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Old 06-20-2019, 04:29 PM
masterofmystery masterofmystery is offline
Post Niantic CEO talks creation of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game, familiar faces, more

Story by: Katie Bellman
Video by: Anika Kokatay

During the launch event of the new Harry Potter: Wizards Unite AR mobile game at Universal Studios Hollywood this week, SnitchSeeker had the chance to speak with Niantic Labs' CEO John Hanke, who chatted at length about the progress of the initial idea of the game with Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling's team, to the immersive experience it is today.

Hanke discussed the continuous comparisons to Pokémon Go and its evolution from that, what Harry Potter fans - books and movies alike - should expect from the in-depth game, and the familiar faces and places from Rowling's Wizarding World fans will get to encounter during gameplay (including Harry Potter himself, Dumbledore, Sirius Black, McGonagall, possibly Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and more).

SnitchSeeker: Can you talk about the origins of the game and working with Warner Bros and J.K. Rowling’s team?
John Hanke:
Well, we’ve been working on the game for over two years. It started with a visit from Warner Bros to us. We had actually been talking about making a Harry Potter game from the very earliest days of Niantic, even before the launch of Pokémon Go, because we felt it was a world that really would lend itself well to AR {augmented reality) because of that line between the muggle world and the magical world is so thin. So we dreamed about making the game and when the opportunity came to make it, we jumped at the opportunity and started building it. And now we’re almost ready to launch it, so I’m super excited!

SnitchSeeker: Can you talk about the movie inspiration and the book inspiration? What was taken from the movies and what was taken from the books, to compare and contrast, for the game?
John Hanke:
Well, that’s an interesting question. Obviously the goal of the game is to allow all of us to jump into that world of Harry Potter, and to be a wizard and to live in that magical world. When I think of the movies and books, I’m pretty familiar with both because all three of my kids have been huge fans of both. I’ve read the books aloud to my kids. It’s a very intertwined thing for me. My vision of the Harry Potter world probably aligns a little bit with the movies and the books. I don’t know that there are things that I would really point to specifically that are different between them.

SnitchSeeker: How does this evolve from Pokémon Go, which people are so familiar with? What should they expect in this game compared to that?
John Hanke:
There are a lot of things that are similar in the sense that the game is designed to be played outside. There are places you have to visit to collect resources, and there are places that you go – in the case of Harry Potter Wizards Unite – to engage in combat. These are the wizarding challenges. I think it’s probably the combat that the game is most different from Pokémon Go, in the way that you team up with other players. It’s groups of five. It’s a cooperative game and there are some layers to it. I think there’s some nuance and some strategy that goes beyond what you might see in Pokémon Go today. The AR features are certainly more evolved than in the early days of Pokémon Go. The fact that you can create your wizarding passport and really transform yourself into someone from the world of Harry Potter is new and unique to this game.

SnitchSeeker: What are some little Easter eggs, nuggets and little teasers that fans should look out for when they play the game?
John Hanke:
Well, I think that there are many pieces of the Harry Potter universe that you are going to encounter playing the game and I think really those are treat and that is the hidden reward – just going out to new and different kinds of places to play so that you keep finding those pieces of the world that you haven’t encountered yet is one of the most fun things that you can do in the game.

SnitchSeeker: Are we going to see some iconic places in the game, like Hogwarts, the Ministry?
John Hanke:
Yeah, there’s a feature in the game that allows you to collect these objects called Portkeys, and the way that Portkeys work in Harry Potter Wizards Unite is that by walking, you’re able to unlock the Portkey – and when you unlock the Portkey, you can step into a part of the wizarding world and really, fully immerse yourself in it. So it’s almost like a VR (virtual reality) experience in AR in that you can look around and move around fully in that environment.

SnitchSeeker: Personally, what’s been your favorite part of the game so far?
John Hanke:
I really like the potion brewing part of the game. I love going out for walks and gathering potion ingredients. I find it really satisfying. It’s something that I can do while I’m walking. Even if I don’t want to stop and take time to do something more involved in the game, I can always collect potion brewing ingredients. And then when I’m back at home, or want to take a break at work, I can go in and brew some potions and get ready for my next encounters or for the wizarding challenges.

SnitchSeeker: What advice would you give fans who are about to start the game with you?
John Hanke:
Brush up on your lore. Pay attention to the snippets of story as they appear because they’re really going to help you understand what you need to do and why you’re doing it.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be available for iOS and Android devices beginning this Friday, June 21, 2019.
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Old 06-21-2019, 01:37 AM   #2 (permalink)

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Old 06-21-2019, 04:11 AM   #3 (permalink)

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Started playing this today! Very similar to Pokemon Go, but obviously very HP style. It's fun so far.

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