Jeremy Jastrzab
26 Apr, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Interview

360 Interview | We have a yaaarn with the producer.
When Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was released in cinemas last year, some astute minds may have noticed that it lacked the mass gaming release to go with the film. There was a dodgy PSP title, but it was not the true title that was being envisaged. In fact, ever since the two films were commissioned, UK developer Eurocom has been hard at work over the last two years to develop the "true" Pirates of the Caribbean title.

Recently, the kind fellows at Funtastic, the distibutor for all the games coming from Disney Interactive Studios in Australia, invited us down to check out their latest game. Based on the upcoming film of the same name, we got hands-on sneak peaks of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End for both the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. We also got a chance to have a chat with Jeff Blattner from Disney Interactive Studios, who happens to be a producer for this game.

PALGN: Please tell us your position and your role in making this game.

Jeff Blattner: I’m a producer at Disney Interactive Studios, and that means a huge variety of things. Towards the end here it involves a lot of project management, Q & A and localization process, as well as managing our schedules, making sure that the game is available worldwide on May 22nd and May 24th in Australia. At other times, it has involved a lot of other things like getting our voice recordings done in a variety of languages. There are a huge number of languages for the voice recordings that are being simultaneously released, German, Italian, Spanish, French and Russian, of all things and working with the English speaking talent as well. This includes supervising voice-recording sessions with a number of the film actors. They were all over the world, though some were with our voice-recording director in Los Angeles, for all those in Las Angeles. One week, we did a voice-recording session with Lee Aernberg, who plays Pintel, the one who hangs out with Ragetti (the wooden eye guy) and I had to join in the line patch from Los Angeles, when I was in London. A couple of days later, we recorded Mackenzie Crook, (Ragetti) and he was in London so I got to join that one live. Our voice director was then patched in from Los Angeles. Through out recording sessions they get to do a wide variety of tasks.

PALGN: What other recent games have you worked on?

JB: I’ve worked on a huge number of games in my career. I’ve had the great opportunity to work with the Walt Disney company and whatever their name at the time was, whether it be Disney Interactive or Buena Vista Games, on a number of titles and a number of functions. One of my first games with them was Toy Story for the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, going way back but for interview purpose I’m only 26-years-old. I’ve gotten to work on some great titles, Disney’s first PlayStation game, Hercules, which was from the same developer as Pirates, Eurocom. I’ve also worked on A Bug’s Life, based on the great Pixar property. I’ve also been involved with Hero’s of Might and Magic III and IV, when they were still under 3DO, who no longer exist and a number of titles since. At Buena Vista Games, I worked on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, released on a number of different platforms.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are some of the best-looking movie-based games to date.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are some of the best-looking movie-based games to date.
PALGN: Please tell us a little about the game.

JB: In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the story takes place across both the second and third films. So you start off in Dead Man’s Chest, the first level on every platform is a tutorial level that gives you a “behind-the-scenes” look on how Jack Sparrow escaped the prison fortress. At the end of the level, you see where he finds himself in the coffin, rowing away using the skeleton’s leg, he first appears in the second film. Our overriding design goal was to deliver the experience of playing as Jack Sparrow. On different platforms, that will mean different things. On the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2 and PSP, we have the “Jackanism” system, where you get to do a number of comical or otherwise action sequences, within the unique character of Jack Sparrow, utilizing controls for each platform. On Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the way that you get to be Jack Sparrow is through the incredibly, richly detailed character model. His fingers and dreads all move independently, his walk nails the Johnny Depp walk that he created for Jack Sparrow and by doing things that only Jack Sparrow could or would do.

PALGN: The game will be available on several platforms, how will each version differ?

JB: The game will be developed on Nintendo DS, and that game is being developed in the United States. It’s the one version that I’ve had absolutely no involvement on but it will be available alongside the other versions. You have the PS2, PSP, PC and Nintendo Wii versions that all share the same design. The reason for this is that the audience for these platforms is generally a little younger – The OFLC rating is PG. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are catered for an audience that tends to be slightly older, so we’ve delivered a much more realistic looking game – this version has a M rating, so we believe that it will appeal to slightly older consumers. For those platforms, we are also able to deliver incredible visual quality. It is one of the few games currently available that is able deliver 1080p on both platforms.

