I got a chance to speak with Jane Whittaker, the director of the iconic title 007: Goldeneye, and it being the 20th anniversary of Goldeneye, I had to know more of what it was like working on games during the days of Nintendo 64; let alone one of the most well known and beloved titles!
Funny enough, I found contact to Whittaker thanks to the follow ups I do in the indie game part of the industry. Whittaker is now leading a team known as Keystone Games and they are launching a title Rogue Islands, which Whittaker has shown excitement to see released!
Interview with Director Whittaker
What was it like working on a game during the N64 days?
"I think it was the most creative time to be in the industry. There was just so much going on that still has resonance today. Titles such as my Alien Vs Predator and Goldeneye along with Quake and Wolfenstein and a slew of other releases really set a template for the titles that myself and other studios are still developing some 20 years later. It seems a cliché but it really was a golden age of gaming. I worked on games through the 80's but the hardware didn't really do justice to our imaginations. The Goldeneye era and machines such as the N64 and Atari Jaguar really were a quantum leap in graphical and processing power. The gaming world changed around that time with the first opportunity to actually make games that we really wanted to make. It was the start of the barriers coming down between the developer and the hardware."
Looking back now, do you think it could have been any better?
"I think in retrospect every title can have some tweaks or changes. I think any developer in the business will say that about every game. Am I happy with how the game turned out? Yes, definitely. It has become a gaming icon, how could myself, Rare, MGM and everyone involved not be happy with a game that it still played and loved my millions today."
Have you guys have any thoughts about doing a 007: Goldeneye remaster?
"Short answer is that, unfortunately, it’s nothing to do with me. I no longer work for Metro Goldwyn Mayer. If a new one is ever in the works, I hope I would be invited to get involved as I would sign on the dotted line without a second's hesitation!
My association with FPS is far from over; 34 years after starting my career I have been involved in the development of Rogue Islands, a new procedurally generated FPS that is taking the gaming world by storm. Will Rogue Islands follow its illustrious predecessors such as AvP and Goldeneye? Will I be celebrating the 20th anniversary of an iconic game in 20 years time from my retirement home? Only time will tell."
Did you guys know how popular the game would be?
"Absolutely not. Of course we knew we had the hottest property that MGM had to offer in Goldeneye and there was a genuine desire to make the game the best it could be. That said, no-one ever knows how well a game will do. You give it all your love and passion and commitment and put a game out in the world. After that longevity and survival of a game is really down to the public reception. We were massively successful and the public were fantastic. I guess the answer why is simple: who wouldn't want to become James Bond! albeit from your living room!"
What did you do to help create Goldeneye?
"I was director of development at Metro Goldwyn Mayer. That meant that I was responsible for all the interactive titles that used key company franchises, such as James Bond. So, working with Nintendo, I was representing MGM as the key stakeholder in the game, ensuring that the Bond licence was properly used and managed as befitting such an amazing franchise. I was also involved in asking Rare to develop the title, as I considered them to be the top team in the world at that time. Additionally, having just come off development of Alien Vs Predator (the second only first person shooter in history) just before we started Goldeneye, I was able to get involved in gameplay design, AI, cinematic ideas and a whole host of other things. I had literally just finished a massively successful FPS with a movie licence as the programmer and joint designer so all those skills were able to be ported into the vision for Goldeneye. I spent a significant amount of time at the filming of the actual Bond movies to really get a feel of how a Bond game should be, which was fed back to the group. I really wanted a game that was cinematic, really special and fun!"
What is your favourite part of the game?
"I honestly don't have a favourite part. My favourite aspect of the game is the cinematic look and feel throughout and that you really do feel like you are James Bond. My vision for movie-licensed games has always been that they should be a cinematic interactive experience. The player needs plenty to do, but they really do need to feel that they are living in the world of the movie with grand cinematics and set pieces that suck you into the game. Goldeneye has that in spades!"
It's amazing how far we have come already in the game industry and still have tyrant's like Whittaker in there bringing new ideas, concepts, and stories through incredible worlds developed through passion! I look forward to see what else is created and feel lucky to be going along for the journey!