Know Wonder/Eurocom/Electronic Arts UK
Design Consultant (PC)
Design (Game Boy Advance)
Having left Acclaim Studios Teesside I was given a fantastic opportunity – to join Electronic Arts’ internal team as Lead Designer working on their Next Generation (PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube and X-Box) versions of Harry Potter. I leapt at the chance, both being a fan of the books already and because of the significance of the property. With a major motion picture only a year away this was sure to be an awesome ride.
The first few months of the project saw myself and Guy Miller (my collaborator for many years at that point) immersing ourselves in the fiction, (including some special ‘Extended Fiction’ written exclusively for EA by JK Rowling herself! ) and developing out the basic design for the Next Generation consoles. Taking the responsibility of expanding and realising JK Rowling’s world very seriously indeed we were soon dubbed ‘Fiction Police’ by the Production Team and we found ourselves being drawn in to settle disputes or advise on story issues on the other formats that were being developed externally.
Our involvement with the other formats increased as I was sent to meet the team at Know Wonder and advise on their PC version of Harry, and then, after that, Guy and I were asked to work up a full design for the Game Boy Advance version of the game.
With the need to release all of the first Harry Potter games on exactly the same day as the first movie came out, deadlines were exceedingly tight. So, burning the word processor at both ends, Guy and I specced out the design for the game including the script for the entire Game Boy Advance adventure in under two weeks. (The scripts for all of the Harry Potter games we worked on were edited and approved by JK Rowling, so we really had to get it right. It must be said though that no matter how much care we took, no one managed to write Hagrid’s distinctive Forest of Dean accent without at least one correction from the expert herself!)
The nitty gritty of the level design was then taken on by Andy Kerridge and Dan Riley who under our direction, took artwork developed at both Know Wonder in Seattle (USA) and Eurocom in Derby (UK) designed the game’s 40 separate maps. During this time, Guy and I were dividing our time between the Next Generation games and giving feedback on the PC version to the Production Team and team in Seattle to help hone the game further.
It was, to say the least, an intense period for all concerned but a great introduction to Harry and the incredible world of Hogwarts – a place I was about to spend many years in.