Systems: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, DS
Publisher: Activision | Developer: Treyarch | Release Date: Fall 2008
Interview with Garrett Young,
Producer of Quantum of Solace
by Jason Lauritzen
June 4, 2007 - Since James Bond 007 for the Atari 2600, there have been over 20 Bond games - that's a lot of console space for one secret agent to cover. The problem with the sheer number of Bond games is they don't add up to a very high batting average among gamers; ask most people their favorite Bond game and you're guaranteed a response of "Golden Eye." And beyond that N64 title, there really is no consensus on another high point.
Electronic Arts held the Bond license in the late '90s, but when their exclusive rights dissolved, Activision stepped in and struck up an exclusive deal with MGM Interactive. Activision is intent on building a solid new franchise based around Daniel Craig's version of Bond. CheatCC visited Treyarch in Santa Monica, CA to view a guided demo and chatted with the development team. We talked to Quantum of Solace's producer about rethinking Bond - in terms of Bond as character and a video game property.
GY: Garrett Young - Producer of Quantum of Solace
CCC: Cheat Code Central
CCC: One thing I didn't see in the demo was gadgets. Are you guys allowed to talk about that
We can definitely talk about it. We want to make this an action game. We do have that lock-hack mini-game, but we don't want to spend a lot of time with mini-games. The big thing is that this new Bond isn't really a gadget guy. Q wasn't even in the last movie - not in the next movie. So, there are some gadgets - how they've evolved the movie, this is a brand new Bond, this is a new style. He's more hands-on, he's more realistic, more physical, and attacks things head-on. We don't have a lot of say, there's no magnet on the watch that undoes the girl's dress or the laser on the watch. He just doesn't do that, so we don't do that. The character we're bringing to life doesn't just look like Daniel Craig, but it's like the Daniel Craig they have in the movies. That's why you're not going to find a lot of gadgets in our game. You do find the types of gadgets that you saw in Casino Royale and will see in Quantum of Solace. It's the type of technology that you can imagine the MI6 spending a lot of money on - advanced GPS technology, advanced technology in trying to revive their agents in the field with that defibrillator bit, and some other bits of technology like hacking into locks and security cameras.
CCC: The key here being practicality?
It's more practical. It's the type of technology that you can envision being five or six years out that you'll see more in the consumer world. But, yeah, it is more practical and plausible
CCC: I saw some segments had QTEs.
Quick time events?
CCC: Yeah. Do those trigger as soon as you get close to someone? What are the rules based around that?
So, first off, kind of why we're doing that: we're a first person shooter with third person cover combat, but also we saw how Daniel Craig was written and how he played the character - a more physical character - we said, "we want some outlet for that physicality." We know that gamers want a first person shooter and some percentage of gamers want to see third person. We wanted to create non-gun gameplay. We didn't want to go full melee like Bourne, which made things quick time event intense, but we did want something. We've got these quick kills. The hard part, really, is getting up there stealthily. You just initiate it with a button press and then the guy turns around. Then there's a timing button press - with one of four buttons that pops up - and you just need to time it. We wanted to make it rewarding, so that you've successfully taken this guy down quietly, so that people around you won't hear you. We're going to end up having north of about 30 of them animated takedowns depending on which angle you come in - front, back - just a wide variety. It depends on context too. If you're on a ledge, you take the guy down and push him over the edge and don't have to deal with him anymore. We didn't want something that was too frustrating, and something you have to spend a bunch of time learning. It's a pretty simple thing to get into, and we think it's very visually rewarding. There's another quick time event that's in there called boss fights, and that's a little bit more like a God of War style where it's a certain button press, a certain button press, and then maybe a combo button press - those are real cinematic boss fights.
CCC: Can you talk about getting to the core of that character [Daniel Craig's version of Bond]? You talked about being more mental this time and the gadgets being gimmicky. Sometimes there's a worry when a developer says, "Oh yeah, we've got all the set pieces, all the photographs, all that attention to detail." You guys said that it's about the core gameplay. How do you balance that? Where you're not going so far in the direction of, "Oh, that chair looks authentic to the movie set" but it's not fun to move around this room.
That's a good question. Where we draw the line is making it a fun experience. We want the visuals to look really good and that's really to our benefit. There's designers on the team, artists on the team, programmers on the team, there's testers, there's producers, there's audio people ... we started working a month ago and started thinking, "Oh, this doesn't feel right" or "This should be high cover, not low cover" or "This door is right here, but it doesn't make a nice a read when you come into the room, and there's a pinch spot where all the A.I. comes from the other room and you can just take them all out; well hold on, let's figure this out - let's make this a cool gameplay experience." They - the movie guys - want our game to look really good and I think we're well on the path of making it look really good; they don't come in and tell us, "No, the room in Casino Royale doesn't have that door and that door, it just has the one door." They're just like, "You make the game and we want to look at it." But, like the Venice House, there are some elements where you look at it and go, "That's that house from the movie." There are other elements you need as a gamer - like when you give the open read and you can see all the way to the roof. We knew we had to develop it so the gamer could see and say, "My mission is to get up there."