“Yarborough”, the name may mean nothing to us today, but it is through this character (that is believed to be fictional) with a mysterious identity that EON promoted his Bond movies (and a game). Indeed on the official websites of The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and the game Everything or Nothing, it was him who gave news to fans from inside. If the official sites of these Bond no longer exist today (and that no one considered it useful to transfer the knowledge that was there to the new official sites), we have nevertheless recovered these reports. Here are those from Everything or Nothing:
007 Insider Intro
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing production is running full steam ahead, and the 007 Insider is your eye into the studio. Come here for game development updates, interviews with members of the team, and first looks at exclusive assets.
We will start you off with an introduction by the games Executive Producer, Scot Bayless.
What would 007 do? In Everything or Nothing, the latest Bond offering under the EA GAMES brand, the world’s greatest secret agent takes that question head on. This is the boldest version of Bond we’ve ever done. We’re going 3rd person. We’re casting A-list talent. We’re taking gameplay way beyond gunplay and asking you to do something you’ve always wanted to do:
The cast has been set; just imagine:
It was 1962. The Cold War was in full swing. People weren’t doing ‘duck and cover’ drills much any more – not because the threat of nuclear war had abated, but because people had finally realized that no amount of hiding under schoolroom furniture was going to save them from a multimegaton air burst.
The world was a very scary place. And then we met James Bond. What would 007 do? Simple. We’d save the innocent, punish the guilty, and bed the beautiful.
So welcome to our website. Over the next few months, you’ll be seeing glimpses of the game as it comes together. We’ll have some exciting stuff to announce and great stuff to look at, so keep checking back…
and welcome to Everything or Nothing.
Hello from Electronic Arts Headquarters in Redwood City, CA, where the Bond team is hard at work on the latest and greatest James Bond game, titled James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™. My name is Yarborough and I’ll be bringing you the behind the scenes INSIDER look as the team adds more features and characters and slowing puts its finishing touches on this hot new action game.
From dropping you a line on the latest news to hooking you up with the coolest Bond screens and gameplay footage, I’ll be your eyes and ears here at Bond Central. I’ll also be answering your questions, so send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that E3 is over, the Bond team is 100% focused on creating an unparalleled Bond experience. As the team hits milestones, I’ll be right here to snatch it up and share it with all of you INSIDERS. This week I was able to get my hands on cool concept art for two new areas from Everything or Nothing.
Check out this concept art of a New Orleans nightclub (click on the thumbnail image for a better view). With tons of new interactive objects at your disposal, you’ll have many ways to handle trouble at this spot. Word around EA is that there could be a huge bar fight!
That’s it for now. I’ll be back with more INSIDER info next week. I’m working on getting some good stuff on the new Bond girls in James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing so check back for updates!
Shannon Elizabeth Voice Over
Shannon Elizabeth Voice Over Session – Interview with Senior Publicist Steve Groll
Hello again! It’s Yarborough bringing you the behind-the-scenes look at 007: Everything or Nothing, the newest Bond game that will be hitting stores later this year.
For this week’s INSIDER, I caught up with Electronic Arts Senior Publicist Steve Groll who attended the recent voiceover session for Shannon Elizabeth. As character Serena St. Germaine, she is the first actress to participate in bringing a Bond Girl to life for a game.
Steve described Shannon as being very excited about being the new Bond Girl and enthusiastic about recording her voice for the game. She arrived at the Los Angeles recording studio with her husband, Joe Reitman, who is a huge gamer. She read around 100 lines with about three takes of each line. The entire process took approximately two and a half hours to complete. Steve was extremely pleased with how smoothly everything went. “She really nailed it!” he noted.
After the voiceover session, Shannon headed into a separate trailer to be cyber-scanned to help create an accurate “digital Shannon” likeness for the final game.
Above is a photo of Shannon in her voiceover session for her character in 007: Everything or Nothing, Serena St. Germaine. (Click on it for a 100K version.)
I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peak at what is happening behind the scenes here at EA. I will have more for you next time!
The Audio Team
The audio direction of James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™ is taking place simultaneously in two parallel universes 800 miles (about 1300 km) apart. In Burnaby, British Columbia, the team is hard at work on the on-road, off-road, and in-the-air vehicles, while the team in Redwood Shores, California, is tackling the musical score. It’s a frantic pace and you won’t believe the lengths these two teams of audio experts are going to in their quest to create a groundbreaking audio experience.
Nobody Does It Better
The Redwood Shores team has the daunting task of creating a musical score that lives up to Hollywood standards. The ultimate goal is to create a game that is musically sophisticated in terms of both composition and how the music fits into the game itself.
The sound team is also experimenting with mixing music in Dolby Digital surround-sound for all next-generation consoles. The result will be a game with a movie-quality audio track that lives up to Bond fans’ expectations.
Electronic Arts is sparing no expense to make the audio in Everything or Nothing an integral part of the game experience. The score for the game will be performed by a full orchestra plus other live instrumentalists. For sound effects, the Redwood Shores team is making wide use of Foley—the art of creating sounds with props—which delivers the same level of detail we hear in movies and television.
A few examples of Foley in the new James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing game:
Since Bond’s environment will be so interactive in Everything or Nothing, every sound byte and music score must be just as compelling. The key is the attention the team is paying to every audible detail in the game. When Bond picks up a glass bottle from a wooden table, you’ll be able to hear the distinctive clink-scratch it makes.
The Famous Bond Cars
The team members creating the amazing audio for Everything or Nothing’s driving missions have their work cut out for them — exotic cars are a big part of the Bond experience, so the team has to make sure they get the engine sounds just right.
Using new technology developed at Electronic Arts Canada, the team can create incredibly realistic-sounding engines that emphasize the over-the-top excitement of sitting at the wheel of some of the world’s most powerful and expensive driving machines.
The team’s aim with these new engine sounds is to enhance the excitement of being James Bond while driving a Q-branch ultra-machine. “We can make vehicles sound more thrilling at high speeds,” explains Jennifer Lewis, Audio Director for the vehicle missions. “Using sonic encouragement, we can cue the player to continue driving (or not) at high velocities so that they can accomplish their mission in style.”
The driving team actually “auditions” vehicles for their tone. A big, beefy, terrifying engine would be a good match for a menacing vehicle during intense game play. Some examples of vehicle sounds in the game:
When you’re watching a movie, there might be a motorbike, a building blowing up, and a bridge collapsing all at the same time. Audio can help you focus on the most important elements. This applies to gaming as well. If you’re racing down a highway, with a motorcycle chasing you, the driving team’s job is to tap your emotions on the shoulder: “AAHHHHHH! There’s a motorcycle catching up to me!” With sound, the team can invoke a sense of fear or urgency, so you really feel like you are in “survival mode.”
That’s just the beginning. The sound team’s goal is to create an immersive, interactive audio experience that will set new standards for both game and movie scores.
Prepare to be impressed with the music, dialog, and sound effects in James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. The audio teams really are raising the bar!
For this week’s 007 Insider, I had the fortune of meeting with a few design team members to discuss skillsets in the game. Building the mechanics of a game that is coming out in 3rd-person for the first time is an incredible undertaking. The design team’s goal is to amaze gamers and Bond fans alike with extraordinary mechanics. These mechanics will, in turn, enable phenomenal “Bond Moments” that bring players to feel like they are in control of a movie-quality Bond experience.
Here are sneak peek videos of some of the cool mechanics in the game — these are actual snippets of gameplay footage (.mov format) from Everything or Nothing.
Making It All Happen
The first thing the design team had to do was develop the core mechanics of the game. They dug down into the details of how Bond would move, choose weapons, behave, punch, pick up weapons, and interact with his environment. They also had to make the non-player characters (the “AI” or enemies) highly intelligent and challenging.
The key to designing a game is to make the interface simple, but the game challenging — a process that can take as much as an entire year because it is so critical. The team made every effort to give the player as much control as possible, while still getting across the character of Bond and all his signature “Bond” moves.
Once the core mechanics were sorted out, the team went through an extensive series of brainstorming sessions. They imagined the most intense, action-packed sequences they could think of, and then picked out the most spectacular pieces. They then used those sequences to build even more awesome action. This was done again and again and again – each iteration becoming more spectacular until those incredible sequences could be blown up into even more intense missions, worthy of the action people expect of the Bond franchise.
The interesting part of the process is that, even with a remarkable storyline, it’s the tiny details that really make an extraordinary game. Just like a film director may try many takes before he is satisfied with every detail on the screen, a game’s designer must be just as particular. You can have incredible storylines, missions, objectives, targets, and enemies – but it’s the Foley and perfectly timed vehicle engine roars (see Insider #4: The Audio Team), cyberscanned cast models and minor expressions on a character’s face as well as voiceovers that really set a game apart.
Take Cover, 007
Jason VandenBerghe, Lead Designer of James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™ is a pleasure to spend time with. A very intelligent, energetic, and (watch out!) animated fellow, sometimes you have to take cover so he can go about enthusiastically discussing the game.
Jason is so excited to talk about the mechanics and the amazing skillsets in the game that he’s apt to go into a first-hand demo of gameplay at any moment: “Imagine Bond at a jazz club in New Orleans. He elbows a guy behind him [like this],” Jason quickly spins around, “then turns and hides against a wall – aiming at a guy [here]. He ducks for cover behind a table he just overturned and fires his AK-74 [bang, bang], then quickly picks up a bottle off the bar counter and throws it at the grunt [there].” Jason is expertly demonstrating as he talks.
The mechanics in James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing are just incredible. I caught up with Designer Greg “Riz” Rizzer who filled me in on some new features in the game. For instance, you’ll be able to take on your enemies one-on-one with the new hand-to-hand fighting feature. Bond can do combos, throws, counters, and disarms. He can also interact with objects such as bottles or pipes in the environment by, for example, throwing them or using them to club his enemies.
Riz also demonstrated how Bond will be able to dodge and roll while strafing and flip over tables to take cover. These features add maneuvering capabilities that are essential during the heat of battle, especially against the new AI. Your enemies will have the ability to work as a squad by communicating with each other and take on a range of states such as search, investigate, evade, take cover, and raise alarm, so it will take skill and strategy to beat the game.
Spectacular! Bond is really coming alive in this game!
Louis Gascoigne leads the artificial intelligence (AI) efforts for James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing — but don’t ask him what the enemies are going to do. He doesn’t know.
Programming has come a long way since Louis first started writing code at the ripe old age of nine. He now writes code and algorithms that set up most of the non-player gameplay characteristics. Once written, aspects of each enemy and the related environment can be manipulated in a complex, visual program. This tool allows him delve down into the code if he wants to, but also enables him and level designers to visually see the level and the artificial intelligence features active within it. He can write extremely complex instructions with a high degree of efficiency — and pack a lot of interesting surprises into every level.
Louis sat with me while I tried the New Orleans Jazz Club mission in his office. I wanted to discuss the Artificial Intelligence in the game, to get a better feel for the difficulty of the levels.
This is the New Orleans Jazz Club the way Louis sees it when he is coding the AI in that particular mission and laying out the elements.
The diverse set of behaviors that each enemy character can have is particularly intriguing. The actions and reactions are so rich and varied that you can never be sure what someone is going to pick up, aim, throw, or threaten you with. There were many times when even Louis couldn’t tell me what was going to happen with all certainty.
Adding a new level of interest to the gameplay is also not knowing how your enemies will attack with next. Their level of immersion in the environment is a little frightening: enemies can take cover, dodge, strafe and cooperate in ways they never did before. In one level, the enemies deliberately fight two at a time. The rest of them will surround the fight and crack their knuckles until they get their chance to move in.
The henchmen fight together, and visibly and audibly cooperate with each other. They can hear and see with two cones of vision (one primary — where they will see you immediately, and the other peripheral — where they might grow suspicious and it takes longer to spot you and attack).
The enemies make intelligent and realistic decisions based on what they know is in the environment. A bad guy might pick up a bottle off a table and throw it at you. He may instead flip the table on its side (yes, the bottle will fall and shatter on the ground) and hide behind it while he fires his weapon and tells his partner to attack from the other side.
This much variety and surprise makes the game highly interesting, challenging, and fun. There is plenty of opportunity for replay since the game changes each time based on your actions and a certain amount of randomness in your enemies’ actions.
I have a level to beat, so forgive me if I keep you salivating for more. Stay tuned for another exciting edition of the 007 Insider, and send in your questions and comments!
