The GoldenEye 007 that never was

Rare alum Martin Hollis talks about the eleventh-hour addition of multiplayer and potential light-gun support.

Fifteen years after its release on the Nintendo 64, GoldenEye 007 remains a beloved classic that paved the way for console first-person shooters. But according to game director Martin Hollis, the GoldenEye 007 that shipped to stores in August of 1997 might not be recognizable today were it not for a series of significant changes that occurred during the game's nearly three-year development.

Multiplayer wasn't added to GoldenEye 007 until late in development.

Speaking in a GoldenEye 007 postmortem today at GDC Europe, Hollis offered a snapshot of how much those changes shaped the legacy of Rare's seminal first-person shooter. One of the biggest alterations, the inclusion of competitive multiplayer, occurred well into the eleventh hour. Relaying an anecdote from programmer Steve Ellis, Hollis noted that his team didn't implement multiplayer until "sometime like March or April of 1997."

The addition of multiplayer was a clandestine operation carried out without the knowledge of Rare and Nintendo management. According to Hollis, the team was able to sneak multiplayer in--a job programmed by Ellis within a single month, according to designer Duncan Botwood--due largely to the lax managerial atmosphere that existed within the studio. "There were six-month stretches when no members of Rare or Nintendo management came to the team offices," said Hollis.

Moving on to the subject of controls, Hollis noted that GoldenEye's use of the Nintendo 64 analog stick as the engine for gun aiming was never part of the game's early plans. Hollis' initial pitch for GoldenEye promised strong similarities to the arcade light-gun series Virtua Cop. "In my mind was Virtua Cop and Doom," recalled Hollis. "I could see the value of having a gun [peripheral] in your hand, but there was no gun planned for the N64."

Instead, Hollis' team at Rare built their control scheme around the promise of a rumor. "At this time, we had no idea what the [Nintendo 64 controller] would be at all," said Hollis. "There was no certainty, but there was a rumor that there was going to be an analog stick. That was all I knew. I was hoping the analog joypad would be okay." In the end, Rare chose to center its control system around the analog stick, and the bet paid off.

Finally, Hollis pointed out that some of GoldenEye's most memorable quirks could potentially have been ironed out if his team had more time for tweaking and balancing. As an example of one of his favorite mistakes, Hollis cited the Oddjob character in GoldenEye's multiplayer mode. "Oddjob was an annoying character because he was so hard to shoot," admitted Hollis. "We didn't have time to balance all the characters. Really we just threw them in for the multiplayer. But these little quirks and bits of sketchiness really bring personality to the game."

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Discussion

118 comments
widdowson91
widdowson91

GoldenEye 007, alongside Rare's other masterpiece first-person shooter Perfect Dark, remains one of the best games the genre has ever seen. Or that any genre has ever seen. Its controls may feel dated today, but its level design and mission structure are timeless.

coop36
coop36

Ah great game. Did you guys ever go out to that island on the dam level? had to use a gameshark though.

LpcWarrior
LpcWarrior

As a rule, no one was allowed to pick oddjob in my house. it was considered cheating and you had to give up your turn. 

 

Catalyst222
Catalyst222

Ahhh Oddjob wasn't that hard to kill. You'd just have to kneel down whenever you got in a fight with him to hit him. Come on people!

Caldrin
Caldrin

Spent ours playing this games with my m8s.. even tho i hated fps games on controllers and still do but Golden Eye was pure class..

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

More than a decade later, I'm still playing Goldeneye 64, and my N64 works fine. I got tired of the remake after a few days, and my Xbox 360 broke after a few months. It's time for a TRUE Goldeneye remake, and not some CoD clone with some stealth elements.

killa32130
killa32130

Great game with good memories, although my N64 controllers are totally worn out :(

 

I know microsoft owns Rare but i'd love to see a true remake (With Pierce Brosnan) for the 3DS "3DS because of the one thumb stick, like the N64", since it was cancelled for the 360 arcade.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNZkXnHMyIc

King9999
King9999

Oddjob is a bastard to fight against.  You guys should check out GoldenEye Source.  An update has been released recently.

boags24
boags24

Extremely interesting!

No_Intelligence
No_Intelligence

Don't forget about civilian 1 and the female scientist.

Benjaminkno
Benjaminkno

I never played the new one.  Was it any good?

Takeno456
Takeno456

Don't care what anyone says, Goldeneye 64 is still my favorite shooter of all time.

So much fun, so long ago, still playing it to this day.

Luminious0
Luminious0

Few mickies, round of friends made goldeneye a night of kick ass gamin back in the 90s

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

Wow.  I also totally remember the oddjob ban like @TimboII .  Its funny to think that the "mistakes" you make in the game can be some of the most memorable.  We ultimately let people who sucked play oddjob as a form of handicap.  Awesome people had to play as Jaws for the same basic reason.  If they had balanced that out I think it would actually have diminished the product....

TimboII
TimboII

I remember when my friends and I agreed to ban the use of Oddjob in multiplayer...

demonkingx5
demonkingx5

with the half life 2 goldeneye multiplayer source mod on PC satisfied with that 

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Oh man I remember when me and my friends would fight for Oddjob in multiplayer.  Balancing issues aside, if you're playing local multiplayer then it doesn't hurt anything to have imbalances, because you can just tell each other not to pick the character.  Unless the game allows you to ban characters in online multiplayer, it's a completely different thing.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

Playing the campaign again for the 5th time on 00 agent, this game is still more fun and addictive than any modern game.

