Developing GoldenEye 007 when the technology didn't exist
"We were basically a bunch of university graduates who had far more enthusiasm and ambition than actual game development experience.”
- Lead environment artist Karl Hilton speaking to MEL Magazine about designing GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64.
GoldenEye 007 was originally pitched as a 2D game, but it was lead developer Martin Hollis who suggested it be a 3D shooter for the Nintendo 64. However, the system and technology in order to see the project through didn't entirely exist yet.
In an oral history published by MEL Magazine, several members from the development team behind GoldenEye 007 discuss the unique challenges that came with designing for the Nintendo 64.
Hollis put together a team of developers and began working on GoldenEye 007, knowing full well that game adaptations of movies weren't taken very seriously.
There was an was expectation that the game would take advantage of its source material and produce a subpar product, but Hollis was determined to create a commercial success. It was difficult at first, because the N64 didn't exist yet, and the development team was unsure of the limits on 3D gameplay.
"By today’s standards, it was a tiny team -- it was less than 10 people, and we were all in our late 20s/early 30s and mostly single," explains developer David Doak. "Thus, we didn’t have big commitments outside of work, so we could spend a lot of time working -- and we did."
Because the N64 launched after the release of the GoldenEye movie, the team had a pretty flexible deadline. Despite the flexibility, they still felt immense pressure.
"We all kind of suffered from the imposter syndrome, in that we all thought we were really lucky to be having a chance to work on it at all," Doak adds. "We were really worried that it wouldn’t be any good, and we’d let everyone down."
Lead environment artist Karl Hilton shares the same sentiment. "For all of us, it was our first job in video games development specifically," he says. "We were basically a bunch of university graduates who had far more enthusiasm and ambition than actual game development experience."
"The N64 controller wasn’t finalized when we started, so we used some kind of hacked Sega Saturn controller cobbled together," Doak explains. So the team would build and work on things from scratch-- iterating along the way.
"There wasn’t some big grand design that everyone had to strictly follow. If there was an idea that someone had, and it was convenient to do, we ran with it," Doak says. "We would build things and play it, and look for problems. It was very iterative."
They were speaking as part of a longer interview around the development of GoldenEye 007, so be sure to read the entire piece over at MEL Magazine.