Chronicles of Riddick was almost a "Devil May Cry rip-off", reveals producer

"We were being told constantly not to do what we were doing, and we did it anyway."

Talk about close calls. The celebrated Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay - great hope of the game adaptation business till Batman: Arkham Asylum came along - was almost something more akin to a bog-standard action game.

"Truthfully, it was absolute piracy," Butcher Bay's producer Ian Stevens told OXM as part of a massive feature on movie-games, their failings and their untapped potential. "We were being told constantly not to do what we were doing, and we did it anyway."

Riddick reinvented first-person stealth and fisticuffs.

Chronicles of Riddick was published on Xbox in 2004 by Vivendi Games, and currently sits at an 89 point Metacritic average. A remake was released alongside semi-sequel Assault on Dark Athena in 2009.

"If we'd done what we were told to do, we'd have had a third-person Devil May Cry rip-off," Stevens reflected. "It could have blown up in our face and we could have made a horrible game and all been fired - that was as much a possibility as what actually happened.

"But it was a time when a lot of us were just very tired of the circumstances involved in this type of opportunity, and we felt like we really had to push and do something that was going to satisfy us and make a good game. So we killed ourselves to go in that direction.

Having film star Vin Diesel along for the ride was a massive help. As founder of Tigron Studios, Diesel was one of the earliest major Hollywood actors to get creatively involved with videogames.

"It worked because I understood him and where he was coming from, and his creative sensibilities. I understood what made him insecure and nervous and excited, and vice-versa," Stevens revealed.

"When I talked about stealth and how we were approaching it in Riddick - it was less about the vulnerability of Thief and more like Riddick sizing up a kill; it's about how you want to eat your meal - I was able to convey these things to him in a language he'd understand. And when I needed to talk to him about story and character, I got it."

For more from Stevens, plus insights on the Halo movie, Avatar and plenty more besides, check out the full feature in issue 83.