June 29, 2007* is a day for all of you to remember. "Why?" we hear you all ask? Simply because this is the day when Harry Potter fans worldwide will gain access to the long-awaited Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Over the next three weeks in an event we have entitled "Fansite Fridays" we will be bringing you many exclusives all to do with the videogame, such as screenshots, team biographies and photographs, our reviews on the videogame and much, much more; however if we told you everything to expect now, then it would ruin the surprise, so we will stop it there.
Okay, so let's begin "Part One" of the three week event with an overview of the entire day. On the 26th of April, 2007, we were kindly invited back to EA's headquarters in Guildford since they had moved from Chertsey for a day full of amazement and excitement, since not only did it involve playing on the videogame in various formats, we were also given the opportunity to ask the questions that you wanted answering to all of the "big guys" who work on the videogame itself.
After having arrived in Guildford our first task for the day began... actually finding EA's headquarters. After spending a good 15 minutes asking various local people, going to the train station for advice and looking at the various local maps situated across the town, we were stumped. Even though it seemed Lady Luck was not on our side, thanks to a local taxi driver we were able to find our way. Coming face-to-face with the building was rather ironic, since not only had we passed it over a zillion times while we were searching, it was merely on the other side of the car park that we parked in! D'oh! After completing the first task, we were soon faced with another... getting inside the building. After trying many entrances that were locked, we finally found a speakerphone on one of the entrances to communicate with EA and managed to get inside, all of this and only being 10 minutes late, not too bad!
The moment we stepped inside of the building we were faced with all four of the Harry Potter House flags dangling from the ceiling and each one of them grew larger the higher up the escalator we went, as we eventually reach the main reception. After having received our press packs and our name badges which also included the name of the House that the Sorting Hat had placed us into, Leanne was placed into Slytherin, while Stefan was placed into Ravenclaw we made our way to the first event of the day, a presentation by Chris Roberts (game designer) and Justin Manning (producer), in relation to how the videogame had progressed since our last visit which occurred in August of 2006.
Stepping inside of the room where the presentation was held, not only were we again welcomed by all four of the Harry Potter House flags, but also all of the representatives from the other Harry Potter websites. The representatives that were present at this event were as followed:
^0^ Alexandre and Robin Gazette du Sorcier
^0^ Charlotte HPANA/Immertius
^0^ Donna The Leaky Cauldron
^0^ Jessie Dreuzels
^0^ Jonas Hpfans
^0^ Ilse Wizardzone
^0^ Ilkka - HPFanIt
^0^ Matthias Hpexperts
^0^ Leanne and Stefan TheSnitch
The presentation was very useful, since we were able to gain the following facts and figures for all of you Snitchers:
^0^ The EA team have managed to design and implement over 70 locations
^0^ The EA team have managed to design and implement over 60 missions
^0^ Over 90 characters have been designed and implemented, all consisting of different accents, ages, genders and types of interaction
^0^ Over 9,600 lines of dialogue have been written and recorded, while 22 actors from the movie such as Rupert Grint and Katie Leung have recorded their own lines for the videogame
^0^ The videogame has been created on nine different platforms
^0^ The videogame has been translated into 23 different languages
^0^ The EA team managed to gain compositional rights to various items such as the score "Hedwig's Theme" and have altered it accordingly, in order to enhance the moods that you will experience throughout your gaming experience
^0^ The EA team worked closely with both Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling to ensure that this videogame is the best one to date!
From the presentation we also found out the things that the team wanted to put into the videogame, however sadly were not able to:
^0^ Swapping between characters throughout the videogame at the user's discretion
^0^ The addition of more classroom games
^0^ The opportunity for users to take their OWLs
^0^ The opportunity for users to fly and play Quidditch
Even though some of you may be disappointed by some of the information mentioned above, practicing for one's OWLs, flying and participating in Quidditch will occur in the hand-held platforms such as the Nintendo DS, which surely must be a plus side! Moreover, the fact that the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
novel is Harry-centric, then one must consider that these features deter away from the essence of this, hence another reason why they have not been included.
After the presentation ended, the time came to actually play on the videogame on the different formats that were available the Nintendo Wii, the PlayStation3 and last but not least the XBox 360. Everyone split into their Houses and moved to one of the platforms. The Ravenclaws that consisted of Donna, Jonas and Stefan went onto the Playstation3, while the Slytherins that consisted of Charlotte, Jessie, and Leanne went onto the Nintendo Wii.
Below is a little snippet from Leanne's encounter with the videogame on all three platforms. To read both of our experiences and reviews on the videogame, then be sure to stay tuned to TheSnitch!
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After a quick demonstration of how to use the Wii remote controller, it was handed over to Charlotte, Jessie and I so that we could have a go ourselves. I was sitting in the "hot seat" so I was up first. It was a strange sensation to be sat in a chair holding a controller that made Harry do exactly the same movements as me. It took a few minutes to get used to it but once I'd got the hang of it, it was really fun. We were having that much fun that we completely forgot that there were other people in the room at the time and it wasn't until Lisa Humphries (marketing manager) came over to see us that we realised just how much noise we'd been making!
