EA Fansite Day: Part I
This report forms Part I of the three-part EA Fansite Day report. Part II will be released on May 11th, and Part III (a review of the game itself) on May 18th.
My day began at 4:45am, normally a time that should never be witnessed by human eyes. But today I didn't mind, as I was going to see (and play!) the fifth Harry Potter video game, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
I arrived at EA headquarters in Guildford, Surrey at around 10am. We began the day with breakfast and I introduced myself to the other fansite representatives (I thought I had an early start; one poor lady from Belgium had been up since 2:30am!). We were then led into the main meeting room (complete with Hogwarts house banners, shiny plasma screens and a games console collection that would put even the most hardcore gamers to shame). The video games executive producer, Harvey Elliott, gave an introductory talk, followed by a video that made up the introductory sequence to the game.
I knew at this moment the day was going to be special: a sweeping view of Hogwarts in vivid colours, after which the camera dived into the castle and finished up in the Gryffindor common room. The entire sequence had been put to Hedwigs theme
with a twist! It had been recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which is just about the best orchestra in the land. The entire video was simply breathtaking, and contented smiles erupted from the EA team as they surveyed our faces.
Harvey finished his introduction and handed the reins over to Justin Manning and Chris Roberts, who gave us a detailed insight into exactly what they have been working on.
Here are a few of the main points they made:
- 85 locations have been added to Hogwarts, direct from the movie blueprints, along with other important locations such as the Ministry of Magic, Grimmauld Place and Little Whinging
- The are 60 missions for the gamer to complete (such as saving innocent students from the hands of Slytherin bullies)
- The gamer can interact with over 90 characters
- EA have recorded over 13,000 lines of dialogue with 22 of the movies actors and actresses
- The game will be released on 8 gaming platforms and in 23 languages
It was clear that EA had been scouring the fansites, looking to find out exactly what Harry Potter fans wanted. Here are some of the things they identified:
- Fans wanted a world to explore, not just a linear game. They wanted to explore the Harry Potter world and meet as many characters as possible.
- They wanted to interact with the world, by talking to portraits, ghosts and other magical creatures.
- They want to play the Harry Potter games e.g. chess and gobstones (And may I just point out, gobstones is VERY addictive!)
- They want to play more of the Harry Potter story.
However, they acknowledged they could not include everything (although they very much wanted to!), in particular:
- The ability to swap between characters
- The taking of OWL examinations (although these will be accessible on the portable consoles)
- Quidditch/Flying (except for one very funny incident. Think Fred/George!)
After the presentation we were sorted into Hogwarts houses (I became a Gryffindor) and went off to play the game on different consoles. My house started on the Xbox 360 and progressed onto the Nintendo Wii, and then the Playstation 3.
After a spectacular lunch (I remember telling Justin that if he ate the same food for lunch every day, Id quit University and ask for a job!), we conducted interviews with some members of the EA team. Ill be posting these interviews next week in Part II of the fansite day coverage.
After the interviews, and a tour of the studios, we returned to the meeting room for a final farewell from Harvey.
It really was a fantastic day, made special by some fantastic people. Thanks to Lisa, Justin, Chris, Ellie, Harvey, and everyone else who helped make the day great.
My train didn't leave for a good few hours, so after we left EA I, along with Alexandre and Robin from Gazette Du Sorcier
, went to the pub and disussed everything we'd seen. But that's... another story!