Systems: X360, PS3 | Publisher: Vivendi Games / Sierra
Developer: High Moon Studios | Release Date: June 3, 2008
Interview with Emmanuel Valdez,
Game Director of Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy
by Jason Lauritzen
June 2, 2007 - CheatCC was recently invited to High Moon Studios in Carlsbad, CA to check out The Bourne Conspiracy and spend some time with the developers. We talked to the game's director about player expectations, the evolution of Jason Bourne across entertainment mediums, and the importance of cinematography in video games.
EV: Emmanuel Valdez - Game Director of The Bourne Conspiracy
CCC: Cheat Code Central
CCC: You guys were Sammy Studios and did Darkwatch. That IP was only one game, but obviously from that experience you brought some lessons over about development.
Many - personally I have 15 years of experience in the video game industry. I started back in the 16-bit days: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo. There is one constant: games always change, game development changes. Any lessons from Darkwatch to Conspiracy? Yeah. Things are eventually going to change. We were running RenderWare, now were running Unreal Engine 3; we were doing it for Xbox now we're doing it for the 360. Your medium is constantly changing every four-to-five years. You're learning a new language all the time. When it comes to game design, even that changes. Back when I was making games, it was all about the high score. Now, it's about objectives.
So, it changes. Going from Darkwatch to Conspiracy we were able to take away one thing: an understanding of players' expectations. Doing a first person shooter, there are certain expectations. Doing a third person action game, you have different ones. You have a much larger feature set to work with - a deeper feature set. There are different perspectives, different camera angles, and different control schemes. But hopefully, when you're working with an original IP like Darkwatch, we had control of where we could go. What we learned was you really don't have limitations, and that can be a bad thing, creative-wise. When we took on Bourne, what we realized was we're working within certain boundaries. We have limitations already. The Bourne in both books and movies is portrayed in a certain way.
CCC: Some would say, "Oh, that's someone else's IP - that's limiting." But, in a sense, couldn't that also free you guys up?
I thought so. I didn't have to think about his personality; he does things in a certain way. The basis and the foundation of the character is worked out. A lot of that is played out in motivations and character development. I could focus on: How responsive should these controls be? How do these features all come together? How true are we? What are our goals in the design of this game? So yeah, it does free up a lot.
At the same time, it's also a lot more challenging because people have expectations. Doing Darkwatch, no one has ever seen a Vampire-Western before, so we could do whatever we wanted. But with Bourne - by the time our game comes out - people have already watched three movies or maybe read all five books. They know that character. There are certain expectations of who they think that character should be and how he should play and how he should be portrayed.
CCC: You have that dual expectation: the book crowd and the movie crowd. The book background, compared to the first movie, is pretty close. After that, the books seem to diverge.
Marie dies in the movie, but not in the books. It's loosely based - his main nemesis [in the books] is Carlos the Jackal, but in the movies there really isn't an essential one besides Treadstone. It's about his past. That was all done strategically because the character is pretty complex. Being a war hero, he has a different persona. When he was a Treadstone agent, he was part of another covert op. There's so much more rich back story of the character that still needs to be explored that hasn't been.