Lost Planet 3 interview with Bill Watterson

Lost Planet 3 is a few weeks shy of making its way to your local mom and pop-owned Walmarts and Gamestops. Many people are already standing in line to get their copy at this very moment (possibly/maybe/probably not). The game is actually a prequel to the first Lost Planet, however (clearly because people liked the first game more than the second). This means that new voice actors get their moment in the gaming spotlight, via Capcom’s wallet.  So with that in mind, Laser Lemming wanted to speak to Lost Planet 3‘s lead actor himself, Bill Watterson.

Watterson plays the new series protagonist, Jim Peyton. We spoke candidly about Lost Planet,  motion capture, and beer (oh, and more!).

The big day is almost here! Lost Planet will be released in a couple of weeks. How are you feeling?

Really, really proud. It’s been years of work for everyone involved, much more so for the developers than myself, but I started out with this team about three years ago, and I’ve loved every second of it. Watching the story and the characters evolve, grow in scope, seeing the game find its voice, and finding Jim’s voice…it’s been a thrill building anticipation to share it with everyone.

Well happy birthday in advance then! As you mentioned, you’ve been working on the game for nearly 3 years. How did you get involved in the project?Bill Watterson

I submitted a self-taped monologue on an online website for actors called Actors Access. I shot it on photo booth on my Mac, still have it. They brought me in to Spark after that to read it in person, and that lead to shooting the very first demo, which had many elements and characters that are still in the game. But the look was very different–they weren’t using the technology to capture the actor’s actual faces at that time.

It also wasn’t called Lost Planet, it was all still very hush hush.

I’ve used Actor’s Access myself. Interesting to see it work out so well for you. The game was officially delayed by two months in April. As someone that’s spent a lot of time working on the project, how did the team take the news?

I had JUST started spreading the word about the release when I heard about the delay. It’s funny, when you act in a project, you have no control over when or how or if it ever gets released; it’s just something you have to know going in. You never know if your part is going to get cut out, if producers are gonna pull out, if distribution falls through…you have to let go of all that stuff or you’ll freak yourself out. I’m just thrilled it’s coming out and it looks so good.

How did the motion capture process differ from that of L.A. Noire?

I had worked in the suit for so long on LA Noire, I was just really comfortable getting back in the gear. Those things can make you so self-conscious–they’re like a wet suit, but tighter. But having done it so much, it just felt great suiting up again, getting back in action. Felt like a super hero getting ready for battle. And the helmet cameras were new–they can weigh quite a bit, especially when combined with the battery pack, and there’s all kinds of mic wires running around–it’s easy to get tangled up and to fall out of a scene because you realize how ridiculous you look. Also, we didn’t have to shave our faces and have dots painted on for LA Noire because we did the heads separately. So we looked pretty goofy. And the weight of the camera wears you down, you’ve got to be careful to stay hydrated and relax and take breaks when you can. It was also different being the lead guy, in almost every scene–WAY more dialogue and activity than LA Noire, where I popped in and out as needed. Had to really stay focused and calm and just deal with whatever scene was in front of me.

I can imagine that the suit and face camera is very distracting, initially.

Initially, yeah. But then it becomes a second skin. A very, very tight second skin, that reminds you to go to the gym more often.

Are you a gamer yourself?

I just got a PS3 with Borderlands 2. I haven’t gotten to dive in yet. I also played some Lost Planet 2 to get into the world a bit, and to understand the timeline better. But I never have as much fun as I do playing Warlords or River Raid on the Atari 2600. Simple man, simple pleasures. But I have to say, I’m amazed at the complexity and total immersion of games these days, the beauty of the art, the scope of the storytelling, the risks they’re taking. Bioshock is a world I want to visit, and Last of Us is on my radar in a big way.

And what’s that sad looking black and white animated one with the little kid? That looks dope.

I’m playing through The Last of Us right now. I think you’ll love it. The game you’re referring to is Limbo, which is another good one. You led right into my next question, actually. Before this, how familiar were you with the Lost Planet series?

It wasn’t on my radar. I have some gaming friends, and when I told them what I was doing, they flipped out. (Don’t worry CapCom, I didn’t tell them until after the Non-Disclosure Agreement terms were met!) They loved LP1 and were disappointed with 2, but I know plenty of people in the gaming community loved 2 for its co-op mode. They were just very different games, and this one is different yet again, but it ties everything together and makes the entire timeline of E.D.N. III make sense. Which was no small task for the writers.

I’m sure that’ll fuel the hype of those looking forward to the game. How much do you relate with your character, Jim Peyton (besides clearly being a space Peyton Figurecolonist)?

A lot, actually. Increasingly, in fact, the more I look back on it. He’s a hard-working guy who always tries to do the right thing. He’s trying to stay focused on the task at hand, but it’s a hard road and it wears on him. He’s lonely, and misses his family, but he’s a lone wolf at heart–he’s nice to everyone on the base, but keeps to himself for the most part. And he’s loyal. And that’s where it gets really interesting–when his loyalties are tested or at odds with one another, and when the right thing is no longer obvious to him. That’s where it gets juicy. Plus he digs country music, coffee, and can grow a mean beard.

That is a pretty nice beard he’s rocking.

OK, First reaction: Capcom offers you a lead role in Lost Planet 4 (or zero since they seem to be going backwards now), you start tomorrow. Are you in?

In a heartbeat. I miss this job, these actors, this dialogue, this team, every day.

Ah, yes, the actor’s dilemma. The American Pie crew had similar feelings after they broke up.

Yeah, you get to be a part of these temporary communities, and it’s tough when they break up. This crew in particular, because it was such a long road, and everyone was so supportive and excited to be making this world come alive, was pleasantly tight-knit.

Ok, let’s get serious before we wind down here: You’re the face of the German beer, Jever. When Jim Peyton isn’t mining a planet for resources, what kind of beer do you think he’d abuse?

Hmmm…he’d want something dark and heavy, because of the cold…he’s also a survivor…I’m thinking an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout? It’s also pretty bleak out there, maybe for symbolic purposes he’d put back a few LA Fin Du Monde.

I can theoretically relate with him already. Alright, finally is there anything else you’d like to say to those looking forward to Lost Planet 3?

You won’t be dissapointed. They’ve created a fully-realized world that will get you emotionally invested and viscerally engaged. Also, buy the Jim Peyton action figure and tweet me photos of him doing silly things.

Haha, that’s official permission from the man behind Peyton himself. That’s all of our questions. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Bill!

Any time, thank you so much for having me!

Lost Planet 3 releases for the PS3, 360, and PC on August 27th.