Until next time, -Yarborough
For this week’s 007 INSIDER, I interviewed Darren Pattenden, who has worked on EA games such as Dungeon Keeper™ 2, Theme Park™ Roller Coaster, James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire™, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 2002, Freekstyle™ and James Bond 007: NIGHTFIRE™. As Lead Character Artist for James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™, Darren is responsible for the look and quality of the characters in the game.
“The term ‘cyberscanning’ is a little bit misleading,” says Darren, “because it makes it seem as though we scan an actor and then immediately put him in the game. There is a lot more work that goes into creating a character model.”
Cyberscanned actor models are so detailed that they have millions of polygons. However, consoles can currently render a maximum of about 5000 polygons per character on the screen at any one time. The challenge is to create a model that looks like “the real thing,” but with only a fraction of the polygons. Incredibly, creating a model with fewer polygons actually takes a LOT more time: each model takes about three weeks and is an extremely arduous process to complete.
To start with, every model is completely hand-crafted. The head starts out as a simple, 3-dimentional, gray cube with six even sides. Each face of the cube is sliced hundreds of times, tweaked, raised, lowered, and stretched until each feature is pixel-perfect. Too many polygons, and the game is unnecessarily slowed; too few polygons, and the model becomes blocky and unrealistic. By carefully comparing the model with both photographs and cyberscans of the actor, character modelers make sure that they are staying true to the actor’s facial structure and proportions. Below is the completed 3-dimentional model of James Bond:
Next, the character modelers create a texture map that is essentially a 2-dimentional image of the face that fits over the 3-dimentional model. Because the face texture comes directly from a high-resolution photograph of the actor’s face, it is remarkably detailed and accurate. The character modeler does significant retouching, then overlaps the texture map on the gray model as if it was wearing a mask.
As you can see, Bond’s face now has realistic color, depth, tint, and gradients — making his in-game model look eerily like the real thing.
The job isn’t done yet. Bond doesn’t always look so serious: he smiles at ladies, frowns at enemies, and raises an eyebrow at in-game whispers between villains and their henchmen. All those expressions must be created too, to make the game more realistic and fun.
Each of these expressions follows the same process — tweak the polygons, check proportions and dimensions, add texture maps, then refine, refine, refine. The expressions will later be carefully selected to match Bond’s speech and mood in the script, resulting in a great gameplay experience for the player.
As if the actors’ character models aren’t difficult enough, the team also creates the heads of entirely fictional characters for which there is no reference at all other than a concept art sketch. That’s when it gets seriously challenging.
Here is a model of Jean LaRouge, an evil character in the game which was mainly done by the team’s (19 year-old!) intern, Paul David, with a little help and Art direction from Darren.
With an A-list cast modeled to look just like the real thing, fictional characters more menacing than anything I could have imagined, and a script written by Bruce Feirstein (with credits for “GoldenEye”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, and “The World Is Not Enough”), stock up on soda now because when this game ships, you won’t want to get out of your seats!
Dave Carson: Art Director
Walking into Dave Carson’s office, you’d never suspect that hidden behind his bookcase is a portfolio of concept art from some of the epic Hollywood projects he has been part of during his career: Jurassic Park, The Empire Strikes Back, and Titanic are just a few. Dave also co-directed the “Star Tours” ride at Disneyland, and was the visual effects art director for The Goonies. It seems every time Dave finishes a masterpiece, another epic is just around the corner.There should, of course, be a certain amount of mystery to a game that’s in development, but when he heard it was “for the fans,” Dave agreed to shed some light on the difficult process of directing the art in James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™.
“Art directing a game is similar to directing an all-digital (animated or not) film,” says Dave. There are four steps:
- Artwork or concept art. It’s important to create a setting and background that reinforces the mood in the game and enhances the gameplay.
- Model the props and environment. The art team proceeds to develop a wireframe model of the map that the action will take place in. At this stage, the game might have bare walls, ceilings and floors, all of them gray and completely devoid of any details.
- Paint all the models. Using the concept art as a guide, the artists add color, paint, detail, and in some cases even “age” to the map. A texture artist will actually paint in the sky, floor, curtains, and everything you see in the game. It’s a tedious process – but because the team is so accomplished, the results are amazing!
- Add lighting effects. Again, using the concept art as a guide, the team adds table lamps, hall lighting, beams of light from windows or doors and much, much more to create a truly realistic environment. When Bond passes through a doorway, the lighting effect will subtly appear darker around the edges of his clothing, and he will move from a bright light to near darkness with a perfect lighting transition.
“One of the challenges of art design is that there is a hardware limitation of 30-60 frames per second. As creative as we want to be, we always have to keep in mind that the gameplay has to be smooth – regardless of how many details are being rendered on the screen. We have to use texture cleverly and not make the geometry too complicated for the consoles. Games have gotten a lot more complex even within the limits of the hardware they run on.”
Here is a screenshot of Bond in 3rd person. One bit of trivia I bet you didn’t know is that back when this was concept art, that shark was originally planned as an alligator!
Bond has “states of being” in the game, such as suspicious, relaxed, or aggressive. Bond’s behavior changes depending on his state in the game. For example, when suspicious, he will subtly clue the player to dangers in the game that Bond can see even when the player cannot (because, for example, it is out of camera angle). This enhances the experience by letting the player feel like he is actually in the scene.
One of the biggest challenges the team faced was putting Bond in 3rd person for the first time. The art team paid careful attention to the details of how Bond appears on the screen to the extent that Bond feels like Bond, moves, talks, and even glances like Bond all the time.
The amount of detail the art team has squeezed into James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing is amazing. I can’t give it all away at once – but stay tuned – more screenshots and artwork are coming, and they look fantastic!
For our latest edition of the 007 INSIDER, I made my way to Aaron Halon’s office. Aaron is one of the Level Designers for James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™. Even though Aaron is incredibly busy putting together one of the later levels in the game, he agreed to sit down with me and discuss what it takes to design a fun and challenging level in a highly-anticipated game.
All the World’s a Stage…
Generally, Aaron’s job is to build the environment (essentially, exotic locations) where the characters, lighting, effects, action, and audio can come to life. A game level is “the stage” where the player experiences all the pieces together in one immersive, interactive place.
“One of the most interesting and fun challenges of being a level designer is creating exotic, sometimes outrageous locations where the player must complete a mission.” Aaron gets to play architect by starting with a white box map where he lays out the geometry of the level. Using concept art as a guide and many years of experience, he places hurdles, stairs, counters, doors, windows, and all sorts of hiding places in the level. At this point, they still look like colorful geometric shapes.
After that, Aaron puts on a 5-Star Army General’s hat. Keeping the objectives of the mission in mind, Aaron lays out the enemies. He picks the NPCs, stations them, arms them with information about their environment, gives them the ability to recognize and cooperate with each other, and in many ways lets them decide how they will react to Bond.
Having a flair for dramatic game play, Aaron then programs what are called “scripted events”. These might be cinematics that occur when Bond enters a room – perhaps Bond sees Jaws escaping through a window, or a Bond girl waits for him with a secret message. These events help Aaron take advantage of a Hollywood-quality script that pieces the plot together and makes the storyline more interesting.
Finally, Aaron gets to set conditions known as “triggers”. These are events programmed to happen if Bond steps on a particular grid point, or does something too expected. They could be as simple as getting spotted by a grunt, or as challenging as being attacked by an entire gang of henchmen. Bond doesn’t always do what’s expected, so Aaron gets to challenge players to analyze every situation and think like Bond.
After Aaron has completed the geometry, enemies, scripted events and triggers, the special effects, lighting, audio, textures, and modelers work their magic. Here is a screenshot of the same level when it is complete. You might remember these enemies from the video clips in the “Game Mechanics” Insider.
…Where the Players Become Hollywood Actors
As you may have guessed, a lot of action is fast and furious – riding a motorcycle at impossible speeds across a bridge, then being gripped by fear when a tanker truck jackknifes straight ahead – with nowhere to go. Aaron’s favorite levels, however, apparently include those that have “Bond Moments”. In these levels, players get to cheat imminent death by dodging slow-motion bullets and participating in outrageous gun battles with enemies. Aaron creates environments that challenge players to do what Bond would do. The player might destroy a huge elevator, then watch it plummet in exhilarating detail.
These “Bond Moments” let you see how close you have actually come to death, and even see how your enemies are knocked back by bullets. The sound effects are slowed down too – you hear bullets whizzing by and creaking as they pass by your ear. It really heightens the game experience – and lets you challenge yourself in situations that would be impossible to beat in real-time. The action looks and feels just like a Hollywood scene.
Aaron Halon produces the “stage” where players get to play out Hollywood fantasies: action, stealth, adventure, and a little romance. He builds the set for challenges so outrageous they could only come from the world of James Bond.
Stay tuned next week for another 007 Insider installment. The game looks better and better with every passing week, and there are a lot more game features and people to highlight!
I have a special surprise this week: an exclusive interview with Erin Turner, the Associate Producer, and the development team at Griptonite Games, all of whom are making the James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing game for the Game Boy® Advance (GBA) a reality.
Electronic Arts (Redwood Shores, CA)
Erin Turner – Associate Producer
For the past 5 years, Electronic Arts’ Associate Producer Erin Turner has been working on products that fuse entertainment and technology. Prior to producing games, Erin worked on film and music projects, eventually starting a company offering online music subscription services which was purchased by Napster. Since then, she has focused on film-based games where she brings together a love of games with parts of her past life in film and music.
Says Erin, “As a producer, this is my second Bond game. It is almost inevitable that you become a Bond expert when working on this franchise. I probably know more about James Bond than I do about my own brother! Pouring that into a game experience has become second nature.”
Griptonite Games (Seattle, WA)
Everything or Nothing is being developed by Griptonite Games under the design leadership of Dream Smith. “Griptonite’s strength as a GBA studio made them the clear choice to create a 3rd person isometric version of Bond,” comments Erin. “We’ve worked with them on other EA titles that did very well such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets&3153; and Lord of the Rings™: The Two Towers™”. In fact, Everything or Nothing was built using the Lord of the Rings GBA engine to create the Bond GBA game.
Dream Smith – Lead Designer
Dream Smith, the Lead Designer, described what a challenge a stealth game is on a 2D platform: “I wanted to help shape a game where a player could go through levels carefully, watching enemy patterns and movement, and taking down ‘threats’ without being seen.”
Dream wanted to give players who are unaccustomed to or just don’t like stealth the opportunity to shoot to their hearts’ content and fight their way through the game. “This is a design team that surprises me every step of the way, making gorgeous environments, and creating levels that let both of these types of players have a really good time. Oh, and there should always be really cool explosions!”
Stephen Nguyen – Lead Developer
“The engineering challenges for James Bond: Everything or Nothing focused on guaranteeing that both stealth spying and weapon combat are fun for the player,” say Stephen Nguyen, Lead Developer. Not only can Bond use tons of cool gadgets, the game’s combat system gives him the ability to use manual or automatic aim, as well as the ability to survey the map to help locate his objectives and enemies.
“Our hand-to-hand combat system allows Bond to fight bad guys without necessarily resorting to gun play, and rewards the player for using stealth moves and a variety of finishing moves. We’ve also created a fun driving mode with nonstop action game play that serves as a great break from combat.”
Another really cool feature is our Q-Rappel feature, which allows Bond to climb up and down the sides of buildings. “Add in our up-to-four player multi-player death match mode and a Game Cube-to-GBA link feature that transfers hint screens to the GBA, and you’ve got a compelling game!”
Robb Vest – Lead Artist
“Working with the smaller platform for such an action-packed game presented many issues with sprite [character] sizes and the overall size of objects,” says Robb Vest, Lead Artist for Everything or Nothing. “We wanted to accentuate Bond’s world with interactive objects and gadget drops to allow the player to pick and choose Bond’s path to success. Throughout the levels Bond has many items he can use to his advantage – things like exploding barrels and over-heated computer terminals. Bond always has an alternative to using his gun.”
The player will also get to interact with old “pals” such as Jaws. Bond has several finishing moves in his arsenal as well as a stealth killing move – but watch out for Jaws’ body slam! “Bond’s environments are robust and exciting,” continues Robb, “and are set in an isometric view which allows for the best possible 3D feel on a 2D platform. Players can hide behind objects to stay unseen while waiting for opportunities to present themselves. This adds a great deal of realism to the game, and allows Bond to interact with his environments while saving the world.”
