EA Fansite Day: Part I
5:30 am. I'm wide-awake; no alarms were needed today. I was about to embark on my own Harry Potter adventure. Perhaps fitting then, that my first stop should be Kings Cross Station in London, where they just so happen to be filming the epilogue
for the final Harry Potter film.
With Platform 9 ¾ empty I set off for my intended destination - Guildford, Surrey where, at 10 am I arrived at the EA Games headquarters for an exclusive Fansite Day.
Upon meeting the other fansite representatives, followed by breakfast, we were then taken to "The Big One"
. That was the aptly named room in which, for Potter fans, one of the most anticipated games of the year was revealed. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1.
Presenting first was Kelvin Tuite who has been working as the Art Director on the Harry Potter games since the beginning. He took us through the evolution of the games, explaining how new consoles, new demands and the popularity of the film series all influenced the look and feel of the previous games. After a fascinating insight into the design process we were then shown the fifth and current version of Harry Potter, as he would appear in Deathly Hallows - stubble and all. He looks good!
Next to talk, was the games producer, Darren POTTER (I'm deadly serious!). He opened with a compilation of Deathly Hallows footage from the film - some of which was new (OMG!!!). He then explained that the series was getting darker, there was more action and crucially the games audience were getting older. That's why, he said, this game required "NEW THINKING"
Gone are the days of roaming around Hogwarts, gone too are the reliance on Sirius, Dumbledore and the like. The game required a new approach. As Matt Birch, the games Creative Director (and perhaps the most enthusiastic Potter fan I have ever met!) explained, this was their last chance to work with the Potter series and they wanted it to be big! That's why they have built a brand new game engine, to fully harness the demands of the game and the new technologies available to them.
One thing is clear. This isn't a "camping story". As a player you will have to escape across London, defend the burrow, withstand the ambush in the heart of London, infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, make your escape, go on the run as fugitives and fight to protect your friends. This game is much more action intensive and yet stays true to the authenticity of the series and the games predecessors.
Following the talks we were shown a trailer for the game, which featured some of the locations we'll be seeing in the game including the Ministry & Godrics Hollow. It is worth noting at this point that the production is still ongoing and locations, rendering, even the characters look could all change.
After lunch, we were given a tour of the studios, where we were able to meet the team and watch different stages of the game come together. At one point we saw a wall full of information sent by WB that had location shots, blueprints etc - it was a HP fan boys dream. I could have spent all day looking at it.
Upon touring the EA HP headquarters we were then given the opportunity to try out part of the game. As a critic of some aspects of the previous games I can honestly say that I liked what I saw. The controls are easy enough to pick up, the combat requires some tactic and skill; not just 'repetitive button pressing'. The opponents are more spontaneous and less predictable. They really have been listening to what people want.
Following the exciting demo was the opportunity to quiz the team before saying our final farewell. I left EA excited at the prospect of what the new game could bring. I had such a wonderful day - everybody was so welcoming, helpful and truly passionate about Harry Potter. I am extremely thankful to everybody involved. I learnt so much that I wish I could share with you all, but part of the fun is the discovery. I, like you, now eagerly await the final product. * Part 2 - The Games Features/Details *
Back to Deathly Hallows - Part 1