Quantum of Solace Game Interview With Garrett Young, Executive Producer on Bond team at Treyarch

qsRecently I got the chance to speak with Garrett Young, Executive Producer on Bond team at Treyarch about the new James Bond game Quantum of Solace. I want to thank Garrett as well as Kelvin Liu for taking the time for the interview.

GVK: What is the background and setting for the game and how closely does it follow the film?

GY: Our game follows both the stories of Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale. We got the QoS script very early — over a year ago — we visited the set four times, and got thousands of photos and dozens of hours of video from the set. We were really fortunate that they did such a great job of supporting us with reference and assets necessary to create an authentic experience.

We also took photographs and 3D-scans of all the major actors, and 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.

GVK: What can you tell us about the A.I. in the game?

GY: We spent a lot of time on it! The AI was designed in such a way as to give you a different experience each time, depending on how you approach a level/event. It’s also designed to use cover effectively, and rush you if you’re camping out behind cover yourself.

GVK: What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?

GY: Gamers will travel all across the world and experience the exotic international locations from both Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale. This includes Montenegro, Venice, Bolivia, Siena, Austria, and more.

GVK: What are some of the weapons we will see and will they change between locales?

GY: Of course you always have access to Bond’s trusty Walther P-99, but you can also pick up any weapon from the enemy. The AI will drop shotguns, rifles, SMGs, heavy pistols, and more. And if you look closely, you’ll also discover special weapons throughout the game – maybe even a rocket launcher…

GVK: How will vehicles be used in game and what will players be able to ride in?

GY: We discussed having vehicles – and we do have Bond’s Aston Martin DBS in the game – but at the end of the day, we decided not to do any driving levels in our game.

With this Bond game, we felt it was most important to get the core gameplay right, and we wanted to ensure that everything we put into our game is high quality and extremely well polished. We felt a driving level would take our attention away from the core gameplay experience we wanted to deliver, so we chose not to do it in this version.

GVK: What forms of multiplayer does the game include and will players be able to play both sides of the conflicts?

GY: We are very proud and definitely enthusiastic about our multiplayer modes. Our game supports 12-player online play across different game modes that gamers will recognize right away. We also have some exciting new modes that let you play as James Bond, and as both MI6 and the Organisation. We have a ton of weapons and upgrades you acquire over time, and we have some really fun maps – including cool extensions of the levels you play through in Single Player.

Our game modes are accessible and fun right from the start – it’s an easy pick-up-and-play multiplayer experience, and everyone who has played it so far has given us very positive comments. The guys at our studios even told us that the biggest problem they found during their multiplayer testing is keeping the testers from playing it all the time. 

GVK: Bond games have had a difficult time in the past winning gamers over, what sets this game apart?

GY: The combination of first-person gameplay with third-person Cover Combat, the next-gen graphics, and – of course – Daniel Craig!

GVK: Blending action with a detailed plot can always be tricky. How have you attempted to create this element, and will scripted events be a part of the game?

GY: It is tricky to find the right balance between gameplay action and story-telling in a game like this one. We do have scripted events to help progress the story, but most of our dialog occurs during level-load times. We wanted to avoid extended periods of time where a gamer sits with the controller in their lap – we want them in the game! Bond is an action hero, and our design decisions were based around making this an action game.

GVK: Roughly how long is the game and how many new maps will players get for multiplayer?

GY: We’ve found single player takes 8-10 hours for a new gamer, and we shipped the game with 12 MP maps (and more may be coming soon …)

GVK: What gaming engine is being used?

GY: We’re using the Call of Duty 4 engine, which is easily one of the best engines for first-person shooters. It is amazing technology, and the tools and content pipeline allowed us to build levels and iterate faster than if we had built our own engine. As a result, the weapon gameplay will feel familiar to COD players, but in Quantum of Solace we’ve added a persistent character for third-person Cover Combat, we created all-new environments that fit with the Bond universe, and we spent a lot of time building a more “villainous” AI.

We’re really proud of the results and we think gamers will feel the same!

GVK: What are some of the biggest obstacles you faced in creating the game and the biggest successes?

GY: This is a big question! One big obstacle was in telling a story and creating playable environments that would tie into a movie that hadn’t been filmed yet. Overcoming this required a lot of reference and support from the filmmakers, and a lot of hard work on the part of the development team. Our development cycle went longer than I’m normally comfortable with, to give us the best chance to complete the Quantum of Solace levels in time for the movie.

GVK: With a very loyal fan base, how much pressure is there not only to please yourselves but the fans as well?

GY: Good question. As a development team, we always put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do awesome work in the entire game – every level, every feature, every animation. Since this is the very first James Bond game from our company, it is essentially like we are launching a new franchise.

We know our game will set the tone for all future Bond games from Activision, so we definitely set high expectations for our team. James Bond is a truly iconic character, and he deserves to be in a very cool game.