Erin and the Griptonite team have been toiling over Everything or Nothing for many months, editing scripts, designing characters and gameplay levels, tweaking and balancing the game, and in the process, creating a truly fun Bond experience on GBA.
Fewer Distractions Means Getting the Gameplay right
One of the biggest challenges when creating a GBA game is the cartridge (or “cart”) size. Amazingly, the entire game is about the same size as two MP3 songs. You would be surprised by what the team can pack into an 8 MB cartridge! Of course there’s always more they want to include – audio, maps, animations, and rewards, but at the end of the day, one of the biggest challenges is having to pick what they can’t live without and making those elements the best they can be.
Another challenge is the difference in tools available to create the world of Bond. On console, the development team strives for realism. On GBA, the same level of realism is not attainable, nor is it the goal. Instead, the focus is on delivering the essence of Bond and doing what’s fun for the Game Boy® Advance platform. The team has designed the GBA game to fit the Bond experience in your pocket!
You can see in the following screenshots, the levels are completely designed from the ground-up. This is not a port of the console game, but rather a game designed specifically for GBA!
The interesting part is, despite the limitations of controller function, character model size and resolution, and even text vs. audible dialogue, it’s these very differences that actually make the GBA game great. From a developer’s perspective, the relative “simplicity” means there are no distractions from getting core game play right.
Your Q-Transceiver, 007. Try to Bring it Back in one Piece.
The NGC and GBA versions form the perfect compliment. Bond GBA has the same storyline and characters, but an original set of Objectives that give players a fun and different gameplay experience. The team has taken the best of hand-to-hand combat, rappelling, driving, and stealth from console and adapted it to what’s fun for the GBA.
The game also has some unique features like Style Points. These are awarded for clever gameplay and allow players to earn upgrades from the Q Lab as they progress through the game. With enough Style Points, players can even unlock a mini game on their GBA.
Another standout on GBA is the competitive multiplayer for up to 4 players. Bond gamers love multiplayer and on the GBA each player has her own screen, so the experience for a mode like Arena can be more fun than a split screen version.
The GBA experience isn’t the only improvement in Everything or Nothing – players who own the NGC game can impress their friends through the Link feature. By linking the GBA and NGC together, players can turn the GBA into their very own Q-Gadget called the “Q-Transceiver”. The Q-Transceiver transmits and receives situation updates between MI6 and Bond by remote login to their network. As the player progresses through the NGC game, the GBA displays screenshots of the NGC game with text that helps the player get through the level with style.
Trust me friends, this is one GBA game you do NOT want to miss!
I’ll be back with another edition of 007 INSIDER. Keep the questions coming!
This 007 INSIDER comes directly from the heart of the Bond development studio, where Animation Directors Stephen Weston and David Rader drink lots of coffee while creating amazingly realistic animations for the James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™ epic … er, game.
The animators work on NIS’ (non-interactive sequences), NPCs (non-player controlled characters), and hand-to-hand animations. NIS’s are in-game movies, where the screen changes shape and you are drawn in as the storyline unfolds. NPCs are all the characters in the single-player missions that aren’t Bond … everyone you can’t direct with the controller: grunts, bosses, Jaws (played by Richard Kiel), or Serena St. Germaine (played by Shannon Elizabeth). The hand-to-hand animations can be throws, punches, jabs, or even environmental hazards such as glass bottles and wrenches.
One of the misconceptions about animating characters and sequences for a highly anticipated game is that it is all done with motion capture. “That would be so much easier!” says Stephen. Those of you who read the Character Modeling Insider will already know that hardware constraints limit the number of polygons that can be displayed on-screen. Thus, animations must be done with character models, a much more time-consuming (but amazing!) process.
Stephen Weston provided this character render with control boxes from the modeling program the team uses (called “Maya”). The boxes, circles and lines you see in this image are the controls that enable animators to pose NPCs frame by frame. Every nuance of the head, neck, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, and feet must be positioned just right – and, here’s the important part – they must be perfect from every angle. Simulating balance and gravity is one of the most difficult parts of the job, but an experienced animator makes it look easy.
Building animations that represent every possible action Bond and NPCs might have in the game is no easy task. There are “states” such as alert, searching, threatened, etc., and each of them must be animated. Furthermore, every action has a reactions that must also be animated: avoiding, flipping over from a bash to the face, rolling on the ground after a grapple, falling over a cliff, and many, many more.
Here are a few animations Stephen and David offered to share. In this example, the NPC is attacking Bond with a crowbar. Take a look at five examples of potential reactions to the attack:
No Reaction (high | low)
Falling Over (No Recovery) (high | low)
Flipping Attacker Over (He Recovers) (high | low)
Flipping Attacker Over (He Doesn’t Recover) (high | low)
Avoiding the Hit By Backing Up (high | low)
A really complex NIS with 3 characters who are interacting with each other might take 4-5 days straight to develop (and that’s with no interruptions!) You might wonder why the team would spend a week on an animation that you’d only see on the screen for 20 or 30 seconds. “We do it because that’s what sets a quality game apart, it’s the standard we’ve set for ourselves, and the level of detail our fans have come to expect,” says David.
I had so much fun looking at the hundreds of animations and also watching David and Stephen pose characters. They really have an instinct for making character models come to life!
Multiplayer Development Director
Gordon Chen is the Development Director for the Multiplayer Co-op levels in James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™. Having worked on a slew of titles in various capacities, Gordon’s background reads like a veteran’s: got his start on Madden NFL™ 1997 for the PSX and Saturn, then became Lead Artist for Madden NFL™ 1998, interface and cinematics atist for NCAA® Football 1999, and cinematics for March Madness 1998 and Art Manager for James Bond 007 in…Agent Under Fire™, two driving levels in James Bond 007: NIGHTFIRE™, as well as Knockout Kings™ 2002.
As Development Director for Multiplayer Co-op in Everything or Nothing, Gordon is in charge of the schedule for design, content and engineering. Gordon interfaces directly with core art and engineering to insure that multiplayer asset and functionality requirements are being met.
He also manages the multiplayer designers, artists and engineers. Gordon is ultimately responsible for delivering the multiplayer implementation, and ensuring that the Everything or Nothing Multiplayer experience is delivered to EA’s and the customers’ high expectations.
Gordon Chen powered up his development console and gave me a tour of some of the Multiplayer Co-op levels in Everything or Nothing. Just imagine 13 completely new levels (3 missions with 4-5 levels each), all new content, some tie-in to the single-player game, and incredibly fun gameplay. Not only are you getting two games in one box (single player and Multiplayer Co-op), but the multiplayer co-op also includes an unlockable 4-person arena deathmatch!
The Co-op level includes some really unique challenges including stealth, high action, 2-player puzzles (where you have to cooperate with your teammate to solve puzzles that enable you to advance), environmental hazards, and four unique multiplayer characters. Since you are now working together, essentially you have double the firepower, so Gordon’s team made sure you have more enemies that are far more challenging.
You can choose vertical or horizontal split-screen on regular and 16:9 TVs. Check out these screenshots of Multiplayer Co-op in just a few of the levels. We wouldn’t want to spoil the fun by giving all of them away!
When you play in Co-op mode, it is assumed you’ve attained a mastery of the single-player game. You have an opportunity to really work as a team, and it’s more challenging than I expected! The environments are larger and more open so you can coordinate with your partner – he attacks from one side while you flank him or go through a hallway and sneak up from behind. You’ll be able to share ammunition, yet another way your decisions can affect your partner. What’s more, team targeting lets you know when you and your partner are targeting the same guy so you can decide whether you want to use more ammo for a quick kill, or whether you’ll conserve and go after somebody else instead.
The different (and sometimes conflicting) scoring objectives add a lot of replayability to the game. If you play fast, you lose accuracy. You could play many times over with different objectives and completely change the dynamics of the game – and your score. You still get to enjoy the same gadgets and weapons (like Spider-Bomb, thermal vision) that you do in single-player mode.
That’s all Gordon will talk about for now. He mentioned there are some “secret surprises” but didn’t want to reveal. “They’re too cool,” he says. Alas, both you and I will have to wait and see!
A Real-Life MP Co-Op Mission
Obviously, creating so many new levels, features and interesting possibilities didn’t just happen by coincidence. To make this exciting piece of Everything or Nothing, Gordon hasn’t worked solo. “The content seen in Multiplayer Co-op is predominantly the work of and a testament to the talent, creativity, dedication and work ethic of the Everything or Nothing Multiplayer team,” says Gordon.
The majority of the Multiplayer experience is inherently tied to the single player game, but most of the Multiplayer specific content has been handled by a small dedicated team including 3 Level Designers: Wright Bagwell, Mike Daugherty and John Spitzer, 1 Dedicated Artist: Stephen Tang, and 2 Engineers: Pat Patel and Dennis Tierney.
Creating these levels has been a real life “Multiplayer Co-op” mission. The team gets together every night to play the game, and gives feedback to each other. This way, they not only get to play the levels themselves, but also see other people play – a nightly focus group ritual of sorts. They talk about what’s working and what could be better, and the results are fantastic.
That’s it for this special edition INSIDER. As newsletter subscribers, you get this INSIDER before everyone else. Got friends who aren’t subscribed? Send them to http://007.ea.com, they could win a special edition Die Another Day DVD!
This week’s INSIDER is focused on the Triumph, one of the vehicles in James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™. This incredibly fun in-game motorcycle is a product of the hard work of the driving team in British Columbia, Canada. Habib Zargarpour, the Senior Art Director of the driving levels gave me the inside scoop on some of the incredible features of the Triumph.
Habib hails from Industrial Light & Magic where he worked on special effects for such movies as The Bourne Identity, The Perfect Storm, Signs, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Trek: First Contact, Twister, Jumanji, Star Trek: Generations and The Mask. Habib also directed art in Need for Speed Underground at EA and has specific game racing experience. You know you’re in good hands when the art director has both impressive Hollywood and gaming vehicle experience.
What a ride! The team tried to keep the Triumph as close to specs as possible (with a few Q-Lab upgrades such as machine guns, rocket launchers, and flame throwers – tuned to maximum fun, of course).In one of the missions in South America, Bond must push his motorcycle to maximum speeds – so he can catch up to an ascending airplane.
What a Ride!
The team tried to keep the Triumph as close to specs as possible (with a few Q-Lab upgrades such as machine guns, rocket launchers, and flame throwers – tuned to maximum fun, of course). In one of the missions in South America, Bond must push his motorcycle to maximum speeds – so he can catch up to an ascending airplane.
Because the Triumph is so incredibly fast, the team had to include other effects to complete the incredible sense of speed for the player. These include sounds: a screaming engine, rubber wheels screeching on concrete, and (many) explosions, as well as visual effects: flames, sparks, heat ripples, and skid marks to name a few.
Scott Blackwood (Producer) and Rob Davidson (Associate Producer) spent a lot of time brainstorming fun gameplay features for the player that are actually useful in the game, such as wheelies, stoppies, burnouts, slides, donuts, and more.
At the same time, the team has given the player a lot of options on how to reach his or her objective. In the following screenshots, Bond is flying across the Pontchartrain Bridge in pursuit of Jaws’ tanker. At the end of the bridge is a toll booth – and you have several options to get across it. When the world is at stake, there’s just no time to stop and pay the toll!
Depending on how far you push the controller’s stick forward, and how hard you slam on the brakes, you can determine the extent and duration of a wheelie (drive on the back tire with front end in the air) or a stoppie (drive on the front tire with the back end of the motorcycle in the air).
As you speed down the bridge – shooting, dodging, blasting and blowing things up – a truck may overturn in front of the toll booth. If you do a wheelie as you approach the booth, the bottom of the overturned truck becomes your ramp. The Triumph becomes airborne and flies over the toll booth (causing massive electrical explosions as it breaks the lit sign). While in this jump, you can even shoot a missile and actually blow up the toll booth sign before you reach it.
Another really fun feature is the slide. This is not a scripted event that is triggered by your location or an NPC’s action. In Everything or Nothing, you can slide anywhere – as long as you’ve reached a minimum speed. You can slide to avoid bullets or other obstacles (such as the toll gate in the screenshot above). In one particularly fun scene, you can actually slide under a jackknifed tanker. The team has planned not only fun gameplay but at the same time important and clever tools that gets Bond out of sticky situations.