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

I recently purchased this game on Amazon, because I remembered how fun the multiplayer was. It still is! :D

obsequies
obsequies

64 wasn't that great compared to the psone but it had goldeneye..one of the greatest multiplayer games ever

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

 @LpcWarrior 

but Oddjob is the perfect hight for a head shot from the adverage size character.  My friends stoped using him when started owning Oddjob with an automatic shotgun.

demonkingx5
demonkingx5

 @scoobdog02 i have golden eye for free on a N64 emulator yeah you should do that next time

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

 @obsequies I hated my N64 with a passion.  For me it was a lot like the Wii is now, a good game every now and then among a lot of crappy ones.  In my opinion it was the start of "play Nintendo consoles for Nintendo-made games", which carried over to the GameCube and the Wii.  To be honest I didn't like Ocarina of Time, which is enough to get me shot by some people but I really didn't get it.  On the other hand I loved GoldenEye, Mario 64, Perfect Dark, Jet Force Gemini, WWF No Mercy, and Smash Brothers.

 

I had a lot more fun with my PS1.  I loved Tenchu 1 and 2, FF7, Tekken 3, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Resident Evil 2(which to be fair was on the 64 as well), Metal Gear Solid(the 64 had the lame-duck clone WinBack), Need for Speed 3, Jet Moto 2, Twisted Metal 2, Mega Man X4, Grand Theft Auto, Xenogears and Castlevania SOTN.

 

The thing I'll say about the 64 is that it was clearly the better choice if you liked multiplayer gaming.  I largely played by myself... not all the time, just most of the time.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

 @obsequies Nintendo 64 was far better than PS1. It had better graphics and better games like Goldeney, Perfect Dark, The legend of Zelda:Ocerina of Time, Zelda:Majoras Mask, Conquers Bad Fur Day, Turok Dinosaur hunter, Turok 2: seeds of evil, banjo Kazooi,   ...there are no games on PS1 that can come close the greatness of any of those games i just named. Metal Gear Solid is the only game that comes close.

Axe_Armor
Axe_Armor

 @obsequies I grew up with a PS1, but I have to admit the N64 was much better. Still, Spyro the Dragon 3, Crash Bandicoot 3, and Twisted Metal 2 were pretty sweet.

rarson
rarson

 @jinzo9988 

 

AND, the PSX, like most Sony consoles, was an unreliable POS. Mine stopped reading discs unless I turned it upside-down.

rarson
rarson

 @jinzo9988 

 

Nintendo 64 actually had quite a good number of quality games, but part of the problem was figuring out which ones were good was expensive if you were actually buying them, seeing as the cartridges were so expensive. And sure, the PSX ("PS1" is a moniker that was invented after the PS2 was released) had a huge library with a ton of great games, but it also had a ton of garbage titles.

 

Playstation also had that annoying texture warping. Graphically, the N64 was much better, although I do like how all three of the major consoles had their own unique quality of graphics (Saturn with its polygons made up of quadrilaterals... so awesome).

brok
brok

 @jinzo9988 Only two of your examples were by Nintendo. And the ps1 had Winback too, though it was a worse version.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

The best PS1 games don't come close to Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Turok 1 and 2, Zelda, Mario 64, Conquers bad Fur day, or Banjo @Axe_Armor 

rarson
rarson

 @EzcapeTheFate 

 

Call of Duty came out in 2003, as Catalyst pointed out above. GoldenEye, the original N64 game, came out in 1997. The movie it was based on came out in 1995, almost a decade before the first Call of Duty game.

Catalyst222
Catalyst222

 @EzcapeTheFate Pretty sure this game was release for N64 in 1997. The first Call of Duty ever was released in 2003 on PC. 6 years later...Call of Duty wouldn't be what it is today without this game. Out of curiosity how old were you in 97? You seem to date yourself as pretty young if you think COD came before Goldeneye.

Ghost8100
Ghost8100

 @rarson  @jinzo9988 Ah, I hated that, mine started doing it during the final battle in FF7, every time it'd load the music track during the fight, the game would freeze.  Although my PS2 has never broken and I got her at launch, so not all are POS's.

rarson
rarson

 @jinzo9988 

 

Yeah, I know what the PSX was, but the original Playstation was the "PSX" long before the Japan-only PSX was released in drastically limited quantities.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

 @rarson If we want to get overly technical about things, the PS1 is the correct moniker for use today... especially because the PSX is an existing system that's -not- the PS1 that we all know today.  The PSX is a PS1, a PS2, and a DVR all rolled into one that failed miserably in Japan.

 

Nobody ever calls something a '1' if there's not a '2' on the market, so of course nobody called it a PS1 when that was the only PlayStation on the market.  To be honest the X never made sense to me, I've always seen it as an arbitrary letter thrown on there to make the acronym a bit longer and to fit in size with most system acronyms like NES, GEN/SMD(I always wondered why it never became SPS if some acronyms throw the company name on there), N64, PS2, GCN(why in the love of God is it not NGC?), etc.  Of course we have oddballs like SNES that are longer than three too.

brok
brok

 @jinzo9988 I'll grant you Winback was ps2, not ps1, but Rare was still not Nintendo. Especially as they retained creative control. WWF was not by Nintendo OR Rare.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

 @brok Rare at that point was as close as you could possibly get to being Nintendo without actually being Nintendo.  It may as well have been a division of Nintendo.  Nintendo owned 49% of the company and they were using Donkey Kong, a Nintendo franchise for several years.  WinBack was only on the 64 and the PS2.

richardcam21
richardcam21

 @Dredcrumb9 Goldeneye is one of my favourite games and I'm not even a fan of FPS games, but I beg to differ. Final Fantasy 7, 8, 9, Driver, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Tomb Raider, Suikoden 1 and 2.