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Working in parallel and using the same digital models, animations, and textures, Ubisoft and Weta forged a relationship that Avatar fi lm director James Cameron called a "perfect consonance" between the fi lm and game crews, in which game artists borrowed models and mocap data for the blue Avatars (above), while Weta borrowed ideas for Pandoran bioluminescence. January 2010 20 ■ ■ ■ ■ Gaming James Cameron partners with Ubisoft to expand the world of Pandora in James Cameron's Avatar: The Game By Martin McEachern "It's all about the storytelling, and this, right here," James Cameron has stated, pointing two fi ngers directly at his eternally impassioned, turquoise eyes. e legendary director is stressing the importance of adhering strictly to a character's point of view during fi lmmaking, forcing the audience to look through their eyes. More importantly, he's stressing the theme of Avatar, which is to look beyond the prism of our own life experience and, in his words, "see and understand the world through others' eyes." e world of which he speaks is, of course, Pandora, the lush, bioluminescent planet inhabited by the indigenous, 10-foot-tall Na'vi, and despoiled against their will by human mining for a priceless mineral called unobtainium—a superconduc- tor for energy. While the air is unbreathable on Pandora, the mining corporation, called the Resource Development Administration (RDA), creates a human-Na'vi hybrid—the Vishnu-blue Avatar. An RDA soldier, lying in a sarcophagus-like vessel, can project his or her consciousness into the Avatar, controlling the Avatar's body remotely while interacting with the native Na'vi. From these interactions spring a moral confl ict, centered on their opposing per- spectives, which the team at Ubisoft's Montreal studio seemed to grasp instinctively from the outset and managed to encapsulate in its initial pitch to the Titanic direc- tor. e director was so impressed that the studio immediately won the rights to develop James Cameron's Avatar: e Game. " ey came up with the idea of allowing the player to choose either a Na'vi per- spective or a human perspective," Cameron has said during one of several industry conferences. "In other words, the good guys and the bad guys are entirely a matter of the player's choice. I think that's really cool. And there a number of thresholds throughout the game where, if you feel like you've made the initial choice incor- rectly, you can switch sides further down throughout all the levels. It's really pretty remarkable, and it tracks beautifully with the moral message of the movie." Cameron has likened the Pandora journey to Dorothy's journey to Oz, and the experience of watching Avatar as "dreaming with your eyes open." If the fi lm fol- lows the yellow-brick road, the game, at Cameron's behest, allows the viewer to stray from that narrative brick road into the farthest, most exotic reaches of that open-eyed dream—into 16 diverse environments, each fi lled with luminescent forests, gorges, gullies, beautiful, fl oating mountain ranges, and stunning alien fl ora and fauna.

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