Fellow gamers who came of age in the late 1990s may remember that any time four or more of their friends got together in one place, a round of GoldenEye was almost certain to break out. From 1997 through at least 1999, it seemed to be almost everywhere. Even players (like yours truly) who didn't own a Nintendo 64 put in at least a few rounds at friends' houses. Whether you remember it fondly or think it was terrible, GoldenEye, and particularly its multiplayer, were a staple of the times.
The multiplayer mode was not only a late addition to the game but also, it turns out, put in without the higher-ups at either the developer, Rare, or the publisher, Nintendo, ever being told. In a post-mortem presentation about the game at the Game Developers Conference in Europe this week, game director Martin Hollis revealed how close a thing that multiplayer mode was, Joystiq reports.
Hollis's presentation included an anecdote from programmer Steve Ellis, who reflected on how the team didn't exactly bother to ask permission before dropping the code into the game:
One of the things that always strikes me as crazy in retrospect is that until something like March or April of 1997, there wasn't a multiplayer mode at all. It hadn't even been started. It really was put in at the last minute – something you wouldn't dream of doing these days – and it was done without the knowledge or permission of the management at Rare and Nintendo. The first they knew about it was when we showed it to them working. However – since the game was already late by that time, if we hadn't done it that way, it probably never would have happened.
The game was released in August, 1997. For the multiplayer not even to have been conceived of until April is a short turnaround indeed. Hollis further added that features were often added to the game without the management's knowledge or permission, since Rare and Nintendo were both surprisingly hands-off with the team.
Many industrious workers in corporate offices of every type have discovered that it is often easier to ask forgiveness than permission. In this case, the gaming world was all the luckier for it.