You may be a Saint, but in Hell it’s good to have a little sin on your side.
Check out some of the all-new weapons you will wield as Johnny Gat and Kinzie, in the new standalone expansion Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell!
Available for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4 on January 20 in the Americas, January 23 in the rest of the world.
Gat Out of Hell will also be available as a bundle for Xbox One and PS4, together with Saints Row IV: Re-Elected.
Interview with Doug Nelson, Senior Designer on Saints Row
Doug Nelson is a Sr Designer at Volition, and worked on the original Saints Row. He took some time out of his day to talk with our Community Manager, Mike Watson, about the creation of Johnny Gat and other parts of the game.
Mike Watson [MW]: Could you tell us about the process of creating the character of Johnny Gat?
Doug Nelson [DN]: I was a pretty new designer at the time work began on Saints Row. I didn’t really have a notion of making a strong iconic character or anything like that. I was just trying to make sure we had a solid distribution of good guys and bad guys in our game. I kind of approached things in a very systematic way.
So, I’ve got each of the four different gangs that the player would be confronting the whole game, right? The police as one, then we had the Carnales, the Vice Kings, and the Rollerz, and they all had their own schtick. I kind of wanted to make sure that the player had lieutenants to go talk to, to get missions for each one of those gangs. Gat was simply the lieutenant for the Vice Kings. As we got into the thick of production some of the plans kind of fell off. For example, we ended up not having as much focus on the police as a “gang” to deal with, and that was going to be Troy’s purview.
[MW]: So Troy wasn’t originally a police mole inside the Saints?
[DN]: There was always a plan there… The plan was to do something with him in that vein, even from the very start. I wanted each of the four lieutenants to have something different going on with them. A lot of the characters in the game were set up in opposition to each other. Dex was setup to be “Mr-Over-Think-It” or “Mr-Strategy-Guy”, and Gat was supposed to be “Mr-No-Plan-At-All” with being super impulsive. Dex and Gat were originally written simply to be foils for each other.
[MW]: What about Lin?
[DN]: Lin was supposed to feel different from the other guys. She was a double agent embedded in the Rollerz. We tried to give each lieutenant their own feel from the get go. We really tried to play that up. To be honest, I’m actually not the personality type that Gat is. I’m a little more of the “Think-It-Through” sort of guy, so I identified the most with Dex, unlike most of our players. [laughs] Who knew, our fans just like to be crazy and have fun! Gat’s whole thing was, “We don’t really need a plan. We just need big guns. We’re going to go in there and be badasses because that’s just what we do.”
[MW]: So, you wrote the initial framework of the story?
[DN]: I was trying to tell a little bit of a morality tale with the game… well, maybe not so much morality but that at least there are consequences if you do things a certain way. So, things went too slow if you over-plan it like Dex, and things go too wrong if you don’t plan it at all, like with Gat getting captured and shot. I was trying to say “Oh, you can’t have it all one way.” When the lieutenants and the player work together and use some of each type of strategy, things work out better.
[MW]: How did Troy fit in?
[DN]: The Troy thing was sort of… We were originally going to let the player go and do whatever they wanted in any order they wanted, but then bring it together at various points. Every time we did that it was going to be a “deal with the city” or “deal with the police and the government” type situation. That’s when Troy was originally going to show up. Unfortunately, removing some of that stuff along the way resulted in losing some of the Troy development. I do think we ended up focusing on the right things though.
[MW]: So, Troy was going to take less of a role with the Rollerz originally?
[DN]: Yeah, we tried to figure out a way to keep Troy in the game, because we still felt he was important. We definitely had initially planned for Lin to be the main lieutenant for the Rollerz, and she would be the one that the player would get missions from. Another thing is that with the original design, we tried to make it obvious for the player that if you talk to this particular lieutenant that’s because you want to do a particular type of mission; mayhem type, planning type, infiltration, etc.