PALGN: Will it be strictly action-based, or will there be some variety; how will it differ from your average hack-and-slash?

JB: Certainly, as a Pirate, you’re going to live and die by the sword. All the games prominently feature sword combat, sometimes against multiple enemies and sometimes we try to deliver those great one-on-one battles from the films, as well as being able to knock off all the enemies that Jack, Will and Elizabeth have faced through out the films. However, the films are more than just one sword fight after another, and hence, so are the games. We’ve tried to create a spirit of adventure through out the games. On PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, you truly live and die by your sword, as there are a number of ways that your sword is used for more than just combat. It can assist in jumps, help you to areas that are otherwise unreachable, you can plant it into a sail and go ripping down the sails of a ship, you sword can rescue you if you lose you balance on one of the many ledges through out the game. On the Nintendo Wii and similar platforms, we’ve tried to break up the gameplay with some mini-games here and there, as well as the ability to take part in a lot of adventurous aspects and cinematic sequences.

The non-360/PS3 version will have a more casual approach.

The non-360/PS3 version will have a more casual approach.
PALGN: Will there be any of the mentioned mini-games in the Xbox 360/PS3 versions?

JB: Early on we determined that we wanted to make sure that each platform got the right amount of attention, and got a design that was appropriate to the target audience. In order to make sure we didn’t put ourselves in a position later on where we needed to unnecessarily divide resources, we split the group at Derby, Eurocom into two separate teams for the six platforms. Each team would focus on the designs to make sure they were right for each particular platform. So we felt that we wanted to deliver a more realistic experience, and put you more in the frame and mind of being a character in the film on PS3 and Xbox 360. The mini-games simply didn’t work in that context. So these will only be appearing on the other platforms.

PALGN: Is the game more open-ended or linear or somewhere in between?

JB: It’s fairly linear but we’ve tried to create expansive areas where the player is free to explore them. The story both follows and diverges from the story lines in the film, but it still has a beginning and an end. We’ve given the players the ability to replay any of those levels to find hidden areas or other collectibles, possibly even to experience the levels from a different point of view. The main does have a start and an end point but players can then choose to go back and visit any of the moments that they choose to, to see the various ways they can be done.

PALGN: Is it closely tied with the events of the upcoming movie, or has there been an effort to expand upon the given storyline?

JB: There are a few different ways and that will depend on the platform. For instance, on all of the platforms, the first level that you will experience is a prison fortress level where Jack makes his escape and you first see him in Dead Man’s Chest. You get to see him make his escape on all platforms. Also though, there are characters that are introduced in the third film but in some cases, we introduced them a little earlier, sometimes in the context of the story of second film. We also have characters that are unique to the platforms. On the Wii and PS2, we have members of Davy Jones’ crew that you could have seen in the second films but we’ve created just for the game. As well on Xbox 360 and PS3, there is a character called Black Bart that figures prominently in the storyline and helps you diverge from the story.

Trying to recreate that cinematic feel at home.

Trying to recreate that cinematic feel at home.
PALGN: How will the game set itself apart from other action games?

JB: The advantage that we have is that an action game is often about what you get to do and how you relate to that character. So, the main advantage and strength that we wanted to deliver on was playing as Jack Sparrow and as his mates, and getting to experience playing as all of the characters. The other thing that we wanted to do was to deliver a really great theatrical sword fighting experience. So we hired the fight choreographer from the films to give us pointers on how we can get our combat to closely mimic and replicate the experience of fighting in the films. On the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, you are often surrounded by enemies, just like in the films, so you have to pick and choose the right one to deal with and the right one to counter. The other interesting thing that we’ve done with the dueling system on PS3 and Xbox 360 is that one-on-one fights in the movies has a great give-and-take. Obviously, when one person is advancing, while the other person has to take the opportunity to make their stand and try to turn the tables to go on the offensive. We’ve tried to create a strategic feel to the dueling, by slowing it down a bit and adding more strategic elements and tried to replicate the feel of the great one-on-one battles from great swashbuckling films that we’ve had.

