LucasArts has kept much of its latest Indiana Jones adventure, The Staff of Kings, shrouded in mystery, but at a recent press event in London it took the shackles off and allowed us some much-needed hands-on with the Wii version. Not only that, but LucasArts' voice director David Collins was on hand to give us even more details on the whip-cracking adventure.
VideoGamer.com: The game is being developed by A2M. Who came up with the story?
David Collins: LucasArts came up with the story a few years ago. It was a collaboration between several people. There were some key producers and team members at LucasArts, including vice president at the time Peter Hirschmann, and what they would do is meet in strike teams and come up with that story, and then they would take it to George (Lucas). He's the master storyteller. So getting his input, he just has this insight that nobody else has, obviously it's his universe. We pushed hard to make new characters, new adversaries for Indiana Jones, new friends of his that you're introduced to, like Maggie O'Mally, the love interest, she's a photojournalist from Ireland. Archie and Susie Tan, who are Chinese from San Francisco, they help you out. An old professor of yours, an archaeology professor named Kingston has gone on looking for this (Staff of Moses) before you have and so you are looking for him as well. Then you see Magnus Moeller, who used to be a student with you, and now of course is working for the other side. We're very careful about when we set it. We're set in 1939, a year after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so it's right in that historical backdrop. Basically we had that story outlined, we had all that ready to go, then A2M started to build the game.
VideoGamer.com: Is meeting George Lucas to get story approval an incredibly nerve-racking thing?
DC: I'm sure it is. I wish I could say I was invited into the room! To be clear, George Lucas is a very busy man. They put out a press release saying he's working on a World War II movie which they're calling Red Tales right now. Of course while we were in development on this, he was in development with Steven Spielberg on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. We were able to go to him every once in a while but he also tries to give us a certain amount of autonomy in order to build these games. But we were lucky on this one to be able to get his input. Those meetings... I mean I helped set it up! I mixed the trailer for the thing, or some pre-visualisation movies for that, as well as Star Wars: Force Unleashed. And we would go in and basically talk to him about these projects. The feedback that they got, I mean you just can't get it anywhere but the source. It really helps. I think that's why in those cinematic moments that you see it just feels very Indiana Jones. The idea of him always being up against insurmountable odds and always trying to do the right thing, but not necessarily in the neatest way, it really comes across in The Staff of Kings.
VideoGamer.com: Is it Harrison Ford's voice?
DC: It's not. In all languages we have a Indiana Jones sound-a-like, for a variety of reasons, and some of which honestly I'm not even privy to. It's mostly availability, time, he's a very busy man. Having a sound-a-like in there means we can go to him with any pick-ups any time we need to, or go through the tutorial and get a lot of variations of 'press the A button'. So it worked for us to have a sound-a-like. It's John Armstrong, he was actually the voice of Han Solo in Star Wars: Empire at War. He's from that same area of the Midwest, the Chicago area, he just has that sort of swagger to him. Indiana Jones is a huge loveable character and so we wanted to be true to that feel.
VideoGamer.com: Have any of the cast from the films been involved in the game?
DC: There aren't any real characters from the other films because we created a bunch of new characters.
VideoGamer.com: I was just thinking about unlockable characters from past films...
DC: Right. Oh, probably... well shoot, I can't... there are a couple but I can't tell you about those! We're not talking about them yet. Almost told ya! But there are some actors that if you're a fan of Star Wars and Indiana Jones that you will be familiar with. And we did a lot of casting here out of London, and actually did a lot of recording here.
VideoGamer.com: You said fans of Star Wars...
DC: In that you would recognise some of the actors...
VideoGamer.com: Not that there might be Star Wars characters in this game?
DC: Not that... I don't... I'm sorry I'm a little deaf!
VideoGamer.com: It's OK, I have a very quiet voice!
DC: (Laughs) That's good!