Traditionally, games based on movie and TV licenses have been synonymous with quick-and-easy cash-in jobs designed to con the general public out of their hard-earned money, based on the game brand alone. Recently though, it seems that developers and publishers - not to mention consumers - are wising up and titles like Ubisoft's King Kong and Starbreeze's Chronicles of Riddick have bucked the trend, seeing both critical and commerical success in the process.
Talking to Sony Cambridge's Mark Green about the developer's forth-coming 24: The Game, it's clear that producing a quality game to go alongside the hugely respected FOX TV show was a top priority. "We're all trying to get away from those games where you've got a license so, you know, let's rush it out as quickly as we can," Green explains. "They've done it well in films of late - I think Lord of the Rings was one of the first to do it and a number of others have tried - the Matrix kind of missed it, but what it tried to do was great. Nobody's really done it with TV shows yet though."
To achieve its goal, the development team enlisted help from the major talent responsible for the 24 TV show, including its writer, composer and even show creator Joel Surnow. Green states, "We wanted everyone to help us make something with the same production values as the TV show."
With all of 24's leading players - including Keifer Sutherland in his role as Agent Jack Bauer - present and correct, providing voice work for their digitised counterparts, the pieces are in place to achieve Sony Cambridge's dream of creating "the most authentic game of a TV show ever".
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Green, the game's producer, and discuss the process of bringing the hit TV show to the PS2. For more information on how 24: The Game is shaping up, check out our preview elsewhere.
Games based on popular film and TV licenses are historically notorious for being a bit, well, crap. What have you done during the development of 24 to ensure the game is a true reflection of a series which is a huge success, both critically and in terms of popularity?
Mark Green: Well, we had a motto that guided us in the making of the game. Basically, we wanted it to be the most authentic game of a TV show ever, so it's not just a matter of "Ooooh, we've got a license, we've got the main character!" and off we go. We wanted everyone to help us make something with the same production values as the TV show. So, on the script side of things, Duppy Demetrius who writes for the TV series wrote our script and everything he did was approved by the series' creator Joel Surnow.
Music was all done by Sean Callery - we licensed four hours of music from the show and had him write more stuff specifically for us as well. Rodney Charters, director of photography on the show, was brought on board because we've got great artists and the like, but not many of them have got film and TV experience to choose things like the right camera angle or right shot length. So we got him in and said, "Here are our storyboards, here are our animatics - what do you think?" At each stage we got more feedback from him and the cut-scenes have benefited a lot from that experience.
Lastly, Paul Gadd is a co-producer on the show and one of his main jobs is to do off-camera voice recording - they go to a particular studio and he is the voice director. We were really keen to make sure that when the actors turned up, it wasn't just like "Oh, this is just a poxy videogame and we're in some shitty studio with some voice director I've never worked with." We wanted them to feel like they were at work on the show, so we hired the same studio they use and the same voice director, so when they walked in it was just like another day on the show. So much so that one of the actresses, when we were showing her how things were going so far, was like "Oh, you mean it's a game?!"