We also tried to make the rival gang leaders very distinct with how they were portrayed, and how you took them down. There was Ben King who you don’t actually kill. He teams up with you, Gat, and Julius and he’s helping you out. There was Hector Lopez who gets killed midway through the game, which was like “Whoa!” [laughs] You don’t normally kill the boss so early, and we thought that was an interesting twist. Of course, we set up his brother to be like “Heeyyy! I was living this charmed life, and now it’s all about revenge”, and all that stuff. The Rollerz and Price, he was there to the bitter end and his was the big showdown.
All of this wasn’t like an attempt to be high literature or anything. [laughs] It was more trying to give the player a diverse experience. Our big focus was, here’s all the gameplay that we want the player to experience, so let’s come up with a plot and characters that will just deliver you to the game as opposed to simply watching a story. The story and characters were just a way to get you into the gameplay.
Gat and the Boss have a lot of catching up to do, and what better way to share some quality time than in Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax. After their bonding experience where Gat learns how to use super powers in the simulation, they mount a final assault on Zinyak’s ship with the rest of the remaining Saints.
Here’s some more concept art of Gat’s simulation look, as well as the final version. We hope you enjoyed this Gat-centric trip through all the Saints Row games! Next week we have one more special piece of Gat content and then it’s on to Kinzie!
After the Boss helps Johnny Gat defeat the virtual Jyunichi in his mind, a rescue is mounted to get Gat’s physical body to safety. The Boss finds Gat deep within the alien ship, where he has already broken free. Gat tells the Boss an incredible story how he survived Loren’s plane.
Here’s some early concept art exploring Johnny Gat’s simulation look in Saints Row IV.
In Saints Row IV, the Boss is trapped in a virtual reality simulation, and hears some stunning news that Johnny Gat might still be alive! The Boss enters into Gat’s simulated personal hell, where Gat relives his most tragic moment over and over at the hands of Jyunichi of the Ronin.
Saints Row: The Third throws the player right into the action with a bank heist. Since the Saints are now media icons, they all wear giant Johnny Gat masks for the job, including Gat himself! Things quickly go wrong, and the Boss, Shaundi, and Gat are taken prisoner aboard a private jet belonging to Phillipe Loren, the head of the Morningstar syndicate.
Loren attempts to broker an extremely unfair deal, giving him almost total control of the Saints media empire in exchange for their lives. Gat responds the only way he knows how; by breaking free of his bonds, and taking out a bunch of Morningstar soldiers. As Gat distracts Loren and his goons, the Boss and Shaundi make a daring escape only to hear later that Gat was killed in action. Or was he…
Check out this early previs animatic of Johnny Gat being sentenced in court for over counts of 300 murders in the prologue of Saints Row 2!
In Saints Row 2, Johnny Gat faced off against a gang called the Ronin. Jyunichi, the right hand of Kazuo Akuji of the Ronin, killed Gat’s girlfriend Aisha when she attempted to warn Gat of a trap. Jyunichi also severely wounded Gat with a katana through the stomach which led to his hospitalization. The Boss took his revenge in a sword duel to the death with Jyunichi, as well as blowing up one of the Ronin’s hotels.
Once Gat was recovered, he attended Aisha’s funeral only to have it crashed by Shogo Akuji and the rest of the Ronin gang, leading to Gat burying Shogo alive. Gat then helped defend the Saints HQ from an all-out Ronin attack leading up to a duel to the death climax between the Boss and Kazuo Akuji during the Chinese Heritage Festival.
Check out the evolution of Gat with these early Saints Row 2 concepts and the final version!
In celebration of the upcoming release of Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, the retrospective continues this week as we dig deep into our Saints Row 2 vault to find some hidden gems.
Saints Row 2 starts many years after the events of the first game, with the Boss waking up from a coma and the Saints disbanded. After escaping from jail, the first order of business is to bust in to the courthouse where the Boss’ long-time friend and fellow saint, Johnny Gat is being sentenced for multiple murders. The Boss and Johnny then start piecing the Saints back together with a new HQ, and recruiting new members.
These wireframe images were for a potential Saints Row 2 art book that never happened.