What do you do when Rare challenges you to an afternoon of deathmatching on Perfect Dark Zero? Answer nothing but be afraid, be very afraid and of course prepare a lot of questions! We didn't want to miss the opportunity to get answers from one of the most secretive development teams in the world as they look back on the development of the Xbox 360's premier launch shooter.
We hear you had to start pressing copies before they were certified to get PDZ out on time. Was it really that close?
Dale Murchie: It really was. We had to put the Special Editions together by hand. It was getting to the point where we were flying back and forth for press junkets and other last-minute things, and I jokingly remarked to the guys that maybe we should set up mini-production lines during our flights to help out with the overall effort. Worryingly, I saw a light come on in Lee Schuneman's eyes and he said, "It might just come to that you know'. Luckily it didn't.
You must've had a few sleepless nights as you tried to get it finished?
Dale Murchie: Towards the end we'd come back in the morning after only a few hours' sleep to find the designers sitting there in the same clothes from the day before. We'd ask them "Did you even go home?" and they'd just flash us this maniacal grin. Then hand us a controller and say "But try out this." And they'd built in this entirely new boss routine. It just blew us away.
There's a stark contrast between the difficulty settings on PDZ. Did you intend to have completely different gaming experiences?
Dale Murchie: There was that conscious effort to make each difficulty setting a different experience. The funny thing is that we had some of our game testers phoning us nearly in tears because they couldn't get through the Dark Agent setting. That's enough of an indicator of what you should expect.
So really, what's the explanation for Jo's sudden change of accent?
Dale Murchie: Ummm... Well, as you can tell from the game, we wanted to give this one a more Bond-esque vibe, which you can see right from the off with the intro sequence. But the character has been played by an Englishman, a Welsh man, an Irish man... well, that's what we're saying in response to the negative feedback to the voice. But we could take it as a high compliment that years on gamers still hold this impression of Joanna that they don't want changed.
So there might be an event between games that explains the sudden shift to her English accent?
Dale Murchie: Yeah, that's it! Ha ha ha! Joanna gets shot in the throat! Maybe we could get people to write in with their best ideas, and set the winner as the official story.
You referred to continuing work on the multiplayer aspect of PDZ - what do you want to add to the game?
Dale Murchie: We'll be taking feedback from the forums, from what the fans tell us. We don't want to build something that's not going to be used. Though, I think we'd come up with some pretty cool stuff!
How have you evolved the multiplayer? Did you look at other FPSs in the last few years for the movement of the market? It certainly has the GoldenEye vibe to it...
Dale Murchie: We're not looking at it from GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, then onto Halo, then Halo 2 and onwards... we're looking at this as a logical progression from the first Perfect Dark. Not that we don't like Halo; we love it, and we have a lot of respect for Bungie. We just feel that the games are on different tracks. In the last few months we've conversed with Bungie, been over to their studios, and vice versa. There a great deal of respect between the two teams, and it was good to get feedback from them.