MI6 chatted to Darren Pattenden, Lead Character Artist
on "Everything or Nothing" and "GoldenEye:
Rogue Agent", about designing James Bond...
Darren Pattenden Interview (2)
3rd September 2004
How are you involved with the Bond games?
Iíve contributed to the EA Bond games artistically in some
way or another for the last four and a half years. "Agent
Under Fire", "NightFire", "Everything or Nothing"
and currently "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent".
How difficult is it to create an actorís likeness in their
appearance and facial expressions? Do you find that as technology
is progressing it is becoming a less or more daunting task?
Itís hard. You learn tricks the more you do. Things to look out
for in a persons face. You have to study anatomy. Figure out what
in a face is bone and whatís muscle etc. You need to look at many
different images of an actor both still and in motion and under
different lighting conditions. I look for features in peoples
faces that are very specific to them. You almost need to think
of them as a caricature and emphasize those features.
Above: A 3D model by Darren.
Advancing technology is a bit of a catch 22. The fewer
the number of polygons you have to work with, the quicker
youíre done but the harder it is to make a character look
like someone. I mean look at games from 7 years ago when
I started when a characters head was just a box with a picture
of a face slapped on the front! The characters I created
for "Dungeon Keeper 2" were about 150 polygons
each. Some of the characters we created for "Everything
or Nothing" were well over 5000. So as we get more
polygons to play with and higher resolution textures, the
process takes much much longer, and the expected quality
output is much higher. So itís a double edged sword really.
But constantly advancing technology is one of the reasons
the videogame industry is so exciting to be in.
How well do you think Pierce Brosnanís likeness has improved
since "NightFire"? Where can you see it being improved
on in future games?
My own personal opinion is that itís a huge improvement ( as
it is every year ) but take a look at some comparative screenshots
to judge for yourself! I am really happy with how Pierce looks
in "Everything or Nothing". I like to think of him as
a somewhat stylized version of himself, as opposed to a flat out
photographic copy. There is always room for improvement. Time
is also a factor however, but the future will bring more realism.
More resolution, and new technologies such as normal mapping,
bump mapping, per pixel shaders, self shadowing models, dynamics
and physics and advanced facial capture techniques.
How does working on a Bond game differ to that of other games?
Is there a sense that you are Ďtamperingí with a movie series
that is over 40 years old?
Itís the same as working on anything else thatís a franchise
or licensed product. You have to deal with all that comes with
that, and never fall in love with your work because it could all
get thrown out at any moment! Thereís certainly an awareness that
youíre working on a much loved franchise with a huge mixed fanbase.
Itís impossible to please all the people all of the time.
Youíre working on "GoldenEye:
Rogue Agent", what can you tell us about the standard
of character design in the game? Are you trying to match
that of "Everything or Nothing"?
Iíve been helping them out for a while, yes. They have
some great Hollywood concept artists on board and a very
rich cast of characters so there is definitely no shortage
of talent and lots of challenging and fun character work
I think we surpass quality levels every time we make a
game. Itís always a learning experience.
Above: 2D artwork by Darren.
Traditional Bond movie characters will appear in "GoldenEye:
Rogue Agent". Is it more difficult to achieve an actorís
likeness from 40 years ago, as you do not have high quality photos
to base your textures on?
A very convincing likeness can be achieved from DVD reference
alone. Itís just more time consuming than If you have excellent
high quality reference.
"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" will have rendered cinematics
like those of "Everything or Nothing". Do you think
these will distract from the gameplay flow at all? Would you prefer
cinematics rendered within the game engine?
Bond is always going to be a hugely story driven videogame. For
that, storytelling devices such as cinematics are necessary and
add to the experience. I believe "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent"
will utilize both pre-rendered ( to a lesser extent ) and to a
much larger extent in-game cinematics seamlessly.
Where can you see character design progressing in the future?
Can we expect anything more than increased graphical quality?
I touched on the increased graphical realism earlier, but I also
think that in the area of convincing character interaction, behaviour
and A.I weíll see big improvements in the future. But then thatís
getting beyond my area of expertise!
Was the GoldenEye character based on any real-life actor?
No comment! :)
What was your first ever Bond experience?
I have a very fond childhood memory of a toy Corgi silver
Aston Martin DB5
with working rear bullet shield and passenger ejector seat.
I think I lost the plastic passenger pretty quickly though.
I treasured it even more than my Batmobile with long lost
fireable missiles. I have a silver sports car now and I'm
sure the Bond car was an influence. Unfortunately mine doesnít
have a working ejector seat and nor is it an Aston Martin!
My general interest in cars and motorcycles and all things
speed related Iím sure came from Bond. I donít think I saw
the movies in order. The first was probably something with
Roger Moore as Bond. "Live
and Let Die" perhaps. Great theme tune!
What was the first Bond game you played?
I think it was "GoldenEye 64".
What is your favourite Bond film?
There are so many good ones. "Goldfinger"
is in a universe steeped in classic Bond atmosphere.
Who is your favourite Bond?
What did you think of the latest film, "Die
It was entertaining enough, if at times a little far
What is your favourite Bond moment from the series?
Youíve got to admit that the scene at the beginning
when Bond catches up with a diving plane during a fall gets
top marks for sheer outrageousness!
Which Bond girl should come back?
Wow this is tough! For me itís a very close run
thing between Ursula Andress
as Honey Rider in "Dr.
No" and Tatyana
Romanova the SPECTRE agent in "From
Russia With Love". I think she was one of my first
screen crushes as a kid. That neck choker! But I think Honey
Rider just about clinches it in that bikini and that very
cool swinging sixties style!
to Darren Pattenden. Check
out his personal website for a look at more of his stunning 2D
artwork and 3D models.
Name: Darren Pattenden
"Agent Under Fire" - Lead 3D Modeler
"NightFire" - Senior Character Artist
"Everything Or Nothing" - Lead Character
"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" - Character Artist
Darren Pattenden Interview
or Nothing" Coverage
Rogue Agent" Coverage