Gameological At E3Snapshot

Snapshot: Bob Matthews, Bond game developer

Bob Matthews, creative director on 007 Legends

The mind behind most of James Bond’s recent video game adventures talks about recapturing the spirit of Ian Fleming’s Bond.

By Anthony John Agnello • June 7, 2012

Amid the noise and hype, we encounter some interesting, down-to-earth people on the E3 show floor. This week, we’re cornering a few of them for brief interviews that we’re calling Snapshots.

James Bond hasn’t had a great gaming career. All that shooting gets in the way of the undeniable sensuality, ridiculous sexism/racism, and 70-word descriptions of cigarettes that make Ian Fleming’s novels so entertaining half a century later. But the U.K. studio Eurocom—and creative director Bob Matthews in particular—have done well by the Bond name in recent years. 007 Legends, his latest paean to Bond’s past, draws from pre-GoldenEye entries in the Bond film series, and it looks promising, even despite its reliance on guns. The Gameological Society spoke with Matthews after a demo of his new game at E3.

The Gameological Society: What was the very first game you worked on? How many Bond games have you worked on now?

Bob Matthews: Lemmings 3D back in 1994 was my first. This is my fifth Bond game now.

Gameological: Modern shooters are defined by big ridiculous moments, but Bond is a series that thrives on quiet. How do you balance spectacle with the subtle?

Matthews: Bond’s usually balanced with settings. You have the parties right alongside the big set pieces and action. We try to keep that throughout the game. The stealth and gadgets are there for the sorts of players that find sneaking appealing.

Gameological: How do you get the Ian Fleming flavor into a game?

Matthews: I was keen to go back to the books and look specifically at how they were adapted into the films. That’s very much what we’ve done [in 007 Legends]. Converting these old movies into games and looking at that old process helps inform how we mix things into the game. The Fleming books are so important. Just look at Casino Royale, which went back to the books. That was a spectacular film.

Gameological: What game do you want to play here at E3?

Matthews: It’s really obvious, but Black Ops 2, simply because it’s the competition. Every year Call Of Duty just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s great to see who is pushing the spectacle, so we can figure out how to do what we do.

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102 Responses to “Bob Matthews, creative director on 007 Legends

  1. Chris Holly says:

    For me, Bond shooters live and let die on how well they incorporate Bond-iness. They’re usually middling shooters (FPS or third person, doesn’t matter) but quite a few of them have been enjoyable on atmosphere, music, and gadgetry alone.

    • Dr_Jan_Itor says:

      I remember enjoying the early PS2 Bond games – Agent Under Fire and Nightfire – because of the awesome “Bond Moves” where you would shoot something (an explosive barrel, some rope, etc.) and chaotic destruction would befall your hapless foes.  Really made you feel like a clever James Bond-type trained agent.

  2. Shain Eighmey says:

    I think a great game to look at for ideas regarding a new James Bond game would be Alpha Protocol, which is an RPG that has more than a little in common with Mass Effect, only you’re a spy instead of a Specter. I’m not really suggesting that the next Bond game be an RPG, but rather that take a step back and say “Which Bond do you want to take this situation as?” Are you going to be Connery like charisma powered and hands on, Moore like casual disregard for human life and gagetry, Dalton like serious and violent, Brosnan like classy and gadget reliant, or try to be as Flemming like as possible and play the analytic and cold James Bond? 

    I think that element would help separate a James Bond game from the incredibly crowded genre of shooters.  

    • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

       I like this idea. It is a Bond game, so eventually there WILL be massive shoot outs and all that, but choosing to AVOID a firefight by charming your way through a party, or using a gadget to bypass a room full of guards entirely? I’d love it.

      Succeeding in a plan always feels better for the player when they choose what the plan was in the first place.

    • ryanthestormout says:

      I really, really, really wanted to like that game but I found the missions to be really samey and the gameplay to be really distancing. I never felt like my character was developing into somebody really different. And then the glitches.

      That said, if there was one game that demanded a sequel more focused on taking what worked about the original game and expanding it while polishing up the more serious issues, Alpha Protocol is it.

      Sure it’s a bit presumptuous to demand a sequel when you’re limping around like a horse about to be put down, but I keep hoping that somebody who knows what they’re doing will take that model and build on it.

      • Shain Eighmey says:

        I feel the same way. Alpha Protocol had more glimpses of greatness than actual greatness. Unfortunately, the last I read they’ve confirmed that Alpha Protocol isn’t going to be seeing a sequel, but that hopefully won’t stop someone from taking lessons learned from Alpha Protocol and applying that to a new game.

        Sometimes, games have great ideas that don’t really execute well until another game expands upon that idea. I think this is going to be a classic case of that. 

  3. unknowncast says:

    Did he explain why a M14 is in a space station? Actually, what is the weapon selection process like?

  4. Ben Reese says:

    In getting back to the books I hope we can have Bond describe a woman’s ass “almost as firm and rounded as a boy’s.”  We need to bring the Fleming perversion back to the games.