Wonderbook represented one of Sony’s most interesting new innovations upon it’s reveal at E3 last month and coupled with its debut interactive title, the Harry Potter inspired Book of Spells, developers London Studio are on the cusp of changing the way we interact with our PlayStation 3’s all over again. TGL caught up with Wonderbook and Book of Spells’ Producer Suzanne Tee and Art Director Joel Smith to tell us a little bit about London Studio’s game making philosophy, what it’s like interacting with the Harry Potter brand with Book of Spells and what the future holds for Wonderbook.
Here we go:
TheGamingLiberty: London Studio has always had something of a close relationship with peripheral enhanced game experiences from EyeToy to EyePet. Tell me a little bit about the studio’s game making philosophy…
Suzanne Tee: One of the really great things about working at London Studio is that innovation is always what drives us to create the games what we end up making. We’re always trying to bring new gameplay experience to PlayStation 3, so it’s really exciting to work in that kind of environment in London. From EyeToy Play on PS2 right up to Wonderbook on PS3, it’s very exciting to be a part of the London Studio team.
Joel Smith: We’re really focused on casual and social gaming. It’s really important for us to create experiences for all the family. We’re always trying to make games that appeal to the wider audience.
TGL: So in terms of this new product, the Wonderbook, why did you actually choose the idea of turning pages in a book as the vehicle that drives this particular interactive experience?
ST: The thing about Wonderbook is that everyone knows how to use a book. When we play test the game, 2 and 3 year old kids automatically know how a book actually works. They can open it and know that they must turn the pages to progress through the story. They don’t need any instructions. The other thing is that the book is very tactile. You can just pick it up and move it around without issue and that’s something that really appeals to people too.
TGL: How important is it for Wonderbook that its first experience in Book of Spells is attached to such a high profile franchise like Harry Potter?
JS: It’s huge. Of course Harry Potter is nothing without J.K Rowling and she has actually been working with Sony on the PotterMore website for a while now. She was able to see a very early version of Wonderbook. Apparently at the very same time, she was toying around with the idea of creating a book of Harry Potter themed spells. Once she saw Wonderbook in action she thought it was a perfect fit for her book of spells idea. The two came together quite quickly.
ST: She’s done a lot more than actually lend her name to it. She’s directly involved in the making of the game. She’s written all the stories and she doesn’t directly put her name to things she doesn’t personally approve of. So, we’re often interacting with her to share ideas and to play the game with her.
JS: It’s Harry Potter – you need a wand! We’ve spent a lot of time integrating the Move into the experience. Everything works quite seamlessly. The Wand makes perfect sense for Book of Spells. In saying that, future Wonderbook enhanced games don’t need to use the Move. All you need is the book and the PS Eye.
TGL: How important is it for Wonderbook that developers jump on board and create new and unique experiences similar but crucially different to Book of Spells?
ST: We see so much potential in Wonderbook. At the moment, we’re seeing it being used for fairytales and storytelling. We definitively see it being used for educational purposes further down the line. Imagine having an Atlas where you could sail the seas from country to country…..
JS: …..or imagine learning about the solar system with the planets spinning around your head. The potential is endless really.
TGL: What has been the reaction to Book of Spells from Harry Potter fans so far?
JS: The feedback has been incredible. A lot of the forums and the fan sites have been very enthusiastic. Everyone seems to want Wonderbook and Book of Spells. It’s important for the Potter fans to realise that they are central to the experience. By using the PS Eye, you’re actually in the game casting the spells. It’s interactive on every possible level.
TGL: How long have you been working on Wonderbook for?
JS: We’ve been developing Book of Spells for over two years. But Wonderbook has been in development for about five years.
ST: I think it’s probably been around for longer than five years actually. The idea has always been there. It’s just started to grow and grow in the last five years. It’s been a very rewarding few years.
Check out TGL’s hands-on with Wonderbook and Book of Spells RIGHT HERE. Wonderbook and Book of Spells is expected in time for Christmas for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Move.