PSU Interview: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass game is an adaptation of the novel and the movie. You play as Lyra, and together with your polar bears and companion Pantalaimon, you must use the magical compass to find your way through the mysterious world and rescue your friend from The Gobblers.

PSU was given the chance to interview the lead designer of The Golden Compass, Dax Berg. Thanks go out to him and the Shiny Entertainment team for answering our questions.

PSU: How closely will The Golden Compass video game follow the movie or book? Will there be added side stories and characters?

Specific gameplay areas are intended to be extensions of the Screenplay adaptation while other areas expand upon interaction in environments that are only in the book. There are a few places in these additions that we take slight liberties with to provide a solid “game environment” but first and foremost we tried to keep with the locations from the book and its screenplay. More depth is added to many of the minor characters but for the most part we felt it important to stick to Pullman's vision.

PSU: How will transitioning work for changing from one character to another?

Some gameplay environments are Lyra and Pan specific while others are full Iorek combat moments. There are also a few levels that are a mix of both. For example, Lyra can dismount Iorek and move into locations he cannot access, which enable Lyra to accomplish immediate goals. The player can then go back to Iorek and continue on their path.

Transitioning from one playable character to another is part of the unique gameplay experience. An example would be where Lyra has to reach a certain location and Iorek will help toss her to areas she could not reach on her own. This involves interactively timed button presses which help to make character transitions more enjoyable. After the character transition is complete the player is now fully in control of Lyra and gameplay continues.

PSU: What unique abilities will these characters have and how can the players use them to accomplish tasks or defeat enemies?

When the player takes on the role of Lyra, they play as both Lyra and Pan – one cohesive unit. Pan can shape- shift into many different forms, all of which perform a unique set of tasks for the player. In the traversal aspect of play, using Pan's variety of forms allows the player access to areas that Lyra could not reach without Pan's help. Shifting from one form to the next while moving across familiar (and unfamiliar universe environments) provides a very entertaining gameplay element. Pan can become 4 animal daemon shapes including a hawk, which allows Lyra to glide across areas that might be too far to jump. An ermine, which helps her to balance on unstable or narrow beams. A wild cat, that enables her to climb up walls. And a sloth form that, like a monkey, gives her the ability to swing from platform to platform. When a player controls Iorek gameplay shifts into a more interactive 3rd person combat game with attack combos and special action throws.

PSU: How many players does The Golden Compass support? Will there be co-op?

When looking at the time frame and how important it was to come out at the time of the movie's premiere, we made sure our focus would be to help tell Pullman's story in an interactive format. Multiplayer was obviously an initial design concept but not as an important priority as the experience itself so we decided to focus on that.

PSU: Will there be any kind of online play for The Golden Compass?

No (see above)

PSU: It’s been mentioned that The Golden Compass will support SIXAXIS – it’s one of the ways for balancing Lyra as she crosses platforms. How else have you utilised the controller?

SIXAXIS is used in many of the Lyra and Iorek interactive Mini-Games. We are also currently testing ways to use SIXAXIS as part of Lyra's Deception abilities.

PSU: It’s been revealed that there will be two exclusive locations in the game that are not seen in the movie. Where are these locations and can you describe the environments and characters players might find there?

We can't say anything to answer your question right now, but stay tuned for more information which will be revealed soon.

PSU: Is there a solid release date yet for The Golden Compass?

The game releases on December 4, 2007 three days before the film. You can look forward to the game coming out on all platforms including PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, DS and Wii.

You can check out the new trailer here: The Golden Compass Trailer