Here’s Bond riding the Triumph in a South American Village. The bike is just coming out of a slide, and you can see the skid marks and spark trail under the back tire.
Burnout is yet another useful feature. You can throttle and hold the brakes while turning the steering wheel left or right. Depending on the duration, you can burn a donut in both directions, or make a very fast U turn. The tires screech, skid marks appear on the ground and of course you see the smoke caused by burning rubber.
Another way to pick up a lot of speed (in a short distance) is to hold the brakes down, throttle the power, and let the wheels accelerate. You’ll see the smoke as you burn rubber. The wheels will already be spinning when you release the brakes, so the Triumph will shoot forward. This is actually required in some levels – it comes in handy, for example, if you were to do something dangerous … like jump over a roof.
The team has mounted flame throwers on your Triumph so you can defend yourself against enemies behind you. Lee Rosenbaum and James Kiang, the artists who implemented the flame throwers (the two fiery jets on either side of Bond), included a realistic heat ripple effect. There’s a surprise in one of the key moments here … but I’ll leave that a secret for now. Prepare to be amazed!
Fast! Faster! Faaasteeeeeeeeeer!
Another one of the extremely fun features of the Triumph is the speed levels. There’s fast, there’s really fast, and then there’s ULTRA fast … so fast, you actually feel like you might lose control of the motorcycle.
Explains Habib, “I worked with a gentleman named Rick Fichter who was the effects cameraman on a movie called The right Stuff, about the beginning of flight and how man broke the sound barrier and went to space. Rick taught me various Hollywood camera tricks that make you feel you are ‘out of control’”.
Habib and camera effects programmer Nenad Jankovic applied this Hollywood special effect to the Triumph motorcycle mission. With the camera swaying behind you while you scream down the Pontchartrain Bridge, you enter a sort of “speed zone” where the sound of your engine drowns out everything else. The speed is so excessive that the air around the Triumph starts to condense and you get what are called “speed contrails” – implemented by Alan Bucior, one of the lead rendering programmers. The details come together and culminate in an amazing effect that really makes you feel like you are in a furiously fast chase.
There’s so much more to the driving levels, I couldn’t possibly cover all the details here. Stay tuned for more features, more weapons, and more vehicles – including the Porche Cayenne, a platinum tank, a dirt bike, and a helicopter. (Check out the new screenshots on our site.) Each vehicle has its own nuances, so it will take time to master each one, but you can impress your friends with this head start from your secret friend, Yarborough. I’ll bring you more insider information soon, so keep checking back…
Some of you read the Animations Insider and wanted to know more: “How do we incorporate sounds and other effects in our animated characters?” I turned to Thomas Van Velkinburgh, Associate Game Designer, to answer your questions.
Essentially, Thomas takes assets that our animators produce, and scripts sounds and other effects that make the animations seem more realistic and interesting. I’ve included two animations, to which Thomas would add sound and other effect scripts at just the right frames, along with descriptions of the effects. You can see the actual game play video at the end of this INSIDER.
In this animation, you can see there are several frames where sound or other effects would add a lot of realism. There’s Bond’s initial step forward – where he grabs the NPC’s rifle out of his hand. (Thomas would insert a script to play a sound of Bond stepping on concrete).Bond then leans back and quickly slams it into the NPC’s face before the guard can protect himself. (Thomas scripts an “impact” sound and a groan from the NPC, as well as what is called a “rumble event” which is a controller vibration as well as a camera shake.)
Thomas must script the sound and other effects for each character, so for every interaction there are actually two animations which must be attended to, frame by frame. Here are a few frames of the first animation:
Here, Bond takes a few steps, then knees the NPC (another type of impact), takes a quick step, and as the NPC rolls over, you hear the sounds of him hitting the ground and rolling. When the NPC hits the ground, Thomas scripts the thud noise, followed by a “rumble event” when the NPC lands and rolls.
Here are a few frames so you can see the details in the second animation:
There are thousands of animations with various NPCs and weapons, so there are many, many other effects Thomas would insert into a game play animation: characters stepping on different types of surfaces (glass, dusty wood, concrete, etc.), scuffs and foot shuffles, punching and kicking sounds, grunts and groans, bottles smashing on heads or falling to the ground, tables being knocked over, as well as actual voiceover from the actors. One of my favorites is Pierce Brosnan’s line: “Can I drop you somewhere?”
Because there are literally thousands of animations all painstakingly created for the game, they are carefully organized with very specific filenames so they are easy for coders to identify. These animations are used by hand-to-hand AI coders to script the actual interactive events and reactions in the game.
Animations Come to Life
You can see how all these animations, effects, and hand-to-hand AI scripts all come together in this game play video from the game:
As you can see, many, many hours of animating, adding effects, capturing foley and voiceovers, as well as coding AI scripts culminates in roughly two seconds of game play. The amount of effort the team puts in seems incredible … but the results are pretty amazing, aren’t they?
Stay tuned for the next edition of the 007 INSIDER. In the meantime, remember to sign up for our newsletter. We have lined up a very special feature interview for our next 007 Communique’ newsletter: Richard Kiel! Be sure to sign up now.
As soon as the environments have been modeled and given some rough texture, it becomes time to start placing general ambient lighting to give a general mood and depict the time of day. As the gameplay becomes more refined and props are added to the environment, lighters will begin to add local sources of light (such as placing lamps on desks or on walls and ceilings).
This is clearly a job for Larry Weiss, a Senior Lighter on the James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™ team. Larry handled visual effects for such movies as Braveheart and The Hunt for Red October, and was the lead digital lighter for movies including Starship Troopers and Forces of Nature. These are just a few of a long list of Hollywood credits, making Larry a pro at using lighting to imitate the “real world”.
Texturing (the designs on walls, floors, ceilings, and many other surfaces) and lighting are tied closely together, and happen in iterations. As artists start adding textures, lighters are needed to bring the textures to life. As light is added, texture artists add details and intricacies and make different environments more interesting and realistic.
“There are two types of lighting in games,” says Larry. “The first is what we call ‘vertex-baked’, and the second is called a ‘light map’. Last year’s game, James Bond 007™:Nightfire™, was done entirely with vertex-baked lighting.
As an example, take a look at this screenshot. Notice the brightly-lit table at the bottom of the staircase?
That table is made up of hundreds of polygons: both triangles and squares. Each polygon is created by connecting a series of points or vertices to form the lines or edges (for example, a perfect cube has twelve lines or edges, and a 3-sided pyramid has 6).
Vertex-based lighting starts with those points. The game engine finds the lighting sources, and assigns a color to every point that is derived from the brightness and color values of all the lights that are directed at the object. The polygon is then shaded by interpolating the vertex color from each point along the surface.
This process of baking the lighting into the models is done so that the lighting doesn’t have to be calculated in real-time. As you move around that table, you’ll be able to see the gradual progression of light vs. dark, but you can see it on the top of the table in the screenshot: it gradually goes from light to dark as it moves away from the light source.
Light Map Based Lighting
Light maps are used for floors and walls, spaces that would require too many vertices (and precious hardware memory) to create realistic pools of light. The game engine creates an image based on the lighting (brightness and color) on all the floors and walls when the level is compiled. This image or light map is then applied on top of the textured surface to create the effect of bright and dark areas in the room. Because the light map is not limited to the number of vertices, the team can create pools of light on surfaces that have very few vertices which saves a lot of memory in their geometry budget. Here is a screenshot to illustrate – look for “pools of light” on the hardwood floor:
Because the light map is, in a sense, another texture map, the team controls the resolution of the light map so they don’t use their entire texture memory budget on only the lighting. The higher the light map resolution the sharper the shadows will appear, but it will require more memory than they can afford to lose. This resolution allow the texture artists to create beautiful detailed textures and have nice moody lighting at the same time.
Combining both vertex-baked lighting and light map based lighting gives lighters the flexibility to make Bond’s environments come to life. As you play the game you probably aren’t consciously observing the lighting but if everything around you makes you feel like you’re in that space, it means our lighters are doing a good job!
One of the nicest bits of trivia I found out is the effect used in Hollywood called “bounce lights” or “fill lights”. When you keep your window open, and the light shines on the opposite wall – it actually bounces back. Walls light up that might not have been directly illuminated because the light is being reflected (especially off bright surfaces – such as white walls). To create this effect, lighters will actually place sources of light in the game that are invisible to the player – but that the game engine interprets as source of light that give objects a little bit of dimension. For example, wooden handrails that might have appeared flat and dark get more shading and dimension from reflections of light. To the eye, they look realistic, even though their source of light is actually hidden – to imitate what in real life would be reflected light coming from somewhere else in the room.
Up to four lights can light Bond at a time, and the engine chooses which of the 4 closest or most prevalent lighting sources will control Bond’s brightness level. The lighters pre-determine which lights can potentially affect Bond. That way Bond will be affected appropriately if he is in a bright sunny room or in a dark underground mine.
Level designers work with lighters to create all kinds of effects: a hot, midday sun in Peru, or a shady jazz club in New Orleans. Sometimes lighting creates the mood, and other times it actually contributes to gameplay: for example, creating shadows where Bond can use stealth.
When you pick up your copy of Everything or Nothing you’ll be able to distinguish the different lighting techniques, and notice how they accentuate the mood in different missions. The lighters have really done a terrific job!
That’s it for this edition of the 007 INSIDER. Stays tuned for the next glimpse into the development studio, and keep those questions and comments coming!
The Jaws Level
I stumbled on a real gem for this INSIDER. I was walking past the designers’ area and heard two people talking. I recognized one of the voices as Aaron Halon – the Designer you met in the Level Design insider. I didn’t recognize the second voice, but that didn’t stop me from listening in. (There’s a certain amount of undercover work that goes along with being the 007 INSIDER; it’s the more dangerous part of the job.)
“He’ll pick you up like you were a piece of paper and drop you to the floor.”
“He gets angry and charges at you like a beast.”
“He rips pieces out of his environment and throws them at you.”“When people see 7′ 2″ Kiel coming at them, the first thing they should think is, ‘I have no chance! Jaws is indestructible!'”
Did Somebody Say “Kiel”?
Wait, did somebody just say Kiel? As in Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in classic Bond movies such as Moonraker? That’s when it occurred to me: I’ve just stumbled upon Aaron and an AI designer discussing a fight scene! I had to think fast – I might miss something!
I walked by casually and realized who the second voice belonged to: Peter Ju, the software engineer for the “Boss fights” in the game.
I asked what they were up to. “We’re discussing the first Boss fight with Jaws. It’s really challenging. You want to try?”
I picked up the controller thinking, “no problem”. Before I knew it, Jaws was stripping large chunks of metal out of the environment and throwing them at me. I couldn’t figure out where to hide! My health almost gone, I attempted to punch him – but I only succeeded in hurting my hand instead. He backed away, I thought I was making progress, so I punched again. He didn’t even flinch. He picked me up, and threw me into some exposed electrical wires. How embarrassing – especially in front of the two developers, too.
Take a look at this gameplay footage so you can re-live my experience:
(I know the footage looks too good to be true, but yes, it IS actual gameplay footage!)
How Did They Do It?
Never mind that Jaws is HUGE and frightening and yes he DOES seem indestructible. How did they make this Jaws fight so much fun? And so difficult?
“The first thing we do”, says Peter, “is design the world that Jaws and Bond will battle in. We experiment with cover, obstacles, and make sure the level fits the character. For example, there were areas that we couldn’t have Bond run into because Jaws couldn’t reach him there. There is a lot of iteration … trying different things until we get the gameplay just right.”
As far as AI goes, Jaws is more of a raging animal than a human. He’s slow but incredibly powerful, and he’s virtually indestructible. So you have to be clever and use the environment to temporarily slow him down or incapacitate him.
When he’s far away, he’ll throw huge objects at you, and when he’s close enough he’ll pick you up like a rag doll or use hand-to-hand. When he gets upset he gets even more aggressive, and starts charging at you or throwing you bluntly against a wall.
“We made him extremely aware of his environment”, says Aaron. “His thinking process is much more specialized. He’s really tailored to his space, so he can use his environment in ways other NPCs can’t. We had to pay a lot of attention to orientation and spacing in this level. To make him even more challenging, he knows his environment so well that sometimes he actually anticipates what Bond will do.”
