Remembering Goldeneye 007 with former Rareware lead artist Karl Hilton
Earlier this month Goldeneye 007 celebrated its 20th Birthday and we shared our memories on the game. We wanted to go one step further and find someone to talk to about the game who actually worked on it.
Karl Hilton was the Lead Environment Artist on GoldenEye 007, he’s still in the industry and now works for Sumo Digital in the UK. We spoke to him about what it was like to work on the game, his favourite parts and what he is working on right now.
Vooks: What did you work on with GoldenEye and what else more recently would we have seen your work in?
Karl: I was the Lead Environment Artist on GoldenEye and built almost all of the levels for the main game and the Multiplayer game. I also designed several of the MP maps and worked on most of the weapons and 2D UI.
After GoldenEye I was the Lead Artist on Perfect Dark (N64). At Free Radical Design I was Lead Art/ Art Director for TimeSplitters 1,2 and Future Perfect as well as Art Director for Second Sight. Those were the last games I contributed any art content to.
Vooks: When you started on Goldeneye you were by your own admission new at game development, how did working at Rare help you?
Karl: Rare was very trusting of the team and left us alone to develop the game we wanted to make. It was done very much on a ‘feel’ basis with the whole team playing the game continually as it was developed and trying to make something we all enjoyed.
We also took a lot of inspiration from playing Doom, Virtua Cop and Bomberman and watching a lot of Jon Woo movies. Rare (and the Stamper brothers specifically) gave us the time and space to experiment and try things out. Mario Club at Nintendo gave us a lot of support too with lots of early gameplay testing. Both of these things were incredibly important to the final outcome of GoldenEye.
Vooks: What was your favourite level in Goldeneye multiplayer or single player?
Karl: In multiplayer it was the Complex. It was the first bespoke MP level I had ever made and I just threw all of my ideas into it. I also really liked the Aztec Moonraker base as it was just so much fun to make.
Vooks: What’s the biggest difference now working in the industry compared to back in the day?
Karl: The size of the teams needed to make AAA console games is massively different now. The core GoldenEye team was 9-10 people and we all worked closely together with a clear common goal of making something fun. It’s a very different challenge. with the very large teams now generally required to make AAA games, to have that close community of developers with a shared common vision.
The goal now is to break big teams into small agile teams that can own individual elements of a game. This can very satisfying way to have ownership of the games we make while having a different dynamic to teams a few years ago.
Vooks: What do you think about Goldeneye never getting an official re-release of any type, considering the market for remasters right now.
Karl: I think GoldenEye was ‘of its time’ and rests happily in a lot of people’s memories. There is no need to re-visit the past too much. It’s a game that changed my life but you can’t rely on former glories (too much 😉
Vooks: What are you working on right now?
I’m Studio Director for Sumo’s Nottingham studio which was set up in March of 2016. A lot of my time is taken up growing the new studio to be able to make lots of new games for the current generation of consoles and PC.
In the studio we are working on two exciting AAA projects with big established IP’s that haven’t been announced yet. They are both very different from each other and are a lot of fun to work on. We are looking forward to showing them both off at some point in the future!
I remember that Goldeneye was the second game I bought for my N64. I bought the console a month after launch, with Super Mario 64. Goldeneye was the only other game I was interested in that year.