Bond Month: How to turn Quantum of Solace into a videogame

The makers of the Bond simulator takes us through the process

The Quantum of Solace videogame is being released to coincide with the movie on 31 October (read the film review here).

To give you an insight into the way the game's creators have worked with the film's producers to create an authentic Bond experience we've created an exclusive countdown calendar. Each day in the lead up to the game's launch we'll be revealing a new piece of information about the game development process through behind-the-scenes trailers, interviews and game images.

To kick of the coverage we spoke to Executive Producer for the game Garrett Young (who will be featured in the upcoming 'making of' content) about the process that Treyarch (who also make the Call of Duty series) went through to ensure Bond on consoles as believeble as possible...
 

What are the issues facing someone converting films to games and vice versa?

One of the biggest issues we’ve faced is staying true to our main character. Would James Bond do this? What would he say to M in this situation? How would he take on this challenge? This has been something the movie people have given us tremendous help with. We have a great relationship with the people from Danjaq and EON Productions.

We meet with them on a regular basis and they brought us out to the set three times to see filming in progress. We get weekly updates to the Quantum of Solace script and we’ve scannned and photographed all the major actors from both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace -- we even scanned Director Marc Forster! This strong relationship has really helped us in creating the true James Bond experience.

Do you think the mediums can be easily switched to do it's original format justice? Will a particular set piece in a film work as effectively in a game?

I believe great games and great films can exist within the same fiction, using the same characters and telling essentially the same story. This hasn’t typically been done very well in the past, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.To be successful in both formats, the critical thing you need is the right combination of passion and creative skill.

The movie people need to have great passion for the story they’re telling, and great skill in telling it. That goes that same for us as game developers. If we don’t have tremendous passion for what we’re building – or if we’re not highly skilled at building it – we won’t be successful.Here on the Bond team we have tremendous passion for the game we’re building.

Though we’re a brand new team, we’re made up of people who have great skills and experience in the industry. We’re also building our game on top of the Call of Duty 4 engine, which gives us a huge advantage in pushing the power of the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.


How closely are you following the narrative flow of the film?

The movie Quantum of Solace is the first true sequel in Bond movie history, as it picks up a few minutes after Casino Royale ends. Our game tells the story of both movies.We chose the best action sequences from Casino Royale and put them into our game. Then, we worked really closely with the filmmakers to design the levels and cinematics for Quantum of Solace.

They really did a tremendous job of supporting us with reference and assets -- we got a very early draft of the movie script, we got to visit the set four times, and we got 1,000s of photos and dozens of hours of video. That synergy between movie and game really comes across in how the levels look and feel


In QoS, all the characters have been digitally scanned. How much similarity do you try to have with the film? Is there room for creative development?

We scanned the major actors from both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. It was a great experience – we found they were all fantastic people to work with who wanted our game to be great. Whether talking about characters or the storyline itself, we do want a large amount of similarity with the movie. Since we’re both releasing concurrently with the movie, this is something gamers and fans of the movie will expect.

That said, our game does take some interesting twists: first, our game tells the story of both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the first true sequel in Bond movie history. Second, we expanded many scenes from the movies to give the user more control of how the event plays out. We even have a scene in our game that the Director cut from Casino Royale – it was looking and playing so good in the game that the movie guys were OK with us keeping it! Making a game based on a movie IP gives us a great baseline on which to build.

When making a game such as QoS, where do you start transposing across the mediums? How do you retain the atmosphere of a film?

When building a movie-based game, it starts with the character, the story, and the overall look/feel. We learn a lot from the history and the script, but it’s invaluable to have the type of access we had to the sets, the actors, and the people behind the camera.

Have you had much contact with the filmmakers to make the game a close representation of the movie?

We worked very closely with the filmmakers to design the levels and cinematics. They did a great job of supporting us with reference and assets: we got our first draft of the movie script for QoS over a year ago, we got to visit the set four times, and we got 1,000s of photos from the set.

We took photographs and 3D-scans of all the major actors, and also recorded hours of their voice for the game. It was great to meet these guys, and they were all very supportive of our vision and goals with the game.

Did you have full access to the movie’s script from the very beginning of development?

The 1st draft of the script actually wasn’t written until we were already a year into development! Thankfully we got it early enough to design, build, and playtest those levels fully.


Did you work closely with Daniel Craig to capture his version of Bond?

I thought it would be difficult to get time with Daniel due to their shooting schedule for the movie this year, but we actually met with him many times and he added his own flair and guidance on how Bond should look and sound in the game.

As the star of our game, we wanted him to look great. After we photographed him, we spent months working on it. When we were ready to show our results, he and the filmmakers were really impressed.

Daniel was also very helpful in making sure Bond sounded very “Bondian.” We brought our original voice-over script to him, and he was very helpful reviewing and providing his insight on the right lines. It really makes a difference in the sense of immersion in the game.

Do you think computer games make good feature films and vice versa? Why?

I absolutely think it’s possible, but the creative teams on both sides must feel great passion for what they’re building. If they don’t feel that success or failure is up to them – if they don’t feel a strong sense of ownership and accountability for their results – then the results won’t be very good, whether they’re making a game or a movie.In my experience games can fail for multiple reasons, but they’ll never succeed if the team isn’t excited about it.

Many think conversions don't work because a) people don't appreciate the subject matter and b) try to directly copy and paste scenes from games into films. Do you agree/disagree with these at all? What do you think the main problem film makers face when trying to convert the medium or for developers trying to do the same?

These are two good reasons, but I don’t think it’s a problem across mediums as much as it is a problem about creative freedom. Many developers and filmmakers may not have passion for a character or world created by someone else – regardless of the medium.

For example, a game developer may not be happy to build a Halo-based game if it means being locked into gamers’ expectations of Master Chief. On the same token, a filmmaker may not want to make the next Indiana Jones because of constraints created by the formula laid out by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

We were very excited about taking on the challenge. Very early on in this project – before Casino Royale had even came out -- we had an idea that creating a very cinematic game with long cut-scenes was the right direction to go. We threw that idea out the window very quickly once we saw how cool this new Bond was. Daniel Craig is more physical, more cunning, and more dangerous than any Bond ever before -- we knew this was a Bond that gamers would want to become in a game.

 

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