That might explain why I had such a difficult time battling Jaws. I can tell you, it was EXTREMELY fun, and I can’t wait to try it again! Check out the newsletter’s exclusive screenshots featuring Jaws, and stay tuned for more 007 INSIDERS. I’ve got great interviews lined up … and you never know who or what I might stumble upon as I make my way through the development studio!
This week’s INSIDER started in a little corner of South America, in the recesses of a handsome tropical fern. I had snuck into the Everything or Nothing demo room when no one was looking, and started playing the game. That’s where I came across this screen in one of the South America levels:
I couldn’t help but wonder: “Where did they get such a beautiful picture of ivy growing in the crevices of a brick wall?” The answer brought me back to our development studio in Redwood Shores, CA, where lead texture artist Joe Salud was kind enough to explain the mystery of the ivy to me.
Having worked on games such as Dead to rights, Joe paints and is a computer artist as well. It should come as no surprise that Joe didn’t scour every humid brick wall in California (or South America) to find this perfect corner. He created it himself, using some serious talent, a software program called Adobe® Photoshop®, and about two hours.
From Clouds to Ivy
To create the green ivy plants, Joe starts with a slate of Photoshop-rendered clouds.
The clouds give the effect of randomness, which Joe could do by hand, but it would take much longer to achieve similar results. “I start many textures with clouds because they ’tile’, explains Joe. “If I put a slate of clouds side-by-side, the patterns match up nicely.”
Joe then applies different textures:
…and colors to create this leafy effect. He repeats this process over and over, making some portions of each grass pattern transparent, and overlaying them on each other.
Joe didn’t learn this technique in a class; it came about through years and years of experimenting with different textures. Eventually, he gets different shades of colors and textures all mixed together on the same slate. If there is time, Joe might even add different shapes of blades (like crab grass) by hand.
From Rectangles to a Solid Brick Wall
Next, Joe must create the brick wall. He starts with rectangles with various colors that enhance the mood of the particular map he is working on. He then “bevels and embosses” them – an effect in Photoshop that creates the illusion of depth.
Joe applies different textures to the brick wall, to make it look more like it might appear in nature. “The key to making things look natural is imperfection. You never draw a straight line; instead, you offset it to make the picture look more realistic”, says Joe.
Joe then takes the brick wall and inverses the dark and white areas. You can see in the image below that the crevices between the bricks (which were once black) are now white.
Using Photoshop, Joe makes all the white areas transparent and overlays the brick wall layer over the slate of ivy he created earlier. As you can see, the ivy looks like it is growing out of the cracks between the bricks.
Once the texture is at this stage, Joe adds finishing touches: filling in a few spaces that need more detail, adding ivy across bricks, and “carpeting” ivy near the ground.
This particular texture took Joe about two hours, but since it was done using effects in Photoshop, making changes to accommodate the mood or changes in the game becomes far easier. Joe can change the shape or color of the ivy (or just a few of the layers) or change the color and size of the brick in about a half hour.
Joe Salud uses a lot of “art theory” in his work. He approaches texture first on a “broad stroke” level (bigger brushes create broader strokes with more paint), and then uses smaller and smaller “strokes”. In other words, he begins a project by worrying about the big picture, and then when he’s happy with the result, he starts filling in the details.
I spent most of my time with Joe Salud hovering somewhere between impressed and amazed. Joe creates effects with Photoshop I didn’t know were even possible! To actually see the progression made our meeting all the more amazing. Joe is a magician who turns clouds into a blanket of leaves, and mere rectangles into a South America -style brick wall. And that’s just one screenshot!
Agent Mya Starling has been kidnapped from a shady Jazz Club in New Orleans by club owner Arkady Yayakov, and Jean LaRouge, a henchman with a facial scar and a mean streak. He drags Mya through a cemetery and into a crematorium as she screams for help: “James!”
It’s up to you to negotiate a dark, tense cemetery teeming with enough armed bad guys to fill all the headstones. Bolts of lightning pierce the ground. One of them strikes a tree, causing massive sparks and the tree to catch on fire. The anticipation builds in a heavy downpour of rain – you’d swear you could hear every drop hit the ground, muffling the footsteps of mean people you can’t see. Laser-guided rifles penetrate the falling raindrops in their search for you, while a flurry of bullets whiz by.
You have been lured into yet another dangerous situation, and as the lightning strikes and the rain pours, your job is to save Mya from imminent death in the nearby crematorium.
The cemetery level is just incredible! How does the studio create such a suspenseful environment?
To answer this question, I first spoke with Matt Head, the special effects guru you met in a previous edition of the 007 INSIDER.
I figured it would be best to start with the rain, since it is such a prevalent presence and really adds to the ambience. Explained Matt:
“Typically, when we create fire, smoke, or other persistent objects in the environment, we create a flat image called a ‘sprite’ that rotates with the camera. This image is always facing the player.”
But that wouldn’t have worked with the rain, because the team also wanted to create the effect of wind. If the wind is blowing east to west, it would cause the rain to fall slightly sideways. And the rain would have to fall east to west the whole time, regardless of what Bond is doing. If Bond faces one direction and turns around, the rain can’t change direction too.
It took a minute for this to sink in before I realized the dilemma. “So how did you fix it?” I asked.
“We created a 3-dimensional image instead of a sprite. Three-dimensional objects don’t always face the camera the way billboard sprites do.” The background of the planes is transparent, so what you see in the game is actually the image below.
I exaggerated the angle so you could see how it looks, and keep in mind that the gray background would really be transparent.)
Another effect Matt’s team is in charge of is particle effects.
Here, you can see two chimneys billowing smoke. This special effect was done by Brian McSweeney. By layering an image of a swirl in various angles, dimensions, and locations, you get the effect of smoke rising out of a chimney.
As you make your way through the cemetery, your heart skips a beat every time the thunder booms, and the cemetery suddenly flashes as lightning strikes the environment around you. Occasionally, lightning bolts hit a wall here or a tree, making you nearly fall out of your seat!
Here is a cool particle effect that occurs after lightning has struck the wall. You can see the smoke billowing from the hot metal box that has been struck, and the sparks cooling off in the rain.
One huge bolt of lightning cracks through the sky and creates a spectacular light show on this massive tree.
To create this effect, designer Yuri Syrov created the code with parameters including frequency of lightning, noise level, amplitude, color, and thickness. Matt was then able to tweak the parameters – and in the case of this tree, to trigger the event and determine where it would hit the tree, and what sort of explosion and special effects it would cause.
One of the most interesting effects is the reflections in puddles on the ground.
Joe Salud, the lead texture artist you met in a previous INSIDER, told me the secret. Here is a screenshot taken at ground level (so you can see above and below ground:
The studio has actually inverted some of the buildings from the cemetery and placed them underground! Then, by making the “wet” parts of the floor transparent, the player looks right through the ground at the inverted buildings – which look just like the ones on top. You think you’re looking at a reflection, but you’re really looking at an upside down-world beneath the one you’re playing on!
The cemetery has become one of my favorite levels. Every time I play it I find something else I can hardly believe!
I was directing my Spider-Bomb through a historical New Orleans plantation house today – doesn’t everybody do this? – and found a secret passageway too small for Bond to fit though, but large enough for the Spider-Bomb to run through.
The Spider-Bomb crawled through the vent and up the stairs, where I passed by a colonial bed, took a left turn through a doorway and looked around. I noticed an armed henchman standing nearby. He was a little suspicious, but didn’t know what to make of a metallic spider.
I inched my Spider closer and closer, then hit the trigger, watching it explode in exhilarating detail.
The poor guard never saw it coming.
Having done all the reconnaissance with my trusty Spider-Bomb, I directed Bond safely into the abandoned mansion. That’s when I passed by that colonial bed again:
…which got me thinking: the team had an entire plantation house to build (3 stories of towering staircases, amazing wall-to-wall windows, and incredible lighting effects), and they still took the time to create this bed. It really added to the ambiance of the environment: making the home feel like an authentic abandoned plantation house.
I asked around, and found Rachel Nador, the Environment Modeler on the Bond team who created the bed. Of course, Rachel was busy, but she was kind enough to explain the process of modeling to me.
It all starts with concept art. By the time Rachel is tasked with creating this incredibly detailed and complex bed, the level has been designed, but typically will not have very much detail. While the texture artists are busy creating the floor, walls, and ceiling, the environmental modelers get to work on objects placed in “the world”.
The process is very iterative. There is a target range of polygons to work with, and a few other characteristics. For example, how close will you get to the object? A chandelier three floors above you may not require as much detail as a bed you can walk up to. On the other hand, the player will see what’s beneath the chandelier, but will not see what’s beneath or behind the bed. This way Rachel is not spending time perfecting an angle that the player will never see.
To my complete surprise, the bed starts out as a few cubes. The sides are elongated to form a rectangle, and the headboard and footboard are added. Each face is cut many times, resized, adjusted and readjusted, until this incredible bed shape emerges:
Once the model is complete, Rachel creates textures that she projects onto the model. You’ll recognize this texture from the footboard of the bed:
The texture below was created by modeler Mike Kaczmarek. It actually is the same texture used for the white sheet that is thrown over the chair nearby:
Since the models of the chair and the bed have different shapes, however, the objects don’t look alike. Reusing textures when possible saves the team a lot of time.
Put the two together and: voila! Rachel has created a beautiful, colonial -style bed, with flowing white sheet and gorgeous wood frame with floral print.
Of course, you can imagine there is a lot of tweaking and testing. Rachel has to make sure the bed will look good in its environment: that the scale is accurate, and that it lights well in the game.
Now imagine all the other objects that are in this level: trees, tables, chairs, etc., and you can begin to put together the impressive scope of both volume and quality of items in the game that the modelers work on. It really takes a whole lot of effort to create something so realistic – yet it really adds a higher level of quality to the game, something that sets Everything or Nothing apart.
That’s it for this edition of the 007 insider. I’ve got exciting future insiders planned, so stay tuned, and keep your email coming.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Driving Level Design
he Driving team at EA Canada has been hard at work, designing the vehicle levels in the game to perfection. With the game now in CQC, driving modeler Gregg Haggman spent some time talking about designing driving levels in James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™.
To begin with, the script provides all the exotic international locations you could ask for: for example, the streets of New Orleans at Mardi Gras, a Peruvian jungle, Egyptian relics, and Moscow’s Red Square.
The concept artists then create a top-down map with all major locations included. An example is this jungle in Peru:
(You can see this and other concept art from both the driving and action levels in the gallery on the official site. The team then builds a prototype of the world, essentially designing surfaces with no textures and putting placeholders where buildings and other structures would be. This gives the team an idea of what the world will look like, and a chance to test different vehicles at various speeds, and tweak both until they feel “just right”.
The track leads – both artists and designers – combine their efforts to make sure the roads look good and are fun to drive. They lay out track on the roads and define the intricacies of the driving experience.
The track leads tell the game engine where the cars are “allowed” to drive: roads, puddles, bridges, and a slew of other textures and locations are fair game.
They also tell the engine what kinds of effects the different textures have. If you’re driving on dirt, you’ll experience dust. If you’re driving through puddles your tires will make that unique wheels-picking-up-water sound.
By contrast, trees, buildings, and columns will have the opposite effect: Run into a tree and you get banged up, brush against metal and you’ll get sparks, slam into a column and suffer the blows of a high-impact collision.
Fiddler on the Roof
One of the most challenging level took place in South America, and required a whole lot of fiddling with level design, controller function, and physics. What can I say? No one on the team had ever driven on rooftops before.
You can drive above ground, jump from one building to the next, and drive between buildings too. You can drive from the roof of one building to a balcony of another – smashing potted plants and railings while you’re at it.
The team faced several difficult challenges when designing this level: The first and most obvious was simulating what they’ve never actually done: driving a Triumph motorcycle at insane speeds across rooftops and cliffs.
The second was having more than one mission take place in the same environment – and having them feel very different (this was “a leap in technology for the Bond franchise” according to Gregg, because the levels had to be so much larger.
The last was the added challenge of enabling Bond to get in and out of vehicles in-game. You can run up to a car, get in, and start driving without loading a whole new level.
This particular driving level is a TON of fun. Even watching the gameplay footage, you can get a sense of how frightening it is to drive on the edge of safety … leaping into the air on a motorcycle and speeding across a ledge – with a huge vertical drop just inches from your tires.
The driving team has really done an amazing job creating the driving levels. They’re fun, they’re innovative, and they are just HUGE! Prepare to be impressed.
