Wondering how n-Space is making the new GoldenEye on DS different from the Wii version, the N64 version, and their other DS first-person shooters? Well, don't anymore.
At the recent press event for GoldenEye out in San Francisco, we got to sit down and talk to n-Space's Creative Director Ted Newman. Aside from the development and high points of GoldenEye DS, we also talked about 3DS, Duke Nukem, games with the same name coming to Wii and DS, and more.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): What is your role at n-Space and what other games have you worked on?
Ted Newman (TN): First off, my name is Ted Newman and I'm the studio creative director at n-Space. I've been at n-Space for 15 years, so almost since the beginning. I started on their first project, which was Tiger Shark, back in 1996. That was for the original PlayStation. In the beginning I was just doing art and cinematics for Tiger Shark and then Bug Riders. My first design role was on Duke Nukem: Time to Kill for the PS1. That led to a few other lead design roles on a couple other games.
My biggest role was probably Geist. I was the producer on Geist and worked exclusively with Nintendo for a good three and a half years developing that game. Since then, I've moved on to the general overseeing everything that's in development and just providing that outside point-of-view.
NWR: Now onto GoldenEye DS. What are you doing to separate the portable version from the Wii version that's coming out alongside it, and also from the original on Nintendo 64?
TN: We're taking the same approach that the Wii version is taking, which is taking the plot of GoldenEye and putting it in modern day with Daniel Craig's version of James Bond at the helm of it. Everything has his kind of characteristics to it. He's not the Pierce Brosnan James Bond, he's…
NWR: He's not a gentleman. He's out to kick some ass.
That alone set it apart from the Nintendo 64 version. We're not a port of what the Wii's doing. We hit all the same plot points they do. We have the same screenwriter, Bruce Feirstein (Ed. note: He's the original writer of GoldenEye), who wrote our screenplay exclusively for us. All the levels are built from the ground up with the DS in mind.
As far as the original game, we're all fans of it; some of us are die-hard fans. I don't know how any modern video game studio wouldn't. The first thing we did when we got the project was go back and play the N64 version. Then we made sure we took bits and pieces that fans would latch onto, and make sure to get that throughout the game. You'll find fan-favorite things like proximity mines, throwing knives, and the dam level. There are a lot of homages throughout the game.
NWR: Does it use the same engine as the Call of Duty games you made for DS?
TN: Yea. We had done Blood Stone just before this, but Blood Stone was a third-person shooter. When we moved onto GoldenEye, we knew it would be in first-person, so it was logical to take the Call of Duty engine and just use that as a foundation, but the teams were completely separate. Well, they were separate in the sense that it was the Blood Stone team doing GoldenEye, but they were sharing the same team space. At n-Space, we just have big, open rooms. So the Call of Duty team was in a big, open room with the GoldenEye team. So even though they were working on separate projects, they were still trying each other's games. It worked out really nice because the GoldenEye team tried things that maybe the Call of Duty team wouldn't necessarily have thought of.
We didn't want a James Bond game that would play like a Call of Duty game with James Bond in it. We really wanted them to play differently. Our mantra from the beginning was "the thinking man's first-person shooter." James Bond isn't just a run-and-gun action hero. He definitely will look at the situation and decide do I open fire, or do I need to find a smarter way around things. The game has a really good balance of that throughout.
NWR: Throughout the gameplay and how it's presented, how do you create the separation between the GoldenEye style of gameplay and the Call of Duty style?
TN: There is a lot of communication between you and MI6. There's a lot of voiceover in this game where you're talking to either Judi Dench's character M or Tanner. In the beginning of the game you are working directly with 006, who eventually becomes a traitor.
We use subtle hints in terms of advice to the player to tell them which route they should take. Also, there's the way we train the player in the different mechanics of the game. Eventually they'll get the idea that you know what, in this situation, they're giving me all the tools I need to sneak around or to go around the problem, so maybe I should try that instead. It actually works out very well.
The levels that you're supposed to run-and-gun through, it's clear as day that they've discovered you, you've got no choice, and you just have to mow through this level. It really creates a nice balance.
NWR: Are there any kind of vehicle-controlling levels in the DS version?
TN: The tank level was a must-have, because that was the famous one from the N64 version.
I think that's the only time you commandeer a vehicle in the game, but it's a really great level.
NWR: Now for the online multiplayer, which you've been doing for years in the Call of Duty series. How did you take what you did in the Call of Duty series and translate it into a GoldenEye experience?
TN: We were really lucky that we just inherited the great multiplayer engine of the Call of Duty series. So we have six-player multiplayer that is Wi-Fi and local. Again, we didn't want to have the exact same modes. We wanted to pay homage to what was done in the original.
We didn't do Paintball, but there's the Golden Gun mode, and Flag Tag, where you have to get the flag and whoever holds it for the longest gains points. There's proximity mines, and elements of it that fans of the N64 multiplayer will definitely say "yea, I really loved doing that."
NWR: Did you do a Big Head mode?
TN: We didn't do a Big Head mode.
You know, Big Head mode would've been good. We did a Big Head mode in Duke Nukem: Time to Kill.
NWR: Now there are all these games coming out for Wii and DS that share the same name but are completely different experiences. Do you think there might be some sort of confusion out there that they're not different experiences, so people will only get one title and not both? How would you propose that that could be fixed in the future?
TN: It's a really hard thing to do. The first thing that pops into mind is that you could brand them completely differently. Instead of saying this is GoldenEye Wii and this is GoldenEye DS, you could give them different names, but then that creates confusion in itself, too. It's a challenge, and I don't know of a good answer to get around that. I'll have to put some thought into that. That's a really good question.
NWR: Since n-Space has been all over the DS, have you thought about the 3DS at all?
TN: We saw the 3DS at E3. We were lucky enough to bump into Hideki Konno, who was the producer initially on Geist and also is the father of the 3DS. Konno-san ushered us into the 3DS area and skipped the line on the first day. It was just one of those things where everybody who sees it says the same thing. You have to see if to believe it.
So, we can't officially talk about anything 3DS-wise, so I can't confirm or deny anything, but I can just say we're really really excited about it. I think it's going to sell amazingly well, and it's an amazing system. I mean, ignoring the 3D effect, just how powerful it is. People are going to have their minds blown.
NWR: Any words you'd like to send off to the readers of Nintendo World Report?
TN: Well, how do I put this. I don't want to make it a sales pitch, but if you're a fan of GoldenEye in general, a fan of the N64 version, you really got to pick both games up because they're companion titles to each other. You're going to find something different in each one. And to me, there's really something about playing a first-person shooter on the DS with the stylus controls. Although we do have the button controls now for the first time. It just feels natural and responsive. It's just a lot of fun. We really tried to push the boundaries of what the DS could do.