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From Me to Wii: Martin Hollis' Journey
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From Me to Wii: Martin Hollis' Journey

August 14, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

So, how crucial were those boundaries once they were set, and you realized what the limitations were of what you'd be able to achieve? How important was that in defining the game?

MH: Maybe we were fairly lucky in that we made assets that worked on the SGI, and it was our guess, it was our feeling that they could be made to work on the N64. That turned out to be right. But that kind of pushed us, too, because it didn't go to well at the beginning. I don't recommend making assets for a platform that doesn't exist, in general. But, you know, it helped with pushing the technology.

When you saw Mario 64, and gained a better idea of what was achievable, was there anything that you kept on from those early days of wanting to make a light gun game?

MH: Yeah, a huge number of things. The limited number of shots, the need to reload. That was totally from Virtua Cop. It was more real, and it gives you a little bit more to think about, and it creates more situations that are entertaining. The animation, all the effort that went into animation.

What distinguishes the kind of animation you were using there to the FPS titles of the day?

MH: Well, we went all out for motion capture. That was another thing interesting. We probably had two hundred moves, maybe, in GoldenEye that could be blended and sliced.

What was kind of the greatest technical challenge of the project?

MH: Yeah, can I draw a line around that? Probably the most exciting things to me looking back was the intelligence, and I mean that in a very broad sense, the way the enemies would move and react, and also how they were competent to actually navigate an entire level.

At what point did that come together?

MH: Navigating the level came really, really late, but the way enemies react to you, that was more like midway.

Did you ever have a sense that you were making something quite special?

MH: I think you never really know a game, whether it's going to strike the audience as special. We were mostly focused inwards on what made us excited, and I think that was the best way. I wanted to make games for non-gamers and to reach out to many people as possible.

I don't like the attitude on looking down on people and saying, "Well, we don't want you to play the game." I wanted to welcome everyone, and I still make games like that. Even when I was a child, I made games for my younger siblings.

So, after you launched, the game really took a while to gather momentum, didn't it?

MH: Yeah, I think it did, yeah. It wasn't the normal pattern of a big spike, lots of sales, then rapid tail-off. It ramped up.

Were you disappointed initially about how it was performing?

MH: Yeah, I think a little.

At what point did you really notice things changing?

MH: Well, [we] kept a good track on rental data in the U.S.

From video stores and things like that?

MH: It was collated, but yes.

So, you saw those rising and sales following?

MH: Well, they didn't rise that much. I think sometimes they went up a little and sometimes down a little. In the general picture over like a year, it was pretty flat. But it was, you know, like 200,000 a month.

Goldeneye 007

How long after the release did you break a million?

MH: Actually, maybe I misremember those numbers. That question makes me think more. I really do not know. I really do not know.

I heard a story that at the time, Rare had a royalty agreement with its staff, where, for every copy of that game was sold, a pound went to the development team, which was then split up according to your seniority. And because of GoldenEye's immense success, that kind of caused the company set-up for royalties to change. Is that true?

MH: Well, Rare certainly did pay teams royalties. For GoldenEye, yeah, I made some good money on it. I don't think the management necessarily thought we needed to change this because people are making money. That doesn't make any sense to me.

So, that part of the story doesn't compute for me. I think that it's a fact that in the game industry you get more and more support from publishers and so on. They're providing more and more volume in many respects, and they're soaking up more money because of that.

What made you decide to set up your own studio?

MH: Well, I suppose that I always had some kind of seed of an idea to do that. It felt like about time to go, and I said, "I'd like to leave after this project ends," but Rare wasn't comfortable with that. So, I didn't choose the time, but I did choose the game. And I did a bit of traveling around, and went to Redmond to help those guys to design the Gamecube.

At that time, did you have an idea of the next game that you wanted to make?

MH: No. I mean, I had a bunch of ideas, but... I don't think I generally work like that too much.

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Russell Carroll
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"Nonetheless, I have to be honest and say I do feel sad that I see so many things funneled through the interface of a gun. And I'd like to try and make a small contribution to opening out games to think about other tools, other human tools and other methods of interaction, tool-free."

Great read!

It's fantastic to hear about developers who are pushing the boundaries of what gaming is, to hear about what they are thinking, and to hear what is driving that thinking.

I am often disappointed that the vast majority of gaming seems to be about overcoming conflict through dominating/destroying those who oppose you. It makes gaming as a whole seem narrow-minded, and it's great to read about people trying to address this and make games that lay outside the typical conflict and enemy elimination scenario.

Thanks to all the parties involved for taking the time to put this Q&A together.

Jason Young
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I think part of what is so appealing about guns in an FPS is that they provide a point-and-click interface, which is very intuitive, direct, and enabling (in a good way). I would like to see experiments that also provide a challenging first-person point-and-click interface without the violence... though the hard part there is thinking of a metaphor.

Alexander Bruce
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Thanks for the interview. There's some good history here, and a good explanation as to why one of the people who made Goldeneye later went off to make a game about Bonsai trees. It seems odd looking at things at face value, but it all makes sense when you hear the story about it.

Jason, would you not consider things like Portal and Mirrors Edge to be that? Unless you're talking about violence against the player as well, in which case, yeah, those games still do utilize violence as a means of adding challenge.

It's possible though. I've spent the last... long period of time... making a game that's first person without violence of any kind, whilst still being challenging / thought provoking.

Alexander Bruce
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Sorry, didn't finish that last point. Meant to add "It does, however, use a weapon, exactly for your reason of providing good point and click functionality, as a utility for playing the game, not as a means for violence."

Samer Abbas
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@Jason & Alexander

Elebits, anyone?

Cordero W
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I would really like to get his analysis on how they came about making the Donkey Kong Country series. If there's one thing I am glad for Rare is for their work on making Donkey Kong and actual living-breathing character with his own story. And that is something the NES and arcade versions did not convey well.