PALGN: Tell us in your words, why will this game avoid being just like any other movie game?

JB: Absolutely, it’s a goal we had in mind since the outset. We’ve been hard at work for two years, to make sure that we weren’t just delivering a game that had the name Pirates of the Caribbean but was a game that actually delivered, Pirates of the Caribbean. We’ve picked a great developer in Eurocom, who have delivered some great movie titles in the past, they have a rich history with Disney related games, worked extremely closely with the film makers to make sure that it felt like a Pirates of the Caribbean game. They made sure the game had great visual quality, going as far as using actual models that were used in the film, as well as having a design that is game first and license property second but properly leveraging that license property.

PALGN: Will the game be voiced by the cast of the movie?

JB: Our goal from the outset was to get as many cast members as possible. There is a large amount of dialogue in the game and it just came down to timing. We were able to work closely with a lot of the main cast members, as well as getting their likeness well represented. They sat down with us on the set to get facial scans, which was a fairly regular process for them. But to get them into a studio for days on end to record all of that dialogue proved to be an impossible task. So like I mentioned before, we tried to record all around the globe to get the actors from the film. So Pintel and Ragetti, Lee Aernberg and Mackenzie Crook, as well as Jonathan Pryce from Brazil who plays Governor Swan, Tom Hollander who plays Lord Cutler Beckett, Stellan Skarsgard who plays “Bootstrap” Bill, we got him in on a phone patch from Sweden. We went as far and wide get the voices of the characters from the film as we could. For those characters that we couldn’t get, we did out best to replicate them as closely as possible. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the main cast members, namely Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan, to do their own voices.

The Wii-mote use felt well implemented.

The Wii-mote use felt well implemented.
PALGN: How much time will the average gamer be likely to spend on this game?

JB: Hopefully they’ll be spending a lot of time with it by choice, but to get through the main story line we figure that it would take around eight to ten hours. However, we tried to add as much replay value as we can, with new areas to explore.

PALGN: Are you able to let us in on any potential future projects that you’re involved with?

JB: No, I’m not unfortunately. However, we do have Turok coming out for a number of platforms but its not one of my projects. I’m excited because sometimes I’ll get to work through the office and see it in action. My future projects, while I’m incredibly excited by them, I’m unable to elaborate on what they are.

PALGN: Are you a gamer yourself? What have you been playing recently?

JB: I am, I try to be. Lately, I’ve been finding myself to be a young at heart gamer, so I’ve had a great deal of fun playing through things like Lego Star Wars and Lego Star Wars II, those are great games. I like games like the Ratchet and Clank series, I’ve got my Mario Kart DS for the plane, as well as Brain Training.

PALGN: Thank you very much for your time.

JB:Thanks for having me.

Please stay tuned to PALGN, as we'll be bringing you full hands-on previews for both the Xbox 360 and Wii versions of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, in the very near future.

PALGN would like to thank Jeff Blattner of DIS for the interview, and Paul and the crew at Funtastic for setting up the opportunity for the interview and hands-on time with both games.

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6 years ago
As for PotC:AWE (bloody acronyms), I remain cautiously optimistic; I can't help but think that the sword combat genre doesn't seem to be the best fit for the franchise - perhaps a more action/adventure/rpg approach would fit better?

Ah well, can't have too much sophistication these days, let's just amp up the body count for the GTA-players. Still, could be worth a look.
6 years ago
Hmm appauling Wii grafix and it sounds a lil more childish on Wii.

But i may check it out on 360 if it gets good reviews.. looks ok i guess on there.
6 years ago
My love of the movies mean that my interest in the game (for 360) is quite high. While yes, games based on movies in the past have sucked there just seems to be something different about this title. Perhaps it's the effort behind it, perhaps it's because I'm a PotC fanboy - I dunno and I don't care. All I do know is that I'm looking forward to it and even if it isn't the best game in the world, it should be a decent enough game to immerse yourself into the Pirate world with. icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
sidzed2 wrote
perhaps a more action/adventure/rpg approach would fit better?
they did that with the first PctC on Xbox, it was ok, bugger all to do with the movie due to the fact it was Sea Dogs 2 with a Disney coat of paint.
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