Interview : Sony and JK Rowling Present Wonderbook : Book of Spells.
Industry Event Sony Wonderbook showcase
Date 26th June 2012
In the games industry a well guarded secret is a rare thing so it came as a huge surprise that Sony managed to keep the collaboration with JK Rowling quite for the last two years. The Harry Potter themed Wonderbook: Book of Spells was first announced during Sony’s E3 presentation and raised a lot of interest especially with the Augmented reality features that brings the book to life right before your eyes. With information light on the ground it was great to get a chance to sit down with the Joel Smith Art Director and Suzanne Tee Producer of the Wonderbook and to find out a little bit more about what’s in store.
So first off Wonder book it is looking really good.
Oh thank you we have kept it a secret for so long and we can’t believe we kept it quite for so long.
Especially with anything connected to JK Rowling or the Harry Potter world, the appetite for new products is so strong that when you announced it at E3 I was thinking how come I haven’t heard of that yet? So how long have you guys been working on it?
So we showed JK rowling Wonderbook around two years ago now and it was her idea to create the Book of Spells she thought it would be a natural fit for the technology. The technology has actualy been around for a number of years now maybe 5 years plus id say.
Yes we would have seen similar use of it in say Eye Pet or even more recently on the Vita.
So yea we have been working for a long time and it is coming to an end now hopefully and we are looking at a release date of November this year to hit the Christmas market.
How much of an influence and input has JK had on the Book of Spells is it a licence deal or is she there all the time?
She is very much hands on, not only did she come up with the Book of spells but she has written the story, the spells and conundrums but also her and her team have been very hands on with looking at what we have done and signing off on everything. Looking at the characters and locations and making sure they are authentic enough.
So as Art Director how much freedom did you have to let your own imagination flow?
Quite a bit actually from the look of the book itself, the look and feel of everything like the paper styling but it was very much a case of showing everything to JK and ensuring that it all fits, as it is important that everything we create fits into that world and is authentic.
In terms of a story mode or campaign then is there own within the Book of Spells or is it a series of separate spells you learn?
Well JK wrote a conundrum that takes you through the book and teaches you the qualities that a wizard should have so at the end of each chapter you receive a piece of the conundrum which tells the story of a previous Hogwarts student that maybe didn’t have the right quality to be successful. So all those pieces come together to make up the whole over arching storyline.
So Wonderbook is your product and as such you are not limited to the Book of Spells, do you see other avenues you could go down in the future?
Absolutely so the Wonderbook is the start but we see the potential to create other concepts, graphic novels or educational books imagine an atlas that you could touch and move or a solar system with planets whizzing around your head so the idea’s are endless really in what it can do.
Essentially anything that can be a book can be a Wonderbook. So lets look at the book itself how does that work from a technology perspective?
Yea so it is an actual book but the pages have different patterns on it that the Playstation can pick up and use to create the objects and locate where the book is. I think it is the first time these patterns have been collected into a book form.
I can’t remember seeing anything like it.
And the genius part of it is that it is a book so kids know straight away what to do with it they pick it up and start turning the pages and they are already in the game and to have something to pick up and hold and actually bash around is great for kids.
It looks like it can take some punishment, will it still work after they have been put through the mill by the kids and come back bashed and covered in Jam?
Yea so we gave some out to families to test and they have come back all dog eared and covered in scribbles and they still work so the book itself will last.
So is there any online side to it that you are talking about yet?
Well …am if you have already got an account with the Pottermore website when you start the game you get to link your accounts at the start of the game and the same house you get in the Pottermore website you get in the game.
Excellent thank you very much for chatting with us today and best of luck with your November launch
WonderBook : The Book Of Spells Launches exclusively for PS3 this November Check out the trailer below for a better idea of what to expect.