October 19, 2003
Q-lab has in the last year assembled a quintissentially-Q version of the agent-standard-issue remote control bomb. Built to resemble a mechanical spider, the Spider-Bomb is fast, sleek, silent, and packs a wallop.
The Spider-Bomb measures 6″x8″x 1 1/2″ folded, and expands to 18″ when the legs unfold. The whole unit weighs in at less than 2 pounds, which allows the device to move quietly over most surfaces. The chassis is made from lightweight aeronautical alloys, and the legs add titanium bracing for lightweight but solid support. The whole system is powered by a miniature fuel cell, which provides enough power for most mission requirements. The legs are actuated by a combination of miniature titanium servos and bio-mimetic synthetic musculature.
A concept sketch and two field-trial pictures are below. These are classified and for internal use only:
The Spider-Bomb has been developed for two primary missions:
Reconnaisance: equipped with a digital remote camera feed, and able to cross most surfaces quietly (at slower speeds), the Spider-Bomb is ideal for exploring hostile areas ahead of an agent. The camera sends the video feed back to the agent, which can be displayed on any standard issue MI6 contact lens system. If used carefully, an agent can investigate much of a facility without putting himself at risk.
Sabotage: the Spider-Bomb carries an 8-oz C4 charge, which, when detonated, is enough to incapacitate anyone within 10′ of the explosion, and its damage range extends another 20′ beyond that.
Be careful with your Spider-Bomb; the mechanical legs are fragile, and any falling damage done to the device will trigger the self-destruct system. Q doesn’t like his devices to be recovered by the enemy. Be advised that enemies in the field have been known to respond with force when confronted with the Spider-Bomb, and any weapons damage will also trigger the self-destruct. Spider-Bombs may be easily retrieved and re-folded if their reconnaissance is successful.
Q is considering adding a variety of additional armaments to the Spider-Bomb; currently under study is the ability to launch sleeping darts from the device, and possible other long-range munitions. Available updates to the device will be posted to all agents as soon as they become available.
The Spider-Bomb can move at up to 5 Kilometers per Hour silently, and, if need be, can abandon stealth and move up to twice that fast.
Agents may requisition up to 3 Spider-Bombs at a time. Requests for more than 3 will require approval from both the weaponsmaster and the head of your department.
Richard Kiel Interview
November 19, 2003
Actor Richard Kiel is probably best known for his role of “Jaws” in the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Although James Bond was supposed to kill “Jaws” in the Spy Who Loved Me Richard Kiel turned out to be one of the best loved James Bond Villains and he survived to go on to reprise his role in Moonraker. While in the Spy Who Loved Me Richard played one of the most horrific James Bond Villains, his character changed in Moonraker and he became Bond’s ally.
We are happy to say that Richard Kiel is back! This time as “Jaws”, in the game James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™. As a special exclusive for our 007 Communique’ (CMQ) newsletter subscribers, we caught up with Richard Kiel (RK) to ask him a few questions.
CMQ: How did you get involved with the Bond franchise in the first place?
RK: I was working on the set of Silver Streak when a call came in to the studio from my agent, Herman Zimmerman. He was really excited that Cubby Broccoli wanted to have lunch with me the next day at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel. I didn’t know who Cubby Broccoli was, but the set’s assistant director sure did, and he wasted no time giving me the go-ahead.
When I met with Cubby, he described the character of Jaws as something of a monster. I had worked in Hollywood long enough to know the importance of playing parts that you feel will work for you. So I suggested giving Jaws real-life idiosyncracies, and a certain amount of vulnerability to offset the monstrous teeth. He thought about what I had just said for a brief moment, then invited me to his house that night to meet his family and some friends.
As I got to know Cubby over the years, I realized we both approached the movie business very seriously, and we both valued our families very much. I think that’s why we hit if off so well.
CMQ: Tell us about the famous Jaws teeth. Were they uncomfortable to wear? Were they molded specifically for you?
RK: The teeth were fitted in a dental technician’s office near Pinewood Studios in England. They are a lot like a boxer’s mouthpiece – you slip them over your own teeth. They’re extremely heavy, made of cobalt and chromium steel, and taste like metal. They would also go right up against the roof of my mouth, which made it impossible for me to speak. Last I heard, they were kept in a safe by the late Bond producer “Cubby” Broccoli.
CMQ: What was the appeal about playing a Bad Guy?
RK: It is always more fun to play a bad guy than to be yourself as you can create a character unlike your own and be someone you are not for a change.
CMQ: Why do you think Jaws is such a favorite villain in the Bond community?
RK: I believe that it was because Jaws was the underdog and because I tried to give him some more human character traits such as persistence and determination (when he brushed off his clothes and straightened his tie) he was likeable and somewhat humorous.
Like the coyote in the roadrunner & coyote cartoon Jaws is always having buildings fall on him, being shot at or blown up and yet he still survives.
I believe that many in the audience thought perhaps, just perhaps he may get Bond for a change. Not permanently but because he seemed invulnerable it made things more unpredictable and interesting as he presented a greater challenge for Bond.
CMQ: What was the most interesting about being cast in a video game?
RK: To see the animated graphic character portraying a role I played 25 years ago. It brings back a lot of memories and makes me feel good that people still enjoy seeing Jaws a quarter century later.
CMQ: Would you play another character in a videogame again? If so, what kind of character would you want to portray?
RK: One of Bond’s allies.
CMQ: Why do you think the Bond franchise has been so successful for so long?
RK: Because each film is different and gives ticket buyers their moneys worth as the producers try their best to make each film bigger and better. They always have beautiful or interesting locations outstanding leading ladies and unusual villains.
CMQ: What would you most like Jaws fans to know about yourself?
RK: That I have wanted to come back and do a cameo (since I didn’t die in Moonraker) and it is up to the producers to make that happen. I say this because they are always asking me “When are you coming back?” and think I haven’t returned by choice.
Sean Callery interview
December 19, 2003
Sean Callery, the composer of James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™, is also the very busy composer of the hit television series 24™ (for which Mr. Callery won an Emmy). Despite his hectic schedule, Mr. Callery was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his career and his compositional work in the game. Read the interview below:
Yarborough: Mr. Callery, thank you for your time. First off, how were you approached by Electronic Arts to compose the score for Everything or Nothing?
Mr. Callery: EA had a very lengthy interview/selection process. My agency submitted me as well as several others for consideration for the Bond game. I put together a variety of musical styles based on their preliminary description of the game. I was selected among 2 or 3 finalists, at which time I participated in a 30 minute phone interview with all the key audio people on the project. I then had a one on one interview with EA executive Steve Schnur. I was very excited to have been selected for the project.
Yarborough: The Audio Directors in Everything or Nothing tell me you incorporated sound-effect-like elements into the score for Everything or Nothing. Can you elaborate or give players a hint of what they could expect?
Mr. Callery: I like to use different kinds of non-organic textures in conjunction with more traditional sonorities (i.e., full orchestra) to help increase the visceral experience of the player. I was very inspired by the early screen shots of the game. They are so rich and so diverse, and each mission had a particular energy and feel. There are a few missions that have a nervous, stealthy quality, and I tried to design musical effects (odd pulses, for example) that would increase that sense of urgency and tension for the player, but not in a way where the player stops playing the game to notice it. It’s more of a sub-textural contribution that I’m trying to make.
Yarborough: How do you use sound to build tension or other emotions for the player? Is there a “formula” or is each project like “starting over”?
Mr. Callery: There was no formula, mostly because as the game was forming and evolving, different challenges arose. One of the keys to maintaining a music score’s dramatic emotional effect is in the “spotting” of the music. Spotting is the process of deciding when the music should play. If a music score is playing “wall to wall” throughout the game, then it could possibly lessen the dramatic impact of very important moments in the game. EA producers were completely on the same page about that. In fact, we both set out to create a game where the players would not want to disable the music option in the game settings.
Yarborough: What’s different about creating a score for a “spy” piece versus an “action” or “drama” production?
Mr. Callery: There is not a clear cut answer here. The clues to that answer lie in the very first time I see some of the game play footage, because that is the only time I can experience the mission for the first time. Many things have the potential to leap out at you-the pacing of the mission, is Bond running or sneaking around—the depth and length of the missions, some have more levels than others; is he surrounded by villains, or is he on his own-the mission objective, is he rescuing someone or trying to set a depth charge-the tone and color, daylight or evening-the environment, a dark deserted house or a bright mountainside cliff. These are all factors to consider, and the challenge for me is to always be receptive to those little clues.
Yarborough: For Everything or Nothing, you found yourself creating music before and during production as opposed to after production. What was your experience working alongside the game production?
Mr. Callery: Writing music for games somewhat resembles writing for an animated film. You have story boards, occasionally some dialog, and some rough timings. The images come to you in stages. However the similarities end there. The music I would write for an action scene on 24, for example will always be the same length no matter how many times you view it. However, the music for the Bond game will never play the same way-EVER! The music’s execution is completely controlled by the player’s movements, and I strived to create a score that would dramatically breathe and arc just like a movie score, while simultaneously accommodating the pacing set by the player.
Also, the creation of the game is a totally open ended process right up until the end. For example, during the Bond production, a few of the Bond missions were modified to make them more intense. Sometimes new screens were added. In the world of movies, you would be doing reshoots, which would be incredibly costly. In the game world, things can be moved around much more easily, and that required me to be able to tack to these changes quickly.
Yarborough: You conducted a 65-piece orchestra for the game – can you describe the process and experience of conducting?
Mr. Callery: he players on this score are the best players in the world — period. They play on Hollywood’s biggest action scores year round, and I cannot say enough about how much of a joy it was to work with them. Talented, professional, courteous, attentive-and they played some very technically intricate music in a very short period of time. We had a little under two days to print dozens of minutes of music, and God bless them, they hung in there. Hearing the Bond theme first played there on the Newman Scoring Stage on the 20th Century Fox™ lot was a great moment. The players also seemed very excited about the Bond game and many of them requested copies of the game when it is released.
Yarborough: Who do you think most influenced your musical career when you were younger?
Mr. Callery: This is very hard to answer, as there are many influences. I was and continue to be amazed at the contribution John Williams has made to the medium of music for flim I collected all his soundtracks when I was younger and studied them for as long as the stylus on our record player would hold out. His work always leaped out at me and I am very inspired by it. Also Bernard Hermann, Igor Stravinsky, Brian Eno, and Peter Gabriel were great inspirations. I’m leaving out many others, but that’s a broad sampling.
Yarborough: How has your previous work as a sound effects designer/editor for the television series Star Trek™: Deep Space Nine™ help make you a better composer?
Mr. Callery: I learned so much about composing by designing sound effects for that series. I learned about the relationship between music, effects and dialog and that became invaluable to me when I began composing for my first series, which was La Femme Nikita™ for the USA Network. I also benefited by hearing the great music of Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway on the series, and hearing how they made their choices on such a high quality show.
Yarborough: This one is a little off-topic: How would you describe music to someone who cannot hear?
Mr. Callery: A college teacher asked us that question in class once, and when we floundered for an answer, he described it as “…organized sound in space”. I thought that was a technically accurate, but completely lifeless answer. An architect friend of mine once described his buildings as “silent music”. I am much more connected to that description, because it involves an emotional connection not related to sound at all. I would suppose that music is a human expression of life, and the more it stirs the soul, the better.
Yarborough: We’ve had several excited fans write emails to Yarborough, our 007 Insider, when they heard you were scoring the game. Many of them are musicians and are big fans of your work on 24. Can you give them a few tips on making it “big” in TV or film?
Mr. Callery: My experience has been that your advancement in this industry comes from developing solid personal relationships in addition to developing your skills as a composer. You need to get near the orbits of those who are doing it, and be patient. I participated in a series of different (non-composing) jobs before landing my first series, La Femme Nikita™ for USA network. After graduating from the New England Conservatory in 1987, I took a job as a software specialist for a high end digital music company in Los Angeles. I got to know composers who needed my help in solving their software problems. Eventually I developed a professional friendship with a few of them. I was a reliable source of help for them and I enjoyed providing assistance.
That led to my forging a relationship with one composer, Mark Snow (composer of the X-Files™, among other projects) who eventually learned that I was a composer. He ended up helping me get my first job. That kind of gesture doesn’t’ happen unless some type of relationship is in place. As I said earlier, even working as a sound editor educated me on being a better composer. I think if you have a strong enough dream and drive to do this kind of work, it is okay to be involved with other kinds of work that might not seem immediately relevant to your end goal, but in my experience it is, as long as you are truly focused.
