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 to do.

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! :)

00-Seven Questions

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?
Sean Connery.

 

What did you think of the latest film, "Die Another Day"?
It was entertaining enough, if at times a little far fetched.

 

What is your favourite Bond moment from the series?
Youíve got to admit that the scene at the beginning of "GoldenEye" 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!

Many thanks to Darren Pattenden. Check out his personal website for a look at more of his stunning 2D artwork and 3D models.

 

MI6 Biography

Name: Darren Pattenden

Portfolio
"Agent Under Fire" - Lead 3D Modeler
"NightFire" - Senior Character Artist
"Everything Or Nothing" - Lead Character Artist
"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" - Character Artist

Related Articles
Darren Pattenden Interview (1)
"Everything or Nothing" Coverage
"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" Coverage