Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows Digs Deep Into ‘Hail to the King: Deathbat’ Video Game
It's been a couple of years in the making, and now Avenged Sevenfold are thrilled to finally have their 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' video game in the hands of gamers everywhere. Loudwire had a chance to chat with frontman M. Shadows about the creation of the game and our chat can be found below.
I know you're a big time gamer yourself. Can you talk a little about some of the things you've seen in video games over the years that inspired you and that you wanted to make sure came across in the game itself?
I wanted to make sure a certain level of difficulty came across. I'm one of those people that have seen games get bigger and badder and color graphics but I haven't seen any classic games come out in a long time. In terms of classic, I think of the old-school games that are very simple mechanics but they pose a lot of threat in their difficulty level. Games like 'Contra,' 'Gauntlet' and 'Zelda,' 'Mario Brothers.' All those games are classic and they're pretty simple. We wanted to do something like that. Doing an old-school looking console game on mobile would be a cool way to do that. We figured a lot of people my age around their early thirties would appreciate a game like this. So hopefully some of the kids growing up will appreciate a game like this, as well.
The band has provided music to video games before and gotten its feet wet in the gaming industry, but as far as being fully engulfed in putting this whole thing together, what was the biggest surprise in terms of the process of going through putting an entire game together?
There's a lot of surprises. I'm not naive to think I was going to go into this and everything was going to be perfect or that making games is easy. But really realizing, trying to get a few people that are on a project that are all on the same page, it's tough. Especially people whom have different ideas and when you say a certain word, the guy's movement feels too stale or stagnant. That means one thing to someone else and the programmer that means something else too. We realized they fixed one little thing and the whole game breaks down in so many ways. You just realize that it's a real tough process and it gives you tons of respect for people that are making these AAA games and are dealing with hundreds of people on a team and you have to have everyone on the same page with the same goal. It's mind blowing that a game can even get done. It's the reason why some games take five years to complete. Our's took two years to complete. It's a long, grueling process.
I'd imagine there's plenty of beta testing as you go through the different levels. How fun was it to actually sit down and play the game and decide how you wanted it to play out? I'm sure you had all kinds of ideas as you went along.
Totally. Making models was really fun. It was really painstaking, as well. I sat there and we'd actually draw out the levels on Unity and be building it. It'd take hours and hours and then you'd get in them and they're broken. There are all these problems that are constantly arising but it's exciting when something actually works and gets done the way you want it to. It's a lot of work but the reward is amazing.
Right now, we have a game out on Google Play and on App Store and it's doing well. Fans are enjoying it. To me, if one of my favorite bands put out a game that I could walk around their world they created, that would have been … I just wouldn't even care how the game played, I'd just want to see what they created. Hopefully we're giving that to people today, when they play.
I know 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' is a few years in the making, and obviously your 'Hail to the King' album has been out there for a year-plus, as well. Curious, did one thing inspire the other in any way or were they completely separate entities?
Two separate entities. We were working on the game before we were -- I think the game idea came before we even started writing the concept for 'Hail to the King.' The game was obviously not called 'Hail to the King' at the time. You'll see a lot of the old music is in the game, there's no 'Hail to the King' music in there, but the title is 'Hail to the King' because it just made sense. When we were thinking of titles: Deathbat, king on the album covers. He's the king. So, it just made sense. We just had a deathbat so people could differentiate the two. They really have no relation other than one is just telling the story of this character that happens to be on everyone's album cover.
The music for the game is more instrumental. Can you talk a bit about how you came up with the individual themes for the game itself?
We were looking at a lot of landscapes. We were doing walk throughs on a lot of levels and a level like Bat Country, which is obviously a desert -- we wanted more of an Egyptian theme. We thought back to 'Mario III' and we thought back to the scene in 'Super Mario World' where there's caves and bat country. People will see that. We were just looking at the environments and then just imagining what we want that landscape to sound like.
In terms like, things like the Nightmare Theme, that thing has been floating around forever. In terms of writing, we had it as a solo in our show, then we played it at countless shows as a jam session -- what that came from was actually a 'Hail to the King' sessions where we wanted to keep all the classical stuff of that record. We were trying to make a blues record. So we had a lot of stuff that we naturally kind of go towards in terms of dueling guitars and just those lead guitars where they do all the duals. They're stuff that wasn't able to make the record. So we took that and transformed it into video game soundtracks.
Loudwire recently partnered with the band on a contest where people were challenged to record their own versions of your themes from the video game. When you were growing up, did you ever try to play your own rendition of a certain video game theme song?
Growing up, I was always playing with video games. We'd always play the second level on 'Mario Brothers' on the bass [sings the theme]. Everyone knew that stuff. So when I was growing up, we obviously didn't have YouTube so we never posted it ourselves but that was a contest I came up with. I told management we had to do this. I go online and I love watching heavy metal bands and guitar players play heavy metal versions of the 'Zelda' theme and people do all the 'Zelda' music, which is one of my favorite soundtracks. I'd rather listen to it on YouTube where it's a heavy metal version so I thought it'd be cool to get fans a chance to shred it out for us. I've watched every single one of those videos so far that have popped up, it's pretty cool. It's pretty impressive.
Would you be thinking of doing scores for video games if it wasn't yours? Some other genre?
We've been asked to do things like, 'Oh, do you guys want to write a song with this band or do you want to do some music for this movie or a track for a video game?' It just doesn't really interest us. I don't think we're lazy but we only want to do things our heart is totally into. Doing music for some game that I'm not invested in doesn't sound appealing to me. I like to do as much as I can when I get the spark, the fire and really want to do it. For us, this game was something that we really wanted to put our feet in the water here. We really wanted to try to make some old school sounding music that we grew up loving. It piqued our interest. But doing stuff for other people's games just never really piqued our interest like that.
Getting the game and playing it all the way through and getting to the end, it's such a gratifying experience. Have you played the 'Deathbat' game all the way through and what was your experience like?
Since it's come out? I haven't played it all the way through since it's come out, but I beat it 2,899 times in terms of testing it. So I've beaten it a million times. Right now we're just closely monitoring to see if there are any issues. For example, the first approved build we sent to Apple, they threw iOS8 on us. Then we realized some of the videos were choppy and the cut scenes were choppy and the combat sounds had been taken out. It was just iOS8 that didn't like what the game was doing. So, right now we're switching out that version. The new version just got approved so it should be up any minute. It's little things like that we're worrying about all day, seeing if there are problems with people's memories on their phones. We're just trying to monitor and see if there are any big issues and I can go into the game and try and fix some stuff.
Congrats on the game and thank you for the time. Really happy to see this out there and can't wait to play it.
Thanks, really appreciate it.
Many thanks to Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows for the interview. To learn more about 'Hail to the King: Deathbat,' click here, and for links to pick the game up via the iTunes App Store or Google Play, click here. Additionally, read a review of 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' over at Arcade Sushi.
Check Out the 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' Trailer