Yarborough: What is the biggest challenge you face when composing for interactivity (as opposed to non-interactive media, such as television or film)?
Mr. Callery: The single biggest challenge is that you are writing music for a medium that is controlled completely by the audience, the player, the end user. When I compose music for the show, 24, my action sequences have a static length, no matter how many times one watches it. No one will ever play Everything or Nothing the exact same way, and my mandate was to compose music that would breathe and accommodate the decisions and pacing of the player.
From the beginning, EA wanted the player to have a cinematic experience. They wanted the player to feel like they’re in a Bond film, being Bond. That requires designing the music so that it arcs as naturally as possible over the course of playing the game. I really enjoyed that challenge, and the people at EA were totally supportive to me as we progressed. It is an incredibly moment to moment collaborative process.
Yarborough: How long did it take to compose the music for Everything or Nothing?
Mr. Callery: I started around June 1, and ended on August 28. I composed approximately 96 minutes of original score for the game. I’m very pleased with it, and I hope the fans will be as well.
Yarborough: Were you able to look at or play the game before composing or were you “creating blindly”?
Mr. Callery: In the beginning I was composing various ideas based on the original story documentation, which was 300+ pages. There was much documentation! In this regard, my writing process resembled that of working on an animated feature. During the production cycle I was sent updated DVD’s of the game in various stages of development. That was invaluable to me, as I really got a lot of information out of the visual graphics and the designers’ approach.
Yarborough: Do you have a favorite piece in Everything or Nothing?
Mr. Callery: I can’t say there is one favorite piece. I did enjoy writing the very last piece of music when Bond wins the entire game. There was a sense of resolution there, both in the game, and personally for myself. I hope the fans love the game as much as I loved working on it.
Well, Mr. Callery, this concludes our interview. On behalf of your fans – including the Everything or Nothing team: Thank you!
Interview with Singing Sensation Mya
Mya is hot! I don’t mean that just in the sense of physical beauty, but more along the lines of having a career currently on fire. Her recently released album, Moodring, has done incredibly well since it’s release. Her acting career is taking off with roles in Chicago and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. But the real gem is her role as NSA Agent Mya Starling in James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™.
Mya recently stopped by the Electronic Arts studio in Redwood City, California for a surprise visit and wowed the company with her jazzed out rendition of the theme song for Everything or Nothing. After a quick tour of the studio and a demonstration of the game, we got a chance to sit down with her and chat about her role as Agent Starling. Here’s what Mya had to say.
EA: How did EA approach you for playing the part of Mya?
MYA: They basically approached me with the idea of playing the part as an NSA agent within the videogame first and doing a theme song for the Bond video game. They later told me, about a month after that, that they wanted me to do a jazz rendition of the theme song, which was really exciting and it would be incorporated into the video game. The process, as they explained to me, would entail voiceover, as well as scanning, which I had no clue about. I sort of expected to do fast animation kicking and fighting but I didn’t have to do that at all. They had a staff of animators that took care of that for me.
EA: Do you have a favorite version of the song?
MYA: I don’t have a favorite version but I really love the jazz version. I think visually, the technical version is high energy, fits along with the entirety of the video game for the most part. And the jazz rendition fits the Kiss Kiss Club in the game.
EA: Tell me about the cyberscanning process, since you’d never done that before.
MYA: Never done that before, that was my first time, and that took place right outside the recording studio. They basically told me to sit very still and the whole process took about 10 minutes. They took scans from my lower chest to the top of my head and did a full 360 scanning of my face and upper body.
EA: Did you get to see yourself in the game before today?
MYA: They sent me images through the Internet. At the time I did have lighter hair, however my hair was longer and they explained to me that the technology could only fit triangular blueprints or something so that’s why my hair is so short. The programming can’t take long hair or something so that was really educational. And blue eyes, I had blue contacts at the time and I did note that today when I saw it … I appreciated the little boob job (laughing) … that was hilarious!
EA: So doing virtual work … how is that different from the acting that you’ve done?
MYA: Well, you know this was a short session compared to what I do in the studio as far as recording. When I’m in the studio to do a song, it takes two or three days. This was very short but more strenuous even though it was over six to eight hours versus two or three days. I did about eight to twenty passes per line to get the different inflections of my voice so it was really different. It was a little different than improvising, when you’re making a song up in the studio. As far as voiceovers, I’ve done a few in movies but they haven’t been strenuous. I think the personality of the character [I play in the game] was totally different, which sets the experience apart from anything that I’ve done before. I did a lot of screaming because at one part of the game I am fighting for my life and calling Bond to rescue me.
EA: So what do you think of your character?
MYA: I am a “good girl”, and at the same time I’m a little snakelike and pretty bad. I kind of like that balance, the good girl-bad girl mix.
I got to play the video game in New York, Steve Groll [from EA] came to my hotel room to deliver a special PlayStation 2 which the game can only work on at this moment in time until it’s released. I got to see different scenes. The game takes place in Moscow, Peru, New Orleans, and Egypt, and seeing the different locations, I really got to understand the breakdown of how long this project took to make. It’s really outstanding and overwhelming. It’s like a movie, they have a team of hundreds of animators and they all specialize in certain areas like wallpapers, movement of lips, I don’t really know how to categorize it. It’s really amazing. There’s a science and art to every detail of this video game and to really understand that there’s so many people on the team you don’t even see, or get a chance to meet, are making this happen for years. It’s something huge. It’s beyond our understanding at this moment in time.
EA: Would you do it again?
MYA: Yeah, of course I would.
EA: Do you play any games at home?
MYA: I have NBA basketball. I have Tetris – I’m a Tetris freak. I play some of my brothers’ games. They live and breathe PlayStation and Xboxes before they do their homework. That’s them, that’s their specialty.
EA: So they probably can’t wait to see you in a game…
MYA: They’ll probably be in my fan club after this project.
Bruce Feirstein Interview
Bruce Feirstein is the writer or co-writer of three James Bond movies: The World Is Not Enough™, Tomorrow Never Dies™, and GoldenEye™. Read on to learn what Mr. Feirstein had to say about his role in the game, writing for the Bond franchise, and more.
Mr. Feirstein, thank you very much for agreeing to conduct this interview for the 007 Communiqué (CQ). We’re very excited to have this opportunity to ask you a few questions.
CQ: Having written for television, movies, books, newspapers and magazines, you are obviously a multi talented writer. Do you have a preference for any particular medium and why?
BF: Every medium offers different opportunities, and different ways of executing an idea. Sometimes you come up with something and it’s perfect for a film; other times, it might be a magazine piece, or a book. I’m been very fortunate in that I’ve been able to work in both movies and print. Do I have a preference? Obviously, I love movies. There’s nothing in the world like walking onto a sound stage when they’re shooting something you’ve written – and you see the way the actors, the set designers, the wardrobe people and the director have brought it to life. On the other hand, when you (or I) want to say something about politics – or contemporary culture – print, (and most especially my column in the New York Observer) is wonderful for immediacy.
CQ: Is your talent as a writer innate, or did you “grow into it”? Do you recall a distinct “turning point” when you felt your writing style changed or improved while you were growing up?
BF: I think I sort of fell into being a writer. It wasn’t something I planned, or knew that I was going to do. I remember being twelve or thirteen years old, and being able to write funny parodies of the Dragnet television show. When I was in high school, I was business manager of the school newspaper, and wrote the ads. By the time I went to college, I knew I wanted to be in communications – but I still hadn’t decided exactly what I was going to do. Finally, in college, I started writing political advertising for an agency in Boston. (It was a part time job.) That’s when I realized I was a writer; I was also writing for Boston University’s daily newspaper. When I got out of college, I went into advertising. And after three or four years, I had a decision to make: Either open an agency, or pursue more “creative” writing. I wrote a screenplay at night. It sold. And that was – more or less – my evolution as a writer. The key thing for me, isn’t so much that you can be taught to be a writer – but rather, that you have something to say. And the rest of it is just finding your way.
CQ: How did you get the opportunity to write for the Bond films?
BF: On GoldenEye, there was a terrific script that represented the work of Michael France and Jeffery Caine. They are both wonderful writers. I was brought in to do a final polish by Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, and Martin Campbell. They’d all read my work, and wanted me to add some additional “wit” to the dialogue. Ultimately, I did more than just write the dialogue. But – as with so much of Bond – the success of the film was really due to a team effort, from the director, to the producers, to the cast, along with production team, and (of course,) all of the writers. And I know that I speak for everyone when I acknowledge that we were all standing on the shoulders of giants: From Ian Fleming, to Cubby Broccoli, to Richard Maibaum (the screenwriter who gave Bond his wit,) along with Ken Adam’s art direction, the composers John Barry and Maurice Bender, and the directors Terence Young and Lewis Gilbert. To paraphrase a Bond song: Nobody did it better.
CQ: How does the script or storyline for Everything or Nothing (the game) differ from that of a Bond movie?
BF: Surprisingly very little. To be a true “Bond Adventure” the game had to meet the same benchmarks of a Bond film: Jaw-dropping action. Great settings. Beautiful women. Daunting villains. And from what I’ve seen of the game so far, Everything or Nothing seems to meet all these requirements.
CQ: How does someone get a job in Hollywood as a script writer?
BF: Simple. You write a script. That’s the entire admissions process. I know that sounds incredibly simplistic, but it’s the truth. Here’s the way it works: Hollywood is a meritocracy. Talent (or some definition of talent,) rises. Unfortunately, however, even if you write a script, Steven Spielberg, or EON productions, or even my agent will not read it. I can’t either, for legal reasons. But… All over Hollywood, there are young people – agent’s assistants, people working in mailrooms – who know that the only way to get ahead is to discover talent. (That’s the way it works: My agent’s assistants have always gotten promoted by finding new writers. It’s the same at every agency. And every movie studio.) Once you’ve written a script, you can begin to work battering down the doors of Hollywood. And if the script is good, somewhere, someone will read it, and recognize it. (And that’s a huge “if” in there – the “if it’s good” part. Most scripts aren’t.) Admittedly, I’m giving you a very simplistic overview here. And I don’t have the space to go into all the “How do I protect myself from having my idea stolen” stuff. (Fast answer: 99% of the time, no one is interested in stealing your idea. It’s easier, and cheaper to pay you off. Nobody wants the lawsuits. In the meantime, if you want to know more about this, go to www.WGA.org, and read about the script registration service.)
CQ: You invented the character of Elliot Carver, the international media villain played by Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. Carver uttered the phrase “Words are the new weapons, satellites are the new artillery.” That movie came out in 1997, which means you were probably writing the script around the beginning of the “information age”. Was this a coincidence, or did you foresee a new paradigm shift?
BF: Great question. So forgive the rambling answer: The idea for the media villain came to me while we were still working on GoldenEye. It was the summer, just before the film came out (1995,) and one Sunday morning, I was watching the satellite news in my hotel room. Flipping back and forth between Sky News, the BBC and CNN, I was amazed – and startled – by how different their coverage was of the mid-east. Each one brought a particular bias to their newscasts – and each one portrayed the same exact event with a different villain, a different explanation, and a different analysis of who gained or lost. As a journalist, this didn’t surprise me. Objectivity in news is an ideal. And nobody’s perfect. But watching these three different interpretations of the same event was the beginning of Tomorrow Never Dies.
Of course, I wasn’t exactly starting from scratch here: I’d worked for – or met – various media barons, like Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner. And at the time, Robert Maxwell had just committed suicide, and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi was on the rise. Carver was a combination of all these guys – with a nod to Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane, and William Randolph Hearst. Hearst, of course, was the original media baron, who supposedly said “You provide the pictures, I’ll provide the war.”
Finally, so far as the “information age” goes: The film was less about the “information age” as defined by the Internet, than the fact that in today’s world, physical boundaries can’t stop satellite broadcasts. Governments can’t totally control information. Sure, I was already online by 1997, and aware of the huge changes the Internet was bringing to our lives. (I had my first e-mail account in 1993.) But here’s an interesting piece of trivia: When I was working on the final draft of GoldenEye, I wrote that the Boris character (Alan Cummings, playing the Russian computer expert,) should be wearing a Wired magazine t-shirt. It didn’t work in the film, but he’s wearing one in the publicity stills.
CQ: Fiction has been written for centuries. Some stories take off and develop a legion of fans while others languish. How does a writer draw people into a work of fiction?
