Electronic Arts has been rolling out the Bond Games… Agent Under Fire in 2001, NightFire in 2002, Everything or Nothing earlier this year, and now GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Why save the world when you can rule it? Going where no previous James Bond game has dared to tread, the upcoming GoldenEye: Rogue Agent first-person shooter from EA Games breaks all the rules by transporting players to the dark side of the Bond universe to experience life as a high-rolling, cold-hearted villain. The highly anticipated game is scheduled for release this fall.
On July 23rd, I was invited along with a number of Team Members from other Bond and gaming sites to participate in the GoldenEye: Rogue Agent Community Day at EA’s studios in Los Angeles (a full report still to come). During the visit to EA LA, Executive Producer Patrick Gilmore and Senior Producer Chris Plummer were kind enough to take some time out of their busy Rogue Agent schedule to meet with the Community Day attendees. This included private interview time conducted by each site. So now I’m proud to bring you CBn’s inside look…
How were the Bond villains in Rogue Agent chosen?
Basically, that was in a way the easiest part. You sit a bunch of people in a room and say, “Who’s your favorite villain in James Bond history?” And probably about 70% of the hands go up when you say “Auric Goldfinger” and then 20% of the hands go up when you say “Oddjob” and 10% of the hands go up with you say “Doctor No”. It was really just that easy. Who were the greatest villains in James Bond history; and that’s how we landed on them. Xenia Onatopp is also in the game; Scaramanga is also in the game. For us it was a “best of.”
So it was a personal preference type of thing…
Absolutely. Because we’re doing a game where our character gets caught up in this gang war between Goldfinger and Doctor No, there’s a certain number of characters that come along with that automatically. But not only that, it was really just who are the most charismatic villains that we know of? Scaramanga’s an obvious choice.
With the familiar Bond villains, how did you create their 3D likeness seeing as they’re just in the films?
We worked with a guy named Rene Morel who created the digital actors for the ‘Final Fantasy’ film, which are some of the most human looking CG models ever created. Rene worked with all of the films plus tons of photo reference of the actor from that point in their life and basically assembled a 3D collage of the actor and build the model based on that. So Auric Goldfinger looks exactly like Gert Frobe and Dr No looks exactly like Dr No [Joseph Wiseman].
What about the actors who are doing the voices for the characters, how did you go about choosing them and is there anyone we’d know about?
Ya absolutely. In fact, one that you probably would know about is Christopher Lee. He’s reliving his roll as Scaramanga, ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, and will be doing the voice for that character. He’s a really important character in the game. We have a lot of famous characters in the Bond universe that exist in this game, some of the actors are still alive and some of them aren’t. We haven’t announced all of the talent that’s lined up behind the game, but certainly I can talk about Christopher Lee. And if you were at E3 we annouced that we had Judi Dench, who apears as M in the first mission of the game. So we’re definitely putting key talent behind the key rolls in the game.
Are the costumes in the game taken from the films, or are they original costumes?
It’s a combination. Some of the classic villains have a look that’s just part of their definition. Like Dr. No for example, if he didn’t dress like he did in the movie Doctor No, he wouldn’t even look like Dr. No. Some of the uniforms we hold sacred: Oddjob with his hat. Certain things like that. But having said that, Pussy Galore’s outfit may not look as timeless…60s fashion, some of it still holds up and some of it doesn’t. So for that we hired Kym Barrett to be our wardrobe designer. She was actually nominated for an Oscar for ‘The Matrix’ films; she’s done work on a lot of films and CG space. It was really cool because her look actually works really well with our timeless vision of the Bond universe. You think about the classic films — the really stark, iconic sets — her style tends to mesh very nicely into that kind of style and tone. So it’s a combination of classic uniforms that you would expect the villains to wear and reinventions, where necessary, to bring the characters into the modern day.
How were the levels chosen for Rogue Agent?
The story drove a lot of it and the personalities of the villains drove a lot of it. You’re in a gang war against Dr. No, so it makes sense to go to Hong Kong — Dr No’s corporate headquarters — and build and epic mission across these skyscraper rooftops in Hong Kong. When you talk about Auric Goldfinger, even though we’ve never seen it, we asked Ken Adam to design what Auric Goldfinger’s home and the center of his commercial empire would actually look like. We put it in this pleasure done in the Swiss Alps; made it part gold melting facility and part massive Caribbean playground under this amazing dome in the middle of the snowy mountains. So a lot of it was driven by the personalities of the characters involved and the rest of it was driven by the films. Operation Grand Slam at Fort Knox, where Auric Goldfinger first made his appearance in the movies, was one location that we gravitated towards instantly. And then just by considering who the characters are, it probably won’t be too difficult to guess where we’re going towards the end of the game. There are a couple of cool surprises and at least one major new set that Ken Adam designed that we have not yet announced. It’s a really cool location. It’s never been seen in a Bond film, but was something that we worked with MGM and Danjaq to create. So that was pretty cool.
