Rare employee discloses fresh details on the ill-fated `GoldenEye 64` port to Xbox and Wii
Rare senior software engineer Nick Burton spoke to Videogamer.com
and revealed some fresh details on the 'GoldenEye 64' 10th anniversary Xbox/Wii saga...
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VideoGamer.com: It almost feels like the entire gaming world is waiting for [a new FPS game from Rare] to come out, more than any other studio in the world or any other genre.
Nick Burton: I remember when the news of Bungie going, not separate ways, but independent again from Microsoft. The first thing that popped up on every single forum was "What's the bets on who's getting the Halo licence?" and everyone was like Rare every time. No, Bungie will do it. Probably. I don't know. We read all those things as well. All the talent, you know, just because you see Viva PiÃ±ata doesn't mean that the talent has gone, because that kind of pains me when you hear about that sometimes. Especially with the GoldenEye guys. About a third of the GoldenEye team are still at Rare. A couple of them did a lot of stuff on it. Everyone's like "GoldenEye was done by these guys". No, it was done by a team of people. Some of our designers, when you look at them and how they analyse things, especially if they have a specialisation like FPS or multiplayer level design, the way they can analyse stuff almost spoils your gaming sometimes. You come in saying how you're really enjoying something and then "well that bit was rubbish wasn't it?" No. "It was because there was this, this and this." And you go yeah, I did get stuck there actually.
VideoGamer.com: What's the feeling within Rare about the whole GoldenEye Xbox LIVE Arcade thing?
NB: That was a tricky one. To be fair, I kind of wished that the differences got sorted out, but obviously there's the licensing issue for Bond, even if it's something that's already come out. It's incredibly hard to solve because there's so many licence holders involved. You've got the guys that own the license to the gaming rights now, the guys that have the licence to Bond as an IP, and there are umpteen licensees. Me, just personally, I thought, God, that's a difficult problem to solve. The guys wanted to go and make it. I guess it probably got to them maybe, I don't know, but for me I just kind of thought that we'd never manage it, never quite make it. But the feeling's not too bad really. It's what it's like as a games developer. You have to treat something that's not seen the light of day as a prototype. I've had, what, four or five things that never happened. It's funny that we don't even talk about them a lot of the time, because you think, well, we might revisit it.
VideoGamer.com: So is that it? Is GoldenEye on Arcade dead?
NB: The ball's not in anybody at Rare's court really. It's squarely in the license holders' courts. It's a shame. It's kind of locked in this no man's land. There's nothing on LIVE Arcade, there's nothing on Wii.
VideoGamer.com: From a gamer's point of view is amazing that it's not available.
NB: It's just what happens legally sometimes. Not necessarily with games, but you see it with music and films. Things get locked in this legal limbo. Even most of the parties involved, probably all the parties involved want to solve it. It's such a complex issue. It amazes me. I sort of sit on the periphery, but I know a few guys in the legal team. Why can't this happen? I want to play it and I want everyone else to play it. And they're like "well, there's this and this and this and that, and you have to have approval from them, and then there's artist approval, all the way up to probably Pierce Brosnan has to say it's all right for this". There's not enough hours in the day.
VideoGamer.com: It's so sad.
NB: It is so sad. It is. Ultimately everyone loses out. Including the license holders.
VideoGamer.com: So those screen shots that were released. Were they real screens from something?
NB: I can't say. Again, infer what you will from that (laughs). Let's just say. The last thing about GoldenEye: Legal mine field.
VideoGamer.com: It was just so frustrating to see that slow reveal only to find out we'd never get to play it or really see it.
NB: Yeah, "oh, it's been snatched away".
VideoGamer.com: The internet blew up over that.
NB: Yeah, it's interesting being on the inside and seeing that. You have your own take because you have all the information. It makes you laugh and cry in equal parts. Especially when you read forums and there's all "It was this, this, this and this". Maybe it's a 14-year-old lad who doesn't know or somebody who really thinks they know. You're like, "what are you on?". Then there's other ones where you're like, "that's a bit close to the knuckle" (laughs).
VideoGamer.com: Did you see any post where you thought it came from someone who knew? Or do you think it's one of those things that no one really knows the truth behind?
NB: I think, probably, some people do. I'm not one of them, but as I say I was out on the periphery for that. Watching as an interested party and having a chat with guys over lunch about it. We chat about it as much as the guys on your forums do. Believe me (laughs). Yes, in the organisation somewhere, probably somebody knows. It's probably going to go down in the annals of gaming history as one of the big mysteries.
VideoGamer.com: Does GoldenEye almost haunt the studio?
NB: No, not at all. I wouldn't say indifference. It's nice to see people still talk about it. But I also think, and a lot of us think this, that you look back at it and it's still good fun to play, but if I played it now with my gaming tastes as refined as they are now, would I still have the same reaction or have I really got rose tinted spectacles on? It's almost impossible to separate one from the other. I still look at it and think, no, it's got great level design for instance, but then you think I'm saying that because maybe the control feels really good, but it's not perfect. But it's not perfect because the frame rate wasn't high enough. It's very difficult to separate your memory. As someone coined at work the other week. "You need some brain bleach" so you can get rid of the memory. Maybe I should get hypnotherapy to remove the memories. It'd be interesting. Then go an play it and see if it still stands up. We're not "oh God, get over it" and we're not like "urrggh, look, everybody still worships that thing". I think sometimes it gets to you a bit when you a get a forum poster say "Rare's not as good as it used to be". In reality, if you look at our recent games, they're better than they ever were. It's just that the market has changed, and diversified and got a lot bigger, and we still appeal to the audience we appealed to. Gaming changed and started to fracture a lot. One studio will find it very difficult to fulfil everybody's tastes, unless you get that one golden moment where you get that true breakout game, that breaks outside of its niche and becomes that phenomenon like GTA and Halo. They do that because they're very good games, without doubt, but these days you have to have that alignment of the planets, where the marketing has to be right, the time has to be right, all the social aspects have to come into alignment. And when it does you get an amazing effect, but it's more than the sum of its parts, without a doubt.
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