Friday marks 20 years since Goldeneye for N64 was released to the world. Keystone Games – a new AAA developer and publisher with the mission to give the majority of RRP to help terminally ill and disabled children – has a surprising link to the game, through its COO and CTO, Jane Whittaker. In the same week, Keystone Games has signed off the final release build for its new game, in collaboration with Big Fat Alien, Rogue Islands
“Its 20 years this week since the release of Goldeneye for Nintendo 64, a landmark game in the FPS genre. I am privileged and honored to have played a part in the evolution of the genre and Goldeneye itself during my career.
Before talking Goldeneye, I want to cast your minds back to its spiritual predecessor. My involvement with the FPS “corridor shooter” began with Purple Hampton, Mike Beaton and myself developing Alien Vs Predator for the Atari Jaguar.
Hold your breath for this tidbit of information. AvP was actually the second proper 3D corridor shooter made after Wolfenstein! It is the first shooter to feature full 3D environments with floors and ceilings in the history of gaming and, as per this year’s Guinness Book of Records, the first ever game to allow you to play the monster! (Thank you Purple for that idea!) Mike and I put our heart and soul into developing AvP as programmers and designers alongside the production genius of Purple.
Developed for the most part in Sunnyvale, we actually shared an office with the Id Software guys as they were developing Wolfenstein Jaguar version. To the cubicle to my left was Wolfenstein, to my right the icon who is Jeff Minter, developing Tempest 2000! What an incredible, creative environment.
Fast forward further in my career and I find myself at Metro Goldwyn Mayer as Director of Development and this great idea that we could do a high-quality shooter with Nintendo for the N64 based around Goldeneye. Let’s think about that, the N64 was renowned for cutesy fun games like Mario.
Could the console demographic really support an audience of gamers eager to play James Bond? sniping and exploding their way through multiple game levels? At MGM, we owned the license and were very keen that we created a true James Bond game and not some watered-down parody or something like Mario Bond. It had to be James Bond, it had to be authentic, it had to be gritty. It also had to be fun!
The best development team in the world at that time, Rare, picked up the mantle to build something very special around a franchise we protected very carefully at MGM. I had done a massively successful FPS, could we put a team together with the Nintendo guys to create another watershed game?
For my part, I like to do my research. I spent hundreds of hours with Fox researching the Alien and Predator movies and now I am all ready to go researching James Bond.
The advantage of being Development Director at MGM is that you can actually go to the James Bond stage at Pinewood and see the real movies being filmed! I defy anyone not to be creatively enthused by watching Pierce Brosnan (or at least his double!) jump over obstacles amid all the noise and pyrotechnics of a Bond shoot at the massive Bond stage in Pinewood. I was a little kid in a candy shop. Well, actually it was all serious research for Goldeneye honestly! (if you believe that you will believe anything as I literally had a blast and was allowed to trigger an explosion by the special effects team!)
I came back to the USA from Pinewood Studios refreshed, invigorated and with a mind whirling with ideas. Would the powers that be take the plunge and create something new and exciting for Goldeneye? Would Nintendo be happy with James Bond fighting his way across their new console in typical MI6 style?
Well, you all know the answer to that, as it sits in the annals of history thanks to the talents of Rare, some very forward-thinking executives and a willingness from everyone to make a game that stands the test of time. Me being me, couldn’t resist sticking my oar into the game, with AI, gameplay and environment stuff and generally annoying comments at every turn.
Yet 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.
I have had such a privileged career with working on titles such as AvP and Goldeneye. Each has allowed me to grow as much as the gameplay has grown over the years. That Goldeneye has stood the test of time as one of the greats is indisputable.
Goldeneye N64, I wish you a very happy 20th Birthday this week. You set the standard in FPS gaming that others still strive to follow. More than that, you let us all be James Bond! Let me raise a glass of vodka martini in your honor. The games industry was, and continues to be shaken and stirred!”