So Ken Adam is not only using the stuff he’s designed before for the movies but he’s designing new stuff as well?
Right. The way we work with Ken is… we know what Fort Knox looked like from the movie, but just off screen there would have been something there. What would that look like? Would it be gold storage, would that be part of a vault? Then Ken would go in and sketch those rooms and work with our level designers to create areas that connected to the rest of his world in a logical way. The artists on the team also did something really interesting. They looked at all of his design on paper and in the films and they codified it. They basically said, here are the architectural principals that are working to make these places so visually appealing and they came up with a whole bunch of things that go way beyond just clean lines and geometric shapes. They went to things that became hard and fast rules in the game, that are amazingly hard and fast rules when you look at the films. Things that have to do with the arrangement of objects in the room, the arrangement of shapes in the room. The spatial relationships and proportions that you get in a Ken Adam space compared to a normal space that doesn’t have the same aesthetic. It’s almost like it’s an education in architecture to read through the design stuff that they did.
Can you tell us about the multiplayer levels and where they’re set?
Okay, so some of the multiplayer levels are set, for example, in the Moonraker launch facility — we have multiple maps which are actually set in the Moonraker launch facility with all the cool death traps that would be implied from that. Atlantis is another multiplayer set from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. There’s a cool team game in that map, as well as in the Moonraker maps. Some of our duel maps are the Satellite Uplink Facility from the end of ‘GoldenEye’, the top of the Golden Gate Bridge [A View To A Kill], and the Pyramids from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me.’
There are also completely original maps to augment the real locations. An example of that would be GoldenEye’s private retreat up in the mountains. It has all the cool accommodations that you would expect a super villain to have in his private retreat. So without giving any spoilers, you can have your guest arrive and lead them to the best part of your place and then, you know, fry them in a bonfire or electrocute them or do any number of other nasty things.
Can you tell us a little about the special powers of the GoldenEye?
The GoldenEye has some passive abilities that are on all the time. It will do some targeting and navigation, communications, it handles all that. It can also scan targets to let you know the rank and even how somebody died, that sort of thing. So it has a lot of innate abilities built into it and then it has up to four upgrades that give you special activated features. For example there’s a magnetic shield which will deflect incoming projectiles; it actually matches the magnetic polarity of the incoming bullets and will just bounce them right off — which is really powerful in a first person shooter, but it doesn’t last very long. It uses POP power, which is kind of like your adrenaline. So when you’re fired up and charged up as a villain and playing like a villain and scoring perfect shots and killing guys in deathtraps and stuff, you’re eye’s going to have a lot more juice so you can use it a lot more. Whereas if you’re just hanging back and playing like a “normal player”, not really playing like a villain, you’ll find that you can’t use the eye nearly as much. Another example would be the magnetic field. With the magnetic field you can actually grab guys at a distance, send them flying across the room, bang them into each other. You can yank a guy towards you and take his weapon, lots of cool things like that.
What about Paul Oakenfold, is he the only composer working on the game; will his score for ‘Rogue Agent’ be entirely original?
Paul, doing some original stuff for us? Yes, Paul is the only composer on the product and he’s doing all original music for us.
What about a PC version, is there any consideration for that?
It’s certainly a consideration. We don’t currently have any announced plans to do a PC game and we’re focussed solely on a console version right now. We don’t want to do a port or anything like that for the PC, so if we were to do a PC product we’d want to create a special experience catered to PC audiences.
I know James Bond is just in the beginning of the game, but does his appearance take after any actor or is he generic like it Agent Under Fire?
The game’s not about Bond per-say, so it didn’t make sense for us to pursue someone like Pierce Brosnan, but we haven’t ruled that type of thing out. The game is a timeless version of the James Bond universe and what we wanted was a timeless version of James Bond.
After GoldeneEye: Rogue Agent, will EA be doing another Bond-centric game or do you think this is the end of the Bond-centric games?
Well, Electronic Arts is still a rights holder to the James Bond films and the whole James Bond story thread so without a doubt there will continue to be James Bond games. This is a game that’s about looking at the James Bond universe from a different angle and it’s intended to stand on its own — side by side with the Bond Games. So as far as I’m concerned this product and the products that follow on after it will continue to come out and so will the James Bond product.