Interactive Cinema
Issue: Volume: 27 Issue: 6 (June 2004)

Interactive Cinema

James Bond is the most successful, enduring film character in history. When creating a visual experience that takes place in the Bond universe, the characters that the audience has grown to know and love over the last 40 years need to be present in order for the experience to be credible. Moreover, when we reached the decision to move into a third-person perspective, the quality bar for the visual representation of these characters, whose features are so well known and identifiable, is raised to the highest level possible. If we were to deliver characters that failed to meet players' expectations, their presence in the game actually might have detracted from the experience.
Scott Bandy is senior producer ofJames Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, a new game from Electronic Arts. For more information about the making of the title, see "A Bonding Experience," pg. 16.

The main advantages of playing a game in first person, beyond some small gain in bandwidth due to polygon and texture savings, are the immersion of the player into the avatar they are controlling and a simpler camera-management scenario. Conversely, a third-person perspective allows the gameplay to evolve into a more complicated set of mechanics, such as greater strategic and tactical movement in a space, obstacle navigation, and the ability to accommodate a more robust hand-to-hand experience.

Reinforcing the James Bond movie experience makes sense when you consider that this is how the audience got to know him. If we were introducing a unique character, or one unique to the interactive space, an alternative approach may have made more sense. But when that iris appears and the James Bond theme hits, there's no question in any player's mind what lies ahead.

With an interactive space, we are not limited by real-world physics, so we can construct locations and characters to virtually any vision our artists and designers can dream up. Also, if we decide that an over-the-shoulder shot, for example, is the most appropriate camera angle to support the experience, we don't have to solve how we are going to physically assign a camera to that shot while James hurtles down the face of a cliff.

This is indeed the challenge of an interactive experience. Maintaining the balance between the gameplay and the need to advance the fiction was a focal point for the team throughout the process. There are gameplay sequences that went through 100 iterations, many times due to a story line need. Alternately, we went through many script iterations as well, as we sought that balance. Details both large and small, from the costume James was wearing to the specific weapon being grasped, needed to be tracked and verified to eliminate any issues with continuity.

Yes, and it will continue to evolve. As the technology driving gaming platforms continues to advance, developers will have fewer limitations to fully express their visions. If you look at the ways technological advancements have changed the content and vision of films, we believe there is a clear correlation that can be expected to occur in the interactive space as well. Given that film is an established, well-understood, and integrated part of the entertainment landscape, it is logical that elements of that art form will continue to manifest themselves in interactive titles.