The funny thing was that during this period, the AvP brand as it was known was in its infancy. There was a series of comics but that was about it. What we did have, however, were two incredibly popular franchises which had been ‘fused' together.
We were never going to reinvent the wheel, both franchises were too important. But we researched everything we could: the characters, their universe and the capabilities of Atari's new Jaguar console. The result was that we could bring a raft of new ideas to the publisher that fitted perfectly, that contributed and in essence, improved the final product and the AvP brand as a whole.
When we finished Alien vs Predator on the Jaguar, Fox was so pleased with the end result we got to work directly with them on Aliens vs Predator on PC so our approach really paid dividends for us.
We then incorporated the same research ethic to our own brands, most recently Sniper Elite and Rogue Trooper. Both games were focused on delivering on the core idea – be it bullet ballistics within an exact recreation of war-torn Berlin or creating a ‘fan-focused' transition of comic book hero to video game. We also brought in consultants, writers and customers, all of whom added value.
Over our 15 years in business, we've been in the fortunate position to work on both sides when dealing with brands or intellectual properties. This year sees the release of four of our most important titles to date: The Simpsons, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem all of which feature our new ideas and directions.
These brands are a selection of the world's most valued, but all we have done is adopt the same rigorous research and application in the development of these games, making no assumptions but ensuring we add value in every area. When you own successful brands yourself, you understand the extensive process of how they came into being. Sometimes it's luck, but in general it's focusing on the core idea and not deviating.
But brands always need to renew themselves, otherwise they become staid and we believe video games can contribute a great deal in their continual evolution.
You have to respect the idea and the collateral information which accompanies it but above all, research everything. You need to ask questions and push ideas. Ultimately, you need to demonstrate mastery of the brand you are working on because if you don't, your publisher will never trust you.