Electronic Arts is more than just a gaming company. EA is a full-blown entertainment company, as big and as successful as any entertainment company in Hollywood, with a sprawling new studio complex in the all-new development of Playa Vista in Los Angeles. DreamWorks had eyed Playa Vista as a site for their new studio, but ultimately decided to remain on the Universal backlot. In what may prove to be prophetic, EA stepped into their space, becoming the entertainment industry icon of Playa Vista. EA understands that in order to attract the best and brightest you need to offer a Rolls Royce work environment. Treat your employees well and they will produce such blockbusters as 2003’s Everything or Nothing. But unlike some Hollywood studios, EA also understands that websites created and run by fans are a direct link to their core audience/customers, and that fansites should be treated as well, if not better, than the “legitimate” press. In this spirit, EA recently invited staff members from ten Gaming Communities and James Bond websites, including CBn, to have an inside look at their amazing new studio space in Playa Vista, and a first-look at their upcoming Bond game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.
EA had a tremendous treat for us all.
“Our team at Electronic Arts spends a great deal of time checking out the best websites that cover James Bond and First Person Shooters. We were greatly impressed by your coverage and the following you have amassed. Given that you run one of the top community websites, we want to personally invite you to our Community Day for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.”
– Jonathan Long, Community Day Manager.
Thursday July 22
The first treat EA had in store for us was that we all had rooms at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, one of the best hotels in Los Angeles. “Puttin’ on the Ritz!” After checking into our rooms (I was informed I had the best room of the group&elips; it pays to be a lady!), we were driven about a mile to EA Studios for a pre-Community Day look at EA and Rogue Agent. We got to hang out in the EA Game room which has console games, arcade games, a pool table, and massage chairs. Yes, EA’s employees work in luxury.
After playtime was over we headed upstairs and sat down around a large conference table. A video presentation on GoldenEye: Rogue Agent began and it was amazing! Everyone was excited as the lights came back on and all I could think about was how cool it would be to play this game when it finally comes out this fall. Our hosts (Amritz Lay, Brooke Cahalane, Dan Lamorena, Jonathan Long) officially introduced themselves&elips; then it was our turn. We went around the table and my introduction went a little something like this: “My name’s Athena Stamos. I work over at CommanderBond.net; we report on all Bond news out there from the movies to the games to the books, we have forums as well. And I’d have to say that my favorite villain would be Alec Trevelyan.” After the introductions we were all given GoldenEye: Rogue Agent “team” t-shirts and a Dr No or Goldfinger personalized EA ID badge. Then had time to mingle and get acquainted over dinner, which consisted of pizza, salad and non-alcoholic *sigh* drinks.
After much food and chatting, we all had a choice of hanging out in the game room or chilling in the company theater to watch Sean Connery in Goldfinger. All the Bond site representatives of course chose to watch the film&elips; yes, Goldfinger on the BIG screen&elips; what bliss. Once the film ended we were all shuttled back to the Ritz Carlton for some much needed sleep. Although&elips; we didn’t quite hit the hey that quickly. Though some people did hang out in their rooms to watch a movie or crash, others headed out to the pool and hot tub for a dip (like the BondMovies guys), while still others took a seat in the lounge for some chit chat and drinks. In the lounge sat myself and fellow Bond site representatives Simon Corless of ajb007 and James Wheatley of Mi6; we were joined by CBn Team Members John “zencat” Cox and Charlie “Bryce (003)” Axworthy, and forum member “JoyceCarrington” who was visiting from Amsterdam. Needless to say, we closed the bar and all got to bed quite late.
Friday July 23
The next morning we all gathered early in the hotel lobby and were shuttled back to EA Studios where our “Community Day” adventure began with a hearty complimentary breakfast in the EA cafeteria. During breakfast I got to chat with Graham Dingsdale and learn about his site GoldenEyeForever. After breakfast we were given a tour of the entire studio, which included the EA work out room with all high tech equipment which can be used free of charge by all EA employees (part time employees only pay $10 a month), the EA sports “battle” field, and the floors where the The Lord of the Rings, Command & Conquer, Medal of Honor, & James Bond franchise games are being created (stupid confidentiality agreement!). Anywho&elips; I now want to work for Electronic Arts&elips; their facilities are seriously too cool.
We then crowded into the EA theater and were welcomed by Executive Producer Patrick Gilmore who told us how the decision was made to produce GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, which provided some fascinating insights into how EA works with Eon Productions. He also gave us a breakdown of some of the levels in the game and we got to see screen shots, etc. on the big screen. (All this information will be revealed and summarized in GE:RA Community Day Part II.) Next we headed up to one of the meeting rooms on the James Bond floor where Senior Producer Chris Plummer plugged in a PS2 and played though the Hong Kong level of the game for all of us to see. Wow, the more I see the more I want to get my hands on this game!
After our long morning, it was time for a lunch break: sodas, potato salad, and sandwiches galore! There was so much meat in those sandwiches I started to wonder where the bread was. After lunch we headed down to the EA Studio store where we were set loose to purchase discounted EA games and merchandise. It was like letting loose a bunch of kids in a candy story! Plus we were told we could pick out one game for free! (I know the movie sucked, but I had to try out the Catwoman game, which isn’t all that bad.) After our joyous shopping fest, we were back in the James Bond level meeting room where Lead Designer Dan Orzulak gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the E.V.I.L. AI and how they respond to the player during gameplay.
Then, the moment we’d all be waiting for&elips; time for some hands on action. Purrrow! The room was filled with televisions and PS2 systems (damn, where’s the Xbox!) and test CDs for the multiplayer GoldenEye satellite uplink level. We all had a chance to get a feel for the game and then were thrown into a Multiplayer mini-tournament. CBn played against ajb007, who yes&elips; won&elips; but they didn’t make it through the next round, ha ha! *wink wink*
Little did the two semi-finalists know that although they played the tournament in a secluded room, the deathmatch would be quite different. Daylon Furlough of xgpgaming.com and Jarrett Lantz of cgno.com had to compete against each other in front of the entire development team!!! Talk about pressure! Jarrett Lantz won the tournament, but both players received a SPECTRE signet ring for their tough game play.
During the time we were familiarizing ourselves with the game play of Rogue Agent we also we’re able to conduct individual video interviews with Patrick Gilmore & Chris Plummer (click to read “The Rogue Agent CBn Interview“).
So came the end of the GoldenEye Rogue Agent Community Day. We were all given “goodie bags” which contained: an EA game of our choice (mine was Need for Speed: Underground), a DVD of Goldfinger, a sideshow George Lazenby figure, a SPECTRE pin, and a Rogue Agent asset disc. We all said our goodbyes as some headed back to the hotel and others headed to the airport. I was soon on a plane headed down to San Diego’s Comic Con (click here to read our coverage of that event).
Thank you Electronic Arts for an amazing day and a first look at what will certainly be a mega-hit video game. You guys seriously rock!
Monday July 26
This wasn’t part of the Community Day, but worth mentioning none-the-less&elips; Simon Corless of ajb007 and James Wheatley of Mi6 both had extended stays in LA since they came in from the UK, so CBn took them out to the famous L.A. nightspot: Toyko Delves (a.k.a: “Rock and Roll Sushi”). If you’re ever in LA you won’t want to miss the opportunity to have dinner at this sushi bar. It’s an experience you’ll never forget!
Stay tuned for Part II where we’ll reveal what we learned…
” GoldenEye: Rogue Agent Community Day, Part II ” !