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Perfect Dark Zero

Rare's lead designer Chris Tiltson and storywriter Dale Murchie on the making of Xbox 360 launch icon Joanna Dark

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You mentioned seeing Joanna more, and she certainly looks different. She's certainly younger, but what kind of changes have you made to the character and why?

Dale Murchie: Yes, she's younger, so that was a big part of the redesign. She's not part of the Institute yet, and we wanted to show that. When Wil Overton, Joanna's designer, started to revisit her image he wanted to add lots of distinctive elements so that she'd be more memorable. That's why she's got the star tattoo, the blonde streak in her hair, the distinctive choppy outline to her hairstyle. It's all so we can put her in any type of outfit and she stays distinctly Jo.

Some of the levels we've seen are pretty huge in scale. Is that something you wanted to concentrate on?

Chris Tilston: Well, yes, but for us the gameplay is always paramount. When we're designing the game we're absolutely focused on the gameplay, and we leave it to the artists to focus on making the visual side impressive. We often find that we're so into making the gameplay work that we suddenly look back and the artists have made everything look amazing, really embellished everything.

Dale Murchie: We get inspired by a lot of films, sitting there watching them and thinking 'I want to play that, how can I work that into the game?' We've got a rooftop sequence that's inspired by The Matrix, and it looks extremely impressive.

Let's talk about multiplayer. What are your hopes and expectations for it?

Chris Tilston: That people play it, have fun, and keep playing it. That's all I want. Seriously, there are no obstructions. It's completely customisable. If people have fun setting up custom servers with all rocket launchers or all swords, that's up to them. If they have fun we've done our job. We have no expectations about it becoming a professional gamers' game or whatever.

Tell us a little more about the co-op modes...

Chris Tilston: In the single-player game certain levels are fully designed for co-op. We've got a rooftop level where one player is up on the roofs protecting the second player down on the streets, for instance. Other levels put the players together but there are always things in that level that both players must do together - one can't just hang back and let the other do the work. We've also redesigned the respawn procedure. If one player dies the other player has to find them to bring them back to life. That encourages players to stick together and not just go off and do their own thing.

It must have been quite a challenge to work the co-op stuff into the single-player game?

Chris Tilston: It was worse than that! The Agent difficulty level is there for everyone to play. You don't have to be particularly stealthy and it's fairly easy. As you go up the difficulty levels we unlock new objectives and things you have to do. Your old tactics won't work any more. Now, with co-op we don't just have to tie in each level, but also variations in each difficulty level on each level. Combining those three difficulty levels and the co-op mode into one big pie took a lot of work.

Any other new gadgets you could tell us about?

Dale Murchie: The cool thing about the gadgets is that you don't just go up to something and press a button. We've worked in little games that you have to complete. The great thing about that is that it puts you under pressure when there's a guard coming back and you're trying to access a locked door. They're used in the multiplayer too.

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