VideoGamer.com: Please don't! I wanted to ask you about the Wii. What do you make of it as a development platform, and the whole "too much waggle" debate?
JB: Well, in some ways we can answer that question best by showing you the game, but the truth is that it [the remote] is a wand in your hand or a broomstick. We're not in a car-racing event where we're suddenly, "waggle the controller to wave to the crowd!". It fits very naturally into our world. You can waggle your way through the whole game, pretty much, or you can choose not to.
DP: Harry has a wand, and this Wii remote is effectively a wand in your hand. I can use Wingardium Leviosa [demonstrates the spell by moving the remote]. So yes, we're waggling the controller, but it's because I've got a wand in my hand! It's not some disconnected thing. It's a perfect match, the Wii version. It works so well. That's not to say it doesn't work so well on PS3 and 360, because we've spent the same amount of time with them. The analogue sticks are great. But for that full-bodied engagement with the wand in your hand you're not going to beat the Wii.
JB: It's indicative of our team. It's a bit like your earlier question about working with the Harry Potter license. It's awesome! Alright, we need to make the game on Wii and clearly there's a business reason to do that, but our reaction is "that's really cool! It's a wand! It's a broomstick! How much fun can we have?" rather than "oh right, so we've got to make waggle controls". We just don't have that conversation. The Wii is awesome for the right audience with the right gameplay.
DP: Actually, I think that's the key for me. If you're going to make a hardcore racing game, why would you want to do it on the Wii? That's not necessarily to say there shouldn't be good racing games on the Wii, but could you make Gran Turismo? I don't know if you would. I think you pick your platform.
VideoGamer.com: Will this game feature the voices of the film's cast?
JB: It's a mix and match, to be honest. We've had a few of the cast come into the studio, but it's down to their availability. We couldn't get Daniel Radcliffe this year because he was doing Equus and making a movie, but we have his official voice double. When they go back to do over-dubs and things like that, he's the guy they use. And around the world we have all the actors we can get. Funnily enough, I think France and Germany are getting more of the original line-up.
VideoGamer.com: You've been working on this series for nine years now. What has been the biggest lesson you've learned during that time?
JB: That's a good question! I think there have been different things at different times. The penny dropped for us when we got to the Goblet of Fire game when we realised that our main reference had been the books, but for kids now the reference was the movies. At that point we took a half-way step to being closer to the movie, having previously done our own book-version thing. Order of the Phoenix was closer to the movie, and now this is as close as anyone's ever got to a movie, I think, in terms of getting the story, character and locations.
DP: On the gameplay side of things, we've learnt a lot about how to make things for children and how quickly they can pick things up. Again, it's a question of teaching. If you teach it the right way, it's amazing how quickly people can pick things up.
JB: I'm going to sound like a broken record, but we've just learned to embrace the fiction, and not feel that the only way you can make something fun is by having a platform adventure set in hidden caves beneath Hogwarts. Like I said, we probably wouldn't have had a potions-making game if we'd had just a random magical castle story.
VideoGamer.com: I have to say that I really did enjoy the potion-making demo…
JB: You can unlock more potions by collecting crests around Hogwarts, and as the story progresses you can go to the Herbology Greenhouse and re-play challenges again and do them against a score.
DP: We've got this pod [in the studio] that the game is always running on. It's amazing how competitive everyone gets! It's got to the point where we're trying to do it to see who gets the first round in, but it's definitely close!
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released on all leading formats in the summer.