How do you get Stan Lee to work with you on a video game? That’s the question I had in mind when I met Matt Kozlov, CEO of Moonshark and developer of Verticus.
I thought there would be an epic story between Kozlov and Lee, but the answer was straightforward. "The secret to get Stan Lee is to get in touch with his agent," Kozlov laughed. "It helps that the agency has ownership at your company. The secret to working with these legends without getting in touch with the agency is to work with us. As long as you’re a game developer, we are interested to work with you."
"We like working with people who are icons. Who have defined a style of their own and have built a large fan base. That’s the value talent brings is can they make the IP better? Can they bring a lot of people in the game, so we’re more than just a game, we’re a super game. Stan fit those criteria very well for us. If you’re going to build a superhero game what better person to do that with than the man who created pretty much every amazing superhero that has been invented," Kozlov continued.
Verticus is an iOS game where you play as a superhero who has to save the Earth from the Obliterators. You start the game falling from the sky and make Verticus dive through the Earth using a virtual analog stick. Stan Lee makes a cameo as the mission commander. Verticus starts the game unarmed, but can purchase weapons and suit upgrades by using coins. When Kozlov showed me Verticus it reminded me of the bonus levels in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or perhaps "Temple Faller."
Verticus was developed before Stan Lee got involved with the project with the concept of a falling character. I asked Kozlov, if Lee gave him any suggestions after he saw an early build.
"We don’t think that Hollywood partners should be a game designers, but sometimes they have amazing feedback. I remember one of the very first meetings we had with Stan, he didn’t get a sense that the hero was falling," Kozlov replied. "When we first started, it looked a lot like what it looks mid-game which could look like you’re flying instead of falling. You don’t really get oriented until buildings are coming up at you in the sky part. That’s why we started you off unconscious and falling from the sky."
"The globe, at the top right, that shows where you are relative to the sky, surface and tunnels. That was Stan’s idea. He wasn’t sure where you were or going to so he said you should put a map to show users where they are. A lot of the boss design is also his in terms of what he looks like," Kozlov added. You can see the boss in this trailer.
Verticus is available now for $0.99 on iTunes.