"If you're going to get a heavy metal icon in your game, you should get him to scream motivational business slogans."
Schafer explained that the initial area we saw was "probably the most tightly controlled part of the game," and that the world was wide-open after that. He headed into the first of 23 "main" missions, the goal of which being to rescue enslaved humans from "The Crushing Pit" mines.
It turned out there guys were real headbangers -- literally mining by hitting the walls with their heads. "What do you do with a bunch of kids who don't know how to do anything other than bang their heads all day long?," asked one of the main characters, Lars. "You start a revolution," Eddie replied. At this point, a menu asking "Start a revolution? now / later" dramatically slammed onto the screen. You can guess what our answer was.
The headbangers were being held there by General Lionwhyte, a human siding with the demons, voiced by Judas Priest's Rob Halford. We were told his attacks all involve screaming into a microphone. In this situation, he'd hypnotized his "workers" via a series of destroyable motivational statues. "If you're going to get a heavy metal icon in your game, you should get him to scream motivational business slogans," Schafer said, laughing.
Eddie broke the slaves' trance during a cutscene and then began the part of the game we weren't expecting, going into the demo. These guys stuck alongside Eddie and could be issued commands: follow, defend and attack. More joined as he headed deeper into the mines and Schafer explained that a "Battle Cry" tune could be played to motivate and make them stronger. "There are also people who'll join your army who are good at healing with their bass strings, which are really regenerative bass strings -- if that makes sense," Schafer said, strangely making sense.
"You can hang back and shoot people and motivate your troops with music or get in there and hack 'em up yourself."
"The hair metal guys build an army the size of yours. for every guy you recruit, the hair metal equivalent goes to the other side," Schafer said, adding, "Eventually, both of these armies come to a clash, much like they did in the '80s in L.A." How big can these battles get? 40 to a side. This will carry over into the game's planned head-to-head "battle of the band" multiplayer. "By 'battle of the bands,' I mean with axes and killing each other to death," our host clarified.
Using D-Pad commands to send troops at Eddie's command off to fight while Eddie did battle elsewhere was key. "It really drives the player to decide if they're going to fight the whole battle themselves, or play the smart way and let their troops do the fighting for them," explained Schafer. "You can hang back and shoot people and motivate your troops with music or get in there and hack 'em up yourself."
Eddie, Ophelia, Lars and Lita
About The Deuce's radio, the Mouth of Metal: it's pretty amazing. "We found some really encyclopedic record store guys that really helped us break down and fill out all the categories, because we really want to be really inclusive," Schafer told us. "One of the fun things on this project is researching some of the lesser-known metal bands and putting them in there. It has a lot of control to it. You can check and uncheck songs you want to listen to, you can check and unckeck entire genres. It's sorted by sub-genre -- you can listen to only the hair metal if you want to."
So, what if you don't like metal? "A lot of people on the team came to it not knowing anything about heavy metal and learned a lot and learned to love it ... some people learned to hate it," Schafer responded. "I think more people will learn to love it when they play the game."
"It's not a game for just metal fans, in the same way that Monkey Island wasn't a game for pirates."