Once all three of us had had a chance to experience the Nintendo Wii for ourselves, we moved over to the XBox 360. Again, after a small demonstration, we were handed the control pad and given the chance to play. I had a little trouble with casting one of the spells, which the rest of the group, and Gary Napper (European CQC senior tester) who was sitting with us while we played, found highly amusing. They cheered me on for a good five minutes while I continued to cast this same spell. I got there eventually and a huge cheer was given out all round. This was when I decided it was best to hand over the controls to Charlotte, who didnt seem to have as much trouble as I did at casting the spell.
The final move for the Slytherins was to the PlayStation 3. After a small delay while Gary fought with it to get it working, we were off playing as Harry once more and all I can say is WOW! More to come on my experiences with the videogame and a full-scale review within the upcoming weeks...
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After all of the excitement from the gaming, we had lunch. The whole group was escorted to the "Bar Mezzanine" area where there was a lovely spread of food laid out ready for us to tuck in to. While eating we were engaged in conversation about many things, mainly Harry Potter as you can imagine, but we somehow came onto Prison Break
and other such television shows and their popularity amongst the fansite council members.
After being stuffed by all of the exquisite items we had for lunch, we were again split up into our House groups, but this time to go on a tour of the new headquarters, in order to view various processes and to conduct interviews with the following staff members:
^0^ Harvey Elliott (Executive Producer)
^0^ Wayne Stables (CG Supervisor)
^0^ Chris Roberts
^0^ Kelvin Tuite (Art Director)
^0^ Justin Manning
One of the key departments that was visited can be seen via the EA staff member James Slavin. James allowed us to hear a clip of music that features within the videogame; even though this on its own was a fantastic thing to hear, the fact that it was an extract from the final battle within the videogame between Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic made it extra special! The music was played by an orchestra entitled the "London Philharmonic Orchestra," while the addition of a 12 voice choir - which was tripled to make it sound like 36 voices were part of the music - certainly did give it a greater depth of emotion. From visting the music department we were also able to find out which actors were actually able to voice their own characters and it seems that all of the actors we mentioned in our previous report have still done so, however Daniel Radcliffe nor Emma Watson have been able to do their own, but their counterparts such as Adam Sop - who also does the voiceover for Daniel Radcliffe in the movies when needed - sound very realistic, since neither Donna, Jonas or I could tell the difference!
Another department that was visited was visual, due to the fact that we were able to view the latest ammendments to a variety of images such as the courtyard and Hagrid's Hut. From viewing these images we were able to see the amount of depth and hard work that actually goes into creating each item and location, since the hut for example was constructed through a variety of layers ranging from a basic outline layer, an overlapping black and white layer to produce the shine that would be present on each brick, while a final overlapping layer is used to indicate the extent of shine and positoning of each brick on the wall.
Other images were also viewed, however this time to do with the characters themselves and one of the most detailed characters that we were able to see was Professor. Mc. Gonagall. Again, we were able to see the variety of layers that were present to create this character, while we were also able to see the difference the shine made, since at one point the character looked like a melted wax work, since the shine was placed at maximum to emphasise how important the amount of shine each item and location has can make a difference to the entire atmopshere that the user will interact with.
Once all of the grilling and viewing had taken place we have answered most of the questions that you asked, might we add! we all returned back to the podium boardroom for a final goodbye and to mark the end of one fantastic day at the studios. After being given the chance to quickly have an extra go on the videogame did you win that round of Gobstones in the end, Jonas? hehehe we were all given a massive surprise, which simply astounded every single one of us! Each fansite council member was presented with a piece of authentic concept art from within the videogame, signed by the artist himself, as well as a House scarf to truly seal the deal that the Sorting Hat had sorted us into the realms of Hogwarts; all of which was a thank you present from everyone at EA. Sadly, we are not allowed to show or take any photographs of these concept arts, since as they are too exclusive in content, but be rest assured, they are amazing!
Thinking that the day was truly done and dusted, we started to prepare to go, however EA had one more trick up their sleeve, a team photograph! Without any chance to slip out of the building to avoid being photographed, we all went to the reception area of the building for the shoot. After various photographs had been taken, we said our final goodbyes and left for the long journey home. To view the photographs, simply look at the bottom of this report.
All in all it was a really interesting day which has fuelled our passion for the Harry Potter phenomenon even more. We are both extremely privileged to have gotten the chance to go back, in order to see the progress that has been made and hopefully will be back to represent all of you Snitchers when the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
videogame is being designed and implemented!
* This is the date that has been scheduled, however as it has not yet been fixed then it is open to being altered.
This is not the end of "Part One" of the exclusive content! Be sure to view the first part of the presentation that we viewed while at EA, with various staff members talking about the videogame and showing exclusive footage from the game, too. This can be found in the ".: The Exclusives :: May 04, 2007 :." section on the Fansite Council main index
A group photograph consisting of all the fansite council members and staff at EA
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Another group photograph consisting of
all the fansite council members and staff at EA
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Leanne: 4th from left, front row
Stefan: 6th from left, back row
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