Over the Hedge Interview

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posted 5/9/2006 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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It’s that time of year again, with summer movie season right around the corner that can only mean that summer movie games are likewise on the horizon.  Each year there’s a crop of games that related so some big screen release and this year is no different.  What is different is that the games are actually stating to get better.  When we were offered the chance to talk to the developers about the upcoming Over the Hedge tie-in game we decided to ask a few questions about how they approached the material as well as the usual questions about the game. 

 

GamingNexus: Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project?  How long have you been in the gaming industry and how did you get started in this field?

I’m Rich Santiano, the Project Manager on Over the Hedge. I work with both the publisher, Activision, and the people here at Edge of Reality to make sure all of the project deadlines and goals are met on time, while sticking to the overall vision of the game.

I’ve been working in the gaming industry for about 7 years. Being as passionate as I am about games, I knew I wanted to work with games in some capacity. I’ve worked in game sales, support, and development throughout my career. Development appealed to me the most, since that’s where you get to see it all come together, from the inception of the game to putting it on the shelf.


GamingNexus: Did you read the Over the Hedge comic before you started working on the game or were you new to the material?

Rich Santiano:  No, I wasn’t previously familiar with the comic before we started work on the game.  But once everything was decided, we began collecting the comic material.  We have their books lying around; you can walk around our office and see several comic strips that people have found particularly funny or inspiring posted up on doors, walls, and computer desks.

 
GamingNexus: Did the authors of the comic have any input into the game?  Did you use any of their old plotlines as source material?

Rich Santiano:  Though Michael Fry and T. Lewis didn’t directly collaborate on the game’s plot, we hope to have captured the ideals and creativity of their characters through our storyline.  We used the spirit of the comic to portray how imaginative the characters are when dealing with the encroaching


GamingNexus: Will the game follow the plot line of the movie or are you going with the supplemental route with the game (playing events that happen before or after the plot of the movie)?  Will the game fill in areas of the movie that were cut out or deemed unnecessary to the plot?

Rich Santiano:  We’ve taken the characters from the movie and placed them into a completely new, exciting storyline that takes place after the film.  The animals perform heists to gather food and toys for their woodland home while keeping the Exterminator and his drones at bay.  We hope to extend the experience of the movie and allow our audiences to experience the characters for themselves.

GamingNexus: What is the design process that you go through when you are working with a game based on a movie?  How much access did you have to the movie?  How did you come up with the various mini-games and action sequences in the game?

Rich Santiano:  Edge of Reality became involved when there was already a script and a storyboard version of the film. Movies are in pre-production for several years, typically, which is a difference between the creation of games and films.  DreamWorks and Activision were really great; we were provided with tons of assets that they used for the movie (concept art, pictures of their fully rendered models, color palettes, etc.).  We basically hung on for the ride.

The mini-games gave us the opportunity to have fun with the mechanics and game-play that we couldn’t fit into our main plotline. We wanted the player to compete with the other characters, to contrast with the normal co-operative game-play with the main storyline.

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