BF: I can’t pretend to be an expert here. But I think it’s all about creating characters who are real, and resonate with the viewer, or reader. In some way, I think the success of Bond is that Ian Fleming – and later, Cubby Broccoli, along with all the Bond stars – created the perfect archetypal character: A lone man, fighting for a nation. He’s a classic hero who transcends all cultures. This kind of character has existed forever, in both ancient Greek, and Japanese drama.
CQ: In a different interview, you described the process of writing a Bond film like this: “It’s a long, grueling process, filled with moments of absolutely astonishing joy.” What did you really enjoy about writing the script for Everything or Nothing?
BF: For me, it was a learning process: I wanted to learn about electronic games – how they work, the way they’re put together, the process of making this kind of entertainment. I’ve always been interested in all new forms of technology. Considering that for the past several years, the market for electronic games has been larger than the US film box office, I found the whole arena interesting, and important to learn about. (Note: If you want to be a writer, you have to keep growing, and experiencing new things, and technologies.) (Second note: It also didn’t hurt that I’d just had twins, and I wanted to know something about the games they’d eventually be playing.) In this sense, I was particularly lucky that EON, MGM and EA asked me to work on the game. I was amazed by the technology involved – and the kind of action, and interactions that we still can’t create on film. At the same time, I very much enjoyed the collaboration process on this project: I’ve always considered myself very fortunate to work with EON and MGM. And now, added to this, the people at EA were just amazing, and introduced me to a whole new world of entertainment.
In the end, for me, the key is this: Over the years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the Bond films, in all their incarnations, from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan.
Yet every time, I start to watch one – hearing that music, and seeing the gun barrel – I still have that thrill – that moment of excitement when I’m a nine year old boy again, filled with anticipation of what’s to come.
The funny thing is, that when I’ve gone on-line and watched the trailers for Everything Or Nothing – from the music, to the action, to the shots of Pierce and the Bond girls and Willem Dafoe – I find myself having that same familiar feeling: the thrill that we’re in for the kind of amazing adventure only 007 can provide.
CQ: Do you have a favorite line in Everything or Nothing?
BF: The line I always like writing most of all is the sentence that appears at the end of every 007 script and after the credits of every 007 movie: James Bond Will Return.
General Multiplayer Information
Once you’ve experienced the latest James Bond action-adventure on PlayStation®2, take your well-honed spy skills online with the PlayStation®2 Network Adaptor and a broadband connection.
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing features 13 2-player co-op missions (only available in North America) along with an unlockable 4-person arena-style death mode. Players can choose to play the only co-op missions in any order, regardless of whether they’ve been unlocked in the offline game.
The Online Experience
- Get competitive at any level. Whether you’re new to online gaming or a seasoned pro, EA’s partner search tool instantly matches you up with the type of competition you’re looking for.
- Create rivalries and friendships. Keep track of your friends and favorite competitors by using the EA’s Messenger service.
- Full-screen gameplay. Compete from your homestead without having to use only half or a quarter of the screen to participate.
- Online play supports a USB keyboard and a headset for voice chat.
- Co-Op Race: Who is the fastest, most accurate agent in 007: Everything or Nothing history?
Players are evaluated by how long it takes to get through the game. Time bonuses are incurred for “kills” along the way, and penalties are incurred for player “deaths”. Kill or be killed – but do it fast.
- Custom Mode: Set your own parameters for scoring: hand-to-hand, weapons, disarms, stealth, and penalties for player deaths. Each player has a separate score, and players can target and harm each other.
- Statistics for players accumulated online during regular co-op and co-op race modes will be tracked and viewable from the online lobby and the official website, 007.ea.com.
- General stats will be available for different levels played, including the following:
- number of kills
- player deaths
- # of games played
- ratio of kills to deaths.
Misaki Ito Press Event
Electronic Arts Japan (EAJ) held a press conference on Monday, February 2nd, 2004 in Ginza, Tokyo, to announce the launch of James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™ on PlayStation®2, Nintendo GameCube™, and Game Boy® Advance consoles, which is scheduled to hit the Japanese market on Wednesday, February 11th, 2004.
The press conference began with an opening video introducing Everything or Nothing, followed by a speech by EAJ’s President Tamio Yamamoto, who explained the history of 007 game series. “We have extended the contract to publish 007 games until year 2010, and we hope to contribute to the further growth of movie-based game business in the future. With numerous original functions added to the Japan-localized version, I am confident in saying that Everything or Nothing is the best James Bond game ever created,” said Yamamoto.
The second speaker was Vice President Masami Takahashi, who gave an overview of the latest title. “Not only were the casting and music development done in a similar manner as a Hollywood movie, we had Mr. Bruce Feirstein, who wrote the screenplay for GoldenEye™, come aboard to develop the original storyline for Everything or Nothing. This title is as good as any Bond movie.”
A speech by Producer Koji Ayabe followed, who gave a detailed explanation of the gameplay using special video footage. “This title is loaded with gadgets, weapons such as V12 Vanquish, and exciting gimmicks that allow players to fully enjoy the unique world of the 007 series,” commented Ayabe.
Toward the end of the press conference, model and actress Misaki Ito, the ‘Japanese Bond girl’ who played the role of ‘Ms. Nagai’ and debuted as a voice actress through this title, appeared on stage as a special guest. She entertained the audiences by sharing behind-the-scenes stories such as how she struggled to dub Ms. Nagai’s voice based on script and imagination alone when there were no visual materials available in the beginning, and how she had felt when she first saw herself appear on-screen as a CG character.
Misaki Ito plays “Miss Nagai”, Q’s smart and sexy assistant in the game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. She introduces Bond to hi-tech gadgetry including grenades and the Spiderbomb, and serves as a gorgeous distraction – for both Bond and the player.
Besides modeling and acting in TV commercials in Japan, Misaki Ito is best known for her performances in “Love Complex” TV Series and horror flick “Ju-on: The Grudge”
After being chosen for the role of Q’s assistant, Ito was cyberscanned like the other actors in the game: including Pierce Brosnan, Heidi Klum, Shannon Elizabeth, and Mya. Look for Misaki Ito in the Q-Lab and on game packs in Japan.
The United States version of the game is due to release on February 17, 2004.
Interview with Heidi Klum
While many feel that Heidi Klum is an angel, she plays a bit of a devil as Dr. Katya Nadanova in the latest James Bond game, James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™.
During a recent press tour, we got a chance to chat with Heidi about her role as the “good” Doctor Nadanova and here’s what she had to say.
EA: How were you approached by Electronic Arts to provide the voice for the character of Dr. Katya Nadanova in James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing?
Heidi Klum – They just called me and asked me if I wanted to do this, and that was it, really. I didn’t have to audition; I didn’t really need to do anything. They called me and asked me if I wanted to do this and of course I said yes, straight away.
EA: When and where did you record the voice over? How was the recording process any different than your previous acting experiences?
Klum – We did it five or six months ago at a studio down in Los Angeles. It was easier than I thought it was going to be because people don’t see your expressions.
It’s not like acting would be in a movie, so it was not as hard as I had imagined. I had to do a bit more with my voice and feelings, but since you don’t see the body or don’t see my face it was definitely much easier.
We would build it up by starting slow with normal sentences, then we got more and more to where I had to fight and I had to be all “huffy puffy” as if I was just running two miles. Then I have a fighting scene and screaming around and you’re in danger because you’re about to get killed. It’s a little scary and intimidating to do these things when you don’t have an actor with you, you do it by yourself. You’re in this sound proof box and someone tells you to say these sentences like “you’re being just chased by someone with a gun to your head”. You have to be in a certain voice, so it feels a little awkward.
EA: Is it easy to envision yourself in those kind of situations or was it a challenge for you to imagine that?
Klum – No, it wasn’t that hard. You just don’t know how loud you should go. Or when you’re screaming to be really mean, you do it. But you don’t know how that comes across, then you listen to it a little bit or they basically say to you, “That was not loud enough, go louder.”
Then you’re like “Get out of the way [jerk]!” Then they’re like “Louder!” So you do all these things over and over again, and then they’re like “Ok, let’s tone it down a bit.” Like with all things you just have to go for it and just experiment.
EA: You play Dr. Katya Nadanova in the game, Everything or Nothing. Can you tell us anything about this character? What did you think of your role as her in the game?
Klum – I like it because she can do all these crazy things. She can jump off buildings, she can shoot really well, she’s flies the helicopter, and gets to kiss Pierce Brosnan. All these cool things that no one can really do. As one of those characters you can do that stuff, so that’s pretty cool.
EA: Did you get any inspiration from the movies for your role? Do you have a favorite “Bond-girl”?
Klum – No, not really. I’d have to say I like the old days when it was a big thing like who’s the next James Bond girl and everyone could name the James Bond girls because it was so special then.
EA: And you’re playing an old Bond girl too, in a movie.
Klum – Oh yes. I’m playing Ursula Andrews in the Peter Sellers movie. It’s a small part, but those were the glamorous days of when the girls appeared on the screen, you know what I mean? Everything else about James Bond has become better in a way, because of the special effects, and the cars and all these amazing things that they do. I think the girls have become too high tech in a way. They’re supposed to be these dream women that are almost not real.
EA: Did you enjoy the project?
Klum – Oh absolutely!
EA: It helps to add to the mystique of being a Bond girl. Was your likeness cyber-scanned? Have you seen your character render – does it look like you?
Klum – Yeah, I like it a lot. It looks very close.
EA: What was the most memorable moment of the project?
Klum – I liked everything from sitting there and being cyber-scanned because all the things we did that day I’d never done before. To be cyber-scanned is pretty cool because you look into the computer right after it’s done and you see your head in perfect measurements right there.
And to see the technology of how they drew that is pretty wild. And for the voice overs, you’re like a rock star screaming around in this little studio with the microphone right in front of you. It’s fun! It’s things I don’t get to do on a day-to-day basis. So all of that was very interesting.
EA: Thank you for your time, Ms. Klum.
Behind the Scenes
Have you ever experienced something so exceptional that you are in awe of the people who created it? That was my feeling today as I played the very final build of the game – which should be widely available by the time you read this.
I started to wonder about the iterative process of creating games: how the game started out and changed over time to become such a masterpiece.
I walked downstairs to the studio and found Shayne Herrera, (who was originally a Lead Artist on Bond but is now an Technical Art Director on another project). Shayne and Marc Wilhelm (Assoc. Level Designer) created the first level for James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™.
Travel Back in Time
About two years ago, Everything or Nothing was split into 3 distinct worlds: Ice, Fire, and Water. The idea was to create multiple levels within each of the different worlds.
The first level was known as “ice1”, and all of the action on this level took place on a train. Bond was to investigate the train and photograph secret plans (hopefully unnoticed). Once the secret plans were obtained, Bond would have to fight a character named “Monk”. You can see an old screenshot below:
This was the first test of the hand-to-hand combat system. As the game progressed, things changed, and (as luck would have it) the game moved more towards real exotic international locations with real Bond talent:
The train completely changed over time. It became twice as long and much more sophisticated. As Bond’s skill set grew (to include ducking, wallcover, and interactive environments), the train mission became more complex as well. Not to mention how much more fun it is to battle Jaws than “Monk”.
The Jazz Club
If you’ve read previous editions of the 007 INSIDER, you already know that the shark in the tank was originally planned to be an alligator.
What you probably didn’t know is that at one time the jazz club (or “Kiss Kiss Club” as it is named in the game) was at one time part of a much bigger level in New Orleans. The level was a large hotel that had two stories and a courtyard. In the back of the hotel was a jazz club. The gameplay in the jazz club was so extensive, the design team decided to separate it from the hotel. They then came up with the idea to create two levels out of the hotel and move them to South America.
One of the coolest levels in the game is the cemetery. The real surprise is that the cemetery started out as a testing ground. It was created to allow the artists to stretch the limits of what the rendering engine could do. Once it was finished, it was decided that the cemetery was far too beautiful to not use in the game. So the decision was made to change the storyline to put the cemetery in New Orleans.
So now you have the “insider’s scoop” on developing James Bond 007™: Everything or Nothing™. The development team was really committed to creating the best Bond game yet … and the results are just amazing.
Feel free to keep in touch at email@example.com and tell me about your favorite parts of the game. I’ll be bringing you more insiders from the next Bond adventure soon. Rest assured: Yarborough, and…