Melissa Batten was a sweet, sweet woman, age 36, who worked for Microsoft’s Xbox division as a software development engineer. We had a chance to speak with her about Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts at E3 2008 before we played it and managed to crack a couple of jokes with her about what we do, where our staff is from, where I studied (JHU and Princeton) and the like.
She said she was actually a Harvard-educated lawyer that became a Software Development Engineer for Microsoft.
I did many titles and do a lot more stuff than the job requires (Halo 3, Gears of War, etc.) but there is always more to be done. Busy days!
To our heartbreak, our good friend Melissa was murdered as I just read this morning on the Seattle Post. The sad and despicable…animal with epizootic gorilla thinking, Joseph Batten (also 36) was an employee for Wizards of the Coast and a verbally abusive animal (more of an IT). Melissa had obtained a restraining order against her husband as reported by SP on July 21st, 2008. Soon after discovering this, J. Batten was disrupted and obtained a handgun, which made Melissa further act on a protection order. He took out the handgun during dinner to confront Melissa about an affair, as if it was a surprise given his horrible attitude, and then threatened to shoot himself.
The husband went far as to break into her workplace at Microsoft and get apprehended by security. After many failed attempts, he confronted her in a parking lot and shot her to death before shooting himself.
We were still working on getting this review written up, so here it is now given the conditions. We hope it sets an undeniable reminder of not only a smart and cute woman, but a nice one as well. Farewell Melissa, we will miss you forever.
WhatIfGaming: Alright Melissa, tell us about some cool features regarding Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
Melissa Batten: Okay, so. Banjo-Kazooie is a 360 exclusive by Microsoft, the 3rd in the series. First off, one thing we think players will love is the amount of user creativity with the game. The single player starts off with such a real experience that really takes a lot of imagination. We have something called Mumbo’s Motors workshop. People can create all sorts vehicles from hidden parts all around the game, or even parts that are given to them when they start.
WhatIfGaming: Oh, that’s something. So can users basically create anything given the parts or does the game limit it to a degree. Can they create something that kind of floats mid-way and then crashes and burns into a tree or something? (laugh).
MB: Um..(laugh). Well they can create anything really. Can be simple as a truck, like the one you see here, or it can even be a little flying saucer disc. There is a lot more to do in Banjo-Kazooie this time around than there was in previous games.
WhatIfGaming: Something I remember being demo-ed was that this time the abiltiies, and all of that are dynamic per player. Before, it would be where the players got abilities based on an objective they did successfully. Is it really that much different?
MB: Yeah it definitely is. We aimed to make a game where no two players really ended up getting the same experience. The Mumbo’s Motors shop is an example of that. Players can make whatever they feel like, then end up painting it and they’re on their way. There is more than 150 parts across the game to use and the possibilites really become diverse.
WhatIfGaming: Great, so it is not just collect dozens of these parts and make this. It is actually a lot more customizable. And there is also a variety in terms of storyline to get these parts and rewards, right?
MB: There is a more engaging story this time around. Banjo and Kazooie want to stop this witch named Gruntilda from turning it into malls. So they end up fighting across many places like the sea, air, and all of that with more new characters and some older ones. It is really a great story this time around.
WhatIfGaming: That’s great. Last thing we want to ask is about the online. What’s the inspiration for that and how did it develop?
MB: Online is really fun. If someone is bored playing the single-player, they can go online and play the entire game with a friend. The development team is really trying to reach beyond regular multiplayer. Head to head can get boring and some people, like me (laughs), just want to have fun with a friend than always fighting with them online.
WhatIfGaming: (laugh) Alright Melissa. Well the game looks amazing, and when can people expect this out?
MB: Definitely this November for the Xbox 360.
WhatIfGaming: Thanks again for doing this interview with us.
Melissa Batten: It was a pleasure.