394 karma

Hello Sefton, Arsenal supporter over here and of course massive Batman fan. What do you think of our title chances this year ?

SeftonHill10 karma

Good man! I'm a season ticket holder but unfortunately I can't say it's looking good. :-( Let's hope I'm wrong! Still, when it goes right, it's the most entertaining team we've had for a good while.

doctor_speedy4 karma

How many speedruns of the Arkham games have you seen, if any? I ask because as a fan of the series since Arkham Asylum, it is fascinating to see just how many skips have been found for each game.

SeftonHill7 karma

Watching the speedrunning community find unexpected ways to optimise the games is both exciting and terrifying! We work extremely hard to minimise any issues or bugs and here you have a community actively trying to break it! I think originally this genuinely terrified me, but when you understand that it's a sport that is being done with the best possible intentions, you realise that it's incredibly impressive. I remember back to seeing some of the classic Quake speedruns - they were some of the most amazing feats of dexterity I've ever seen.

CourtofOwls43 karma

What made you want to make a Batman VR game?

SeftonHill10 karma

As we all know, good VR gives you this amazing sense of presence, but what really excited us was not just going somewhere different, but becoming someone different... The Batman.

It's a childhood dream come true and is genuinely an emotional experience for a nerd like me. I still get goosebumps at the suit up sequence and I've played it 100 times.

It was kind of ironic that we went with "Be the Batman" as our tagline for Arkham Knight, because Arkham VR is really the first time in any medium that you genuinely get to become the Dark Knight.

ThisIsNotPedro2 karma

Hey there Sefton! Big fan, and thanks for making one of the best superhero games out there. My question is, who was your favorite voice actor to work with and why?

SeftonHill21 karma

We've worked with some incredible talent but my answer is kind of predictable: Getting to work with Mark Hamill was something else. Seeing the metamorphosis as he steps into the recording booth and becomes Joker is a real goosebumps moment for a fanboy.