An exciting part of Harry Potter The series has always been the video games based on Harry’s story. In total, there have been 14 console games that come with the franchise. The very first of these games was Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), published by Electronic Arts and developed for Windows by KnowWonder.
Recently, a YouTuber by the username of Flandrew sat down with Christo Vuchetich, the game’s lead artist. The interview is nearly 15 minutes long and contains some interesting insights into the development of the game.
The first thing Vuchetich talked about was the amount of legal work that went into the game. His company, KnowWonder, was working with EA, which was working with Warner Bros., which was working with JK Rowling’s reps. They had to go through three levels of executives to ensure that their actions were in line with what was expected of the Harry Potter Games.
One of the challenges Vuchetich and his team faced was figuring out what Harry could do at Hogwarts. In the game, he’s a first-year student, so there aren’t many things open to Harry at Hogwarts. To make the game more exciting, the developers added puzzles and secrets for players to find. This would ensure that the game was more than just a walking simulator.
We had so much fun making these games. We have to go in and [do] the bonus bean room and those secret tunnels you could walk through. [..] You would get into these challenges, and the team, especially the level designers, we’re just looking left, right, and center where we could put secrets.
A fan favorite of the game is the Knockback Jinx (Flipendo), who never appears in the books or movies. When asked, Vuchetich mentioned that JK Rowling gave them the idea. They were given a list of five spells and basic definitions of what they could do. This way the team could develop them to work with the games.
Interestingly, this PC game was in development at the same time as the Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone the film was in production. According to Vuchetich, they had no access to production and had to go into designing Hogwarts without visuals. When they finally received photos from the set, each image was too blurry to use. The team therefore asked to see the set again. The game’s creative director was allowed to take a notebook to the set to document the visuals. This notebook was all they had to design the game.
Something Flandrew wanted to know was who the people were in the paintings around Hogwarts. The answer to this might surprise you. The creative team was tasked with finding famous paintings and Photoshopping into them. This allowed them to comply with copyright laws since the photos were altered enough from the originals. Each painting around Hogwarts is a photo of a staff member photoshopped into a famous painting.
This version of the game was one of five in development at the time. Vuchetich mentioned that while they had the same concept art as the team working on the PlayStation adaptation, they weren’t working closely together. The PC version was designed for children, while the PlayStation version was considered to have a wider audience. However, both versions were met with mixed reviews from critics.
Were there parts of the interview that shocked you? Was there anything else you wanted to know about the development? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check it out Flandrew’s page for his interview with Vuchetich on the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban PC games.