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Interview with Perfect Entertainment

The Developers of Discworld II: Missing Presumed...!?

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How is Discworld II different/better than the original?

Discworld II, while being just as huge as the original game, has high resolution graphics, film quality animation, full digital sound and music, not to mention even more twists in the involved storyline. A major advance is the friendliness of the game. No more "that doesn't work" responses. Discworld II has a tailor-made response for every instance. These responses also subtly guide the players along towards the right solution.

Why change the style of characters from the original Discworld game?

Whilst retaining the rich and detailed backgrounds of the original, Discworld II is designed to be more of a cartoon experience. The characters are more stylised to facilitate funnier animation.

Who interpreted the characters from the written word to their graphical game representations?

The characters were interpreted from the books by Greg Barnett, the writer and director of the game. Well over half of the characters are unique to this game (although don't be surprised if the odd one doesn't pop up in future Discworld books). The look of the characters was created by a character designer who has worked with Disney and Amblin Animation.

How was Terry Pratchett involved in the script?

We have the dialogue for the game written by a professional author. Terry then takes the final draft and edits it to remove any Discworld inconsistencies, throws out any bad sheep jokes, adds some godawful 'puns', scatters a few sheep jokes of his own, and then basically sprinkles his own special brand of fairydust.

What are they key differences in the way the sequel plays?

Discworld I was easy to understand, but quite possibly the hardest adventure game ever written. Its biggest shortcoming was that it did not guide the player more by providing more detailed responses to the player's wrong action.

Discworld II is just as hard, but far friendlier. There are no more "That doesn't work" responses from Rincewind. Every action on every object solicits a sensible response, and if the player is on the right track, the game lets them know it (by the responses). Likewise if a player is totally heading in the wrong direction, there are little nudges along.

What art technologies have you used to make the game?

Discworld II is a marriage of conventional film animation and computer game animation. Where possible we stuck as close to conventional techniques as we could, using story boarding and layout before going into studio production. The line-art cells were scanned in and coloured on SGIs using TOONZ. We then used proprietary software to scipt and add SFX. The 3D cartoon sequences were developed on SGIs using SoftImage.

Which actors will be going the voices in the game? How do they prepare to do a voice over? Did they play Discworld beforehand?

Eric Idle is Rincewind once again. He also sings the theme song (That's Death) in his guise as Bone Idle, a skeletal singer.

Nigel Planar ('wow man' - Neil the hippie from the Young Ones) provides around 20 voices, including a rendition of Neil and the Vilest, foulest beggar you've ever heard in your life.

The female voices (and one or two males, not to mention an imp, a camel, an orang-utan, the Death of Rats and a couple of vultures) were supplied by Kate Robbins, the UK's leading female voice actor (of Spitting Image fame).

The remaining voices (30 or so) were handled by our buddy Rob Brydon, one of Britain's best voice actors.

In terms of preparation, the voice recording ar done well before we have a game to show. The actors basically get a copy of the character descriptions before the recording so as they can think of a few voices. They, without exception do the recording without having read the script first. Our scripts are well formatted with directions, so it is just a matter of practising for a while to get a voice that suits the character, and then going for it. We record each actor individually, and without fail it is always a fun experience, for both them and us (although it must be said that Eric did virtually collapse after his eight hour session in the studio).

What music styles are there in the game?

This time we're using full digital sampled music, so the sky is the limit. The game uses a variety of ambient atmosphere-setting music, as well as orchestrated music synched to the action in classic Warner Bros. style. SFX wise, Discworld II is a real extravaganza, featured what surely must be the best choreographed SFX heard yet in a game. The icing on the cake is the use of Q-Sound, to add that 3D feel to the sound score.

How many are in your team? What do they do?

The Discworld II team is huge by conventional game standards. The permanent crew is four programmers, four scriptors, five animators, two writers, two musicians plus a director, a creative art director and a producer. The external animation crew consisted of over 50 people working on the project.

You have a theme song in the game this time. What is the thinking behind that and who actually did it?

Discworld II has one chart-quality theme song, written and sang by Eric Idle, orchestrated and arranged by Tom Scott, the guy who did the music for the Oscars this year, not to mention being considered the best jazz arranger in the business. The song itself is a Frank Sinatra-style/chorus line sort of number, focusing on just why it is so great to be dead!

The game also has at least four other songs in it, all quirky and original. We feel that it's about time games had songs in them, and well, we're putting them in basically.

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